Category Archives: Racial Justice

Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

by Craig S. Keener, originally published on his blog.

One of my recent posts showed the local protest march in which my wife and I participated, and which our teenage daughter helped organize. One honest question has come up so often in response that I want to address it here.

Would Jesus have attended such a march, some have asked? Marching in parades aside, some feel that marching for racial justice, for the unborn or for other specific causes that suggest protest are inconsistent with proper Christian meekness. (I am assuming that those asking the question are also pacifists, since violence, and especially lethal violence, seems much less meek than nonviolent protests.) So, in consultation with my daughter Keren, I offer the following considerations.

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The Keener family

Why march?

First, it may be helpful to note the purpose of marching. Marching commands public attention in the way that individual voices often cannot. It also provides solidarity for the hurting and fearful. It lets them know that they are not alone; for the sake of the unity of the church that has too long been divided by race, now is an opportunity for non-black Christians to stand with our African-American brothers and sisters. Continue reading Why Christians Should Support the Marches Against Racism

Exorcising the Demon of White Supremacy

[Note: A longer version of this post appears at the author’s personal blog, Just Theology.]

“Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”  Luke 9:1–2, NRSV

“But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Luke 11:20

Two years ago, near the end of my second year of seminary, I drove over six hours, alone, to attend the Red Letter Revival. I was eager to live into the call to social justice that my school taught, but felt something was missing. Incomplete. Responding to the persistent tug of the Holy Spirit, I drove those long hours to see what that missing piece might be.

At the event, pastor Jonathan Martin delivered a sermon on the evil of white supremacy in the United States. A self-identified “hillbilly Pentecostal,” he named evils at work that I had not heard voiced at my progressive, social-justice-centered seminary. While my school preached against white supremacy, Martin called it out as an ancient principality. Then he spoke a word I would never hear in a sermon at chapel: exorcism. The United States, he preached, needed an exorcism from the principality of white supremacy. Continue reading Exorcising the Demon of White Supremacy

Black Lives Must Matter: A Historical Pentecostal Response

by U-Wen Low, originally published here, reposted with permission.

Many Pentecostal Christians have been divided in how to respond to recent events. The rallying cry for most (as it has been for years) is “Black Lives Matter,” a statement which shocks us with its brazenness; it highlights the fact that African-American lives in particular are at disproportionately high risk in the United States, and has forced many of us to consider our own nations’ treatment of African-American and First Nations people.

Given the complexity of the issues, it can be extraordinarily difficult to formulate a coherent, careful response – so many of us have stayed silent.

However, it is imperative for the people of God to respond, and indeed many church organisations have already added their voices to the conversation. How, then, should Pentecostals seek to respond to these issues in a Godly way, led by the Holy Spirit?

Let us do so by reminding ourselves of the history of our movement. Like many such reflections, we begin in Acts, where the Holy Spirit falls with tongues of fire upon men and women, Jew and Gentile, causing no small amount of controversy.

The early church is prompted by the Spirit to challenge both injustice and domination; throughout the narrative of Acts, we see the early Christians (an underprivileged minority group) given agency through the Spirit, fighting persecution through acts of love and kindness – and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, to the point of martyrdom.

Of course, let us not forget that Jesus himself died alongside criminals, viewed as a criminal and disproportionately punished, murdered by an oppressive system. Continue reading Black Lives Must Matter: A Historical Pentecostal Response

Six Ways Christians Should Respond to the #BlackLivesMatter Protests

Agu Irukwu, senior pastor of the Jesus House and the Pentecostal President of Churches Together in England, recently shared on Premier Christianity the six kinds of responses he would like to see from Christians in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the protests that are going on:

1. Empathize

“I understand how frustrations can boil over as a result of an incident like this.”

2. Pray

“As a Christian, it is one of the most effective things I can do.”

3. Share a message of love and forgiveness

“This does not in any way trivialise the very real pain, hurt and frustrations that are being experienced by many African Americans who suffer the impact of an ingrained racial bias in the system.”

4. Speak out

“Evil and injustice thrives when good people do not speak out.”

5. Name and address institutional racism in your country

“We have inherent inequalities in our own systems. The institutional racism that exists must be named and addressed.”

6. Build on the work already being done

“I am resolved that I will do all that I can in my various capacities to encourage more representation of black and ethnic minorities in our institutions.”

Read more at the website of Premier Christianity.

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

George Floyd and the True Meaning of Pentecost

The US is on fire right now. Yet another black man has been killed by police brutality: George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died after a policeman sat on his neck, charging him with paying with a false 20 dollar bill.

Many of you have already seen the horrifying footage: Floyd groaning and screaming, saying that he can’t breath, and later becoming unconscious. He was later confirmed dead.

This has caused a huge uproar across the country this Pentecost weekend. While many protesters are nonviolent, there are also reports of destructive riots and even fatalities. And it doesn’t help that President Trump writes “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” on Twitter, echoing Walter Headley who said this exact thing in 1967 when he threatened to order his policemen to shoot black people.

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At PCPJ, we care deeply about racial and social justice. We also believe in nonviolence and enemy love. So while we encourage those who make their voices heard, we cannot stress enough that it needs to be done without any violence. Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. shows us that it is indeed possible to stand up for the oppressed without causing any harm to others. Continue reading George Floyd and the True Meaning of Pentecost

Black Vineyard Pastors: “We’re Tired of Being Angry”

Earlier this year, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two men who approached him with their pickup truck while he was jogging. These men were not arrested until a video of the murder went viral.

Our friends at the Vineyard Justice Network has posted a statement by a group of black pastors in the Vineyard USA. Among other things, they write:


How long, Lord, must [we] call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make [us] look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before [us]; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4

Written on 5/8, what would have been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday.

We’re angry. We’re tired. We’re tired of being angry.

There is nothing different about this time except that we are in a pandemic. A pandemic that disproportionately affects Black and Brown bodies, due to unequal access to healthcare, food and other life essentials. A pandemic that has us saying goodbye to our parents, grandparents and relatives at an alarming rate. A pandemic that compels us to wear masks when we know what the consequences could be – dangers that run deeper than the risk of infection.

Besides that, what’s different?

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a father and a son.

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a nation stuck in cycles of racialized violence and death.

This isn’t new. It’s history.

Lynchings were public gatherings — spectacles where human bodies, still alive, were stripped, tortured, dismembered, sometimes burned, and left to die. Community is not supposed to be like this. Our churches, too, are public gatherings — a place where the Body, however broken, can seek healing from the One with pierced hands. And yet, as pastors, we can simply feel responsible for informing the church about these tragedies, even as we hurt inside, barely having had time to process them ourselves. The Church is more than a place to announce Black Death, it is a Body meant to uplift Black Life.

This uplift involves looking sin and evil in the face and standing against it. As Jeannine Hill Fletcher says, “If Christians desire a world of racial justice and religious integrity, understanding the sin of white supremacy and Christian theology’s role within it is our only way forward.”

God does not look away from the pain and affliction of his people.

Neither do we.


Read the full statement here.

Editor’s note: Less than two weeks after this statement was released, George Floyd was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis, making it even more relevant.

Reading the Revelation in the Age of COVID-19

Within the span of weeks, the United States has gone from having a handful of cases of COVID-19 to leading the world in cases of infection. This has left much of the world bewildered. Seeing how the virus was affecting other nations, with months of notice, we were still left unprepared. What is it about the structure and function of our country that left us so vulnerable to what should have been a more manageable situation?

For two millennia, in times of turmoil Christians have turned to the Revelation of John for insight. The text has wisdom to share in this time of pandemic as well. By understanding the nature of apocalyptic literature—a type of writing that would have been familiar to the earliest church who experienced Pentecost but is strange to us—American Christians can begin to address difficult questions about our nation’s response. More importantly, we can turn to the biblical text to learn how the church can faithfully respond in this time.

The translation Revelation in the book’s title comes from the Greek apokalypsis, which literally means uncovering or revealing, like removing a veil. In the case of the Apocalypse of John, Jesus Christ has opened something up to the Seer that is meant to be shared. When Pentecostals share a dream or vision with the church, they are engaging in the continuation of this tradition. Paul uses the same Greek term to refer to the spiritual gifts when he writes that “each one of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation” (1 Cor 14:26, NIV). In the same verse he names the purpose of these gifts: “that the church may be built up.” And if there was ever a time the church was in need of building it up, it is now.

Continue reading Reading the Revelation in the Age of COVID-19

How Nationalism and Inequality Makes the Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

As the new coronavirus spreads across the world there is a big risk of it becoming a full-blown pandemic, killing tens of thousands if not millions of people. The complaint of the World Health Organization is that many countries are ill-prepared for handling this.

It’s not hard to see why.

Two things are crucial for stopping an infectious disease before it transforms into a pandemic: international cooperation and universal health care of good quality. When these are missing, the likelihood of certain areas around the world becoming infection hubs increases, which in turn spreads the disease uncontrollably.

In a worst-case scenario, between 60 and 80 percent of the global population might get infected by the new coronavirus, killing tens of millions.

Unfortunately, there are two trends that go against international cooperation and universal health care – one ideological and one economic. I’m thinking of nationalism and economic inequality. Continue reading How Nationalism and Inequality Makes the Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

The Multicultural Multitude of Revelation

by Craig S. Keener, originally published on his blog.

While there is some debate about the identity of the 144,000 in 7:1-8, everyone agrees that the innumerable multitude in the next vision refers to believers from all peoples—a vision that ultimately includes all of us who believe in Jesus.

These people are “from all nations and tribes and peoples and languages” (7:9). Revelation uses this fourfold formula, in varying sequences, seven times. The formula echoes the book of Daniel. Daniel has the threefold formula six times; the Greek translation of Daniel makes the first instance (Dan 3:4) fourfold, as in Revelation. That context applies to Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian empire.

By the time of Revelation, however, people would no longer think of “all nations” as part of the Babylonian empire. Another passage in Daniel predicted an innumerable multitude from all nations serving the Son of man (Dan 7:13-14). Yet despite the hyperbole of Roman imperial claims, most people in John’s urban audience in the Roman province of Asia knew about many other parts of the world beyond the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire had trade ties with India, China, parts of Africa as far south as Tanzania, and northern Europe perhaps as far west as Iceland. The idea that members of all peoples would stand before God’s throne would have been unthinkable! Continue reading The Multicultural Multitude of Revelation

From Babel to Pentecost: Letting Go of Fear, Embracing the Spirit

by Alex Mayfield, originally posted on Engaged Pentecostalism.

The rise of populist and nationalist movements around the world is a fact of our time. A quick survey finds the tide rising the world over: the recent Brazilian presidential victory ofdictatorship-loving Bolsonaro, the many far-right groups gaining ground in European elections, the rise of violent Hindutva in India, and the increasingly abrasive Chinese nationalism fostered under Xi Jinping illustrate that nationalists movements have turned ethnic, cultural, and national identity towards increasingly troubling ends.

Here in the United States, Trumpian politics have risen to power by questioning the legitimacy of a black leaders and stoking fears over Hispanic migrants, and ethnno-nationalist ideas have gained renewed traction among conservative voters. While support of Donald Trump cannot be equated with an embrace of racism, it is no accident that radical white nationalist groups have been growing and becoming increasingly vocal in their support of the president; these groups are ideologically wrong, but they are not stupid.

These trends should be concerning for anyone who is a student of history: rampant nationalism tends to breed war. While undermining the international order is one thing, the rise of Trumpian politics has had a more concrete casualty: the public witness of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians. Continue reading From Babel to Pentecost: Letting Go of Fear, Embracing the Spirit