Category Archives: Spirituality

The Two Walls of Israel

(a thought, and a prayer, by Ramone Romero)

If only…

I was thinking

If only all the prayers in that wall

The Western Wall

Were put into the West Bank Barrier instead

If only all those prayers

At the ruins of the temple

Were put into the lives of people

Who live among ruins

In the West Bank

In Gaza

Whose homes and lives

Have been left in ruins

If only

If only the wishes that the temple still stood

Were put into seeing the temples of people

Who are standing next door

If only their temples could be rebuilt

In lives

As living stones

If only the temples where we seek God

Were the temples of our neighbors

If only we saw

That the holy temple of God

Is people

Is one another

And our prayers were changed

Into a desire to see them blessed

If only our devotion to religion

Was a devotion to one another

To loving our neighbor

Instead of putting walls between us

If only

Think of what a holy place it could be

When our neighbor is as sacred to us

As the holiest temple of God

If only

I thought, and I pray, in hope

“If only.”

Charismania, COVID, and the 2020 Election

When Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity emerged a century ago, many conservative Christians denounced the movement. Part of this was due to the egalitarian and counter-culture nature of the movement. Another part of it was that the incorporation of the gifts of the Spirit into worship seemed crazy – perhaps even demonic. At this point, Christians were mostly used to some variety of ordered worship, so when Charismatics came into church services and started speaking in tongues or dancing, it made a lot of people uncomfortable. They thought that Charismatic Christians were deceiving people and obstructing proper worship. A term was coined as an insult towards Charismatics – Charismania.

Charismania is commonly used as an insult to describe Charismatic Christians as unstable. People may perhaps see our prophetic visions, speaking in tongues, and claims of supernatural healings as delusional. It is a criticism of the Charismatic Movement that I know well.

While I do not think that Charismatic spirituality and worship are false, I must say that as a Charismatic looking into the wider world of Charismatic Christianity, we do have a serious problem. The movement has for a long time been infested with false doctrines such as end times theology, prosperity preaching, and cults of personality. The movement is also infested with false prophets, false healers, and con artists. And like the early church, the movement has been twisted in order to serve the empire. We have a very serious problem of not “testing the spirits” (1 John 4:1).

Continue reading Charismania, COVID, and the 2020 Election

Why Justice activists need spiritual healing

(This article also appears at Just Theology.)

Christians who take Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats seriously understand that we are called to serve “the least of these” in love. In addition to individual acts of mercy, many have come to understand that providing aid to “the least” means addressing the systems of inequality that skew our collective resources toward “the most” instead. This leads to various expressions of justice activism.

I am by no means a fervent activist. While I have attended some protests, I am more likely to express my convictions through letter writing, phone calls, donations, conversations, prayer, and service. Yet I know members of my seminary, friends, and those in local activist communities give more of themselves and take much greater risks. And I know activist efforts take a toll. My friends have suffered compassion fatigue, burnout, and shame and guilt at not being able to offer more when community demands are pressing. Working for justice takes a physical and emotional toll. It takes a spiritual toll as well.

Continue reading Why Justice activists need spiritual healing

Christus Victor – Happy Easter

I wanted to wish all members, fans, and readers of PCPJ a happy Easter. Even though secular culture tends to emphasize Christmas, the most important day in the Church calendar is actually Easter, when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. It is in the events of Easter that Christ becomes the victor. Our Lord has looked sin, injustice, death, and imperial power right in the face, and He defeated them. These things led to His torture and execution, and Jesus rose from the dead anyway. In Easter, Jesus is declared the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He is more powerful than Herod and Caesar, principalities and powers. He has defeated even death itself.

2020 and 2021 have been dominated by the powers of sin and death it seems. In the United States, the news cycle has been suffocating due to COVID-19, the presidential election, political corruption, police brutality, the protests and counter-protests, wars and rumors of wars. It has been a dark year. We couldn’t even properly celebrate Easter last year. But Christ is victor.

Continue reading Christus Victor – Happy Easter

False Prophets and False Idols: The Sad State of American Evangelicalism

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. – Matthew 7:15

Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

American Evangelicalism has been taken over by hypocrites. It is not new as this trend started several decades ago, but now we can see clearly the corruption before us. Conservative Christians, who claimed to be standing up for “traditional Christian/family values” supported a rich, womanizing con-man for president. People like John MacArthur, Wayne Grudem, and many leaders of American Evangelicalism made claims that Trump was the lesser of two evils since he was supportive of “traditional Christian/family values” despite being a flawed candidate. MacArthur in particular likes to take shots at LGBT people and said that he endorsed Trump in 2020 due to Trump’s social conservative views. However, Trump doesn’t seem to agree with MacArthur:

John MacArthur, like many of the leaders of American Evangelicalism, is a hypocrite and false prophet. Which I know this is strong language, but I am genuinely upset over the sad state of the Evangelical Church, and its hypocritical ways. How these people claim to follow Jesus but seem to ignore everything he said. How they are “pro-life” while against welfare services, pro-war, and anti-pandemic relief. Continue reading False Prophets and False Idols: The Sad State of American Evangelicalism

Pentecostal Leaders in Scandinavia Urge Believers not to Listen to Conspiracy Theories and “YouTube Prophets”

It’s easy to laugh at all the insane conspiracy theories floating around right now, with people claiming that coronavirus vaccine will kill you, change your DNA or transform you into a satanist. But really, it’s nothing short of a catastrophic tragedy that millions of people seriously believe these kinds of things.

As Christians, we should be extra alarmed by the fact that evangelicals seem to be more prone to believing and spreading COVID conspiracy theories than others.

YouTube, TikTok and other Internet platforms have no lack of Christians claiming to “prophesy” that the vaccine will insert microchips or that nurses will try to kill you if you don’t want to get vaccinated.

Apparently, the fact that many Pentecostals got their Trump prophecies wrong has not kept Internet preachers from using prophecy to push their own agenda.

To combat this pandemic of misinformation, Christian leaders need to speak up. This is exactly what the superintendents of the Pentecostal churches in the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – decided to do last week. In a joint statement, they warned against conspiracy theories and YouTube prophets, telling their flock to listen to medical authorities and take the vaccine.

Continue reading Pentecostal Leaders in Scandinavia Urge Believers not to Listen to Conspiracy Theories and “YouTube Prophets”

The American Church Must Choose the Way of the Cross

by Ramone Romero.

It seems that now there is a kind of lull in the momentum of the church at large in America. For decades she has poured her efforts into achieving political power. It culminated in being raised to the mountaintop during the last four years, after electing a leader who promised power to the church, if only she would support him.

And support him she did, in spite of his obvious greed, unrepentant immorality, dragon-like words, and his demonization of others (particularly his mocking of the weak and the ‘least of these’ such as the poor, foreigners, and oppressed minorities). At first many may have had a pang of conscience, but rationalized it as necessary to bow down in order to achieve the goals they sought through political power.

They may have rationalized that he could be influenced and changed. That she could hold him accountable. But instead he remained the same, and the church had to bow down repeatedly as he demanded more and more support (and praise). Having sold her soul once was not enough. She had to sell it again and again. And having done that so many times, she found that she had put all of her hope in him. She made herself afraid with conspiracies and countless fears of what would happen if her immoral champion were not re-elected.

She taught support for him from her pulpits. She prayed for his will to be done. Her prophets prophesied his victory. She sanctified his place and his causes, such as the imprisonment and breaking apart of refugee families. She allied with enemies of Christ’s ways such as white supremacists.

When he stirred up undeniable violence, and her prophecies failed (even as she tried so hard to have faith in them and make them come true), she had to pause.

Now she is in a time of pausing, in a lull.

Now she is at a crossroads.

Continue reading The American Church Must Choose the Way of the Cross

Four Heartbreaking Stories of Christians Lost to the QAnon Cult

QAnon has been labelled one of the most dangerous conspiracy theories today. Through the power of the Internet, the antisemitic cult that accuses celebrities and liberal politicians of pedophilia and blood libel and claims that only Donald Trump can save the world from satanism, has grown exponentially and was a dominating force behind the terrorist attack against the US Capitol.

Originating from the anarchist site 4chan which is filled with porn and white supremacy, the cult uses a lot of religious language and imagery similar to Christianity to attract followers from churches. As many American Christians already were Trump supporters and open to conspiracy theories, thousands have fallen victim to the cult, becoming more loyal to the anonymous “prophet” called Q than they are to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here are four testimonies from people close to Christians who have joined QAnon. Make sure to pray for them, and keep warning those around you for the danger of this cult!

“Please help me bring my husband back to reality”

A woman writes on Reddit:

All of this started about a month and a half ago when my husband began watching videos from a “prophet.” We are Christian and he has often watched things about prophets before, but I noticed a lot of the language seemed political which he usually doesn’t get into, and it also seemed a little paranoid.

Continue reading Four Heartbreaking Stories of Christians Lost to the QAnon Cult

It’s not Evangelicalism Anymore

300 years ago a movement of revival started within British and later American churches. This movement called the Church to return to the Gospel. It called the Church to share the message of Jesus with others and to follow Jesus more boldly. This movement was very diverse for its day. It affected most Christian denominations in the English-speaking world, and it touched many Christian communities. It was an international, interracial, intercultural, and interdenominational movement.

This movement promoted education, social reform, and inclusion in the Church. This movement was one of the main forces behind social justice movements for much of its history. Abolitionism, poverty-relief efforts, the Social Gospel, Labor Movement, Civil Rights Movement, and many other important causes were at least influenced by this movement.

The movement that I am talking about is Evangelicalism, but despite Evangelicalism having such a long and noble history, most don’t recognize it today – at least not in the United States. There are a number of factors that contributed to this:

First, Evangelicalism has always had a white supremacist wing. Even though Evangelicalism was indispensable in the abolitionist and civil rights movements, there was also always a segment that opposed those movements. On the one hand, you had John Wesley who argued strongly against slavery, but on the other you had Jonathan Edwards who owned slaves. There are still schisms in American churches over this exact issue. The Southern Baptist Convention is an example of an American Evangelical church founded on white supremacist principles. Continue reading It’s not Evangelicalism Anymore

Occupation and Covid: A Strange Christmas in Bethlehem

Guest blog by our friends at Churches for Middle East Peace, originally published here.

Bethlehem, considered the cradle of Christianity, is perhaps one of Earth’s most special places to embrace the Christmas spirit. Located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it’s the “little town” where Jesus was born, and it attracts thousands of pilgrims at Christmas. 

Christians have flocked to Bethlehem for centuries to celebrate the Christmas season, and each year the city hosts approximately one million tourists. 

A Sacred City for Three Religions

Bethlehem is the site of the Church of the Nativity, an underground cave where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus. A 14-pointed silver star beneath an altar that the emperor Constantine the Great and his mother Helena had built around the year 338 marks the spot, and the stone church is a key pilgrimage site for Christians and Muslims alike.

Continue reading Occupation and Covid: A Strange Christmas in Bethlehem