Category Archives: Spirituality

Three Biblical Methods for Handling Conflict

We are called by Jesus to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), resolving conflicts as we go forth to spread the Gospel about his love. Peace is always dependent on at least two parties, which is why we might experience conflict even when our intention is peace.

This is why Paul writes “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18). We try our best on our part, and pray that the other respond constructively.

What does this look like in practice? God seems to be very concerned with us asking that question, since the Bible provides us with several practical tools for conflict resolution and peacemaking.

1. Breaking the cycle of hostility

The first tool is given to us by Paul right after he says that we should seek to live at peace with everyone. He continues: Continue reading Three Biblical Methods for Handling Conflict

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

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

Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

by Maximus Nyssen.

As I continue to survey the American Christian landscape regarding responses to the coronavirus pandemic, my disappointment and bewilderment grows daily. Much of the responses from the Evangelical community – and especially those within the Pentecostal-Charismatic framework – have been frankly dangerous, conspiratorial, hyper partisan, scientifically illiterate and theologically bankrupt.

There are two dominant heresies alive in American Christianity today, which would be fundamentalism and nationalism.

Fundamentalism advocates an entirely unhistorical theological viewpoint that the Bible is a scientific textbook, and that any scientific hypothesis, theory, or fact that “opposes” some supposed scientific principle believed to be written in the Bible must be rejected as some sort of atheist attack on the faith.

This is a fairly modern heresy, one that entirely rejects historical theological discovery and exegetical studies, and only really came into prominence in the earlier part of the 20th Century. No one in antiquity, the early church, or the vast majority of the history of the Church held to any notion of fundamentalism.

Nationalism advocates the view that America is God’s “special nation” and that this nation is the best nation that’s ever existed anywhere, and implicitly propagates that all other nations, peoples, and races have something defective, lacking, wrong, or even evil in them. Continue reading Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

Pentecostal World Fellowship Aims to Inform 100 Million People in Developing Countries About COVID-19

The Pentecostal World Fellowship has produced some excellent material about COVID-19 that will be handed out in areas with limited access to information. Through Pentecostal churches and networks, it will hopefully reach 100 million people.

“As far as I know, this is the first time ever that the Pentecostal global network has coordinated an informational campaign about an urgent crisis in society in this way. We hope we will reach out to people in churches all over the world and be able to contribute in limiting and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in societies. This is a chance to be there for marginalized groups who might otherwise not be reached,” Niclas Lindgren, director of Swedish organization PMU that has helped producing the material, said in a statement.

Some examples of the advice provided in the material:

  • If someone gets COVID-19, it does not mean they have a spiritual ailment or they are punished by God.
  • No person should be stigmatized for contracting COVID-19 or blamed for having had little faith.
  • Encourage those who are very sick to seek medical attention according to the national health guidelines (see the example set by Jesus in Luke 17:14).
  • No person should be condemned for having practiced caution, remained home or avoided physical greetings. Instead, the exemplary behavior should be highlighted in the church.
  • The importance of praying for the affected; comforting and encouraging those who are experiencing fear and anxiety.

Download the material here!

Some Great Charismatic Bible Teaching to Keep You Occupied in Self-Quarantine

I have a tradition: when I get sick, I listen to John Wimber. The former leader of the Vineyard movement who went home to God in 1997 is my absolute favorite theologian and he often talks about healing and hope, which is encouraging when one’s own health fails. His Bible studies on evangelism, poverty reduction and discipleship are just as good.

I especially love when he connects these topics with his charismatic theology as a true charismactivist! Wimber’s charismatic ministry is characterized by a great deal of realism, caution and humility, where suffering finds room alongside healing.

My wife Sarah and I are, like millions of others around the world, isolated in our home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In my case, this means more time for writing and reading, but I also like to listen to good teaching and this is a golden opportunity for me to return to John Wimber’s fantastic lecture series from the “Signs, Wonders and Church Growth” conference in Pasadena 1985. Fortunately, these lectures are still on YouTube.

In addition to teaching, Wimber devotes much time in these videos to his “clinic” with prophetic words and prayers for the sick, where several healings are captured by the camera in real-time. Continue reading Some Great Charismatic Bible Teaching to Keep You Occupied in Self-Quarantine

The Five Worst Christian Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic

We love the church. We love how beautiful, fun, messy and weird she is. She is the body of Christ, the city on a hill, the messenger of salvation.

However, this very love also compels us to point out when some of her bodyparts do things that are very, very wrong.

As the coronavirus pandemic marches on, we’re sad to report that the response of some Christians has been outrageously damaging. Either by using the crisis to earn money, spreading wild conspiracy theories or encouraging their church members to infect each other.

We must not forget that many other Christians do an amazing job of combatting the virus, helping the vulnerable and preaching the Gospel.

That being said, let’s have a look at the five worst Christian responses to the pandemic. Continue reading The Five Worst Christian Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Holiness, Healing and Helping the Poor: The Ministry of Nelly Hall

In a time where it was controversial at best and impossible at worst for a woman to preach, Swedish evangelist Nelly Hall (1848-1916) gathered crowds of thousands of people as she preached about salvation, holiness and discipleship.

She was part of the holiness movement, and according to church historian David Bundy, the Holiness Union of Sweden would probably not have existed without her (1).

After being inspired by the preaching of American Methodist evangelist William E. Boardman, and after visiting the Salvation Army’s headquarters in London, Hall decided to become a full-time preacher (2).

For 20 years she traveled around Sweden, Norway, Germany, and the US. As she preached the Gospel, she also prayed for healing. Opera singer Ida Nihlén joined her to sing hymns and Gospel songs.

She was a frequent speaker at the Torp conference, a center for revivalist spirituality in central Sweden that still occurs annually to this day, gathering thousands of believers.

Bundy concludes:

”From the Holiness revivalists in London, she brought elements of social justice and ministry to the poor, the freedom of women to preach and teach, the use of healing as an evangelistic tool, and the understanding of baptism in the Holy Spirit as a gift of God that transcended denominational boundaries as well as an international network of ministry.”(3)

Hall clearly shows us that it’s not only possible to combine a charismatic, evangelistic ministry with a passion for justice and women’s rights – it’s the best way to do ministry!

Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author, and editor for PCPJ.

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!

References

(1) David Bundy, Visions of Apostolic Mission, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2009, p. 114.

(2) Gunner, Gunilla, “Nelly Amalia Hall”, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon, https://skbl.se/sv/artikel/NellyHall

(3) Bundy, Visions, pp. 114-115.

The Baffling Errors of The Trump Prophecies

As another presidential election is on its way in the US, Christian Trump supporters are stepping up. At Charisma Magazine and other Trump-friendly Christian media houses, the president’s major character flaws, lies, and hurtful policies are swept under the rug and instead it is emphasized that he’s doing the will of God and that it was prophesized that he would be president.

Yes, prophecized.

And while it is possible that God informed prophetic Christians that Trump would be president in order to just inform (or even warn) them, this is often taken to mean that God really likes Trump’s presidency and that his people should vote for him again.

William de Arteaga takes a closer look in Pneuma Review at the most important Trump prophecies people constantly refer to – the ones shared by Mark Taylor – and shows that there’s a lot in there that are factually incorrect and morally dubious.

Hardly the work of the Almighty God.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: Continue reading The Baffling Errors of The Trump Prophecies