An Angel of Mercy Appointed by Prophecy

UK banknote commemorating Elizabeth FryFrom 2001, her face was on every Bank of England £5 note, but who was Elizabeth Fry? She was born into a banking family in Norwich, England, in 1780. When she was 18, she heard a Quaker preacher and was converted. She joined a Quaker assembly, where a woman had a prophecy for her: “You are born to be a light to the blind, speech to the dumb and feet to the lame.”

Immediately, Fry was moved to charitable acts. She collected old clothes for the poor, visited those who were sick in her neighbourhood, and started a Sunday School to teach children to read. Marriage took her to London, and motherhood kept her so busy that after 12 years she lamented: “I fear my life is slipping away to little purpose.” How wrong she was!

Another Quaker minister told her of the horrifying conditions in the capital’s prisons. Fry went to the infamous Newgate jail to see for herself. She found hundreds of women and their children living violent lives in unsanitary conditions and sleeping on the floor without bedding.

Fry sprang into action. Immediate practical needs had to be met. She enlisted local women to make clothes for the children. She got permission to start a school for prison children. She founded an organisation of women who would visit prisoners, pray and read scriptures with them, and provide them with materials to sew and knit goods which could be sold to give them some income. Continue reading An Angel of Mercy Appointed by Prophecy

Christian Trump Supporters, How Can You Be OK With This?

Donald Trump has been President of the USA for four months now, and one must be very ignorant or biased not to see that it already has been a chaotic presidency.

Just take the Russia investigation. Recently, American spies uncovered that Russian officials had talked about how to influence Trump through Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, Trump associates with close ties to Russia.

Few have missed how Trump fired James Comey, the director of the FBI that was leading an investigation on the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. Trump then accidentally revealed to NBC News and to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador that the Russia investigation was his motivation for firing Comey.

Trump’s meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office was unprecedented, and while American media was banned from the meeting, Russian media wasn’t. Reports suggested that Trump shared highly classified code-word intel with the Russians, something his staff denied but Trump himself admitted on Twitter. He then accidentally revealed that the source of the intel was Israel, when he himself was in Israel. Continue reading Christian Trump Supporters, How Can You Be OK With This?

4 Common Myths About Christian Feminists and Egalitarians

by Faith Totushek.

Frequently Jezebel is a label that many Christian women receive if they believe in the full equality of men and women in the home and church or if they consider themselves Christian Feminists.  Both feminism and egalitarianism are labels that are vastly misunderstood in the church and have had their meanings co opted by opponents who define them as in some sense women who are out for power over men, unwilling to submit to authority, men haters and those who would support abortion.  In reality this is not true.  These are myths.

1.  Are feminists and egalitarians out for power over men?

Often I hear feminists and egalitarians described as those who have a Jezebel Spirit.  The Jezebel Spirit is described as someone who seeks control over passive men who are unable to speak up for themselves and are seduced by women to give over control of their lives.  Such women are considered dangerous to the church and home.  In reality, as women and men develop emotional and spiritual maturity, they begin to have stronger voices and a stronger sense of identity.  This kind of growth leads to an ability to say what one believes and ask for what one needs as well as the ability to differentiate oneself from the self of others.  If an individual does not have a strong sense of self they will often process a request as someone trying to control them.  It has nothing to do with power over and everything to do with asking for what one wants or needs.  Often the Jezebel label is given to any woman who is merely seeking to have a share in decision making or wishes to serve in an area that is most often dominated by men.  To aspire to be a pastor or a leader can bring the label Jezebel to many.

Continue reading 4 Common Myths About Christian Feminists and Egalitarians

The Kingdom of God is Already Here

by Hye Sung Francis Gehring.

I remember falling in love with Jesus my junior year of high school. God received me, embraced me, didn’t ask questions. God loved me.

And then I started getting to know Christians.

I went to an end-times Bible study most Saturday mornings my senior year of high school. We listened to recordings of teachings from Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer – Kansas City, a charismatic ministry with a mission of praying and worshiping 24/7.

It was a small Bible study. Usually there were just three or four of us. We ate bagels, sat in fold-out chairs in a circle, often huddled around a space heater. We listened to Bickle describe the dreadful days that were coming, and every so often one of us would exclaim “Wow!” or “Amen!” Continue reading The Kingdom of God is Already Here

Pentecostal Strategies for Saving the Environment

by Luis Aranguiz Kahn. Part 4 of 4. Read the whole article as a PDF here.

Let us end this series with some conclusions and concerns. Pentecostals have notably matured since they began. They have the potential to do great things in societies. If they become aware and reflect more on ecological matters, they could be a strong agent of influence and change. This is a long process that has already begun. What would happen if we mix radical morality, poverty and exploitation experience, political holiness, ecological concern, and spirit-baptized human strength focused on the problem of creation as a spirit-baptized one?

Let’s see some aspects in which this possible new Pentecostal LatinAmerican Eco theology ethics could engage. Some global ecological issues we can name are, for instance, carbon dioxide emissions, creating a renewable energy future and the social cost of energy. In the first place, Pentecostals can do a great influence calling for carbon equity policies by requesting the creation of jobs while demanding a decrease in the impact of air pollution, an improvement in economic conditions and climate resiliency for the poor. The most polluted cities in the region like Bogotá, Lima, Santiago, Montevideo and Cochabamba, are part of countries with a strong Pentecostal presence and big national churches must take part in this discussion to work on fighting against pollution.

In another way, if Pentecostals develop a larger and stronger reflection about ecology, would it be possible for them to discuss to invest 5% of their investments into climate solutions to end energy poverty with clean energy? It is one of the most important questions regarding the economic power that different Pentecostal denominations have reached. In the present, Pentecostals are near to 13% of total population (560 million people) in Latin America. In all countries it is possible to find big national churches that are economically strong. If leadership of these organizations assumes a commitment with energy ethics, they not only could mobilize thousands and thousands of believers but a lot of economic resources to work in climate solutions and clean energy. Continue reading Pentecostal Strategies for Saving the Environment

Why Both Conservative and Liberal Churches are Decreasing

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Rachel Held Evans

Author and speaker Rachel Held Evans has become an important voice for the many post-evangelical millennials in the US who long for a church with more Jesus and less Republican prejudice. In an interview a few years ago, Evans names progressive values along with sacramental church life as being the reason she joined the Episcopalian church. She was asked to comment the fact that Episcopalianism is rapidly losing church attendees, to which she responds:

Just about every denomination in the American church — including many evangelical denominations — is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates… Lately I’ve been wondering if a little death and resurrection is exactly what the American church needs… A church might produce thousands of attendees without producing any disciples.

This is quite remarkable, since the point of one of Evans’ most famous articles on CNN’s Belief Blog is that evangelical churches must become more liberal to stop millenials from leaving them. This is a similar argument to John Shelby Spong‘s famous thesis that Christianity must change or die. A former bishop in Evans’ new church, Spong argued that this change includes stop believing in theism, stop beliving in the supernatural, stop believing that prayer is useful and stop believing in physical resurrection. Pretty ridiculous. Evans is far from this extreme, but her reasoning in the CNN article was similar: liberal Christianity is necessary for church growth. Continue reading Why Both Conservative and Liberal Churches are Decreasing

How Needy is ‘Needy’? Some Early Church Views

Basil of Caesarea  (330-379) was a highly influential leader in the Early Church, who laboured and wrote extensively for the rights of the poor. His stance on wealth and poverty is blunt and uncompromising. It is also very relevant to today, where consumerism has achieved almost god-like status.

This piece shows that Basil was also a keen and unflinching observer of human nature – and human excuses. The writer identifies ‘the human tendency to adjust the definition of “need” to fit one’s current level of income.’

Basil was on to this 1600 years ago. His homily (practical sermon) on the man in Jesus’ parable, I Will Tear Down My Barns [and Build Bigger Ones], treats the barns not so much as symbols of wealth but rather as representing our definition of needs based on our circumstances.

‘In effect’, continues the article, ‘Basil says that if we never have any extra to share, this is due to the fact that whenever we find ourselves in possession of a surplus, we immediately adjust our definition of need to fit the new situation.’ Continue reading How Needy is ‘Needy’? Some Early Church Views

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice