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→
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→
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→
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.
Erika Akimana from Kigali, Rwanda, has been living in the New Humanity Mission Community since 1997, founded just a few years after the genocide. I interviewed her on what made her make such a commitment, and what a central African Christian community is like.
What is your community like?
We are 16 adults and 16 children. Half of the adults live with me and my husband Rukundo in Kigali, while the others live in a community house on the countryside. We come from both middle class and poorer class backgrounds, sharing all possessions and praying together every evening. Since 2013 we have a business, selling porridge, which some members from the Jesus Fellowship recently helped us with.
Why do you live like this?
I personally grew up in a divorced family and was very unhappy, I wondered why there were so many problems in the world. People are selfish, some are rich and others poor, there are orphans and divorce. I wanted to stop these problems, but I didn’t know how.Continue reading “Acts 2 is the Solution”→
When we talk about living in peace with Muslims, some Christians become uneasy. They reason that because Islam and Christianity have such differences, true peace isn’t possible.
Yet a call to live in peace is not the same as a call to harmonize the two faiths. Indeed, it would be impossible to harmonize them without fundamentally changing one or both. Although they share a few beliefs in common, Islam and Christianity have major theological differences that are irreconcilable.
It is still entirely possible to live well with Muslim neighbors in our communities. Sure, you and your Muslim friend might enjoy a theological debate once in a while. (Depending on one’s personality, such an activity might or might not seem like a good time.) But it doesn’t have to keep us from getting along with each other as neighbors. Continue reading Our Muslim Neighbors→
This Good Friday, millions of Christians over the world contemplate about the sufferings of Christ as he died for our sins. In my experience, it is not so common among Pentecostals and Charismatics to talk about suffering as something achievable. Rather, our emphasis on healing has often made us think that pain is always evil. And while I am convinced that we should always pray and work to alleviate involuntarily suffering, we should also be ready to suffer for Christ’s sake – and even count it as a joy! (Mt 5:11-12)
After all, we follow a crucified God who told us to take up our crosses and follow Him (Lk 14:27). He told us that we should expect persecution and turn the other cheek when attacked (Mt 5:39). We are also told in the Scriptures that we will experience spiritual trials and hardships (Jam 1:2ff.).
This may seem hard to sync with the Kingdom message of fighting suffering through healing, deliverance, poverty reduction and peacemaking. But it is one of the Kingdom paradoxes – while we should alleviate suffering, we should be ready to suffer. We should not seek suffering or be happy when others suffer, but when we are affected by suffering, which undoubtedly will happen from time to time, we should not interpret it as being abandoned by God but see it as a humiliating experience for us to identify ourselves with Christ. Continue reading The Role of Suffering in the Charismatic Movement→