The Jesus Agenda

by Craig M. Watts. Originally published at The Yoke, reposted with permission.

Clarity brings trouble.

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Few ministers would bother preaching a second sermon if they got the reaction Jesus received after his first one in his hometown synagogue. Many preachers have had people respond to a message with anger but not with attempts on their lives. Jesus roused passions with his preaching. And some of those passions were deadly. Continue reading The Jesus Agenda

Black Lives Don’t Matter As Much As the National Anthem

by Ramone Romero.

It seems sometimes that in the national debate about #TakeAKnee the focus has become about “the flag” and “the anthem”, and it is often being forgotten that #TakeAKnee is a protest about the systemic injustices of law enforcement against people of color.

Yet even if that is forgotten in the news and chatter, this is still intensely about race.

The #TakeAKnee protests in the NFL (and spreading across the sports world) are offensive precisely because they began with black athletes.

The offense people are taking as disrespect to the flag, the anthem and to “America” itself comes because these are black athletes protesting.

How dare they interrupt the anthem?
How dare they not salute the flag in the way we want?
How dare they draw any amount of attention to themselves?
How dare they interrupt our holy moment of nationalistic worship?

Continue reading Black Lives Don’t Matter As Much As the National Anthem

The Good Christian Woman’s Life

by Rachel Stella, originally published here.

I woke up around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, May 10, 2015, to the loud beeping of a text message. Normally I silence my phone when I go to bed, but I had just gotten a promotion at work. I was one of the newsroom editors now, and even though no one had told me I was obligated to be on call 24/7, I felt responsible to be ready to handle major breaking news over the weekends.

“Downtown Utica is on fire. I’m getting photos now.”

I had told Scott, our photographer, to contact me first if anything crazy happened on weekends, because I thought the other hardworking staff should get a break. He had done what I had asked him to do. Even so, I was irritated at being aroused from a deep sleep. Not irritated at Scott, but irritated that this was happening. And scared for Utica. (That poor little town had already experienced a deadly tornado and some awful flooding.) I probably let out a nasty word or two as I adjusted to the reality. I wasn’t raised that way, but — confession time — potty mouth has developed from living alone.

I threw a jacket over whatever I was wearing and walked the two blocks to the newsroom, where I plunked into my chair and hastily assembled a brief story with a photo sent by Scott to put on our website and link to on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Continue reading The Good Christian Woman’s Life

The Gift of Provocation? Tertullian Certainly Had It!

Tertullian (full name Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus) was born at Carthage in North Africa around AD 155, son of a Roman centurion. He trained as a lawyer and had a razor-sharp mind. Little of his early life is known, but at about 40 he became a Christian. Immediately, he began to write – and Christendom hardly knew what had hit it!

He didn’t ‘do’ much reasoned theology; he confronted. Wrong teachings, sloppy morals, lax leaders, cowardly faith, Tertullian laid into them all. His writing is passionate, with holy sarcasm – and at times still funny even today. You sense a ‘wildness’, a burning heart for integrity and justice, contemptuous of all compromise. Here are some examples:

At a time of fierce persecution, when many favoured fleeing, he wrote: The blood of the martyrs is [the] seed [of the church], adding that once you start fleeing, you will never stop fleeing!

Seeing the growing emphasis on education in church leadership, he cried: What has Athens [headquarters of Greek philosophy] got to do with Jerusalem!

He took aim at worldly pursuits: All public entertainment damages the spirit.

He castigated the folly of persecutors: If the Tiber rises too high, or the Nile too low, the remedy is always to feed Christians to the lions.

He understood the fleshly human nature that he was confronting: The first reaction to truth is hatred.

Perhaps most biting of all is his judgement on self-centred living: Whoever lives only to benefit himself, benefits the world only when he dies!

Yet Tertullian was more than a polemicist. He was deeply conscious of his personal failings; once, he wrote a piece on patience because he knew he had to learn it. Continue reading The Gift of Provocation? Tertullian Certainly Had It!

Is Pentecostalism Dispensationalist?

by Tony Richie. Part 1 of 3. Read the whole article as a PDF here.

Introduction

A surging crisis on the current global horizon centers on so-called “Christian Zionism.” The controversy surrounding Christian Zionism arises from its association with political practices in the unceasingly and increasingly unstable Middle East region involving Israelis and Palestinians. Though an oversimplification, Christian Zionism is generally speaking a theological position with political implications.

However, Christian Zionism is exceedingly difficult to address because it exists in variegated forms, ranging from individuals or groups who generally support the right of contemporary Israelis to exist in their ancient homeland to extensively organized political activists with agendas of varying degrees of radicalism.[1]

The former usually cite biblical and humanitarian values in vindication of their support for Israel. Some of the latter tend to be completely uncritical of Israeli policies and practices, openly aggressive against their opponents, and either totally unaware of or unconcerned with the plight of Palestinians and religious others. Much of the basis for the latter position appears to be built upon a specific form of dispensationalist ideology. Continue reading Is Pentecostalism Dispensationalist?

The Politics of Pentecostalism

by Luis Aránguiz Kahn. Originally published at Pensimiento Pentecostal.

Pentecostalism is a movement that surged in the beginning of the 20th century simultaneously in different parts of the world and in the middle of the diversity of the protestant and evangelical churches. In general terms, its social base was made of the poor, marginalized and discriminated. In the case of South America, there were two points of beginning. In Brazil by the hand of Luigi Fransescon, and in Chile it was brought about by Willis Hoover. From there on the movement has expanded geographically to the entire Southern Cone, but it has also had a notable quantitative growth in the different countries in the zone. There has also been an influence from external Pentecostalism, especially from The United States.

By the nature of movement there coexists an ample heterogeneity of churches, practices and believes in the interior of the Pentecostalism. This, in methodological terms, complicates the analysis of the phenomenon and the possibility of offering an explanation that stretches over its diversity. Therefore once more, if we speak in general terms, it is possible to notice that the Pentecostalism has arisen from a political derivation that can reveal itself in two ways, and which will not be unknown to anyone familiar in any way with this type of church.

On the one hand, it is possible to observe the existence of a Pentecostalism which calls itself “apolitical”. Within this category every church and believer would fit who, in the name of a moral dualism which sees the behaviors of non-Christians as mundane, rejects the political field (especially in its partisan version ) by considering it mundane, that is to say sinful. In those who maintain this form of thinking, there exists a tendency to reaffirm the status quo. Even when the political field is avoided, the “apoliticals” tend to champion the political groups which uphold the conservation of order.

In this way, for example, it is not strange to encounter Pentecostals who support anti-Marxist dictatorships in the previous century, as seen in the cases of Guatemala and Chile. In the same way today it is possible to encounter Pentecostals who support parties which are morally conservative, in order to avoid legislations which approve homosexual marriage, abortion and euthanasia. In a certain way, whether they want it or not, the “apoliticism” ends up being more a distant horizon than a way of living, well examples like these show that although one avoids forming parties or participate in them, inevitably one will participate in the public square. Therefore the query that remains is understanding this apoliticism as a fundamentally political act. Continue reading The Politics of Pentecostalism

6 Ways The Bible Was Hijacked to Support Racism.

I’ve been reflecting on recent headlines about the emergence or re-emergence of white supremacy.  I’ve been especially disturbed by how quiet my tribe is and by how defensive conversations around race are among my faith group.  I can’t speak for everyone but I can share about some of the myths that were commonly discussed when I was growing up.

I grew up in a rural/suburban mostly white culture around good hardworking people who went to church, loved their neighbors and were largely good citizens.  Most would never march or support a white supremacist cause or overtly try to hurt anyone.  In fact the unspoken rule was “don’t hurt anyone and be nice to everyone.” Nevertheless, racism was a part of the folk Christianity that I grew up with.  And I use the word folk Christianity because I believe these myths are aberrations and not a part of true Christianity.  I hope to refute these myths as simply as I can.

The first myth I encountered was the “Curse of Ham.”  The curse of Ham was drawn from the story of Noah found in Genesis 9:18-27.  Noah had planted a vineyard and made some wine and after an evening of drinking he became drunk and naked.  One of his son’s noticed that he was naked and told the others who walked in backwards and covered him with a robe.  Ham the one who found his father drunk and naked was cursed.  Ham founded the Canaanites.  As folk religion does, this text was applied to African-Americans who had come from Africa in slave ships to the US serving many years in forced slavery.  The curse implied that Ham’s descendents would serve his brothers Shem and Japheth.  Then I was shown a map of where each son of Noah settled and naturally the map showed that Ham settled in Africa.  It was inferred then that such people were cursed by God and destined for service to the people who settled in Europe and the Americas. Continue reading 6 Ways The Bible Was Hijacked to Support Racism.

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice