Challenging Prosperity Theology and Legalism in Africa

by Bob Ekblad, originally published on his blog.

For the past two weeks Gracie and I have ministered alongside our African partners to run four-day trainings for pastors and leaders in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. We have been delighted to see widespread negative images of God dramatically give way to our teachings and group Bible studies on God’s love and grace, exciting us to further equip people to proclaim good news.

Negative images of God are common in places of poverty and hardship. Christians, Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions are all inclined towards legalism and performance. Known “sinners” usually do not feel welcomed in church services, until they first make required changes. Once inside the church they will often hear messages of condemnation, and promises that a life of purity and sacrifice will lead to financial and personal success. Continue reading Challenging Prosperity Theology and Legalism in Africa

Article in Washington Post on Pentecostal-Charismatic Trump Support

Yesterday, PCPJ’s director Erica Ramirez and professor Leah Payne were published in the Washington Post as they explained the Pentecostal-charismatic support for Donald Trump.

They note that while several evangelical Trump supporters were initially skeptical to the candidate, Pentecostals and charismatics who support him did so early on. They identify five reasons why American P&Cs might have had an easier time accepting Trump as a great president compared to other Christians:

  1. Pentecostal-Charismatic celebrity culture
  2. Prosperity teaching
  3. Lowbrow know-how (anti-institutionalism)
  4. Zionism
  5. Monarchy Theology

We really recommend you to read the article in its entirety at Washington Post. Below is an excerpt from the last point, on how Trump is viewed as a divinely appointed monarch:

When Pentecostal-Charismatic advisers to Trump talk about their role in this divine drama, it is as godly intercessors on the president’s behalf.

From this vantage point, it hardly matters whether Trump behaves morally, won the popular vote or even colluded with Russia. Trump is not just a leader selected by the people: he is an intervention — God’s anointed, divinely elevated ruler. Actually, the sheer unlikeliness of Trump’s win fits the Pentecostal-Charismatic imagination for miraculous intervention, and moves Trump far above the reach of critique.

When viewed through the prism of Pentecostal-Charismatic tastes and theologies, the enthusiastic support among the faithful for Donald Trump becomes clear — to them, he’s God’s anointed king.

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!

Reinventing Pentecostal Prophetic Ministry in the Philippines

by Hadje C. Sadje.

“Sociologically, (Pentecostalism) it was a religion of the poor, marginalized, and dispossessed, who had little interest in matters of theology or church politics.” – Alister McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea (2007): 436-437.

Introduction

Notably without a question mark, the quotation above expresses the truth about Filipino Pentecostal/Charismatic movements are more attractive to poor and marginalized. According to Julie C. Ma and Wonsuk Ma (2010), a Korean couple who spent the 13 years working as missionaries in the Philippines, argue that such daily struggle has made Filipino people turn to religions which promise divine answers, and Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity has presented the most attractive message. For instance, they both describe that the nine-million strong El Shaddai Catholic Charismatic group in the Philippines exemplifies the flight of poverty-stricken masses to the miracle-performing God (p. 239). Continue reading Reinventing Pentecostal Prophetic Ministry in the Philippines

Re-thinking Romans 13

Romans 13:1-8 is a passage that has been used in ways that are unjust.  It has been used to justify the divine right of kings, to justify slavery, to justify apartheid and segregation.  This text has been used in support of the Just War Theory.  It’s still used in the church to justify oppressive policing and discounting of immigrant’s basic human rights.  If people would just obey the law, the logic goes, then they will be left alone.  But is that what this passage means?  Is Paul saying that that all laws are good? Is he saying that all people are treated equally under the law? Is he saying that laws should be obeyed without question?  These things are often read into the passage making these verses something like a sword to keep oppressed people in their place.  I don’t believe that was Paul’s intent.

Just because a particular action is legal does not mean it is just.  As God’s people it’s imperative that we carefully discern and think through texts like these so that we might walk well in the way of Jesus.  How shall we view this set of scriptures? Continue reading Re-thinking Romans 13

Heidi Baker on Gender Equality in the Church

Heidi Baker, founder and CEO of Iris Global – a missionary organization based in Mozambique – has inspired thousands of Christian women to aspire for leadership positions and reach their full potential. In this video from God TV, she explains some of the reasons we should embrace gender equality in the church. Who honestly thinks their daughter cannot change the world, or that a donkey would be more worthy of sharing God’s word than a woman?

What is the best argument for gender equality according to you?

It’s Impossible to Both Love and Kill Our Enemies

Jesus told us to love our enemies (Mt 5:44). This has been the cornerstone of Christian pacifist theology; whether you look at the early church, or the Anabaptists or the early Pentecostals, they all agreed on that loving enemies is incompatible with killing them, and hence they refused to wage wars or use violence against other human beings.

For this reason, the Christian non-pacifist has to argue for one of the following positions:

  1. Killing is an act of love towards the one you kill.
  2. We should not follow Jesus’ command to love enemies when we decide to kill people.

There are serious problems with both of these ideas. Let’s start with the first one. Continue reading It’s Impossible to Both Love and Kill Our Enemies

The Difference Between Pentecostalism and Christian Pentecostals

As reflective Pentecostals, we have many concerns about the progress of the movement. We know how much it is growing in the world. We know how many marvelous stories and testimonies we can find in our churches, but also we know about the abuse of power. We know about the general rejection of theology; we know about the unconscious politicization. So when we put all that stuff in balance, we have two options: leave or remain. I have to be honest. I left, a few years ago. Disappointed. Sad.

I couldn’t understand how God was working among people who despise to know him. It took me some years to understand that God works wherever he wants. And also, that the rejection of an intellectual knowledge doesn’t mean rejection of other kinds of knowledge. Then I realized how lost I was. I tried — wrongly — to use all the tools I acquired studying, but I forgot that theology is not merely an intellectual discipline, but a way of life. That is the meaning it had for the first Christians. In other words, I discovered that not only my brothers were unconscious about themselves — so was I. Because I hadn’t understand the core of Pentecostalism. Continue reading The Difference Between Pentecostalism and Christian Pentecostals

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice