God’s Non-Violent Ideal in the Old Testament

By Greg Boyd, originally published on his blog ReKnew.

While God condescended to working within the violent-prone, fallen framework of his people in the Old Testament (OT)—as I argue in Crucifixion of the Warrior God—the OT is also full of references to how God worked to preserve his non-violent ideal as much as possible. He did this by continually reminding his people not to place any trust in the sword, but to rather place all their trust him.

For example, as Judah was facing impending doom, the Lord told Hosea that he would save them “not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I the LORD their God will save them” (Hos 1:7).

So too, through the Psalmist the Lord encourages his people by saying:

        Do not put your trust in princes,

        in human beings, who cannot save.

        When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;

        on that very day their plans come to nothing.

        Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

        whose hope is in the LORD their God (Ps. 146:3-5).

Continue reading God’s Non-Violent Ideal in the Old Testament

Viruses, Creation Care and the Problem of Evil

We are at the moment living through a Covid-19 pandemic and many are asking the question why would God allow such a harmful virus and why would he allow so many people to die?  Some Christian preachers are attributing this viral outbreak to our nation’s sin–two in particular but such preachers conveniently ignore other types of sins such as disregard for creation.  Regardless, the preachers seem to be saying that we have this horrible virus because God is punishing us.  But is that what the Bible really teaches and is that really who God is?

I begin with how the Bible speaks of God as LOVE.  In 1 John 4:7-8, we are taught that God is love.  Not that God loves or that God does loving things, but that God is himself love.  I don’t believe God is sending lethal viruses.

God has chosen to partner with human beings

In the beginning of Genesis, God created human beings in God’s image.  As image bearers God gave human beings the task of ruling in the garden.  They were to produce families, food, tend the animals and cultivate the garden and co-work with God in creative ways.  The first humans were to do this in relationship with God, accepting God’s wisdom, guidance and influence. But as the story goes, human beings were led astray by a deceptive being and found themselves following the wisdom of the serpent.  (The serpent is an image for wisdom in the Ancient Near East).  (Genesis 1-3) Continue reading Viruses, Creation Care and the Problem of Evil

Reading the Revelation in the Age of COVID-19

Within the span of weeks, the United States has gone from having a handful of cases of COVID-19 to leading the world in cases of infection. This has left much of the world bewildered. Seeing how the virus was affecting other nations, with months of notice, we were still left unprepared. What is it about the structure and function of our country that left us so vulnerable to what should have been a more manageable situation?

For two millennia, in times of turmoil Christians have turned to the Revelation of John for insight. The text has wisdom to share in this time of pandemic as well. By understanding the nature of apocalyptic literature—a type of writing that would have been familiar to the earliest church who experienced Pentecost but is strange to us—American Christians can begin to address difficult questions about our nation’s response. More importantly, we can turn to the biblical text to learn how the church can faithfully respond in this time.

The translation Revelation in the book’s title comes from the Greek apokalypsis, which literally means uncovering or revealing, like removing a veil. In the case of the Apocalypse of John, Jesus Christ has opened something up to the Seer that is meant to be shared. When Pentecostals share a dream or vision with the church, they are engaging in the continuation of this tradition. Paul uses the same Greek term to refer to the spiritual gifts when he writes that “each one of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation” (1 Cor 14:26, NIV). In the same verse he names the purpose of these gifts: “that the church may be built up.” And if there was ever a time the church was in need of building it up, it is now.

Continue reading Reading the Revelation in the Age of COVID-19

Not All American Pentecostals Support Donald Trump

Recently, Religion Unplugged published a story by Julia Duin featuring PCPJ. It’s titled “Meet The Evangelicals Who Are Anti-Trump”, and while I personally don’t wear “anti-Trump” as a label it is true that we have been critical to President Trump for not promoting peace and justice very well.

We follow Jesus and see peace and justice as something very central to the Gospel message. We’re sad to see how many of our fellow Pentecostals and Charismatics, particularly in the West, argue for things like:

  • that everyone should have weapons,
  • that refugees should be deported to war and misery,
  • that man-made climate change does not exist,
  • that economic inequality is good,
  • and that gender equality has gone too far.

These are not things that Jesus stands for in the gospels, nor are they things that the Pentecostal movement originally stood for. Early Pentecostal friends were pacifists, included women preachers and were committed to poverty reduction and a sustainable environment.

They tried to resurrect all of Pentecost in Acts 2, not just the tongues part. We at PCPJ wish to do the same. Continue reading Not All American Pentecostals Support Donald Trump

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

How Nationalism and Inequality Makes the Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

As the new coronavirus spreads across the world there is a big risk of it becoming a full-blown pandemic, killing tens of thousands if not millions of people. The complaint of the World Health Organization is that many countries are ill-prepared for handling this.

It’s not hard to see why.

Two things are crucial for stopping an infectious disease before it transforms into a pandemic: international cooperation and universal health care of good quality. When these are missing, the likelihood of certain areas around the world becoming infection hubs increases, which in turn spreads the disease uncontrollably.

In a worst-case scenario, between 60 and 80 percent of the global population might get infected by the new coronavirus, killing tens of millions.

Unfortunately, there are two trends that go against international cooperation and universal health care – one ideological and one economic. I’m thinking of nationalism and economic inequality. Continue reading How Nationalism and Inequality Makes the Coronavirus Crisis Even Worse

Did Jesus Really Not Come to Address Global Hunger?

I was recently published in the Christian Post where I argued that Christians should live simply, generously and sustainably to address global hunger. Three million children die annually, while the rest of the world has much more food than we need (and throw away large portions of it).

I didn’t expect much opposition to what I wrote, but it turns out that in some evangelical circles, feeding the hungry is a sensitive topic.

Jeff Maples at Reformation Charlotte wrote a passionate response in which he, among other things, calls me a heretic and say that I preach a demonic message that might lead to me losing my salvation. Let’s see if he has any Biblical support for these accusations:

Evangelicals are lining up at the door trying to make the case that Jesus is all about a socialistic government that makes everyone equal. One of the stupidest articles I’ve seen in a long time is an article recently published at the Christian Post by Micael Grenholm titled How would Jesus respond to global hunger? In the article, while he doesn’t use the word “socialism,” Grenholm argues that Jesus taught a form of socialism based on the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31.

Maples is right about me not mentioning socialism. I also don’t mention governments. How Maples reaches the conclusion that my point with the article is that “Jesus is all about a socialistic government” is therefore quite a mystery. Continue reading Did Jesus Really Not Come to Address Global Hunger?

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.

Justice as Electoral Praxis: A Hope for Florida, Latina Evangélicas and Election 2020

By Elizabeth D. Rios, EdD, DMin.

The Latino/a growing population continues to increase in North America and their importance to elections has increased as well. While some parties are doing a far better job of reaching out to this community, the reality is we are not the same and we certainly do not think the same. We are not a monolith and it would be erroneous to assume as much. Due to this reality, election 2020 will prove to be just as much a nail-biting spectacle as was the 2016 election or most any election in Florida for that matter. The expectation that Latinos are going to deliver major votes to a particular candidate is already being circulated in media.

The Problem with Florida

Florida has a population of 21.99 million residents and about 20.5% of that group are Latino/as. 70% of the total population in Florida identify as practicing a Christian-based faith. Latino/as make up 1 in 4 Floridians making them the largest minority group in Florida and 22% of them identify as Evangelical Protestant with other categories making up the 71% of religious Latinos in Florida. The fastest growing county in Florida is where I live, Broward County.

I have wanted to move during election time. You see, if you are in the U.S. you already know that Florida is a huge battleground state that always seems to get on the news for some fiasco. Perhaps you remember the hanging chands in 2000, or the 3,000 disappearing voters in Palm Beach County and other problems during the 2018 mid-term elections for governor. No matter how you look at it, Florida has had a very rocky road during elections, mostly due to voter suppression and election integrity. I doubt it will be any different this time around. But I do have hope, not in a system but in a people. Just like the politicians, I have hope in some Latinos/as. It is wise to consider this group of people as they are not only the fastest-growing minority group in the nation but also in Florida.  What would be unwise is to assume how they will vote, especially those who identify as evangelicals. We’re complicated. Continue reading Justice as Electoral Praxis: A Hope for Florida, Latina Evangélicas and Election 2020

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