The Pentecostal and charismatic movements have a bad reputation among Christian anarchists and activists. There are too many examples of healing evangelists who control the masses through manipulation and hysteria, with promises of supernatural encounters only to gain money and status for themselves. Furthermore, many Pentecostals and charismatics support nationalism, war, discrimination and inequalities. They bless the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, they preach a prosperity gospel where strong faith leads to great wealth, they deny climate change and don’t care about the environment.
Yet, I am totally convinced that every Christian activist should embrace the gifts of the Spirit and pursue signs and wonders. Why? Because the mess I just described is of course not genuine a fruit of the Spirit, it is a result of what I call the Corinth Syndrome, when charismatic Christians portray their own crazy ideas and practices as divinely inspired.
The church at Corinth was experiencing charismatic chaos; they loved spiritual manifestations and everyone spoke in tongues simultaneously, but they showed no care for the poor and some were living in sexual immorality. Paul’s solution to the Corinthian problem is not commanding them to be less charismatic; on the contrary, he urges them to seek the gifts even more! However, he emphasizes that this must be done in order and in love.
Continue reading Why I as an Activist Love the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians comprise approximately 25 percent of global Christianity (around 600 million of 2.4 billion). This remarkable development has occurred within just the last century and has been called the “pentecostalization” of Christianity. Pentecostals and Charismatics experience Christianity and the world in distinctive ways, and Wipf and Stock’s Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice series invites discovery and development of Pentecostal-Charismatic approaches to peacemaking and social justice.
The following books make up the growing series, with more to come.
Continue reading Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice
by Craig Keener
In many circles, editorials and sermons on the true meaning of Christmas have become a routine, perhaps almost obligatory, protest against the materialism and rush of the season. Christmas, of course, has taken on various expressions in a range of cultures through history, along the way picking up fir trees, wrapped gifts, and developing permutations of figures such as St. Nicholas of Myra (a fourth-century bishop).
Continue reading Christmas vs the Empire
By Joshua Carson
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my preaching classes at seminary this semester, it’s that the events of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday sometimes require a change in what a congregation needs to hear on Sunday, supplanting what the preacher may have planned to preach earlier in the week. As a youth pastor, I knew that my recent evening message to our students had to change, given that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had carried out terror attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris, France, on Friday, 44 people in Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday, and 224 people on a flight out of Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport on October 31. I knew that our students were thinking, talking, posting, and tweeting about these events, and that they have grown more globally conscious over the last few years in praying for worldwide events.
Continue reading Responding to Acts of Extreme Violence
“I am fully convinced that activism for peace and justice should be performed in the power of the Holy Spirit. Miracles, healing, prophecy and evangelism should be combined with peacemaking, economic equality, simplicity and care for the environment, just as in the biblical church.” -Micael Grenholm
Holy Spirit Activism
by Robert Welsh
Christians who risk their lives for the Gospel always challenge me. Encountering heroic expressions of faith provokes me to question my own faith journey. Am I taking up my cross? If I were more courageous, would I take a different path? Should I be doing more “extreme” acts of faith? I had the opportunity to confront some of these questions as I studied Christians who risked their lives for the sake of making peace and bringing justice.
Continue reading Spirited Justice
by Tom Sine
My friend Ron Sider made some pretty harsh critiques about materialism in his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. He tried to persuade his readers that a Christian worldview doesn’t begin with the materialistic values that are so popular in modern culture. And rightly so.
In 2009 the Barna Group reported that only nine percent of American adults possess a biblical worldview. I will explain why I believe that many sincere believers have allowed the economic values of modern society to define the foundation of their worldview instead of anything that came from scripture.
The single question I would like you to explore with me is “What seems to be the purpose at the very center of our world that, if we embrace it, will create a better future for all people?” There are two very different responses to this question among American evangelicals. One answer comes from modern culture, the other from ancient faith.
Continue reading The Scandal of the Evangelical Worldview
“When I tweeted about the need to address gun violence after the college shooting in the Roseburg, Oregon, a man named Bob pushed back. ‘Check out car accident deaths,’ he tweeted sarcastically. ‘Guess we should ban cars.’ Actually, cars exemplify the public health approach we need to apply to guns. We don’t ban cars, but we do require driver’s licenses, seat belts, air bags, padded dashboards, safety glass and collapsible steering columns. And we’ve reduced the auto fatality rate by 95 percent.”
Research shows that when young students are suspended or expelled from school, they are several times more likely to experience disciplinary action later in their academic career; drop out or fail out of high school; report feeling disconnected from school; and be incarcerated later in life.
It turns out that principled pacifism is not the sole province of Mennonites. Jay Beaman and Brian Pipkin have uncovered a wealth of documents that testify to the peace commitments of other American religious groups. They have compiled them in a sourcebook entitled Pentecostal and Holiness Statements on War and Peace.