Tag Archives: Craig Keener

Proof that Prayer Works

Article published in the Christian Post.

Can prayer be scientifically measured? In 1872, English intellectual Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, attempted to test the effects of prayer in a famous experiment. He hypothesized that the royal family, whose health the faithful prayed for every Sunday in Anglican parishes, would live much longer than the rest of the British population.

He found that the contrary was true, and concluded that prayer doesn’t work.

The royal diet and lifestyle did not factor into his equation, nor did Galton question the hierarchical theology of God favoring those privileged enough to command an entire nation to pray for them.

In more recent times, Richard Dawkins has hailed the “Great Prayer Experiment” as the definitive proof against prayer efficiency. The Experiment was a 2006 study conducted by Herbert Benson and team, showing that cardiac bypass patients who received prayer did not suffer from less complications after surgery than those who didn’t. In fact, the opposite was true! Continue reading Proof that Prayer Works

Prominent Biblical Scholars on Women in Ministry

by Marg Mowczko, originally posted on her website (which we highly recommend!).

Some Christians think that only people who have a “loose approach to scripture” can believe that women should be leaders and teachers in the church. I strongly doubt that any evangelical Christian would regard these scholars and theologians as having a loose approach to scripture, and yet each of them believes that appropriately gifted women should be leaders and teachers in the church. Here is a sample of various statements made by these prominent scholars (some of whom are now deceased.)

F.F. BRUCE (1910-1990)

F.F. Bruce was the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, and belonged to the Open Brethren.

“An appeal to first principles in our application of the New Testament might demand the recognition that when the Spirit, in his sovereign good pleasure, bestows varying gifts on individual believers, these gifts are intended to be exercised for the well-being of the whole church. If he manifestly withheld the gifts of teaching or leadership from Christian women, then we should accept that as evidence of his will (1 Cor. 12:11). But experience shows that he bestows these and other gifts, with ‘undistinguishing regard’, on men and women alike―not on all women, of course, nor yet on all men. That being so, it is unsatisfactory to rest with a halfway house in this issue of women’s ministry, where they are allowed to pray and prophesy, but not to teach or lead.”
F.F. Bruce, “Women in the Church: A Biblical Survey,” Christian Brethren Review 33 (1982), 7-14, 11-12. (Source) 

GORDON D. FEE (B. 1934)

Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Regent College, ordained in the Assemblies of God

“It seems a sad commentary on the church and on its understanding of the Holy Spirit that “official” leadership and ministry is allowed to come from only one half of the community of faith. The New Testament evidence is that the Holy Spirit is gender inclusive, gifting both men and women, and thus potentially setting the whole body free for all the parts to minister and in various ways to give leadership to the others. Thus my issue in the end is not a feminist agenda—an advocacy of women in ministry. Rather, it is a Spirit agenda, a plea for the releasing of the Spirit from our strictures and structures so that the church might minister to itself and to the world more effectively.”
“The Priority of Spirit Gifting for Church Ministry”, Discovering Biblical Equality Complementarity without Hierarchy. Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Gordon D. Fee (eds) (Leicester: IVP Academic, 2005), 254.

CRAIG S. KEENER (B. 1960)

Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, ordained in an African-American Baptist church but serves in settings with a range of traditions.

” . . . we Pentecostals and charismatics affirm that the minister’s authority is inherent in the minister’s calling and ministry of the Word, not the minister’s person. In this case, gender should be irrelevant as a consideration for ministry–for us as it was for Paul. . . . Today we should affirm those whom God calls, whether male or female, and encourage them in faithfully learning God’s Word. We need to affirm all potential laborers, both men and women, for the abundant harvest fields.”
Was Paul For or Against Women in Ministry?, Enrichment Journal, Spring 2001. (Source)

I. HOWARD MARSHALL (1934-2015)

Professor Emeritus of New Testament Exegesis at the University of Aberdeen, belonged to the Evangelical Methodist Church

“Much anguish is felt by women whose God-given talents have been denied expression. This is due to the inability of complementarians to provide any coherent and persuasive reasons for denying women these [ministry] positions in church—women are asked to accept a scriptural command simply because it is God’s will even if they cannot understand why it is so. . . . [Anguish is also caused by] the arbitrariness of the way in which the ruling is put into effect, with all the going beyond what Scripture actually says and the casuistry that is employed regarding the limits of what women may and may not do.”
Comments made at a panel discussion at the Evangelical Theological Society 2010 meeting. (Source) 

LEON MORRIS (1914-2006)

New Testament scholar, ordained Anglican minister 

In his commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans, Morris stated that “Phoebe is certainly called a deacon” in Romans 16:1; and Junia along with Andronicus (mentioned in Romans 16:7) were “outstanding among the apostles which might mean that the apostles held them in high esteem or that they were apostles, and notable apostles at that.” Morris adds, “The former understanding seems less likely . . .” The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 529 & 534. Morris also wrote essays advocating for women in ministry, and he welcomed women at Ridley Theological College, Melbourne, where he was Principal from 1964 until his retirement in 1976.

JOHN STOTT (1921-2011)

Anglican minister, theologian, one of the principal authors of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974

“If God endows women with spiritual gifts (which he does), and thereby calls them to exercise their gifts for the common good (which he does), the Church must recognize God’s gifts and calling, must make appropriate spheres of service available to women, and should ‘ordain’ (that is commission and authorize) them to exercise their God-given ministry, at best in team situations. Our Christian doctrines of Creation and Redemption tell us that God wants his gifted people to be fulfilled, not frustrated, and his church to be enriched by their service.”
J.R.W Stott, Issues facing Christianity Today (Basingstoke: Marshalls, 1984), 254.

BEN WITHERINGTON III (B. 1951)

Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, ordained Methodist pastor

“We need to keep steadily in mind that what determines or should determine the leadership structures in the church is not gender but rather gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. The family of faith is not identical with the physical family, and gender is no determinant of roles in it. Gender of course does affect some roles in the Christian family, but that is irrelevant when it comes to the discussion of the leadership structure of the church. This is why we should not be surprised to find even in Paul’s letters examples of women teachers, evangelist, prophetesses, deacons, and apostles. Paul is not one who is interested in baptizing the existing fallen patriarchal order and calling it good. One of the tell tale signs of Paul’s views on such matters can be seen in what he says about baptism— it is not a gender specific sign that we have for the new covenant unlike the one for the old covenant, and Paul adds that in Christ there is no ‘male and female’ just as there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free. The implications of this are enormous. The change in the covenant sign signals the change in the nature of the covenant when it comes to men and women.”
Why Arguments against Women in Ministry aren’t Biblical, on Dr Witherington’s website The Bible and Culture here

N.T. WRIGHT (B. 1948) 

New Testament scholar, Anglican Bishop of Durham (2003-2010)

“It is the women who come first to the tomb, who are the first to see the risen Jesus, and are the first to be entrusted with the news that he has been raised from the dead. This is of incalculable significance. Mary Magdalene and the others are the apostles to the apostles. We should not be surprised that Paul calls a woman named Junia an apostle in Romans 16.7. If an apostle is a witness to the resurrection, there were women who deserved that title before any of the men. . . . Nor is this promotion of women a totally new thing with the resurrection. As in so many other ways, what happened then picked up hints and pinpoints from earlier in Jesus’ public career. I think in particular of the woman who anointed Jesus (without here going into the question of who it was and whether it happened more than once); as some have pointed out, this was a priestly action which Jesus accepted as such.”
“Women’s Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis”, a conference paper for the Symposium, Men, Women and the Church, St John’s College, Durham, September 4 2004. (Source)

MANY MORE . . . 

Numerous other evangelical scholars also believe that the Bible, correctly interpreted, does not restrict gifted women from any ministry function or position. There are too many to mention them all, but here are just a few: Kenneth Bailey, Gilbert Bilezikian, Michael Bird, Craig A. Evans. R.T. France, Kevin Giles, Joel B. Green, Stanley Grenz, Richard Hays, David Instone-Brewer, Walter Kaiser, Kenneth Kantzer, John R. Kohlenberger III, Richard N. Longenecker, Scot McKnightRoger NicoleRoger E. OlsonPhilip Barton Payne, Stanley Porter, Howard Snyder, John Stackhouse, etc. (I have chosen to mention only male scholars to avoid an accusation of women being self-serving.)

Finally, a quotation from Dallas Willard (1935-2013),

“It is not the rights of women to occupy `official’ ministerial roles, nor their equality to men in those roles, that set the terms of their service to God and their neighbors. It is their obligations that do so – obligations that derive from their human abilities empowered by divine gifting.”
How I Changed my Mind about Women in Leadership (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 10 (italics by the author).

Who else can be added to the list of well-known respected evangelical scholars who advocate for women in ministry?

Marg Mowczko lives north of Sydney, Australia, in a house filled with three generations of family. She strongly believes that if we are in Christ we are part of the New Creation and part of a community where old social paradigms of hierarchies and caste or class systems have no place (2 Cor. 5:17Gal. 3:28). Marg has a BTh from the Australian College of Ministries and an MA with a specialisation in early Christian and Jewish studies from Macquarie University. You can find many resources about Christian egalitarianism on her website.

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!

PCPJ Year in Review

Happy new year! 2018 has been an exciting year for PCPJ. The organization has been expanding globally and we have reached a wide audience through for example The Christian Post and Sojourners. Here are some highlights from the past twelve months:

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The Trump Letter. Amos Yong, Craig Keener and Brian Zahnd were among the signatories of our open letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to stop using war rhetoric, welcome immigrants and take climate change seriously. While the president doesn’t seem to have changed course, the letter still received much attention and showed the world that many Pentecostal and charismatic leaders take peace and justice seriously.

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PCPJ Leader’s Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden. In February, PCPJ organized a leader’s seminar together with PMU, the Swedish Pentecostal Mission’s development cooperation organization. We talked about the future of PCPJ, how Swedish churches and organizations can connect and what Pentecostal and charismatic leaders need as they promote peace and justice.

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Shane Claiborne Interview. In an exclusive interview with PCPJ, activist theologian PCPJ Leader’s Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden, February, Shane Claiborne talked about his charismatic faith and his interactions with Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson. “I’m a huge believer in miracles,” Claiborne said. “I often refer to the fish and loaves miracle that Jesus does as a conspiracy between us and God working together. I think it was both a miracle and the attentiveness of the disciples, to notice that people were hungry. I think one of the beautiful things is that God refuses to change the world without us. He wants us to be a part of this.”

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Jesse Duplantis’ Jet Dream. One of the most well-read articles this year was Kevin Daugherty’s critique of prosperity preacher Jesse Duplantis and his conviction that God wanted his church to raise him tens of millions of dollars for a jet plane. Challenging prosperity theology is one of PCPJ’s primary aims, replacing it with a theology of simplicity and equality. “Material prosperity is not a blessing for a disciple of Christ. Rather it is a temptation. As the Apostle Paul says, it is the root of all evil. It is something that rots us from the inside out and makes us less loving towards our neighbor”, Daugherty wrote.

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Denis Mukwege Received the Nobel Prize. At PCPJ, we have highlighted the committed, Pentecostal faith of Denis Mukwege from the day it was announced that he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize together with Nadia Murad. We interviewed his friend Maria Bard and covered the link between the electronics industry and the conflict in Congo that Mukwege himself often talks about. Our editor Micael Grenholm was present at a celebration organized by the Swedish Pentecostal movement in Stockholm, from which he reported that Mukwege has a fascinating gift of prophetic foresight that has helped him help women at the Panzi hospital for years.

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Rev. Dr. Elιzaвeтн Ríoѕ
Dr. Liz Ríos

The Trump Tragedy. Another well-read article was Liz Ríos reflections on what many evangelicals of color see that white evangelicals don’t. “So here’s the thing, for white evangelicals, their interpretation of scripture on the issues mentioned is what has them standing by Trump no matter what he does (although we cannot forget their hypocrisy because if this was Obama, his head would have been on a plate already). And for evangelicals of color, it’s the same thing. Their interpretation of scripture on the immigrant, the poor via policies and rhetoric concerning DACA, the border wall and such is what has them standing against Trump.”

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Micael liten
Micael Grenholm

Five Weird Ways People Deny That Jesus Was a Refugee. Finally, Grenholm’s article defending the notion that Jesus was a refugee went viral, reaching thousands of readers around the world. Grenholm writes: “The million-dollar question is obviously why people try to deny that our Lord and Savior was a refugee? What’s so uncomfortable with a historical fact? I think we all know the answer to that: they don’t want their countries to receive refugees today, and so they fear the idea that God might think otherwise.”

Behind the scenes, the PCPJ team of contributors and administrators has expanded and the number of members are steadily growing. We’re looking forward to an exciting new year with many more opportunities to promote Spirit-filled peace and justice!

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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!

Christian Leaders Speak Up to Trump on the Anniversary of His Inauguration

Stop using nuclear war rhetoric, start fighting climate change and always speak the truth. These are some of the demands an international assembly of Pentecostal and charismatic leaders sent today to the White House on the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. 

Amos Yong and Craig S. Keener, commonly viewed as two of the world’s leading Pentecostal scholars, are among the signatories. Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life church in Saint Joseph, Missouri, and Jane Caulton, minister of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C., also stand by the letter.

“Approaches to effective policy vary, but please move away from comments that belittle ethnic minorities, immigrants, etc.”, says Craig S. Keener.

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The non-partisan open letter is organized by Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice. The areas it covers are:

  1. demonization of immigrants and minorities;
  2. reckless nuclear war rhetoric;
  3. loosening of environmental protection;
  4. belittling and abuse of women;
  5. disrespect of indigenous people;
  6. inequalities between rich and poor; and
  7. dishonesty and lying.

Continue reading Christian Leaders Speak Up to Trump on the Anniversary of His Inauguration

Millions of Evangelicals Did Not Vote for Trump – and I’m One of Them

by Craig Keener. Originally published on his blog on Huffington Post, reposted with permission.

I have been saving for the right time my likely one good shot at the subject of non-Trump evangelicals, and it looks like now is a good moment. The publication of Stephen Mansfield’s Choosing Donald Trump, an attempt to explain why religious conservatives flocked to Donald Trump, seems like the right moment (see Mansfield). Like Mansfield, I am a non-Trump evangelical.

I thus get a little sensitive when people complain that “evangelicals,” as if a monolithic group, stand behind Trump. I seek to respect the office of president and love my neighbor, including presidents I disagree with. But I did not vote for Trump, yet theologically I am plainly evangelical.

Within evangelicalism, I undoubtedly live too sheltered a life. Polls show that of self-declared evangelicals who voted, 80 percent voted for Donald Trump, and it appears that most of them still support him.

Continue reading Millions of Evangelicals Did Not Vote for Trump – and I’m One of Them