As electors have cast their vote, we can breathe a sigh of relief: Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States. Let that sink in! I honestly believe that even those who supported the president will not miss his conduct in the office, his tantrums, and undignified tweets. They may miss his policies but most will gladly dispense with his destructive personality.
The last four years have been a long whirlwind of chaos that I hope our nation never returns to. Just not having to deal with his tweets and the consequent media outrage surrounding it has been refreshing. Moreover, we can celebrate that civility is returning to the White House.
My main hope is that a Biden presidency can make politics boring again unlike the intrusive disruption it was in our lives for the last four years. With that said, this cannot be an invitation for disengagement as the work is far from complete. Let us not repeat the mistakes of 2009-2010 when an Obama presidency was quickly undermined by losses in the mid-term elections. While the electorate sat back, radical factions of the right woke up and mobilized. Their efforts would eventually bear fruit in the election of 45. A vacuum of a common cause that unites that country will invite a resurgence of irrational populism.
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→
When many Pentecostal and charismatic Christians use the word “salvation,” the first image that comes to mind is the gift of personal healing and “coming home” to God that he has made possible through Christ, made known to the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, when the apostle Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit he is able to proclaim, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NRSV). The change of life that comes through knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior is the core of our faith. But God’s plan of reconciliation expands beyond individuals, and even beyond human beings. So when we look to the biblical witness, we realize the question, “Is salvation more important than the environment?” actually represents a limited view. A better question is, “Why must salvation include the environment?”
A theology that views the environment as somehow separate from salvation stems from the modern Western temptation toward individualism. Many of us inherited a theology in which “being saved” seems like an entirely private affair. But we must remember that, while salvation through Christ is absolutely personally transformative, that transformation is always intended to be lived outward, in community, for the benefit of all creation. Continue reading Is Salvation More Important than the Environment?→
This summer it was reported that the Australian liberal prime minister Scott Morrison was welcomend on stage at a gigantic Hillsong meeting during their annual conference in Sydney. He led the congregation of 30-35000 people in prayer and confessed his faith in a miracle working God. Andreas Nielsen, lead pastor of Hillsong Sweden, affirmed that the prime minister ”is a devout Christian”. He also said that that ”his participation in the conference is a recognition of the important role that the church in general plays in Australia and that it makes a difference.”
Fantastic, isn’t it?
I am not so sure about that. On the contrary, I think that it is very dangerous for the soul of the Church in Australia. Last winter Magnus Malm wrote in Swedish Christian newspaper Dagen that God is not on the side of the powerful. In fact God says in Psalms 146,3: ”Never put your trust in powerful men.” For centuries, Catholic and Orthodox churches have often been close to political power. That was the case when Spanish and Portuguese conquerors went ashore in South America, and it is the same today in countries like Russia and Poland. Continue reading Hillsong Shouldn’t Put Their Trust in Powerful Men→
I don’t know if you noticed, but last Friday the biggest climate protest in history occurred, with millions of people in 185 countries marching for climate action and global justice. This is all part of the #FridaysForFuture movement which started not more than a year ago when Swedish student Greta Thunberg went on a “school strike” every Friday to tell her politicians that they don’t do enough to stop climate change.
Since killing people is bad, according to Jesus’ ethics, we should care for creation and stop heating up the climate. In fact, some scientists have suggested that all of humanity will be extinct because of climate change. That is, not only will people die in Bangladesh or New York, but every single one of us might die because of this inconvenient market failure caused by industrialism and greed.
But they can’t rule it out. One of the scariest phenomena in climate research is called feedback loops, which basically means that a warmer planet will start to heat up even faster compared to what it does in the climate we have today. For example, a smaller arctic will lead to less reflection of sunlight back into space, and a melting tundra will release giant pockets of methane in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas.
These feedbacks may come to a point where global warming is unstoppable, to the extent that even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Earth will eventually become like Venus.
How can I explain Brazilian politics to the foreign public? This is not a simple task. The famous Bossa Nova’s musician, Tom Jobim (1927-1994), said once that Brazil is not for beginners.
The same thing can be said about the complex relationship of Pentecostal evangelicals with national politics. Since redemocratization in 1985, Brazilian politics has gone beyond the traditional division between conservatives and progressives.
For example, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who ruled Brazil between 1995 and 2002, was a Marxist sociologist early in his career in the 1960s and later became a Social Democrat in the 1980s. However, his government in the late 1990s had an economic management marked by classical liberalism.
Another example is President Fernando Collor that governed Brazil between 1990 and 1992. He was himself elected as a right-wing leader, but his administration confiscated investments in a disastrous economic plan, something unthinkable coming from a conservative politician. The last example that we can give is President Lula da Silva. This President, that governed Brazil from 2002 to 2010, is a leftist leader, but several right-wing parties have supported him, including most evangelical politicians.
The division between right and left in Brazil has been always very nebulous. This started to change in 2018. The last Brazilian election was very similar to the North American electoral model.
It was widely reported last week that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented new research that says we humans have just over decade to change the way we consume energy or the detrimental effects will be irreversible. In an era where apocalyptic-style news is commonplace, this story has not received the space that it is due.
Indeed, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, why do so many people of faith, particularly Pentecostals, continue to refute the reality of climate change? Second, do we have a moral obligation to fix the ecological problem that we created? And third, what can we, as individuals, even do?
1 Climate Change
According to surveys, disbelief in climate change rose 7% between 2013 and 2014, and for those that can at least acknowledge that temperatures and sea levels are rising, white Evangelicals are the least likely among their Christian sisters and brothers to claim that it has anything to do with human activity.
We Christians believe that God is the creator of the world. In Genesis 1:28, God gives mankind the original plan for our existence – to be fruitful and multiply – but also to have dominion and stewardship over the animals and the earth that God has given to us. God is generous in character and by nature good, and He made us free and responsible. So what? How should we humans then steward the earth?
An analogy that for me has become a symbol for the lack of stewardship is the deprivation of the blue whale population. The blue whale is the largest creature that we have seen and identified on the earth, even larger than the largestknown dinosaur. Yet they are so shy that whenever they see humans, they dive into the depths of the sea. Also, we don’t know where they give birth or really much about them.
In the beginning of the twentieth century there were 400,000 blue whales in the ocean, but today there are only 10,000 left because of whale hunting. Yes, species have always gone extinct, but today the extinction rate is a thousand times faster than before the time of man. Within the freedom that we have been given, these things are possible, but they are not responsible. Might these be examples of mankind straying away from our original purpose?Continue reading Why Are We To Choose Between Healing the Sick and Caring for the Environment?→
It’s time for Pentecostal and charismatic leaders that are critical to Trump’s bizarre presidency to speak up.
We call upon all sorts of leaders – pastors, scholars, CEOs, politicians, NGO representatives and others – that are part of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement to sign our open letter to president Donald Trump. The letter will be sent to the White House on the anniversary of his inauguration, January 20th.
This is not a partisan letter. Regardless of our political affiliation and opinions, we feel that Trump has taken politics to such extremes that Christians on both the right and the left of the political spectrum together should say “No!”.
The areas we at Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice have identified as important to speak up about are:
Together, we and the Holy Spirit can change the world.
Pentecostals & 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 join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!