by Luis Aranguiz Kahn. Part 4 of 4. Read the whole article as a PDF here.
Let us end this series with some conclusions and concerns. Pentecostals have notably matured since they began. They have the potential to do great things in societies. If they become aware and reflect more on ecological matters, they could be a strong agent of influence and change. This is a long process that has already begun. What would happen if we mix radical morality, poverty and exploitation experience, political holiness, ecological concern, and spirit-baptized human strength focused on the problem of creation as a spirit-baptized one?
Let’s see some aspects in which this possible new Pentecostal LatinAmerican Eco theology ethics could engage. Some global ecological issues we can name are, for instance, carbon dioxide emissions, creating a renewable energy future and the social cost of energy. In the first place, Pentecostals can do a great influence calling for carbon equity policies by requesting the creation of jobs while demanding a decrease in the impact of air pollution, an improvement in economic conditions and climate resiliency for the poor. The most polluted cities in the region like Bogotá, Lima, Santiago, Montevideo and Cochabamba, are part of countries with a strong Pentecostal presence and big national churches must take part in this discussion to work on fighting against pollution.
In another way, if Pentecostals develop a larger and stronger reflection about ecology, would it be possible for them to discuss to invest 5% of their investments into climate solutions to end energy poverty with clean energy? It is one of the most important questions regarding the economic power that different Pentecostal denominations have reached. In the present, Pentecostals are near to 13% of total population (560 million people) in Latin America. In all countries it is possible to find big national churches that are economically strong. If leadership of these organizations assumes a commitment with energy ethics, they not only could mobilize thousands and thousands of believers but a lot of economic resources to work in climate solutions and clean energy. Continue reading Pentecostal Strategies for Saving the Environment
by Luis Aranguiz Kahn. Part 3 of 4. Read the whole article as a PDF here.
My third and last step is the thought of Aaron Jason Swoboda, North-American Pentecostal theologian. He begins to notice the fact that Pentecostal academy, churches and publications have been “Eco-theologically quiet”. However, he finds that there are four major strands that have contributed to a social Pentecostal theology: charismatic social theology, liberation theologies, eschatological social justice and African creation spiritualties. As we have chosen liberation theologies as a source, we will continue with the concept from which Swoboda has articulated his Pentecostal Eco theology: Spirit-baptized creation.
Swoboda’s account is relevant for us in two senses. First, he maintains the idea of creation—earth—as the residence of the Spirit, as the Spirit “fills all things” (Eph. 4:10). Second, he maintains the idea that a person baptized in the Holy Spirit is empowered to “care for, protect and defend the earth” (p. 285). In his perspective, as in the beginning, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a way for bringing peace among all races, according to the view of black leader of Azusa Street revival William Seymour: the core of the action of the Spirit is love. Being so, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and an understanding of creation as a sacred work of God, would bring out a love for creation, and consequently, an ecological ethic. Continue reading Spirit-Baptized Creation
by Luis Aranguiz Kahn. Part 2 of 4. Read the whole article as a PDF here.
In Latin America, there have been some developments on Eco theology that come from other traditions. I cannot speak theologically from Latin America without mentioning one of the main Latin American theological frames, Liberation Theology. In a Pentecostal view, we could say that Pentecostals were worried about “spiritual issues” while liberationists were worried about “worldly issues”.
However, I would like to go beyond this distinction because it is not that liberationist Christians were not worried about spiritual issues but that they understood spirituality in other terms. And it is not that Pentecostals were not interested in worldly issues, but that they understood worldliness in other terms. I would like to take two concepts from liberation theology.
The first comes from the hand of Leonardo Boff; in his book Ecología: Grito de la tierra, grito de los pobres, the Brazilian theologian develops a critical analysis of technological human progress. In his view, modern civilization is oriented by an anthropocentric (then androcentric) concept that divides human being and cosmos, and therefore, technological progress concludes as domination over nature. This can be seen clearly in the various forms of natural exploitation in the region, especially those regarding mining, water and forests. The call of Boff is to rethink our cosmology, so we can better savor the greatness and glory of God in his creation. Continue reading Is a Pentecostal Liberation Theology Possible?
by Luis Aranguiz Kahn. Part 1 of 4. Read the whole article as a PDF here.
What would a Pentecostal Latin-American Eco theology look like? In this question I am saying many things simultaneously. First of all, I use the word “Pentecostal.” However, there isn’t only one Pentecostalism; rather, there are many branches and styles within what is commonly referred to as “Pentecostalism.” In this clarification I am compelled to choose one specific branch in the Pentecostal tradition. Secondly, I use the word “Latin-American”, which means that I have to take distance from different kinds of Pentecostalism among the world. I have to speak from Global South, to speak considering our regional ecological problems instead of other’s concerns. And finally, I use the term “Eco theology”. This is a complex word because I have to engage it with my specific Pentecostal view and my Latin-American context.
By this way, I will go describing our reality and context in relation with climate change and energy issues, especially related to mining and pollution. Last but not least, I will put in dialogue the result of this question and contextual reflection with the concerns of the common project that convoke us: energy ethics. This reflection intends to call to a stronger Pentecostal action in the field of ecology, looking forward to a church that serves the world as Jesus did.
The Pentecostal movements started in the beginning of the twentieth century in many parts of the world. They share not only the conviction of the power of the Holy Spirit pouring among the Church giving many supernatural gifts, but they also share social and material conditions: many of these revivals took part among poor people, peasants or industrial workers. In other words, they started in the middle of the social issues. In the case of Chile, it started mainly in growing cities with increasing immigration from the countryside and consequent formation of poor neighborhoods. Continue reading Pentecostalism, Latin America and Eco-Theology
My reading gives me the impression that sustainability is being taken more seriously by Christians, particularly the ‘millennial’ generation. Sustainable living is a Christian calling, declares Calvin College. Tearfund and the Jubilee Centre have produced five Bible studies on Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living. There is even a network of Christian leaders advocating sustainability: check out their webpage.
Basically put, sustainability is the belief that there are enough resources on earth to provide for its population, if only these resources could be used wisely and equally. This clip from the Breathe Network will give you a flavour – read the comments too.
So, is this a new fad? Could it be that sustainability is in the New Testament mandate? It is certainly the thought behind 2 Corinthians 9:8. God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. Continue reading ‘Always Enough’: Basil of Caesarea and Sustainability
by Sarah Stenmark.
I have discovered that few things are so controversial among Christians and met with such incomprehension (and ignorance) as veganism. “Do you eat only salad?” is a question I often get, or “you don’t eat wheat flour, right?” Not to mention all the extremely hilarious meat jokes (sarcasm intended). But I have discovered that most times people have preconceptions about what it means to be vegan and the reasons behind it.
When I tell people that I’m vegan, most assume that it is due to the animal ethics. And to be honest, it was probably how it started. Twelve years ago, I became a vegetarian because I loved animals, and felt like a hypocrite towards them when I ate meat. But over time I began to think about whether this really was a sufficient reason. As a Christian, I believed that humans have been appointed to manage creation and that we have a higher value than animals. If an animal’s death would be the prerequisite for human life, it would be a morally acceptable thing to do (as it turns out this is not the case today, as I will explain below).
The Bible doesn’t condemn meat eating or consumption, it doesn’t forbid us to kill animals. Jesus ate fish. Paul ate meat. I know. But this is not directly applicable to today’s society; partly because of the meat industry’s impact on climate change, but also because of hunger. Continue reading It Should be Natural for Christians to be Vegan
John McConnell Jr. was the famed founder and visionary of Earth Day. McConnell’s vision was one of creating a day of remembrance, solitude, and action to restore the broken human relationship to the land. Little acknowledged are McConnell’s religious convictions or background. McConnell grew up in a Pentecostal home.
In fact, McConnell’s parents were both founding charter members of the Assemblies of God in 1914. His own grandfather had an even greater connection to the origins of Pentecostalism by being a personal participant at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906. Earth Day, thus, began with strong religious convictions. McConnell, seeing the ecological demise through his religious background, envisioned a day where Christians could “show the power of prayer, the validity of their charity, and their practical concern for Earth’s life and people.”
In the spirit of McConnell, today’s Pentecostal and Charismatic theology has something to say about the earth. Blood Cries Out is a unique contribution by Pentecostal and Charismatic theologians and practitioners to the global conversation concerning ecological degradation, climate change, and ecological justice.
Blood Cries Out: Pentecostals, Ecology, and the Groans of Creation, edited by A. J. Swoboda, Foreword by Steven Bouma-Prediger