Poverty is one of the most pressing issues in the world today. Despite our best efforts we still have a very long way to go. Children continue to die of hunger, people still make the choice between food and education, some will never have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, simply because there’s not enough.
In an era when it has been reported by the bank, Credit Suisse in November 2017, that the world’s richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, the other side of the coin is that the 3.5 billion poorest adults each have assets of less than $10,000. These people, who account for 70% of the world’s working age population, own just 2.7% of the global wealth.
None of us can fail to notice that there are crises at the gates of every culture and nation. War and famine produce refugees in numbers that are untenable. Our broken economies are driven by the greed of those for whom the almighty dollar has far greater value than the life of one small child, one refugee, one trafficked woman, one homeless person.
Not the least of our problems is the lack of good leadership. When the prophet Daniel was interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about his future insanity, he pleaded with him to change his ways (Daniel 4:27) in order to avoid the catastrophic effect of his pride. His key point was that he ‘break from his wicked past and be merciful to the poor’. Integral to really good leadership is mercy for the poor. Continue reading Living Generously
by Craig Keener, originally posted on his blog.
Pentecost (Acts 2:1) was a significant festival in the Jewish calendar, offering the first fruits of grain to the Lord (Lev. 23:16). Its significance in this narrative, however, may be especially that it was one of the major pilgrimage festivals, when Jewish people who lived all over the world came back to visit Jerusalem. This sets the stage for the experience of the Spirit that will drive the church in Acts across all cultural barriers.
The narrative opens with God’s people in unity (Acts 2:1). They have been praying together (1:14), and prayer often precedes the coming of the Spirit in Luke-Acts (Luke 3:21-22; 11:13; Acts 4:31; 8:15).
Suddenly, they experience signs of the Spirit. The first two signs touch key senses, hearing and sight. They evoke biblical theophanies, perhaps also as foretastes of the future age. First, they hear a wind, perhaps prefiguring the promised wind of God’s Spirit that would bring new life to God’s people in Ezekiel 37:9-14. Second, they witness the appearance of fire, which was often associated with future judgment (cf. Luke 3:9, 16-17).
The third sign, however—speaking in tongues—is the most important of the three. This is clear because it occurs again at two other outpourings of the Spirit in Acts, although no one present on those occasions recognizes the languages spoken (Acts 10:46; 19:6). On this first occasion, though, their experience is also important because some people do recognize the languages and it therefore forms the bridge to Peter’s sermon. The crowds hear this sound (2:6) and ask what this phenomenon means (2:12). Peter goes on to explain that this tongues-speaking means that the promised time of the Spirit has dawned (2:16-18). Continue reading The Point of Speaking in Tongues in Acts 2
Two weeks ago we looked at how it is mathematically impossible to spend the same money on superfluities (i.e. unnecessary stuff) and aid to the poor, and from that we concluded that statements like “You need to be rich in order to give money to the poor” or “It’s good to give money to the poor, but there’s nothing wrong with being rich” either cannot refer to the possession or consumption of superfluities, or they are simply self-contradictory.
In this blog post I want to address another argument rich people use when defending their wealth, namely that all consumption is good for the economy and in the end also beneficial for the poor; there is really no need to point out consumption of superfluities as something bad, since the money one pays eventually trickles down to the poor.
Continue reading Why Trickle-Down Economics Doesn’t Work
by Rachel Stella, originally published here.
I woke up around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, May 10, 2015, to the loud beeping of a text message. Normally I silence my phone when I go to bed, but I had just gotten a promotion at work. I was one of the newsroom editors now, and even though no one had told me I was obligated to be on call 24/7, I felt responsible to be ready to handle major breaking news over the weekends.
“Downtown Utica is on fire. I’m getting photos now.”
I had told Scott, our photographer, to contact me first if anything crazy happened on weekends, because I thought the other hardworking staff should get a break. He had done what I had asked him to do. Even so, I was irritated at being aroused from a deep sleep. Not irritated at Scott, but irritated that this was happening. And scared for Utica. (That poor little town had already experienced a deadly tornado and some awful flooding.) I probably let out a nasty word or two as I adjusted to the reality. I wasn’t raised that way, but — confession time — potty mouth has developed from living alone.
I threw a jacket over whatever I was wearing and walked the two blocks to the newsroom, where I plunked into my chair and hastily assembled a brief story with a photo sent by Scott to put on our website and link to on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Continue reading The Good Christian Woman’s Life
by Sam Lee.
I have quite an interesting Christian life. Some of my fellow Pentecostals think I am liberal, and they often ask themselves “Is Samuel still a Pentecostal?” Here are my answers to the question they ask:
Indeed, I am a Pentecostal, but I wholeheartedly believe that the Pentecostal movement needs serious reform. Just like any other religious movement, it has its own blind spots and makes its own errors, yet, at the same time, it shines in its own beauty. Whenever I say that I am a Pentecostal, I do not mean that I belong to a Pentecostal religious system, organization, or denomination. Instead, I believe in the very essence, the very foundation of our faith as it is based in the Pentecost documented in the Book of Acts. Continue reading What Kind of Pentecostal Am I?
by Faith Totushek.
Frequently Jezebel is a label that many Christian women receive if they believe in the full equality of men and women in the home and church or if they consider themselves Christian Feminists. Both feminism and egalitarianism are labels that are vastly misunderstood in the church and have had their meanings co opted by opponents who define them as in some sense women who are out for power over men, unwilling to submit to authority, men haters and those who would support abortion. In reality this is not true. These are myths.
1. Are feminists and egalitarians out for power over men?
Often I hear feminists and egalitarians described as those who have a Jezebel Spirit. The Jezebel Spirit is described as someone who seeks control over passive men who are unable to speak up for themselves and are seduced by women to give over control of their lives. Such women are considered dangerous to the church and home. In reality, as women and men develop emotional and spiritual maturity, they begin to have stronger voices and a stronger sense of identity. This kind of growth leads to an ability to say what one believes and ask for what one needs as well as the ability to differentiate oneself from the self of others. If an individual does not have a strong sense of self they will often process a request as someone trying to control them. It has nothing to do with power over and everything to do with asking for what one wants or needs. Often the Jezebel label is given to any woman who is merely seeking to have a share in decision making or wishes to serve in an area that is most often dominated by men. To aspire to be a pastor or a leader can bring the label Jezebel to many.
Continue reading 4 Common Myths About Christian Feminists and Egalitarians
Basil of Caesarea (330-379) was a highly influential leader in the Early Church, who laboured and wrote extensively for the rights of the poor. His stance on wealth and poverty is blunt and uncompromising. It is also very relevant to today, where consumerism has achieved almost god-like status.
This piece shows that Basil was also a keen and unflinching observer of human nature – and human excuses. The writer identifies ‘the human tendency to adjust the definition of “need” to fit one’s current level of income.’
Basil was on to this 1600 years ago. His homily (practical sermon) on the man in Jesus’ parable, I Will Tear Down My Barns [and Build Bigger Ones], treats the barns not so much as symbols of wealth but rather as representing our definition of needs based on our circumstances.
‘In effect’, continues the article, ‘Basil says that if we never have any extra to share, this is due to the fact that whenever we find ourselves in possession of a surplus, we immediately adjust our definition of need to fit the new situation.’ Continue reading How Needy is ‘Needy’? Some Early Church Views