Tag Archives: Featured

Nonviolence is Much More Effective than Violence

We live in a violent world. The war in Ukraine is killing thousands and causes huge waves of refugees, economic instability and food shortages. The war in Syria is still going on, and the conflicts in Yemen, Afghanistan and South Sudan no longer even make headlines. During most of the last decade, the world has become less peaceful.

In response to such violence, many people think that the solution is more violence. Conventional wisdom tells us that we need to arm ourselves so we become stronger and deadlier than the “bad guys”.

Christian pacifists, who just like most Christians for the first 300 years believe that Jesus’ words about loving our enemies and turning the other cheek mean that we should not use violence, are often accused of being naive. Some have even claimed that Christian pacifism is evil! While abstaining from violence sounds loving in theory, many argue that the practical consequences of such a stance is catastrophic with countless innocent people killed as the “good guys” refused to harm or kill those who were after civilian blood.

War and violence are thus portrayed as a necessary evil, a last resort that we unfortunately have to use to stop authoritarian, mass-killing regimes.

All this is intuition. It’s what seems reasonable. But when researchers started to compare violent resistance to nonviolent resistance, they were in for a chock.

It turns out that nonviolence is at least twice as effective.

I encountered this research when I was part of a program in peace and conflict studies at Uppsala University. The findings is a real game-changer, making scholars from all around the world rethinking the need and use for military violence in the modern era.

Erica Chenoweth

An influential study by conflict researchers Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan from 2012 showed that nonviolent movements are twice as effective as violent movements in achieving their goals. They expanded upon this research in the book Why Civil Resistance Works. They collected data from over 300 protest movements between 1900 and 2016. 53 % of the nonviolent movements managed to achieve their goal, usually a change of regime, within a year, compared with 26% of the violent movements.

Of the 25 largest movements they studied, 20 were nonviolent, and 14 of them achieved their goals. Most astonishingly, if the nonviolent movements included at least 3.5% of the population, they always succeeded in meeting their goal. Always. Chenoweth calls this the “3.5 rule”.

This study was groundbreaking, as no one had compared the results of violent and nonviolent methods in such a comprehensive way before. In 2018, Chenoweth published a new study together with Evan Perkoski that examined how well nonviolence compared to violence counteracted mass killing, when regimes kill 1000 people or more. They found that nonviolent movements were five times more effective at avoiding this than violent movements.

What are the reasons for the effectiveness of nonviolence? Chenoweth points to several factors. Nonviolence is generally cheaper and can easily recruit many more, there is greater variety of nonviolent methods than violent methods, it is psychologically more difficult for loyalists to harm or kill nonviolent trainees than armed rebels, and it is easier for loyalists to change sides and unite with nonviolent protests and nonviolent sabotage.

Chenoweth’s work has made a significant impact on peace and conflict research in general. Even non-pacifists like James Pattison and Ed Cairns have gained greater respect for non-violent methods and warned against resorting to violence too quickly. Cairns wrote:

I’ve never believed that pacifism is an adequate answer to a world of atrocities that – in truly exceptional cases – call out for an armed response. But there’s an awful lot of evidence for caution – and reason to give peace a chance.

Note that Chenoweth’s research does not say that nonviolence leads to guaranteed success. Rather, nonviolence is more likely to succeed than violence. Even in countries where nonviolent campaigns have failed, people have been ten times more likely to move to democracy within a five-year period than if they protested with violence.

Even if you can not guarantee that non-violence will succeed, you can also not guarantee that violence will succeed. The “necessary” in violence as “necessary evil” is difficult to prove scientifically.

This is great news! Loving enemies, like Jesus commanded us to, is actually more beneficial than killing them. Such love does not have to be at the expense of protecting the innocent. The question now is if the leaders of the world will take this research seriously and spend time and money developing nonviolent defense systems rather than military ones?

Micael Grenholm is a Swedish theologian, author, and editor for PCPJ.

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02

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 become a member!

Israel and the Rest of the Middle East Might be Uninhabitable by the End of the Century

The last seven years have been the hottest on the record. The situation is the worst for the Middle East, which is heating up twice as fast as the world average.

mid east uninhabitable

More and more researchers now believe that the Middle East will become largely uninhabitable by the end of the century if powerful political measures do not put an end to climate change.

And that includes Israel.

The Israeli parliament The Knesset recently declared climate change a national security threat. Galit Cohen, Director-General of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said: “We are in a Hot Spot that will be hit hard, and parts of the country can become uninhabitable areas.”

heat mid est

Civilization originally arose in the Middle East, but now it might disappear from the region. The waves of refugees we see today are tiny  compared to the hundreds of millions of climate refugees that the coming decades risk bringing with them.

Isn’t it ironic that many evangelicals claim to care deeply about the nation and people of Israel, yet ignore how climate change might destroy the nation and people of Israel? A survey from 2014 showed that white evangelicals in the US are the least likely to be concerned over climate change.

Skärmavbild 2022-01-12 kl. 16.07.15

There is no biblical reason for this. The Bible never says that climate change isn’t real or should not be prevented. The only reason white evangelicals think like this is that they view allegiance to the Republican party as important, which in turn has been highly influenced by science denial promoted by the fossil fuel industry with millions of dollars.

And so in a disturbing twist of fate, many evangelicals support extremist politicians like Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro claiming that they are “pro-Israel”, when in fact their policies might be what ultimately destroys Israel as a nation. Once again. these words written by Jeremiah 2,600 years ago, might be sung in Jerusalem:

“The old men are no longer gathered in the city gate, and the young men’s music has ceased. Joy is gone from our hearts, our dance has turned to sorrow … Mount Zion lies desolate, jackals roam about there. But you, Lord, reign forever “Your throne is from generation to generation.” (Lamentations 5)

But not on our watch. The good news is that the catastrophic scenario of an empty Middle East is still preventable, given that we manage to adjust our lifestyle and our communities to sustainability and a fossil-free reality during the coming eight years. We need help to do this – from each other and from God.

There is still time to act, so let’s act!

Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author, and editor for PCPJ.

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!

These 12 Church Leaders Prophesied that Trump Would Win the 2020 Election

“When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD and the message does not come to pass or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” – Deut. 18:22

No matter if you like it or not, Joe Biden won the US presidential election. This is very awkward for all the pastors and televangelists who claimed that God had told them that Trump would be reelected. Some of them even claimed that he would do so “by a landslide”.

This video includes false Trump prophecies by Pat Robertson, Paula White-Cain, Kris Vallotton, Mark Taylor, Kat Kerr, Marcus Rogers, Kevin Zadai, Greg Locke, Taribo West, Denise Goulet, Curt Landry, Jeremiah Johnson.

As of this writing, only Vallotton has apologized for his mistake – and even he took his apology down after many of his followers protested.

Of course, this raises the question: if these church leaders were wrong about this, what else are they wrong about? Most of them were not only predicting Trump’s victory, but hoping for it. Some of them described his presidency as “goodness” even as it included a complete disregard for refugees and people affected by climate change.

It’s time to reevaluate what kind of leaders we want to be influenced by.

Continue reading These 12 Church Leaders Prophesied that Trump Would Win the 2020 Election

George Floyd and the True Meaning of Pentecost

The US is on fire right now. Yet another black man has been killed by police brutality: George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died after a policeman sat on his neck, charging him with paying with a false 20 dollar bill.

Many of you have already seen the horrifying footage: Floyd groaning and screaming, saying that he can’t breath, and later becoming unconscious. He was later confirmed dead.

This has caused a huge uproar across the country this Pentecost weekend. While many protesters are nonviolent, there are also reports of destructive riots and even fatalities. And it doesn’t help that President Trump writes “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” on Twitter, echoing Walter Headley who said this exact thing in 1967 when he threatened to order his policemen to shoot black people.

101179871_2911236072265193_1612873830122913792_n

At PCPJ, we care deeply about racial and social justice. We also believe in nonviolence and enemy love. So while we encourage those who make their voices heard, we cannot stress enough that it needs to be done without any violence. Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. shows us that it is indeed possible to stand up for the oppressed without causing any harm to others. Continue reading George Floyd and the True Meaning of Pentecost

Why Are Pentecostals Around the World Supporting the Far-Right?

In our Facebook forum, the issue of Pentecostal politics was raised recently by a friend of the ministry, Elias Kruger:

I would like to pose a question to this group. While I am greatly encouraged by PCPJ work, I have noticed that Pentecostals (and apostolic movements in general) tend to align squarely with right-wing politics. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the recent election of both Trump in the US and Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Living in these two countries and growing up in Charismatic circles, this was a dominant reality. Why do you think Pentecostals tend to align with authoritarian right-wing leaders? Is there something about our theology or praxis that needs to change?

Here are some of the responses that were given:

The problem is that people confuse Holy Spirit power with guys who make a big noise and sound confident. CEO disease. You see how successful Mr. Exceptional President has been with that.  Continue reading Why Are Pentecostals Around the World Supporting the Far-Right?

Yet Another African Pentecostal Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, is this year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Just like Congolese surgeon Denis Mukwege who was one of last year’s laurates, Ahmed is a Pentecostal.

Though son of a Muslim father and Orthodox mother, Ahmed himself is part of the Full Gospel Believers’ Church. His Jesus-centered faith has committed him to promoting peace and reconciliation in a region plauged by ethnic and religious division.

As the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committe motivated their choice, they emphasized Ahmed’s accomplishments in the Ethiopian-Eritrean peace process:

When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries.

While this clearly is Ahmed’s greatest achievement, it was not his first. A year ago he managed to reconcile the two branches of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which split in 1991 due to political reasons. Before that, he reconciled Muslims and Christians in his hometown of Beshasha.

According to Swedish Pentecostal leader Pelle Hörnmark, Ahmed has an active Pentecostal faith with regular Bible study and prayer. However, as does not talk much about it publicly as he feels like that can be a stepping stone in his mission for reconciliation. He emphasizes being Ethiopian, rather than Christian.

It is clear, however, that this passion for peace and unity stems from him following the One who said “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9) and “who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18).

Micael Grenholm is editor-in-chief for PCPJ.

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!

Benny Hinn Just Denounced the “Health and Wealth” Gospel—but Why?

Benny Hinn is for many synonymous with the prosperity gospel of “health and wealth”. The Israeli televangelist has for decades been preaching that you get rich if you donate a lot to him, that Jesus was rich and that luxury and affluence signifies a “blessed” life.

Needless to say, many were surprised when he said this:

The recording is from a service last Monday that was being broadcast live on Facebook. Hinn said, among other things:

I think it’s an offense to the Lord, it’s an offense to say give $1,000. I think it’s an offense to the Holy Spirit to place a price on the Gospel. I’m done with it. I will never again ask you to give $1,000 or whatever amount, because I think the Holy Ghost is just fed up with it.

The Christian Post points out that Hinn himself did that just five years ago. Hinn continued:

I don’t want to get to Heaven and be rebuked. I think it’s time we say it like it is: the Gospel is not for sale. And the blessings of God are not for sale, and miracles are not for sale. And prosperity is not for sale.

Skärmavbild 2019-09-06 kl. 11.41.19

A lot of headlines has described this as Benny Hinn denouncing the prosperity gospel. He did point out, however, that he still believes in prosperity, since “the Bible clearly teaches it.” But his understanding of what prosperity means has changed:

When I was younger, I was influenced by the preachers who taught whatever they taught. But as I’ve lived longer I’m thinking, wait a minute, you know this doesn’t fit totally with the Bible and it doesn’t fit with the reality. So what is prosperity? No lack…

Did Elijah the prophet have a car? No. Did not even have a bicycle. He had no lack. … Did Jesus drive a car or live in a mansion? No. He had no lack. How about the Apostles? None lacked among them,” Hinn said. “Today, the idea is abundance and palatial homes and cars and bank accounts. The focus is wrong … It’s so wrong.

At Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice, we’re happy that Hinn has changed his mind on this. The Bible warns against those receiving money in order to impart God’s gifts and blessings to others (Acts 8:20). Paul goes against the idea that one can gain financially through faith in his first letter to Timothy:

These men regard godliness as a means of gain. Of course, godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot carry anything out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. (1 Tim 6:5-9)

So why did Benny Hinn change his mind? Many have pointed out that his nephew Costi Hinn, who denounced himself from his uncle’s ministry years ago, recently published his book, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel. Costi, who not only rejects prosperity teaching but also charismatic theology, shares in the book how it has been to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle based on the gifts of people more poor than you are, and the struggles he’s had justifying this from the Scriptures.

So was Benny influenced by his nephew? Maybe, but Costi’s departure from charismaticism makes me doubtful that his words would have much authority for Benny. I think that Benny genuinely describes the cause for his change of opinion when he says

I’m sorry to say that prosperity has gone a little crazy and I’m correcting my own theology and you need to all know it. Because when I read the Bible now, I don’t see the Bible in the same eyes I saw 20 years ago… The more you know the Bible the more you become biblically based and more balanced in your opinions and your thoughts, because we are influence.

I do think that Bible study helped Benny realize his errors. And I take this as great encouragement to continue to point to the Scriptures when discussing with fellow brothers and sisters why we should care about peace and justice. People are not beyond redemption and correction. Even those with deep convictions can change over time. We should not give up pointing to what the Bible really teaches about poverty and wealth.

Micael Grenholm is editor and contributor for PCPJ.

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!

The International Miracle of Pentecost

Happy Pentecost! This weekend, millions of Christians all across the globe are celebrating the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the apostolic church. Pentecost has always been very important for me, since the apostolic Pentecost as it is described in Acts 2 combines everything I like: charismatic fire, economic redistribution, universal evangelism as well as simplicity, worship and joy.

It all started when the wonderful Holy Spirit descended with fire and the international gift of tongues:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? (Acts 2:1-8, NIV)

In my experience, this is quite a common miracle. When the early Pentecostals met at the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles to enjoy the restoration of Spirit baptism, many claimed that people actually started to speak real languages. In the October issue 1906 of The Apostolic Faith, the official publication of the Azusa Street church, the following article is included:

Sister Hutchins has been preaching the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. She has received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Uganda language, the language of the people to whom she is sent. A brother who has been in that country understands and has interpreted the language she speaks. Her husband is with her and her niece, who also has been given the African language.

Continue reading The International Miracle of Pentecost

Liberating Fire: How a Christian Activist Was Transformed by the Gifts of the Spirit

Heidi Baker and Bill Johnson were transformed at The Toronto Blessing. But, have you heard of Bob Ekblad?

He was a radical. Rejected by evangelical churches. Opposed by Central American dictatorships. 

But he felt like his gospel wasn’t strong enough to meet the needs of the poor he was serving. Then, God did something new.

Watch this brand-new documentary by our friends at The Wind Vane Project right here:

 

Read more about the ministry of Bob Ekblad and The People’s Seminary.

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:

Skärmavbild 2018-01-20 kl. 16.03.52

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.

27908414_584685761869668_2318731434806321974_o

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.

shane claiborne

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.”

alec-cooks-272307-unsplash

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.

Skärmavbild 2018-10-07 kl. 12.38.04

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.

donald-trump-jesus-christ

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.”

Skärmavbild 2018-12-28 kl. 08.49.03

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!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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!