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→
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?→
Elijah Stephens is a former Vineyard pastor and spiritual coach belonging to Bethel Church in Redding, California. Since 2015, he has been working on a documentary about medically verified miracles. Micael Grenholm asked him a few questions.
WHAT is a medically verified miracle?
That is a good question. When it comes to miracles, we are talking about when God enters the world and does something. What makes something a miracle is God’s activity.
This is why you can’t study miracles scientifically, but what you can do is to find cases where people have prayed and there’s “before and after” medical evidence. For example, a person has a tumor, one day there is prayer, the next day the tumor disappears.
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→
When sociologists Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori decided to study indigenous churches with active social programs in the developing world, they were astounded to find that the overwhelming majority of them were Pentecostal or charismatic. They studied the dynamic of Pentecostal social engagement further in their book Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement in which the coined the term “Progressive Pentecostal”. PCPJ’s Micael Grenholm asked Dr. Miller to expand on their findings in an email interview.
What does it mean to be a “Progressive Pentecostal”?
The stereotype about Pentecostals is that they are focused exclusively on salvation and not social transformation. In our research, this was a false dichotomy since we encountered many Pentecostal and charismatic congregations that were engaged with their local community, addressing issues related to poverty, drug addiction, mental illness, corruption, etc. It is relatively rare that Pentecostals are addressing social policy issues at a political level and, unfortunately, they have sometimes supported right-wing dictators. Continue reading Why Most Pentecostals Around the World are Progressive→