Tag Archives: poverty

The Jesus Agenda

by Craig M. Watts. Originally published at The Yoke, reposted with permission.

Clarity brings trouble.

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Few ministers would bother preaching a second sermon if they got the reaction Jesus received after his first one in his hometown synagogue. Many preachers have had people respond to a message with anger but not with attempts on their lives. Jesus roused passions with his preaching. And some of those passions were deadly. Continue reading The Jesus Agenda

The Politics of Pentecostalism

by Luis Aránguiz Kahn. Originally published at Pensimiento Pentecostal.

Pentecostalism is a movement that surged in the beginning of the 20th century simultaneously in different parts of the world and in the middle of the diversity of the protestant and evangelical churches. In general terms, its social base was made of the poor, marginalized and discriminated. In the case of South America, there were two points of beginning. In Brazil by the hand of Luigi Fransescon, and in Chile it was brought about by Willis Hoover. From there on the movement has expanded geographically to the entire Southern Cone, but it has also had a notable quantitative growth in the different countries in the zone. There has also been an influence from external Pentecostalism, especially from The United States.

By the nature of movement there coexists an ample heterogeneity of churches, practices and believes in the interior of the Pentecostalism. This, in methodological terms, complicates the analysis of the phenomenon and the possibility of offering an explanation that stretches over its diversity. Therefore once more, if we speak in general terms, it is possible to notice that the Pentecostalism has arisen from a political derivation that can reveal itself in two ways, and which will not be unknown to anyone familiar in any way with this type of church.

On the one hand, it is possible to observe the existence of a Pentecostalism which calls itself “apolitical”. Within this category every church and believer would fit who, in the name of a moral dualism which sees the behaviors of non-Christians as mundane, rejects the political field (especially in its partisan version ) by considering it mundane, that is to say sinful. In those who maintain this form of thinking, there exists a tendency to reaffirm the status quo. Even when the political field is avoided, the “apoliticals” tend to champion the political groups which uphold the conservation of order.

In this way, for example, it is not strange to encounter Pentecostals who support anti-Marxist dictatorships in the previous century, as seen in the cases of Guatemala and Chile. In the same way today it is possible to encounter Pentecostals who support parties which are morally conservative, in order to avoid legislations which approve homosexual marriage, abortion and euthanasia. In a certain way, whether they want it or not, the “apoliticism” ends up being more a distant horizon than a way of living, well examples like these show that although one avoids forming parties or participate in them, inevitably one will participate in the public square. Therefore the query that remains is understanding this apoliticism as a fundamentally political act. Continue reading The Politics of Pentecostalism

An Angel of Mercy Appointed by Prophecy

UK banknote commemorating Elizabeth FryFrom 2001, her face was on every Bank of England £5 note, but who was Elizabeth Fry? She was born into a banking family in Norwich, England, in 1780. When she was 18, she heard a Quaker preacher and was converted. She joined a Quaker assembly, where a woman had a prophecy for her: “You are born to be a light to the blind, speech to the dumb and feet to the lame.”

Immediately, Fry was moved to charitable acts. She collected old clothes for the poor, visited those who were sick in her neighbourhood, and started a Sunday School to teach children to read. Marriage took her to London, and motherhood kept her so busy that after 12 years she lamented: “I fear my life is slipping away to little purpose.” How wrong she was!

Another Quaker minister told her of the horrifying conditions in the capital’s prisons. Fry went to the infamous Newgate jail to see for herself. She found hundreds of women and their children living violent lives in unsanitary conditions and sleeping on the floor without bedding.

Fry sprang into action. Immediate practical needs had to be met. She enlisted local women to make clothes for the children. She got permission to start a school for prison children. She founded an organisation of women who would visit prisoners, pray and read scriptures with them, and provide them with materials to sew and knit goods which could be sold to give them some income. Continue reading An Angel of Mercy Appointed by Prophecy

How Needy is ‘Needy’? Some Early Church Views

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

It Should be Natural for Christians to be Vegan

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

Caring For The Vulnerable Among Us

by Faith Totushek

Who are the poor in scripture and how are they to be treated among the community of God’s people? As believers and those who believe the Bible is our guide, we might examine the many stories, and passages in the Bible to find our way through the various conundrums our society faces.  Especially as believers, we have a great and holy call to be agents of God and healers of a sin-sick world.

The group I wish to examine in the Bible are the widows, orphans and foreigners.  They are described as the vulnerable ones who need the extra support and focus from God’s people.  They are also the ones whom God has said that He himself would defend.

Who are the widows?  Widows often become poor or socially vulnerable due to the loss of a husband.  This could apply to women who are divorced and raising small children, to women who are emotionally abandoned through abuse and neglect by a spouse.  These are women whose husbands have died and are now vulnerable in the community. Continue reading Caring For The Vulnerable Among Us

Ending Homelessness by Giving the Homeless Homes

A Canadian city called Medicine Hat has now eliminated homelessness by giving the homeless homes. Utah is doing this as well – every homeless person gets a home and access to a social worker and a case worker who will help them getting a job, be intergrated in society and get mental health care if they need some. At first, the home is free, and if they get a job they’ll pay 30% of their income for the house.

Continue reading Ending Homelessness by Giving the Homeless Homes