Tag Archives: social justice

Pentecostals, the Church and Justice

by Elizabeth D. Rios, Ed.D. D.Min (ABD).

Pentecostalism has often been accused of being withdrawn from social and political concerns due to an either/or mentality that erroneously makes people feel like they have to choose between evangelism, personal salvation and political engagement.  When we look at the Pentecostal movement in its early days we see that there not be such an ultimatum to choose. It is not either/or but both/and.

In my research, I found that in addition to this mindset, lack of knowledge by those in positions of power in the church on things such as how justice is biblical, how civic advocacy is not the same as political campaigning and even their own Pentecostal history has contributed to the passivity of Pentecostals to take a step toward advocating for justice. Interestingly enough, the Pentecostal movement has always thrived among the underprivileged and its success was in how they made leaders out of the very people overlooked and undervalued in society.

Dr. Raymond Rivera would often quip in his office at the Latino Pastoral Action Center in NYC, Pentecostal churches turned the janitor into the Pastor and the housekeeper into the Deacon. This in itself was a prophetic and political activity which challenged power structures and hierarchies, as they elevated the lowly and raised up the oppressed. The Pentecostal church in and of itself stood as not only a beacon of hope but a political declaration to surrounding culture that through the power of the Holy Spirit, they made treasure out of what society deemed as trash.

Some churches are known for having produced leaders that went on to make significant contributions to the movement and in their communities, other churches were known to produce leaders that shook the very foundations of their cities by involving themselves in movements of peace and justice, and still others were so passive the community did not even know they existed.  What I’ve found to be true is that this happens because some pastors used their pulpit and classrooms for discipleship that focused not only on who they were being made into as new creations but how they were expected to live out Christ-center practices as citizens. Thus the church in the life of a believer is crucial for their formation not just spiritually but civically. Essentially, where you go to church matters.

Researchers Nathan Todd and Anne Rufa stated, “Understandings of social justice do not develop in a vacuum, and many social settings such as families, schools, and religious congregations provide a rich context for social justice development.”* Therefore, I argue that the church is pivotal to the making of justice crusaders.

However, a pastor, planter, leader does not know what they do not know. Unless exposed to Pentecostal history that discusses the origins of Pentecostalism as a movement of the marginalized in a variety of contexts, they will buy into the nationalistic ideology that has pervaded our westernized view of evangelicalism. If not taught about how in the early 1900s the move of the Spirit was very much political in nature by empowering disciples to stand against inequality while being victimized themselves, they will believe the narrative always taught, evangelism is the only purpose of the church.

Dario Lopez Rodriguez states,

“The God of life is the God who loves and defends life, and liberates human beings from all oppression. In this sense, for Pentecostals who have been liberated by God from the chains of oppression, it should not be strange that they be involved in the defense of the dignity of all human beings as God’s creations. This is a concrete form of living in the Spirit, and for this reason, they must denounce all forms of personal, social and structural sin.”**

Hence, Pentecostal pastors and leaders, use your worship services, your education rooms, your table fellowship as labs not only to hear about how God is working in the lives of your people but to pastor and teach them how to think and act in today’s world from a Jesus centered, practice-based perspective. In this way, discipleship becomes a means of political engagement and people energized by the Spirit are formed into defenders of human dignity committed to both spiritual and social transformation. The rise of the both/and movement has begun.

Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Rios is the Founder of the Passion Center, a justice-oriented faith-based community helping people stand up and live out the gospel mandate of loving God, loving themselves and loving their neighbor in Miramar, FL. Find out more at www.ThePassionCenter.org and www.ElizabethRios.com

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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!

References


*N.R. Todd and A.K. Rufa, 2013. “Social Justice and Religious Participation: A Qualitative Investigation of Christian Perspectives.” American Journal of Community Psychology 51 (3/4): 315-31, accessed November 12, 2018 doi: 10.1007/s10464-012-9552-4.

**Dario Lopez Rodriguez, 2011. “The God of Life and the Spirit of Life: The Social and Political Dimension of Life in the Spirit.” Studies in World Christianity, (17.1) 1-11, accessed September 4, 2018, doi:10.3366/swc.2011.0002.


Cover photo: Rural church in South Africa, by Micael Grenholm

Four Out of Five Christians Take Action on Poverty

by Ruth Valerio, originally published on her blog.

It’s a pretty scary thing asking an external body to do some research for you and having absolutely no control over the findings. What if you don’t like what they come back with?!

So it was with some nervousness that we decided at Tearfund to team up with the research firm Barna Group to look into connections between caring for people in poverty and spiritual growth.

In particular, we wanted to look at what we call a ‘whole life response’ to poverty. Tearfund is absolutely committed to helping Christians, in the UK and around the world, respond to poverty in a ‘whole life’ way: through prayer, giving, advocacy, lifestyle, and other actions such as volunteering. We summarise that as Pray, Act, Give.

In the research we wanted to explore this whole-life response and see how that features for Christians in the UK (and in the US too – a US version is soon to be released). The research came back with a huge amount of fascinating findings – too many to go into in detail here! But three things in particular stood out for me: Continue reading Four Out of Five Christians Take Action on Poverty

Jesus was Homeless: A Kingdom Approach to Anti-Homeless Legislation

Originally posted at the Vineyard Justice Network. Check out their website for loads of inspiration on how we can promote social justice as charismatic Christians!

What is a Kingdom approach to thinking about anti-homeless legislation? How should we navigate the ethics of state and/or city laws that make feeding the homeless or sleeping in your car illegal? Should the fact that we worship a homeless man on Sundays make any difference?

Evan B. Howard is a spiritual director, professor of Christian Spirituality, and former Vineyard church planter. He shares his helpful Kingdom perspective on these questions, as well as why he’s advocating for Colorado to pass the Right to Rest bill on March 14.

HOMELESS RIGHTS: A CHRISTIAN CASE FOR THE SUPPORT OF COLORADO’S RIGHT TO REST

BY EVAN B. HOWARD

Every night, people–many people in Colorado–try to sleep outside. Homelessness is a simple fact, not only nationally, but also locally. Let’s take Denver, for example. No matter how you do the math–counting homeless persons and shelter beds available–there are at least a thousand people every night who must sleep outside in Denver.1

imageMost of us do not really notice many of our simple acts of physical survival. We pull up the covers when it gets cold. We get up and relieve ourselves in our bathrooms, rooms which we also use for hygiene purposes. We prepare our meals in kitchens and eat them in dining rooms. We store our possessions in houses or apartments. But what if we do not have access to these rooms, these “private” places? If private places are unavailable, we are obliged to perform these basic acts of survival in “public” places. We sleep on streets or under bridges or in a vehicle, near to light if possible to ensure safety. If commercial establishments allow only customers access to restrooms, we are obliged to relieve ourselves in alleys. We store (hide) our possessions in a small thicket of bushes in a city park. We gratefully receive food given to us wherever it may be offered. We do what we must to survive.

Continue reading Jesus was Homeless: A Kingdom Approach to Anti-Homeless Legislation

Signs, Wonders and Social Justice

You know what’s awesome? Miracles! You know what’s also awesome? Social justice! Let’s combine the two, like Jesus did. The Spiritual gifts that God has equipped His church with are supposed to be used to serve others (1 Peter 4:10), and obviously our activism for a more equal and just world will be even more effective when the Holy Spirit empowers us with supernatural abilities. A couple of years ago, I held a lecture on this idea of charismactivism:

It’s obvious that miracles and social justice go hand-in-hand in the Holy Scriptures: the Old Testament prophets exercised many miraculous gifts while promoting the rights of the poor and marginalised (see for example the book of Amos); Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons right before His famous Sermon on the Mount about social ethics (Mt 5); and as the apostolic church was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues they eradicated the gap between rich and poor through community of goods (Acts 2).

In the lecture, I go through these and other relevant Bible passages, as well as sharing testimonies from people today who combine miracles and social justice, like Simon Adahl and Heidi Baker. I also bring up and criticize theologians and philosophers who deny the existence of miracles (or at least its presence in the life of the ordinary believer), like David Hume, Rudolf Bultmann and John MacArthur. Enjoy the video!

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!

Revival as Social Transformation

Charismatics like myself love to talk about revival. Revival is usually defined as an “awakening” of the church, when it goes back to it’s original state. If the church doesn’t look like the book of Acts – where a lot of miracles happened, thousands were saved and Christians were living a holy, passionate life – it’s basically sleeping and needs to be revived.

Some years ago, a woman from Switzerland contacted me via this blog and said that she wanted to visit Sweden “and the revival there”. We were honored and welcomed her, but we gently said that it would be wrong to say that it’s a revival in Sweden. Even when a lot of people do get healed here and many are saved when we prophesy for them, revival is the wrong word, at least yet. Revival is something more, revival is social transformation. Continue reading Revival as Social Transformation

John Wimber: Social Justice Always Follows True Revival

The following is an excerpt from former Vineyard leader and revivalist John Wimber’s book The Way In is The Way On.

I love to teach on social justice! It really is one of my passions. Justice always go hand in hand with true revival and renewal of the Spirit. Justice – setting things right for the poor and marginalized – is one of the primary purposes for God sending His Son into the world. He came in order to set things right. Great leaders in the history of the church have always understood the relationship between faith and justice. There has never been a movement of God started on fire that did not have a ministry to the poor. Continue reading John Wimber: Social Justice Always Follows True Revival

What Kind of Pentecostal Am I?

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?