Tag Archives: United States

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.

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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

Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

by Maximus Nyssen.

As I continue to survey the American Christian landscape regarding responses to the coronavirus pandemic, my disappointment and bewilderment grows daily. Much of the responses from the Evangelical community – and especially those within the Pentecostal-Charismatic framework – have been frankly dangerous, conspiratorial, hyper partisan, scientifically illiterate and theologically bankrupt.

There are two dominant heresies alive in American Christianity today, which would be fundamentalism and nationalism.

Fundamentalism advocates an entirely unhistorical theological viewpoint that the Bible is a scientific textbook, and that any scientific hypothesis, theory, or fact that “opposes” some supposed scientific principle believed to be written in the Bible must be rejected as some sort of atheist attack on the faith.

This is a fairly modern heresy, one that entirely rejects historical theological discovery and exegetical studies, and only really came into prominence in the earlier part of the 20th Century. No one in antiquity, the early church, or the vast majority of the history of the Church held to any notion of fundamentalism.

Nationalism advocates the view that America is God’s “special nation” and that this nation is the best nation that’s ever existed anywhere, and implicitly propagates that all other nations, peoples, and races have something defective, lacking, wrong, or even evil in them. Continue reading Fundamentalism & Nationalism: Two Dominant Heresies in American Christianity

Black Vineyard Pastors: “We’re Tired of Being Angry”

Earlier this year, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two men who approached him with their pickup truck while he was jogging. These men were not arrested until a video of the murder went viral.

Our friends at the Vineyard Justice Network has posted a statement by a group of black pastors in the Vineyard USA. Among other things, they write:


How long, Lord, must [we] call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make [us] look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before [us]; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4

Written on 5/8, what would have been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday.

We’re angry. We’re tired. We’re tired of being angry.

There is nothing different about this time except that we are in a pandemic. A pandemic that disproportionately affects Black and Brown bodies, due to unequal access to healthcare, food and other life essentials. A pandemic that has us saying goodbye to our parents, grandparents and relatives at an alarming rate. A pandemic that compels us to wear masks when we know what the consequences could be – dangers that run deeper than the risk of infection.

Besides that, what’s different?

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a father and a son.

A Black man’s life taken by a family affair: a nation stuck in cycles of racialized violence and death.

This isn’t new. It’s history.

Lynchings were public gatherings — spectacles where human bodies, still alive, were stripped, tortured, dismembered, sometimes burned, and left to die. Community is not supposed to be like this. Our churches, too, are public gatherings — a place where the Body, however broken, can seek healing from the One with pierced hands. And yet, as pastors, we can simply feel responsible for informing the church about these tragedies, even as we hurt inside, barely having had time to process them ourselves. The Church is more than a place to announce Black Death, it is a Body meant to uplift Black Life.

This uplift involves looking sin and evil in the face and standing against it. As Jeannine Hill Fletcher says, “If Christians desire a world of racial justice and religious integrity, understanding the sin of white supremacy and Christian theology’s role within it is our only way forward.”

God does not look away from the pain and affliction of his people.

Neither do we.


Read the full statement here.

Editor’s note: Less than two weeks after this statement was released, George Floyd was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis, making it even more relevant.

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?

Not All American Pentecostals Support Donald Trump

Recently, Religion Unplugged published a story by Julia Duin featuring PCPJ. It’s titled “Meet The Evangelicals Who Are Anti-Trump”, and while I personally don’t wear “anti-Trump” as a label it is true that we have been critical to President Trump for not promoting peace and justice very well.

We follow Jesus and see peace and justice as something very central to the Gospel message. We’re sad to see how many of our fellow Pentecostals and Charismatics, particularly in the West, argue for things like:

  • that everyone should have weapons,
  • that refugees should be deported to war and misery,
  • that man-made climate change does not exist,
  • that economic inequality is good,
  • and that gender equality has gone too far.

These are not things that Jesus stands for in the gospels, nor are they things that the Pentecostal movement originally stood for. Early Pentecostal friends were pacifists, included women preachers and were committed to poverty reduction and a sustainable environment.

They tried to resurrect all of Pentecost in Acts 2, not just the tongues part. We at PCPJ wish to do the same. Continue reading Not All American Pentecostals Support Donald Trump

The Five Worst Christian Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic

We love the church. We love how beautiful, fun, messy and weird she is. She is the body of Christ, the city on a hill, the messenger of salvation.

However, this very love also compels us to point out when some of her bodyparts do things that are very, very wrong.

As the coronavirus pandemic marches on, we’re sad to report that the response of some Christians has been outrageously damaging. Either by using the crisis to earn money, spreading wild conspiracy theories or encouraging their church members to infect each other.

We must not forget that many other Christians do an amazing job of combatting the virus, helping the vulnerable and preaching the Gospel.

That being said, let’s have a look at the five worst Christian responses to the pandemic. Continue reading The Five Worst Christian Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Justice as Electoral Praxis: A Hope for Florida, Latina Evangélicas and Election 2020

By Elizabeth D. Rios, EdD, DMin.

The Latino/a growing population continues to increase in North America and their importance to elections has increased as well. While some parties are doing a far better job of reaching out to this community, the reality is we are not the same and we certainly do not think the same. We are not a monolith and it would be erroneous to assume as much. Due to this reality, election 2020 will prove to be just as much a nail-biting spectacle as was the 2016 election or most any election in Florida for that matter. The expectation that Latinos are going to deliver major votes to a particular candidate is already being circulated in media.

The Problem with Florida

Florida has a population of 21.99 million residents and about 20.5% of that group are Latino/as. 70% of the total population in Florida identify as practicing a Christian-based faith. Latino/as make up 1 in 4 Floridians making them the largest minority group in Florida and 22% of them identify as Evangelical Protestant with other categories making up the 71% of religious Latinos in Florida. The fastest growing county in Florida is where I live, Broward County.

I have wanted to move during election time. You see, if you are in the U.S. you already know that Florida is a huge battleground state that always seems to get on the news for some fiasco. Perhaps you remember the hanging chands in 2000, or the 3,000 disappearing voters in Palm Beach County and other problems during the 2018 mid-term elections for governor. No matter how you look at it, Florida has had a very rocky road during elections, mostly due to voter suppression and election integrity. I doubt it will be any different this time around. But I do have hope, not in a system but in a people. Just like the politicians, I have hope in some Latinos/as. It is wise to consider this group of people as they are not only the fastest-growing minority group in the nation but also in Florida.  What would be unwise is to assume how they will vote, especially those who identify as evangelicals. We’re complicated. Continue reading Justice as Electoral Praxis: A Hope for Florida, Latina Evangélicas and Election 2020

A Response to Recent U.S. Killings in Iraq

by Bob Ekblad, originally published on his blog.

I am deeply troubled and grieved by Donald Trump’s order to kill by drone strike Iran’s second most powerful leader, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, together with the Iraqi Shia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The Trump Administration’s killing of these two men on January 3, regardless of their offenses, is evil, going against God’s command: “thou shall not kill” and Jesus’ command: “love your enemies.” It also threatens to plunge the United States and the Middle East into a major war leading to far more death and destruction.

As we hear critiques and defenses, and brace ourselves for retaliatory violence and retributive counter measures, let us consider Jesus’ seeing Jerusalem and weeping over it, and practice something like this ourselves, remembering his highly relevant words:

“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.”

Continue reading A Response to Recent U.S. Killings in Iraq

How Much Presidential Blasphemy Can We Tolerate?

This sentence from The Guardian has to go down in history as completely unimaginable concerning a U.S. president just a few years ago:

Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the “Chosen One” – all within hours of referring to himself as the “King of Israel” and tweeting in all caps: “WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?”

What really concerns me is the “Chosen One” and “King of Israel” part. The Guardian even leaves out something even more disturbing, namely that Trump welcomed the comparison between him and the second coming of God:

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A lot has already been written on Trump’s apparent pathological narcissism, and the tweets above provide additional evidence that his view of himself is severely disturbed. Any sane person, regardless of their own religious beliefs, would reject any comparison between themselves and the Creator of the universe. Continue reading How Much Presidential Blasphemy Can We Tolerate?

Pentecostal Spirituality: The Power to Practice (Not Just Believe)

By Elizabeth D. Rios, EdD, DMin (ABD)

I started this article a week ago, but felt something was missing. Today, I found it. I think it was holy indignation!

What sparked this holy anger?

Hearing a well-known, popular, nationally recognized Pentecostal preacher share (on an Instagram clip) on his pulpit that he hates politics. How he doesn’t give a rip about it. How he doesn’t care who is in charge.

He then goes on to say, “You know how we find our help, through Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, the power of the holy ghost. You get involved in that mess, you get involved in offenses. ‘That offends me, well I can’t believe…’ Who gives a rip what they say? I want to know what God says. I’ve lived long enough to be in a place where I am asking the question, is it going to be politics or Pentecost?”

To which you hear the congregation break out into applause. Although it wasn’t overwhelming applause there were still people who actually thought this was responsible preaching. Albeit, he’s been a pastor for decades (and I actually like and know him) but I had to hear it over a few times because I was sad and yes, mad over it. Continue reading Pentecostal Spirituality: The Power to Practice (Not Just Believe)