Embracing Pentecostal community

There is much discussion about community and what does it look like. Many ideas are through around but what does the scripture and the Spirit tell us about how a biblical community of Pentecostals should look.

There is several things that we do know about the issue of community. The Book of Acts was written to a people who valued community. They saw community as being one in intention or “capacity of moral preference.”[1]Greek word is καρδία

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32)

They also saw the community as being united as the “seat of affections and will”[2]Greek Word: ψυχή They laid down their own rights to emotions and desire for the sake of others. They did not value themselves but the people of God alone.

In Acts 15:28, it is implied that there was a communal or corporate understanding of revelation. They have a community that shared the same value system. It was based on personal pursuit of truth that become a community of Spirit-Baptized revelation.[3]See Craig Kenner’s Spirit Hermeneutics

Understanding the culture of the apostolic age is critical to form a doctrinal framework for what we can gather as a people in our culture and time of history. There are truths for us today in our expression of culture and national values.

We live in a time of where community is a buzzword. We see it being talk about in theology, philosophy, and sociology circles. We are led by social sciences but it is important to establish that the influence within theology, especially Pentecostal Ecclesiology has suffered. Paul warned against allowing the things of this world take root in our theology of the Spirit.

Any community will seek to contextualize the fruits of its exegesis for its’ own setting…including Pentecostal circles.[4]Craig Kenner, Spirit Hermeneutics, p. 278 (Craig Kenner)

For a people to be a community, there must be critical analysis of biblical text. We must seek to have knowledge of what was happening within’ the apostolic culture and then how we do apply it to our culture and our national identity. We seek to view doctrine through our lens of culture just like they did.

For example, in the apostolic age, study of scripture was a community exercise because a majority of the believers were illiterates and untrained. Therefore, teaching the scriptures became very important. To that end, we live in a culture that at least 88% of the people read and write. The importance of biblical education moves from corporate to personal.

It is clear that much of the mindset of the early church’s view on community was the influence of Jewish culture of the day. They desired to live among the culture they were called to, not create a counter-culture as many church leaders suggest currently.

One blessing that we have received as a people is the criticism of people who deem themselves cessationist. One of the main complaint they have is that people who consider themselves Pentecostal or Charismatic is that we place value on the spiritual gifts or what they call the “apostolic gifts.” The role of Pneumatology in our Ecclesiology is central to understand our value system.

Ekklesia: People of God’s Presence

The Church exists in the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.[5]Ralph Del Colle, Holy Spirit, the Church, and Christian Unity, p. 249 (Ralph Del Colle)

Any gathering of believers must be theocentric. The purpose of connection to others must be around the presence of the Spirit. Our identity is not to a social agency that just talks about Jesus but be the conductor of Heaven’s glory to the lost and dying world.

As the community of faith is relational in nature, we find our renewal and cause in the presence of the Spirit and an overflow becomes a prophetic sign of grace and compassion to a world of broken people due to sin.

Historically, the beliefs has been to unity is found at the table of spiritual identity. This not realistic and will not happen in practice. The common bond is found in communion with the Spirit. When this become the purpose of gathering, the shared meal, mission and intimacy is about the Spirit living in, on and among the believers.

Some suggest that the growth of the people of God throughout the first few centuries can be connected to the quality of the Spirit’s presence among the faithful. It works out to about 40% growth per decade over several centuries.[6]Rodney Stark, The rise of Christianity, p.20 This remains the model for growth until roughly 400 AD.

A people that are Pneumatologically centered become a bridge between the Kingdom of Christ and the souls of society that we dwell among. It is in this bridge that people find freedom and healing. (2 Corinthians 3:17) In light of the presence of Pentecost, broken people are set free as a prisoner would receive expungement.

An example of this is found in Acts 12. Rhoda, a servant girl has Peter knock on the door and she does not know what to do. Someone inside says, “It must be his angel.[7]Some use Acts 12:15 for a basis of guardian angels which is reading in the text things that are not there.” The question, whose presence had Peter in? It is the Angel of the Lord.

In other words, Whom presence you dwell within will flow out of your presence to others. The intimacy we have as a community because the anointing we care to the lost world in our midst.

It can not be overstated that the centrality of the Pentecostal community if found in our commitment to the presence of the Spirit. Paul even called the mystery of the gospel to people who were not Jewish. It is Christ in us, the hope of Glory.

We are by calling a gathering of the faithful who because of the work of the Cross live in and through the expectation of the the manifest presence of the Father’s promise: the glory of the Lord!

Incarnational gifts of the Spirit

Spiritual gifts are designed for the people of God’s presence and are cultivated by fanning the flame (2 Timothy 1:6) within the context of relationship. It is not biblical to gather as the people of faith and not see the outpouring of the Spirit through the operation of the gifts.

Because the spiritual enablement of Pentecost are interactive and relational[8]See Michael Welker’s book God the Spirit for more; they work best in the framework of the assembly of saints. The exceptions to this would the manifestation of healing and tongues.

Healing is present to the unbeliever as a testimony of the resurrection of Jesus. This is clear in several biblical texts. Healing was the “proof” of the gospel to the unbeliever. It was not reserved for the Pentecostal community as prophecy and words of knowledge seem to be.

Casting out of devils was not mention as a gift by the Apostle Paul because it was something that every believer was expected to do in the anointing of the Spirit. It was never a central point nor did anyone in the apostolic church have a “deliverance ministry.” They just knew to cast out the demon and move on. It seems to normal to them.

Since spiritual gifts are relational and interactive, they serve to structure the church as a community of relationships that facilitate communion of the Spirit and show forth sign of grace to the world.[9]Frank Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, p. 242 (Frank Macchia)

Most agree that a gathering of believers is structured by the 18 spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament.[10]I hold the 4/5 mentioned in Ephesians 4 to be mantles, not gifts Any structure of a people must be fluid and relational to the cultural dynamics of the national and local anthropology.

It is my conviction that a grouping of believer is not biblical without the centrality of the presence of the Spirit and the operation of most, if not all, gifts of the Lord to the people of faith. Simply put, a church service without the spiritual gifts happening is not a biblical manifestation of the Church!

This is an area where our Oneness Pentecostal brethren has done much better than we have. For the most part, they have remain faithful to be theocentric and building a foundation on the gifts than other Pentecostal groups that in some cases have become “Methodists than believe in tongues.”[11]Many Classic Pentecostals have backed down on Pentecostal doctrine While there doctrinal concerns, we can celebrate their devotion of the Pentecostal theology we all claim to hold.

In my experience, the churches who see themselves as Oneness Pentecostals would be insulted to be given to the marketing philosophies of the world that many other groups within the movement are very open to. They do not see the gathering of the faithful as an opportunity to be a life coach or to have group therapy. The sole goal is to hear the Spirit and to see Him move and transform people.

The gifts of the Spirit are still God’s primary means of building the Church both spiritually and numerically. Nothing else can do it.[12]Stanley Horton, What the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, p.283

The cause of  Ekklesia

The existence of the people of God’s presence is the expression of the Lord of the Harvest Himself. Without a vision for the lost and broken around us, we have lost the cause we live for and the reason for taking of space between conversion and death.

Our cause is expressed through J. Roswell Flower when he said that the Apostolic standard of the Church must be the “heathen in the neglected parts of the earth would scarcely have time to hear before Jesus should come.”[13]J. Roswell Flower, Pentecostal Evangel, p. 20

When the Lord of the Harvest left us, we was left with a mandate that once we have the presence of God and was filled with fire, we was to take to the end of the earths as witness (or living martyrs) according to Acts 1:6-8. The intimacy of the Spirit was never designed to be for the believers alone. It always had a mission and for a cause, the cause of Christ.[14]Gary McGee’s Miracles, Missions, and American Pentecostalism is a great place to start for more information.

As Margaret Poloma points out in 1989, as a people we are struggling to be lead by prophetic preaching and by the voice of the prophet.[15]Margaret Poloma, Assemblies of God at the crossroads, p.132 When we replace the prophetic word of the Lord with life coaching and being “purpose driven,” we have lost all right to be a voice for the Lord.

In 2010, it was said that only a minority of leaders regularly experienced prophecy, healing and other manifestations of the presence of the Spirit.[16]Margaret Polomo, Assemblies of God: Godly Love, p. 73 This is concerning that 2 out of 3 gatherings across America do not have the markings of the Spirit’s presence and are just religious formalities.

The challenge becomes how do we take the anointing, the manifest presence and bring it to a lost and dying world? The power of God is how fulfill the mission of God; however, loving people where they are is how we make the presence human. It need some flesh and bones to the lost. The glory of God needs a face to be seen. That’s the Great Commission in a local context.[17]Borrowed from Alton Garrison’s Spirit Empowered Church

The answer to the world’s problem is always the Spirit’s presence and power. This is true with Teen Challenge, Chi Alpha and Mercy Hospital in India. They all realize the only hope is how in the power of God.[18]Donald Miller’s Global Pentecostalism: the new face of Christian Social Engagement

Nowhere has this been more true that in the last few years in Springfield, Missouri. A friend has planted a ministry to those who have migrated. There is not hundreds of people who have felt the presence of God and given their lives to Christ as a result. This is being repeated all over the world.[19]Allan Anderson’s to the ends of the Earth is recommended for more on this concept

Apostolic ministry began with the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost; and that they might be prepared to receive Him the preliminary measure of his power and grace was granted them by the risen Lord.[20]J. Richie Smith, Holy Spirit in the Gospels, p.371 (J. Richie Smith)

 

 

 

References

References
1 Greek word is καρδία
2 Greek Word: ψυχή
3 See Craig Kenner’s Spirit Hermeneutics
4 Craig Kenner, Spirit Hermeneutics, p. 278
5 Ralph Del Colle, Holy Spirit, the Church, and Christian Unity, p. 249
6 Rodney Stark, The rise of Christianity, p.20
7 Some use Acts 12:15 for a basis of guardian angels which is reading in the text things that are not there.
8 See Michael Welker’s book God the Spirit for more
9 Frank Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit, p. 242
10 I hold the 4/5 mentioned in Ephesians 4 to be mantles, not gifts
11 Many Classic Pentecostals have backed down on Pentecostal doctrine
12 Stanley Horton, What the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, p.283
13 J. Roswell Flower, Pentecostal Evangel, p. 20
14 Gary McGee’s Miracles, Missions, and American Pentecostalism is a great place to start for more information.
15 Margaret Poloma, Assemblies of God at the crossroads, p.132
16 Margaret Polomo, Assemblies of God: Godly Love, p. 73
17 Borrowed from Alton Garrison’s Spirit Empowered Church
18 Donald Miller’s Global Pentecostalism: the new face of Christian Social Engagement
19 Allan Anderson’s to the ends of the Earth is recommended for more on this concept
20 J. Richie Smith, Holy Spirit in the Gospels, p.371

Revival is coming to the Assemblies of God

This past weekend, Daniel Kolenda of Christ for All Nations spoke at the Centennial Celebration for the Assemblies of God in Peru. It is a reminder that the Assemblies of God is not dying. It is actually growing. This is not just a missions thing either. Assemblies of God in the United States has experienced a 47% growth from 1990 to 2014. (The Assemblies in America is growing twice as fast as the population)

Holiness Standards for Pentecostal Women

Pentecostal women are different than the women of this world. Women who are of Pentecost should act, behave and even dress differently. The same should be true of all Pentecostals, no matter if they are from the Assemblies of God, Church of God or the United Pentecostal Church. We all hold the same standards.

Why I left YWAM (Youth With A Mission)?

I use to be part of YWAM for a few years but I have seen left them and took the vision I had while in YWAM and developed it into what is now Herrnhut. I loved being there and did not plan to ever leave the movement. However, for reason that I will lay out here, I felt required by God to do so.

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For those who don’t know what YWAM or Youth With A Mission is, it was started by Loren Cunningham back in 1960 as a result of an open vision that he had while on a mission trip to the Bahamas. He saw waves of young people taking the gospel message to the ends of the earth. This became a major movement that today has about 15,000 missionaries to so across about every nation in the world (or we were told).

Out of that came their hallmark program, Discipleship Training School, and adding to that was their mercy ministries and evangelism. They have been quite effective at getting people to join the DTS as they call it. There is hundreds of thousands in the programs around the world at any given times.

However, there is some major issues with YWAM and that is what I plan to discuss. For the sake of clarity, I want to breaks this down into three areas: theology, spirituality, and philosophy.

Theological Concerns

The biggest concerns is theological. There is some bad doctrines being presented at YWAM bases around the world that people just do not want to talk about. It is not pretty and this is above all why I left Youth With A Mission. If you get what you believe about God, his story, and his character wrong; you will get everything wrong and that includes missiology.

For the following reasons I question if YWAM has become a cult. At the very least, there are some major YWAM problems.

YWAM believes in Moral government. This teaching goes by many names. Some call it Kingdom Now. Others call it Dominion theology. Many call it Moral Government. No matter what name you use for it, it is clearly wrong and goes against scripture.

The concept is that we have been given ” power of contrary choice” and it denies God’s knowledge,  goodness and power. Many that do believe this hold that Jesus died for the sins of the world but not your sins. (Only collectively) They also believe that was no original sin in the garden of Eden. These are just a couple of the problems with the doctrine of Moral Government.

Some leaders in YWAM try to point to historical thinkers like Arminius and Wesley to justify their shaky doctrines. However, neither of these men would defend or teach anything remotely close to moral government of God. There would never deny God’s plan to redeem every person in this world.

YWAM believes in Open Theism. This is the idea that is shared by some thinkers like Calcidius, Socinus, Samuel Fancourt, Andrew Ramsay, Clark Pinnock, Greg Boyd, Dallas Willard, and Winkie Pratney. The connection and inroad into Youth With A Mission was mainly Winkie in the early days as a bible teacher for schools.

This belief suggest the affirmation of God that respect our total moral responsibility yet inviting us to saving faith in Christ. The God of creation knows the past to the numbers of hair on your head and He knows everything that is happening right now. However, He can only “guess” what will happen in the future based on the pattern of history.

As I am completely against Calvinism on all points, I do not support an extreme view of Arminism such as Open Thiesm that has some serious theological challenges, especially concerning biblical prophecy. (How could God foretell if He can only “guess?”)

YWAM believes in ecumenicism to a fault. As a movement, they believe in diversity. This is among the Catholics but they try and open the doors to everyone from the Pentecostals to the Baptists to the Amish! While this sounds great on paper, it presents a problem when you start to flesh this out.

The moment that a demon manifest, all the discussion of “Christian unity” goes out the window and people turn to what tradition they are part of. The Baptist girl thinks it is just mental illness; the Methodist thinks they just need confirmation and the Pentecostal are ready for a old fashion deliverance like they are the second coming of Smith Wigglesworth.

The reason this is a problem is the more radical people (Pentecostal and Charismatics) are often the ones that have to give in to those who are more evangelical. The biblical balance is radical obedience is all areas, not reduction of fervency in one reason to build another.

While this is not a completely exhaustive list of theological inquiry that ones needs to do within Youth With A Mission, it is the same challenges and you can deal the lesser issues after these.

Witchcraft in the Camp

The biggest problem with YWAM is not anything that many have not said but it needs to be address again. It is the spiritual control that some leaders operate under. It is demonic and it is witchcraft. The spirit of control is the spirit of multiplication and that is witchcraft. You can even make the case for leaders operating in the spirit of Jezebel.

Part of the problem is when they start their Discipleship Training School. It was within two years of the who Shepherding movement mess in American evangelicalism. There was a group of leaders headed by Bob Mumford and Derek Prince that took all the “each other” passages of the New Testament to the extreme. This became the norm of discipleship. It was not out of the ordinary for people to basically become servants of pastors. It was a sick time in the Charismatic movement that anyone that was involved in it needed some serious deliverance and emotional healing.

YWAM took much of the same attitude towards how they ran their school and it does not create freedom in the Spirit. Many become convinced that serving the mission base is their calling unto God. This is dangerous at best. It puts people under the yoke of bondage.

This mentality does some serious psychological damage. Some of what goes on in these discipleship schools borderlines on brainwashing depending what mission base we are discussing. Total submission changes how the person thinks and relates psychologically.

The control can get quite crazy. I know of one case where the leader was telling staff members where to go to church and what translation they should study from. In some ways, it was like the old legalism from the Pentecostal churches from the 1930’s revived.

In some cases, they use spiritualization and mental hypnosis to get complete control over the person. This has long been discussion concerning the movement and it is one reason the word cult get thrown around so often with YWAM!

 

Philosophy differences

Now, with all that said, I want to highlight a few philosophical differences that Youth With A Mission and Herrnhut has. You could say that is differences that I have with them. These are not really theological differences but they are more philosophical. Click here for the Genetic Code of Herrnhut.

The first would be private scholarship. While we do have fundamental truths that govern our beliefs, we celebrate people questioning instruction. If a teacher is teaching something that you feel is wrong, call them out on it. Question it and question it more. We want people to draw deep in intimacy with the Lord by questioning what they hear, read and see. This is not in operation at most YWAM bases.

The next thing is prophetic ministry. While they believe in on prayer and even believe in it if one of their favorite leaders is giving it, we celebrate people hearing from God for someone else. Even if they get it wrong; we still celebrate it. It does not matter if it is from a guy that just got saved to a pastor.

That leads to the next point of philosophical difference. We believe as John Wimber would put it, “Everyone gets to play.” It is not about this leader or that leader. It is about anyone who says “yes” to the great commission and wants to be a vessel of the Kingdom. Any and everyone can be the one God uses to move powerfully in our meetings.

One thing that we differ on is having renewal meetings. YWAM hold that they are strongly a para-church group and does not have church planting in their vision. We disagree. We hold church meetings every week and any future mission bases will hold renewal meetings every weekend. Church Planting is part of missions.

A final area that I find difference is how finances are handled. They tend to try and control how much each person has and doesn’t have. We want everyone to have as much as they can raise. We do not run our school for profit and much of the cost is underwritten by ministries in the United States that believe in reaching the South Pacific.

I am sure we have some other differences but these are the big ones!

 

Is YWAM a cult?

This is the question that always come up when discussing movements like this that do have some challenges theologically, spiritually, and philosophically. While they could do better in these areas (they must do better!), I am slow to throw around the word cult because they are truly trying to see the Holy Spirit in their lives and they do love Jesus.

The marks of a cult are not there besides the controlling issues and at some point, that is going to have to dealt with. However, I do not feel it has reached the level that warrants being labeled as a cult. I just do not. Sorry

A cult has the following elements to it and each of these questions must be asked.

  • Do they celebrate critical thinking?
  • Do they place community over communion with the Spirit?
  • Do they slander those who leave?
  • Do they feel they speak for the Holy Spirit?
  • Do they seek to control you?
  • Do they overvalue themselves?
  • Do they believe they are more anointed than everyone?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you need to consider if you are following a cult or not.

A message to the YWAMers

If you are in YWAM or going to a discipleship training school, I am not telling that you should not be there. I am telling you to do with eyes and ears wide open. Realize the issues facing the movement and do not get sucked into the challenges they have. If you know the strengths of the movement and focus of them, you can get a lot of being on a mission base. There is much good to be found.

I know some will say a little poison will kill you and that people should not be part of anything that is not spiritually pure. The problem with this is they actually believe they are pure when they probably disagree with themselves just a few years before. I know some of my views have soften and others have become stronger than they was when I was in my twenties. We are all in process.

I know dozens of people who was really blessed by doing a DTS. I did not get a lot of it but I was coming out time at the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry and finishing bible college at Central Bible College (Assemblies of God). I was mainly there because I did not want the red tape of becoming an Assemblies of God missionary.

One thing I would suggest is make you are accountable with people who can make sure your spiritual life and your doctrine is in tact. If something does get odd, someone who can tell you “wait a minute.”

All in all, I love YWAM and I love the missionaries with Youth With A Mission.

Is “inner healing” dangerous?

Right now, the idea of inner healing is very popular. It is selling a lot of products so ministries are jumping on the bandwagon to get the donations flowing. However, I have a fundamental question: Is Inner healing biblical? Is it rooted in history? Is it dangerous?

I have spend a large part of my adult life in the “prophetic movement” as a classic Pentecostal. Within the circles that value the prophetic work of the Spirit, there is also a tendency to hear a lot about inner healing and “soul care.” This became very popular in the wake of the Toronto Blessing under the leadership of John and Carol Arnott.[1]I was personally blessed in Toronto but theologically, there is challenges

I have seen different “models” come and go. Some of them a bit more biblical than others. All types of bad theology came from these frameworks such as “demons of free masonry” and “generational curses.” Some of them walk you right into witchcraft and the worship of demonic spirits.

I have personally experience with Restoring the Foundations that is the closest to biblical truth. Others such as Sozo from Bethel Redding not as much. Then, you have the “Theophostic prayer” that is just asking for demon spirit to get on you.

Is Inner Healing biblical?

The simple answer is no. Nowhere do you find in scripture a biblical basis for it whatsoever. The use of Isaiah 61 is out of context. The lightest of hermeneutics exposes the idea that it about “healing the soul.”

Jesus Christ declared “It is finished.”[2]John 19:30 In the Greek, this points to the act of consummation. In other words, the veil has been ripped and there is free access to the Lord. Everything you need for godliness has  perfected because of the work of the Cross.

Paul would continue this message when he told the believers in Corinth that they are new creation. That the old things have died and the new man has come. [3]2 Corinthians 5:17 When he said that old things have died, that means old ways of living as well.

Peter would also teach the same true of the power of the Cross that finished everything we need for victorious living. He would clearly tell the believers they have been called out of darkness and in the glorious light. They were not partly in the light but fully called out of the darkness of sin.[4]1 Peter 2:9

The truth is that every book of the New Testament and many Old Testament prophets point to the same reality: Jesus did it all on the Cross and everything you need for salvation, healing and deliverance is found in the blood of Jesus.

To believe that He did not do it all at Golgotha is to question the Omnipotence of Jesus to complete the work He started in the synoptic gospels. Believing that we need “soul healing” is to believe that Jesus needs help in the work of salvation.

It is finished. Done. Complete.

Is Inner Healing historical?

Most people trace it back to Agnes Sandford in the 1950’s[5]Ted and Agnes Sandford led “The School of Pastoral Care”, a Presbyterian that did not to admit to demons so came up with this inner healing teaching. However, it goes back way past that and even pre-date the ministry of Christ on the earth.
Its roots go back to Gautama Buddha where he would have tantras to release spirits for healing of the soul.[6]See Tantric Healing: The Power of Physical, Psychological and Spiritual Healing It was called “the art of healing.” He would give emanations that seemed to bring peace to the tormented.

Through the centuries, the ideal of soul healing was deeply rooted in the teachings of both Buddhism and Hinduism. Make no mistake about it, the foundation of inner healing is eastern religion in nature. This practice of spiritual healing is still very common in India and Southeast Asia today.

Until the 1930s, there is no mention of the idea within Christian thought. It is likely it was introduced by missionaries to India that came back defeated and confused by what they saw on the mission field. There was whispers of these teaching as early as the late 1920’s but it was a few years later that literature started to make its rounds in Baptists circles.

It was not until the 1950’s that the Sandford family started to teach it and later John Sandford (not related) pushed it within the Vineyard movement. At the point, the introduction to the deception was widespread and become a central teaching of the “Toronto Blessing.”

Make no mistake: its roots is eastern religion!

Is it dangerous?

Now, we are to the ultimate question: how dangerous is it for a believer? To be clear, when a person opens their soul (mind, will and emotions) to demons, they are asking for tormenting spirits to come on them. It is foolishness and a complete lack of discernment for a believer to consider the practice of inner healing or spiritual healing.

There is NO biblical basis for the practice in the New Testament. There is no example of someone renouncing a spirit of rejection and inviting the spirit of acceptance. This is modern new age craziness that is popular among people who never repented of their own nature.

There is this weird fixation among Charismatics to “redeem” new age practices. Nowhere were we called to redeem demons; we are told to cast them out. We do not “redeem” eastern religions, we confront them and drive me away from the faithful. Jesus made it clear how he felt about the mixture of spirits.[7]Revelation 2-3

Believers need to be reminded that they have received positional sanctification at the Cross of their conversion. There can be a persistent element of it that leads to the perfected sanctification.[8]William Menzies, Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective However, this is under no condition an excuse to accepting the demons of Buddhism and Hinduism into their lives.

It is common to see people spiritually oppressed.  The oppression is on the outside; it never ceases, and its’ only purpose is to break down our resistance. It manifests itself through temptations. It is the devil’s way of getting people to go back to their sinful ways. (Carlos Annacondia)[9]Carlos Annacondia, Listen to ME, Satan, p. 50

References

References
1 I was personally blessed in Toronto but theologically, there is challenges
2 John 19:30
3 2 Corinthians 5:17
4 1 Peter 2:9
5 Ted and Agnes Sandford led “The School of Pastoral Care”
6 See Tantric Healing: The Power of Physical, Psychological and Spiritual Healing
7 Revelation 2-3
8 William Menzies, Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective
9 Carlos Annacondia, Listen to ME, Satan, p. 50

Social Justice and the Gospel

Social Justice means many things in the United States. Most of it comes down to politics. However, outside of America and the larger Western World, the context of social justice or social concern charges greatly.

I am a conservice politically and seem Marxism in the modern America view of social justice. However, I have recently had that view challenged by reading Pentecostals and the poor by Dr. Ivan Satyavrata.

What would a theologian from India have to tell us that would be different than the things we head on Fox News or the 700 Club? Then, I realized he is the pastor of the 4,000 strong Buntain Memorial Church in Kolkata and serves on the board of directors for Teen Challenge in India.

The question of contextual ministry matters. He would have in understanding of how the gospel connects with the social concerns of the people. In his culture, it is not social justice vs the gospel but social concerns empower the gospel.

To be clear that a bowl of rice is never a substitute for the Holy Spirit. Giving someone food or medical care without telling them of the Savior is still humanism. It must be a tool, not the purpose or it loses its purpose.

Understanding Social justice globally

For many decades, the connection of social concern and the gospel was not two different matters. Azusa Street Mission was known for its works of compassion, for example. The same is true of the earlier Bethel Healing Home in Topeka (1901). However, in recent years the issue has become more of a political one than theological one.

This is the main things that Ivan Satyavrata seeks to remind us in Pentecostal and the Poor.

The extraordinary success of the Pentecostal movement is largely due to its outreach to those on the periphery of society. (p.38)

The message of redemption to the poor found in the gospel is hope for eternity and hope for the present. Many have no choice but to trust the Holy Spirit for their daily bread (and about everything else).

Historically, we have been better at the work of compassion than we have to discussing it but in recent years, we have developed great theological works about it while our actions became less and less. While we wanted to be moved with compassion, we did not want to attached to anything that was close to a “social gospel.”

Outside of the Western context, especially the United States, social concern and the Pentecostal message that Jesus saves, heals and delivers is natural and inseparable. They are more passionate about caring for the broken man than they were having great theological discourse. This remains the case in the developing world that Quest for Souls does most of its work.

The explosion of the Pentecostal movement around the world is directly in relationship with its’ application of compassion for the poor of the nation they work among. Social engagement is the gasoline on the fire of the gospel being preached. There is no dismissing this.

Working out social concern practically

When I was in living in the Philippines as a missionary, it was critical to get people to come for a work of evangelism to give them a meal. It is just standard in many outreaches, especially in the squatters. Many missionaries did not like the model but in most cases, without feeding the people; they would not come.

There is a place that personal philosophy and missiology does not matter and only what will actually reach the lost takes importance. This was the case in the Philippines. Personally, I struggled that a plate of Chicken Abodo made the people come, not the fire of God’s presence.

There was something powerful learned that I did not know in bible college: full stomach becomes open hearts. This is not true in all contexts but this is true in the Filipino understanding. (In Japan, offering food would be offensive.)

Pentecostal and the Poor is a monograph published by Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio City, Philippines. You can find it on Amazon in the United States.