One of Donne’s more famous poems is “At the round earth’s imagined corners.” This title, also its opening line, demonstrates a hallmark of his poetry–the ability to combine elements of our experienced world (“the round earth”) with powerful and often Biblical imagery (its “imagin’d corners,” a reference to Revelation 7:1) to produce startling insights into the relationship between this world and the next. But what exactly connects the vast and expansive “there” of heaven with the lowly “here” of earth and what are the practical implications for our lives as Christians?
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a compelling story to reflect on for Black History Month. The story, based on conflict between Jews and Samaritans, speaks to us about prejudice, stereotypes, and the power of love across ethnic lines. Reading this story this month, we might encourage one another to reach, like the good Samaritan, out to those who may disdain and slander us because of our ethnicity. When it comes to black history, who has played the role of priests, Levites, and the Good Samaritan? Who, after seeing people in dire need, has passed by on the other side?
“We must win the peace,” advocated the associate editor of the Pentecostal Herald in the wake of World War II. The writer’s concern was for those persons who became the rubble of war. With what seems to be the constant threat of terrorism, killings of civilians in the Middle East, and the atrocities of war, what does it mean for Christians to “win the peace” in a time where peace can be hard to come by?
Snake-handlers … tongue-talkers … holy rollers, jumpers, runners … and prosperity gospelers … this is what comes to mind for many when hearing the term Pentecostal. Well, there is a certain amount of truth within these statements. And yes, within the stereotypes there are legitimate concerns to be considered. So why did I decide to become a Pentecostal Theologian?
If you grew up in the church, or have been around it at all for any amount of time, you have probably heard a clichéd phrase about God and your heart that goes like: “You have a God shaped hole in your heart” or “That person keeps trying to fill that hole in their heart only God can!”. Well yes…. and no. The problem is that we often use nice and tidy little phrases to explain such complex situations. The church has made Jesus the end all be all answer for every longing or desire to be known in relationship and community that just does not biblically make sense.
As the Pentecostal Movement has aged, those who identify themselves as Pentecostals have begun to create robust and distinctly Pentecostal theologies, hermeneutics, ethics, and more to help the movement navigate its ways through an ever shifting cultural ethos. To intertwine this unique and growing field of Pentecostal scholarship with the spirituality of the movement’s young Pentecostals will help create a bright future for the movement as we move further into the 21st century.
There is an important discussion to be had when shame and openness meet. Brene’ Brown –someone who has popularized the shame discussion from a clinical study POV – has said in her viral TED videos, “If you are breathing you have felt shame.” This is good in at least one respect: no one is alone in the experience of shame. How we handle shame in todays culture is one of the most pressing discussions for this time.
Within Protestantism (and more specifically Evangelicalism) there has been a tendency toward the abstractions of doctrinal confessions from our very beginning. However, Pentecostals have often reflected on and created theology through a narrative method. What does it look like and what does it mean to say that Pentecostals tend to gravitate toward narrative theology?
Through the reading of the story of the 5,000 in John 6 we see that using Jesus to usher in the kingdom that we want leads to idolatrous ideology. The 5,000’s idolatry was redefining sonship by political means, making Jesus into a messiah they wanted, the very same ideology that we can fall into today. The integrity of the life of Christ lies in the means of his life, not just the goal. How he brings in the kingdom affects the very nature of the kingdom itself! How do we as the church understand and know Jesus without making his Messiahship and His Kingdom into what we want?