Mammonism, the idea that it’s OK for Christians to accumulate and possess wealth, has brought too many saints into ruin and destruction. This teaching kills poor people, as well as corrupts the sanctification process of the rich. Mammon, Wealth, is an enemy to God and it’s really important that we strive for simplicity and equality instead of trying to be as rich as possible.
I have been talking a lot about this in my God vs Wealth Youtube series, and I’ve written about it in my e-book God vs Inequality, but I still felt the need to gather all arguments I have for why Christians shouldn’t be rich in one lecture. It’s one hour long, and you can watch it right here:
In the video I discuss Jesus’ and the apostles’ teaching on wealth and poverty, the wealth of patriarchs and kings in the Old Testament and why it’s not normative for Christians, the woman and the alabaster jar, prosperity theology, and much more. I pray that this will equip God’s people to promote simplicity and equality even more.
Elijah Stephens from Redding, California is a former Vineyard Pastor with the ambition to make a documentary about evidence for miraculous healings. The film’s working title is Prayer Movie, and in a recently released video Stephens describes the project idea as following:
In the video you can spot professor Candy Gunther Brown who has written Testing Prayer: Science and Healing dealig with this very issue, as well as Craig Keener who has documented several medically verified healings in his big book Miracles. Heidi och Rolland Baker along with Randy Clark will also be a part of the film.
While the documentation of inexplicable events is far from new, films on this topic are quite rare other than looking at specific, individual cases. Stephens give some really compelling arguments on his website for why Christians should welcome evidence to support miraculous claims rather than brushing it off as a sign of weak faith or as a way to test God. He refers to how Johsua commanded the Israelites to put stones in the middle of Jordan so that their grandkids can be reminded of the miracle God did there (Josh 4:4-7).
If you want to support the project you can donate to Stephens’ Kickstarter. If the target isn’t met you wont have to give your money away. I myself am very excited for this movie and will pray and give for it to become a reality!
Let us end our little blog series on why wealth is wrong. We have already looked at the mathematical argument, where we saw that it is impossible to keep wealth while giving the same wealth to the poor. Then we discussed the economic argument, which says that it is better to invest in goods and services beneficial for the poor rather than superfluities like luxury and entertainment. And last time, I brought up the Bill Gates argument, which states that it is the quantity of what we keep, rather than what we give away, that measures our generosity.
In each post we have started with an argument for why wealth is right, and we shall do the same in this post. The most common moral argument I hear when people defend wealth is: “Rich people have worked hard for their wealth, and deserve therefore to have it and do what they please with it.” It is often combined with “We only have a moral obligation for ourselves and our families, not for the entire world.”
The moral argument for why wealth is wrong, on the other hand, is brilliantly summarized by the apostle John: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” As I explained in my article about a Christian World Vision, Jesus-followers should without doubt apply the same moralic standpoint on non-believers as well. (more…)
One of the most popular and controversial blog posts on this site is Does Bill Johnson rebuking Jason Westerfield prove that Bethel is New Age? In it, I commented on how Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson warned against the false teachings of a friend and student of his, Jason Westerfield. I pointed to some indications that Jason is preaching astrological new age, and therefore I thought that Bill had done the right thing.
However, no public comment on this from Jason himself could be found online. Because of this many people questioned whether we should take the claims of Bill Johnson, along with film producer Darren Wilson who knows both these guys and affirmed that he had heard Jason talk about aliens, at face value. What if they’re wrong?
Well, they weren’t. Now there’s official proof that Jason is, in fact, a new age consultant, as I explain here:
At least one Sunday a month we have “Come in, go out”-meetings in my house church, where we firstly gather in my living room for some worship, prayer and Bible study, and then we go out on the streets of Uppsala to hand out coffee and evangelize. Yesterday, we had two remarkable encounters during the outreach phase.
A Kurdish man came, received a cup of coffee and then loudly announced “I don’t believe in religion! Not in Islam, Christianity or anything else!” Thinking that this was an atheist, I started to bring up some apologetic arguments for God’s existence, but they fell flat to the ground. “I do believe in a creator! But not in religion! It is impossible for humans to understand God and to have contact with him!”
Oh, so it’s a deist then, I thought. My friend Tryggve and I then started to question him on how the Creator is able to create an entire universe without being able to cure a disease or talk to those that He has created, but our attempts were unsuccesful as the man repeatedly just stated “It’s impossible! It’s impossible! You don’t understand!” I then started to testify about miracles that I have witnessed and how Jesus revealed Himself to me, but I could hardly finish a sentence before the man shouted “No! Those are just illusions! You don’t understand the truth!”
The man furthermore claimed that we all believe what we believe because of our upbringing, whereas I told him about the amazing church growth in Nepal, where millions have converted to Christianity during the last 30 years mainly due to visions, healings, signs and wonders. Again, his response was that it was impossible. I asked him how he knew that it was impossible, and he claimed that “everybody” knew miracles are impossible. When I pointed out that this was a lie since we Christians know that miracles exist, he again said that miracles are impossible and that God does not reveal Himself to people. (more…)
In two weeks time I was supposed to go to Paris together with other climate activists. We’re awaiting instructions on whether the trip will be possible, but right now I’m mourning and praying for the victims of the horrible terrorist attacks in the French capital yesterday. In this video I share some thoughts on how torespond to such attrocities, and why attention to Paris is extremely important also when it comes to decisions on climate change, wince these can potentially save millions of lives.
There is also a great injustice in that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Lebanon or Iraq are rarely called “attacks on humanity” or spawn Facebook campaigns. The media values white life more than other people’s lives, that’s a fact. And it is wrong and sinful. 200 000 people have been killed in Syria, that’s one Paris attack every day for the last four years.
Let us pray to God for peace and justice, and also that we may be uncorrupted by the flawed logic of this world. Let us pursue holiness and righteousness, and strive for simplicity and equality as Jesus modelled for us. Let us love our enemies, pray for the repentance of ISIS and let us send missionaries to them! Let us receive the refugees that flee from them and present them the Gospel of life. Let us love our way out of the darkness in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus calls wealth “deceptive” and said that it stifles the obedience to the word of God like thorns (Matthew 13:22). Paul says that we should be content with food and clothing and says that those who want to get rich fall into temptation and snares, which throws men into destruction and perdition (1 Timothy 6: 8-9). James takes an even harsher view: “Listen, you rich, weep and howl for all miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches will rot and your clothes devoured by moths. “(James 5: 1-2) Even Jesus lamenented the rich, while he praised the poor as blessed (Luke 6: 20-24).
The more money and gadgets wealthy people keep for themselves, the less they give to the poor by definition. You can not spend a hundred on makeup while providing the same hundred to a humanitarian organization. The Apostle John writes: “If anyone has earthly possessions and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). John the Baptist proclaimed: “Whoever has two tunics should share with the one that has none, and he who has food should do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)
How does the rich Christian relate to the Bible’s radical teaching on wealth control and economic equality? Many do not feel particularly comfortable with it and try to find theological justifications why they can nevertheless be rich. An example of this is the prosperity theology, “Health and Wealth” – message, which says that Christians not only can but should be rich as a result of a strong faith. My impression is that this theology is rarer today than, for example in the 1980s, and that most Christians now agree with St. Paul that prosperity preachers “have lost the truth when they say that fear of God should lead to pofitability.” (1 Timothy 6: 5). (more…)
For many years my primary motivation for engaging in creation care and climate activism has been the fact that environmental destruction in general kills millions of people already and that climate change in particular will most likely kill off hundreds of millions of people in the near future. Since killing people is bad, according to Jesus’ ethics, we should care for creation and stop heating up the climate. In fact, some scientists have suggested that all of humanity will be extinct because of climate change. That is, not only will people die in Bangladesh or New York, but every single one of us might die because of this inconvenient market failure caused by industrialism and greed.
Of course, not all scientists are saying that we will become extinct because of this. While it is universally acknowledged that many other species will be terminated just as we have already killed off half of the world’s animals since 1970, and that humans are already dying because of climate change, whether we will commit communal suicide through our carbon emissions is not as clear. One of the main factors for this is that we’re not even sure how we will respond to the climate crisis, will there truly be an ambitious treaty in Paris that can turn the ships around, or will we just do business as usual until it is too late?
One of the scariest phenomena in climate research is called feedback loops, which basically means that a warmer planet will start to heat up even faster compared to what it does in the climate we have today. For example, a smaller arctic will lead to less reflection of sunlight back into space, and a melting tundra will release giant pockets of methane in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas. These feedbacks may come to a point where global warming is unstoppable, to the extent that even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Earth will eventually become like Venus. (more…)
It’s funny, and a bit tragic, how some extremely radical words of Jesus which should make all rich people very uncomfortable, can be misinterpreted into some cosy, fluffy inspiration that rich people can quote on their living room wall and feel warm inside about. I’m specifically thinking on Jesus’ words about the birds and the lilies:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
Notice the word “therefore” in the beginning of the passage. This is obviously a word that links it to what is immediately said before it, which in this case is:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Every weekend, an evangelistic group known as the Pancake Church occupies the central square in the Swedish town of Uppsala to hand out free pancakes and share the Gospel about Jesus. For three years now I have had the privilege of leading this group. We’re not an own, independent church but an evangelistic organization that gathers Christians from different churches who want to share the Gospel in a fun and culturally relevant way to the youths of our town.
I can honestly say that every evening is an amazing evening. We get to speak to so many people, pray for them, discuss God and life with them or sing gospel songs with them. We hang out with the poor and homeless as well as the rich and lonely. And the Holy Spirit is with us. We have seen several healings and conversions during the years, and some who have been saved on the streets join us and helps us to further spread the Kingdom of God!
There are over 20 Pancake Churches in Sweden, connected though the Pancake Church National Organization. We print our own Pancake Bibles (which are normal New Testaments with some testimonies and pictures), t-shirts and organize events and summer tours. A friend from the Jesus Army contacted me and wondered how one organizes a local Pancake Church and what one should think about. So here are my tips: (more…)
The Jesus movement in the 1970’s impacted Sweden quite a lot. Lonnie Frisbee and other American Jesus hippies visited the country, multiple communities called “Jesus houses” sprung up, and Jesus people were evangelizing in the streets and parks. People like Ylva Eggehorn, Stefan Swärd and Ulla Österjö-Jansson arranged Jesus conferences and Jesus marches – no wonder they were called Jesus freaks.
In my hometown of Uppsala, a theology student called Hans Sundberg were impacted by the Jesus movement and started to evangelize. Once, he was sharing the Gospel in the street together with some Christian friends, when an Iranian man who believed in Baha’i started to argue with them. Hans argued back, and their discussion went into sort of a stalemate until Hans’ friend Maria started to speak loudly in tongues. Hans was initially a bit embarrassed (after all, the Bible says that nonbelievers will think that we are lunatics if they hear us speak in tongues (which it is right about)), but he then realized that the Iranian man understood everything Maria said. She was speaking farsi, about how Jesus is the only way to God and salvation. Hans saw prophetically how an arrow came out from Maria’s mouth and gently hit the heart of the Iranian man with peace and eternal life.
Meanwhile, a small Swedish town called Surahammar (which means grumpy hammer) was struck with a youth revival as the Jesus movement came to town. Youths from the local Pentecostal church gathered daily in a bakery to pray, study the Word and then hit the streets to evangelize and heal the sick. One of the kids involved in the revival was Simon Ådahl, who after refusing military service due to theological reasons became a musician and, eventually, a prophetic evangelist. You can read more about him here. (more…)
The Bruderhof is a radical, Anabaptist Christian movement that has practiced community of goods since the 1920’s. Founded in Germany, it had to flee Hitler going to Paraguay, the US and England, although new communities around the world are emerging. Their website and YouTube channel is packed with inspiration and teaching on community of goods, and I found this article by Charles E. Moore to be a brilliant apology of why all Christians should have everything in common. Here’s an excerpt:
Peter does not tell Ananias that he could have come into the Christian community without renouncing the private ownership of his goods. How could he, when Luke wrote that “not a single one said anything was his own” (Acts 4:32) and that “whoever possessed fields or houses sold them,” and that “all the faithful together had everything in common” (Acts 2:44), and so on? Didn’t Jesus say to the crowds, “Every one of you who does not renounce all he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Ananias’ sin was that he pretended be a Christian via a counterfeit renunciation. This is why his sin was dealt with so severely. The entire thrust of both Luke and Acts is that those who follow Jesus freely give up everything.
Read the rest of the article here.
Simon Ådahl is a friend of mine who’s prophetic, poetic and passionate for God. A musician and evangelist, he loves to tour around Sweden to share what God can do for people. He’s written a book called “The Unexpected Journey”, and while it contains less trolls and dragons that Tolkien’s classic novel it is still an amazing testimony about the supernatural: it contains many testimonies about miracles, and here’s one of them:
TLDW (Too Long Didn’t Watch): Simon and Maria are eating dinner with a Greek friend called Christos in Rhodos City, Greece. Simon starts to prophesy about Christos, his wife and daughter about the secrets of their hearts (1 Cor 14:25) and eventually Christos receives Christ! Glory to God!
I often debate with fellow Christians who, contrary to me, oppose migration from poor countries to rich countries, aid from rich countries to poor countries or that rich countries should take greater responsibility for the environment than poor countries by living simpler. When I argue for why I think these ideas are good, I often point to facts and statistics that for example show that poor countries receive 80 % of all refugees today, or that aid donations are less than 0.3 % of rich countries’ GDP, or that environmental pollution kill more people today than malaria and HIV. Quite often I even have to start with explaining that rich countries are rich; most xenophobic people here in Sweden think that Sweden isn’t a rich country, which of course is the opposite of what the Global Wealth Report recently stated.
However, while I believe these facts are important for the discussion, they are seldom sufficient for my adversaries to change their mind. I find over and over again that even if we can agree upon that the world is unequal and unfair, they don’t have a problem with that while I certainly do. We have different world visions, and they often tell me that I shouldn’t claim that my world vision is more Christian then theirs.
But it is.
Jesus’ ethical teaching is clear and straightforward. Do to others what you would have them do to you (Mt 7:12). That’s a universal command, meaning it applies to all human beings. We should love everyone, even our enemies, and do good to them just as the Father loves and does good to all human beings (Mt 5:43-48). (more…)
An excellent article on the 3rd century charismatic pacifist and theologian Tertullian!
Originally posted on Making History Now:
He didn’t ‘do’ much reasoned theology; he confronted. Wrong teachings, sloppy morals, lax leaders, cowardly faith, Tertullian laid into them all. His writing is passionate, with holy sarcasm – and at times still funny even today. You sense a ‘wildness’, a burning heart for integrity and justice, contemptuous of all compromise. Here are some examples:
At a time of fierce persecution, when many favoured fleeing, he wrote: The blood of the martyrs is [the] seed [of the church], adding that once you start fleeing, you will never…
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