Article written for New Creation Christian Community, Jesus Army’s community organisation.
I’ve never viewed Pentecost as a mistake.
The first time I read the remarkable account in Acts 2 of how the Holy Spirit filled Jesus’ disciples with miraculous power so that they could speak other languages; how Peter’s passionate sermon resulted in 3,000 receiving Jesus; how all the disciples then had everything in common so that nobody had to be poor – I knew that this was good. In fact, it was awesome. Luke’s point isn’t that this is a tragic event that shouldn’t be repeated, he’s describing the best church ever!
I realised that a lot of miracles are better than a few miracles, that a lot of saved people are better than a few saved people, and that no economic inequality is better than existing economic inequality. I realised that if I were to claim that we don’t “need to” make our churches look like Jerusalem, I would in fact be arguing that our churches don’t need to be as good as they should.
It would be like saying that a fire extinguisher doesn’t need to extinguish fire, or that a surgeon doesn’t need to save the lives of the patients he or she is caring for. (more…)
So there are a lot of Americans who have started to support Trump the last couple of months, not because they are so enthusiastic for him as such but because he is the only alternative to Hillary Clinton. Stephen Colbert went to the Republican National Convention and asked people how many of them have supported Trump from the beginning and they were very few – lots of Republicans wanted to see another candidate. Evangelical leader Wayne Grudem has made an effort to portray a vote for Trump as a “morally good” choice, describing the billionaire’s scandalous rhetoric and lies as “flaws” that’ll hopefully go away, but it’s painfully obvious that he would have preferred to have another Republican candidate.
Then there are of course the enthusiastic Trump supporters who sincerely agree with him. They can’t find the racism in falsely claiming that African Americans commit almost all violent crime or in treating Muslims as Nazi Germany treated Jews in the 1930’s, because that’s their actual opinion. They’ll constantly point out the misbehaviour and errant views of Clinton, and for them her lies and changed opinions are way worse than Trump’s lies and changed opinions.
But here’s why even they shouldn’t vote for Trump. Here’s why a person who agrees with every word the Donald utters still shouldn’t try to elect him to the White House. He’s totally unpredictable. You have no idea that what he says corresponds in any way to what he wants to or will do as President. (more…)
During my training year at the Jesus Army I will have the honour of contributing to some of their blogs. Yesterday my first entry on their visionary Forward blog was published. Here’s an excerpt:
Jesus said: “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matthew 10:27). The original apostolic church in Jerusalem didn’t just experience lots of miracles and have community of goods, they were daily in the temple courts telling people “all about this new life” (Acts 5:20).
Basically, they were unable to shut up! “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (5:42). When they were persecuted, they prayed and were “filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31). (more…)
We who are a part of the MennoNerd vlog have been talking about welcoming children into the Kingdom recently, and that reminded me of a clip from Iris Global where Heidi Baker interviews some of the children at Village of Joy in Pemba. It turns out that these kids have prayed for lame and blind people who have been healed. A pretty good Sunday school, in my holy opinion.
Watch the whole Iris Global clip here:
As a passionate advocate for community of goods, I often get the question whether every Christian “has to” have everything in common, if it’s a universal commandment or a calling for some. Most Christians seem to assume that’s the latter is true and get upset if I were to disagree. But in this video I’d like to challenge their conclusion, which I suspect that they have reached to quickly. There are three major problems with the idea that community of goods is just for some that need to be adressed:
- The Biblical problem: If it’s just for some, why is it portrayed as a universal commandment in Lk 12:33 and 14:33, and why did everyone do it in Jerusalem?
- The empirical problem: If individual economies and spontaneous giving are just as good as community of goods, why are the only churches who exterminate poverty within themselves churches that have community of goods?
- The demographical problem: Are all poor Christians called to community of goods?If not, why doesn’t God want to exterminate the poverty of all poor Christians? And if they are, don’t we need all rich Christians to join as well to finance it all?
For a more detailed description if these arguments, watch the video.
I can’t remember what kind of Google search or hyperlink that first led me to the website of Jesus Army almost seven years ago, but I remember how thrilled I was to finally encounter an evangelical, charismatic church that has complete community of goods. The closest resemblance to such an apostolic church that I had previously discovered was in a dusty, old book in my father’s home library called In His Footsteps. I was so excited as I earnestly turned the pages and read about this amazing church in the middle of nowhere which took Jesus seriously, had everything in common and led countless people to the Lord. Then I came to the last page which revealed that it was all fiction.
But the Jesus Army was real! I sent them an email, asking to come and visit them in Northamptonshire for a few days in April 2010. I was interested in the Training Year they offer and wanted to get a feeling about what New Creation community life was like. It was amazing; as I’ve previously shared I was baptised in the Holy Spirit during that trip, and I was so encouraged to see that community of goods is not just possible in the western world today – it’s very effective!
Without giving any convinced promises I told the Jesus saints that I wanted to do a training year (or rather, six months) in 2011. But after some time I told them I wasn’t going. I was feeling too young, insecure and inexperienced to take such a step. God was good and let me experience some amazing things in Sweden during that time. But I now know that of course I would have enjoyed and benefited a lot from a Jesus Army training year back then. I’m not luring myself into believing that whatever my life ends up like is what God wanted all along. He wants me and everybody else to share our possessions from the day we are saved. But even as we fail God can lead us onward, never forsaking us but faithfully caring for us.
I’ve just finished Narnia author C.S. Lewis’ book Miracles and provide a review in the video above. I really enjoyed it and was fascinated by the philosophical arguments Lewis uses to argue against naturalism, the idea that nature is all that there is and that miracles thus are impossible. His main argument is that if naturalism were true we would have no reason to believe that our reasoning reflect reality, an argument I have written more about here. Lewis also uses a moral argument for the existence of a supernatural or transcendent reality, and answers to several objections to miracles.
With the rise of individualism in the West there has been an increasing trend of “private Christianity” where people believe in Jesus but they never attend any church. Some of them acquire teaching and/or worship songs via the Internet at home, while others just pray sometimes. I encounter several of these “secret Christians” when I’m out evangelising, and most of them seem convinced that church meetings really are unimportant, that it’s perfectly fine to be a Christian alone.
The Bible, on the other hand, clearly commands us “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebr 10:25). Even as the early Christians went on missionary trips they weren’t alone. Jesus commanded us to pray “Our Father” in plural, Paul emphasises in 1 Cor 12 that we’re all body parts in one body, dependent on one another.
But let’s face it, Christians who leave church aren’t doing it because they have a special Bible interpretation, but because church has disappointed them. As a house church leader I have seen several people go during the last five years, some of them to other congregations but a substantial number have become private Christians. Some of it is due to mistakes from our parts, other times we have been too radical. (more…)
As a culture that despises logic, Western society is filled with self-defeating ideas and ideologies that people throw out into discussions and debates as self-evident truths. While there can be doubts and question marks concerning many things, we know that these self-defeating statements are false because logically incoherent concepts cannot exist. These statements are as non-existing as square circles, finite eternities and married bachelors.
An example of a self-defeating statement that is, thankfully, less commonly used is “This statement is false”. It cannot be true on its own standards, and therefore it’s meaningless and there’s no point in taking it seriously. Another example is “No words that I write have any meaning”. If it was true, then nobody needs to care about what I just wrote.
The following 10 statements are much more commonly used, especially in discussions about God, religion, metaphysics and philosophy. You may very well find that you have used some of them yourself, and has taken for granted that it is an obvious fact even though on closer inspection, it does not meet its own standards. If so I highly recommend that you simply stop using them. (more…)
It’s official: Donald Trump has become the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Even though his campaign started as an unserious PR stunt and even though (or perhaps because of) his blatant racism, sexism and authoritarianism, Trump has become very popular. I have encountered several Trump supporters in my social media feeds. And they’re really hard to talk to. I and Sarah illustrate what a conversation with a Trump supporter feels like in this sketch:
It is as if arguments don’t work very well when it comes to Trump supporters, or any supporter of racism and fascism. I have spent a lot of time trying to combat xenophobia here in Europe, and it is just as hard as Americans now find converting Trump supporters to be. Whatever one says, whatever what evidence one presents, it is as if they’ve already decided that racism and bigotry is what will make a country great. And just a few months ago they didn’t think that way, and it’s so hard to see why Trump’s hateful message could be so attractive.
As a charismatic Christian, however, I know that no one is outside God’s miraculous power and that no one is unable to be transformed into a sanctified disciple of Christ. We shouldn’t give up on the Trump supporters. Continue to feed them arguments, and do so with love and compassion as well as a listening ear to what troubles them. And welcome God’s Spirit into your life so that His voice and power can guide you into leading people to repentance and holiness.
Sarah and I have spent the weekend in the small village of Åsele in northern Sweden, doing evangelism with the pancake church at a big market fair. We’ve had the opportunity to talk to, pray with and love hundreds of people, mostly youths. One girl received salvation there and then after she was healed in her neck, many others received Bibles and were very interested in getting to know God more.
On Saturday evening I hung a paper plate around my neck that said “Evidence for God in 2 minutes”. Needless to say it caught lot of attention, and I got to have apologetic and evangelistic discussions with at least 25 people. I illustrated my points using my phone, which was very effective and increased the attention rate of my listeners even more.
“This phone is very unique”, I said, “because it has no cause for its existence. It popped into being out if nothing without a cause, and now I use it to call people and take photos. Do you believe me?” Nobody said yes, some looked at me as if I was a madman and others just laughed out loud. Then I explained that of course this is not the case, everything that begins to exist must have a cause. “So what do you think is the cause for the big bang and the origin of the universe?”
I had not in any way planned to be so apologetic this semester, but the Lord has led me to both studying and producing apologetic material as you probably have noticed. Identifying myself as an apologist is new but exciting, and it makes sense since I’ve for a long time been inspired by Stephen in Acts 6-8. He combined miracles with poverty reduction and nonviolence, and he was an apologist as well. Just look at these verses:
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. (Acts 6:8-10)
Stephen was a charismapologist! He could heal the sick on Monday and defend the faith on Tuesdays, all the time while serving soup to the widows. For Stephen, there was no conflict between demonstrating the power of God through miracles and arguing for the truth of Christianity intellectually. (more…)
Today I’m starting a new series on my YouTube channel called Radical Bible which aims to do Bible study in a prophetic, profound and a bit provoking way. The first episode is about people having sex in church pews and what to do when ministry gets messy.
I’m currently reading C.S. Lewis’ classic book Miracles, where he starts off by discussing why naturalism – the idea that nature is all that exist and that anything supernatural is impossible – really is an unreasonable position to hold. This is because reason itself would be fully explained by nonrational causes, and thus be unreliable. Naturalism is thus self-defeating since one cannot then reasonably subscribe to it.
“This, as it seems to me, is what Naturalism is bound to do”, Lewis writes. “It offers what professes to be a full account of our mental behaviour; but this account, on inspection, leaves no room for the acts of knowing or insight on which the whole value of our thinking, as a means to truth, depends.” (Miracles, Fontana Books 1947, p. 22).
Alvin Plantinga has developed a simliar argument where he points out that evolution, which basically all naturalists accept, presents a defeater for why one should believe in naturalism. this evolutionary argument against naturalism can be presented as such: (more…)