In the third lecture of my Spiritual Q&A series, I talk about the alleged hiddenness of God. Why doesn’t God make His existence more obvious? Is it because He doesn’t care, or is it because it wouldn’t change our skepticism anyway?
It’s painful to see a church that I love almost completely abandon evangelism, becoming spiritually dry and question the very radicality and community principles that made it so uniquely biblical in the first place. Second and third generation members are the ones that to the largest part try to “reform” the church into a normal, mainline, un-challenging pudding. In fact, I’ve spoken to older church members who were surprised that I was both young and radical – in their context it’s usually either or!
As I’ve spoken to friends about this many have pointed out that this is the usual course of events: revival strikes, people gather around on the blazing cross, a generation passes, their kids think it’s boring, and so revival ceases and has to stir up somewhere else. And yes, I am aware that this is a common pattern. This very thing has happened in the Vineyard, where signs and wonders once used to be normal but nowadays are exotic and sometimes even unwanted. Christy Wimber, the daughter-in-law of Vineyard founder John Wimber, wrote a few years ago:
I have been in service after service throughout the world these past few years where miracles are taking place and the response of the people is one of surprise, not expectation. In fact, I heard a Vineyard pastor say not that long ago that he didn’t really know John, and his model and influence comes from a different Movement. He in fact said he doesn’t particularly like the whole signs and wonders part. And I know this Movement that’s influencing him doesn’t move in the gifts.
That’s fine to me, except it left me wondering as to why he is a pastor and leader in the Vineyard Movement? What is happening now in the Vineyard that he signed up for and bought into?
I’m glad to see that evangelical theologian and leader Wayne Grudem has withdrawn his previous endorsement of Donald Trump due to a realization that he is a perverse sexist. As you might remember, Grudem called Trump a “good man with flaws”, something I and many others were quick to criticize. The recently revealed footage where Trump brags about kissing women without consent and groping them caused Grudem to research Trump’s views on sex, and he came to the not very surprising conclusion that it’s very, very sinful.
What Trump was doing in that video was not just describing how he wants to sexually assault women, but how he has actually done so. Indeed, Jill Harth has testified of how Trump has groped and even tried to rape her. These horrible sins cannot be excused as past misfortunes of a changed man, because the sexist, degrading view of women that makes these actions possible have been manifestly evident in Trump’s presidential campaign. Even after he was proclaimed as a newly born-again “baby Christian” by an evangelical leader, he Tweeted in the middle of the night about a former Miss Universe he didn’t like and told people to check out a “sex tape” she allegedly was in.
In fact, when the groping video was brought up in the latest Presidential debate, Trump’s response was bizarre. Calling his bragging about sexual assault “locker room talk”, he went on claiming that “nobody has more respect for women than I do” which is clearly false and started talking about how ISIS decapitates people and how he wants to stop them, a not-so subtle attempt to switch topic and relativise sexual assault. He’s completely crazy, and we ought to pray for him since his billionaire playboy life has made him unable to act normally or think straight. (more…)
The book of Joshua describes how the Israelites on God’s command invaded the land of Canaan and killed all who stood in their way. Over and over we read how they left “no survivors” (Josh 10:28, 30, 33). To modern ears, this clearly sounds like a genocide. Yet, Scripture actually tells us that this wasn’t the case: there were survivors!
I talk about this in the video above. In response to the accusation that the God of the Bible commands genocide, apologists like Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan have given a renewed focus to the hyperbole theory for being a good, evangelical take on this problem. They even wrote a book about this together, suitably titled Did God Really Commande Genocide? Flannagan writes on his blog:
Joshua affirms he exterminated all the Canaanites in this region. Repeatedly it states that Joshua left “no survivors” and “destroyed everything that breathed” in “the entire land”, “put all the inhabitants to the sword”. Alongside these general claims the text identifies several specific places and cities where Joshua exterminated everyone and left no survivors. These include Hebron (Josh. 10:40), Debir (Josh. 10:38), the hill country and the Negev and the western foothills (Josh. 10:40). In the first chapter of Judges, however, we are told that the Canaanites lived in the Negev (1:9), in the hill country (Judg. 1:9), in Debir (Judg. 1:11), in Hebron (Judg. 1:10) and in the western foothills (Judg. 1:9). Moreover, they did so in such numbers and strength that they had to be driven out by force. These are the same cities that Joshua 10 tells us Joshua had annihilated and left no survivors in.
Are there any reasons to believe that colourful stage lights and fog machines are anything else than the toys of Christian stage technicians and a compensation for lack of Biblical revival? No. The global trend of churches investing billions of dollars in superfluous show equipment has increased dramatically over just the last few decades, but not many have asked themselves why we do it and what happens to church when we do it.
Of course, if someone dares to question this unbiblical practice that person is easily dismissed as someone who doesn’t understand young people or who isn’t into culturally relevant evangelism. So hi, I’m a young evangelist, and I hate stage lights. And fog machines, those horrible, stupid fog machines! How painfully obvious isn’t it that modern, Western churches lack God when they literally try to fabricate something which the Scriptures describes as a manifestation of the Lord’s presence?
As I’ve explained in my God vs Wealth series, Jesus doesn’t want us to be rich but live as simply as possible so that we can give as much to the poor as possible. This applies not just to individual disciples but to churches as well. There are hundreds of millions of Christians around the world living in poverty. If we truly think that they are our brothers and sisters, we can’t ignore their suffering by spending loads of money on superfluities.
As John puts it: “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?” (1 Jn 3:17) (more…)
Raising dead people to life is awesome, but how do you do it practically? Join me in this radical Bible study for some tips and tricks from Elijah, Jesus and Paul that will help you in your revival ministry. Contact me when you’ve raised some.
The problem of evil, or the problem of suffering, has never been much of a problem for me. Regarded as one of the chief obstacles to the Christian faith, I have never been confounded by the existence of evil and suffering in the world. Being an atheist before I was saved, I found that Christianity provides a solution to evil and suffering whereas atheism just accepts suffering and is extremely pessimistic regarding the fate of the human race; and, I later realised, cannot justify why evil and good really would exist objectively speaking.
But just because I personally have never been troubled by the problem, I shouldn’t as a pastor and apologist disregard those who struggle with it. When I’m out evangelising it is often asked why a good and omnipotent God would allow His creatures to suffer, and among many Christians as well this casts doubt on whether He really is good in three sense we understand it or if He’s really all-powerful.
Many have themselves experienced suffering, loss and injustice and so for them it is an emotional problem rather than an intellectual one. For them, many arguments fall short even if they’re good. Emotional pain requires love, support and comfort rather than mere answers. If my girlfriend breaks up with me and I weepingly ask “Why?!”, my friend Mark could provide me with all the reasons she rejected me, but even if they’re accurate it doesn’t follow that I would be comforted by that. I might get even more upset.
That being said, in this lecture I provide seven reasons why I don’t find the problem of evil and suffering as an intellectually challenging one. It’s recorded at our first “Spiritual Q&A” apologetics class that I hold here at Holy Treasure in Kettering every Monday. Have a look and tell me what you think in the comments!
My friend Mikael Skogsén is a pastor with a strong prophetic gift who regularly updates his Facebook with testimonies about words of knowledge, healings and salvations that happen in his everyday life. I got his permission to share one of the testimonies, which I did yesterday on my Swedish blog. It’s an amazing story about how he and his friend were eating on a restaurant, when suddenly Mikael starts prophesying about the waiter’s fiancee in Germany and proclaimed healing in his aching back. The man was of course eventually saved.
Now, some people started to suspect and accuse Mikael of using the power of psychic spirits, similar to occultists in Asia, which would produce apparent healings that eventually result in depression and even worse ailments. Now, I’ve grown accustomed to heresy hunters, people who spend too much time on the Internet arguing that millions of charismatic Christians are possessed by Kundalini spirits and that influential Pentecostal leaders like Bill Johnson are false prophets. I’ve argued against their bad arguments time and again. That’s not new. What really bothers me is that it seems that many of these people automatically assume that if a Christian experiences supernatural stuff, it must be demons.
See, when heresy hunters attack Bill Johnson or Todd Bentley they at least have a lot of resources online to base their judgment on (even if they all-too-often aren’t doing much research). These are famous pastors whose theology and practice have been publicly debated. But Mikael Skogsén isn’t famous. The people who commented on my post hadn’t even heard of him before. And yet, the knee-jerk reaction is that his supernatural ministry is demonic. (more…)
Usually when churches choose to stop doing Biblical things they don’t want to admit that the reason behind it is laziness, apostasy or sin. Rather, they like to blame the Biblical thing itself for not being “effective” enough, or they might claim that it’s just a calling for some to do on their own, or that say that culture has changed and that modern or young people aren’t interested in these particular Biblical things, so that’s why we shouldn’t do them.
I joked with these three excuses in my recent sketch about why churches don’t evangelise. In this post I would like to focus on the “modern/young people want something different” argument. It’s often used as an evangelistic argument: in order to win or keep people we need to change. Which is why it’s so absurd when it’s arguing against evangelism.
But whatever Biblical thing you argue against, it becomes nonsensical to use this argument. You need to either argue that churches shouldn’t follow the Bible, or that the Bible actually says something different from what it appears to say. What modern or young people think doesn’t matter at all. If doing Biblical things put them off, so be it. We must obey God rather than human beings (Acts 5:29), and the Bible is a better source to what God wants than Millennials. (more…)
Today on the MennoNerd vlog I talk about how awesome it is that the Jesus Army organises their local congregations around their intentional communities, where people live, eat and sleep every day, rather than around unbiblical church buildings that stand empty most of the time:
This is just one of many things that make the Jesus Army different from many other churches. The church owned businesses where everyone receive the same wage, the support for celibates, the emphasis on covenant and unity and the loud and proud emphasis on Jesus is quite extraordinary. Where does this church come from and what does its history look like? Those were the questions me and Sarah brought to Mike Farrant, who lives with me at the Holy Treasure community in Kettering, in a recent episode of our Swedish podcast “Jesus People”:
Mike shared how it all began when an outpouring of the Holy Spirit hit a Baptist chapel in the small town of Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire, which made hundreds of student, hippies, drug addicts, businessmen and many other sorts of people join the church. They soon started to practice community of goods like in the book of Acts and changed name to Jesus Fellowship Church. Mike has been living in community for 41 years and obviously knows a lot about both its advantages and challenges.
My documentary about community of goods at the Jesus Army now has over 750 views on YouTube, and I’ve received lots of positive feedback not the least from fellow Jesus people folks. Recently I had the opportunity to contribute to Jesus Army’s Colourful Church blog, writing about how the film was made. Here’s an excerpt:
My plan was not to make a second trip, but to only use the material I recorded in 2014. And that could certainly have been the case, the material was, as mentioned, quite extensive. But life went on, half a year passed without me starting the editing process. I only used the material once when I made a clip for my YouTube channel Holy Spirit Activism in which Huw describes how the Jesus Fellowship started to practice community. It was mixed with Kalimba by Mr Scruff, which was simply included as sample music on my laptop. The clip turned out to be very good and is actually included in its totally in the documentary (save the introduction I recorded in my Swedish bedroom).
But again, I didn’t find time to start with the actual documentary. Then suddenly, in January 2015, Holy Spirit inspiration hit me. For some reason I just wanted to make documentary and nothing else, and so I sat for about ten hours and edited in Windows Movie Maker, which was the only editing software I had. I delayed my school work just to edit this film. And during that session I produced what’s pretty much still the first 14 minutes of the film. (more…)
Evangelism is super important; without it, churches go extinct and people go to hell. Yet, evangelism seem to constantly be (apart from community of goods) the first thing churches drop when they find following Jesus to uncomfortable. It is as if evangelism always hangs lose, even though churches commit suicide if they don’t do it.
I’ve been talking to quite a lot of church leaders about why their congregations never evangelise and they typically give me three different answers. Three brilliant answers. These arguments are so perfect and irrefutable that they completely stun those who are confronted with them, as I show in this comedy sketch:
Of course, I’m joking. These arguments are horribly bad. But there’s one reason for not evangelising that I find acceptable, which I give towards the end of the video. You won’t be able to guess what it is.
Imagine a church that never prays. No Sunday service or other kind of church meeting include prayer, and when asked about it the church leaders say: “Well, people are free to pray when they’re at home, but we don’t believe that everyone are called to be ‘prayer warriors’.” Would you view such a church as healthy or functioning?
Or imagine a church that never reads the Bible. Its leaders say “Well, we once did that but we didn’t get much out of it, we weren’t actually living biblically just because we read the Bible.” Would you think that such a practice and explanation were acceptable?
See, this is how millions of churches treat evangelism. Rather than doing it officially as a church on public places, it is delegated to church members’ private initiatives – which usually are very rare. Some churches say that they tried street evangelism and it “didn’t work”, so now they want to encourage “relational evangelism” by simply exhorting their members to tell people about Jesus and offer no training whatsoever to teach them how to do so.
This is scandalous and an abomination to the Lord. There is nothing He wants individual Christians to do that He doesn’t want the whole church as a body to do. And not only are churches that never evangelise disobeying His command to preach the Gospel to all nations, they’re also committing suicide. (more…)
Guest post by Taruna Rettinger
Blessed are the poor and blessed are the poor in spirit
Blessed are the poor
Why do you want richness?
Blessed are the poor
Why do you keep slaves for your comfort?
Blessed are the poor
Why do you seek wealth on earth?
Blessed are the poor in spirit
But you want to feel rich
Blessed are the poor in spirit
But you want to be served by others
Blessed are the poor in spirit
But you want wealth here and now
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
So feel your poverty in spirit and cry for Heaven
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”
So strive for poverty and long to live with God
When I and Sarah were evangelising in the Swedish town of Åsele over a month ago, my team leader was Steffen Holm from Denmark. A radical evangelist, he is involved with The Last Reformation and has prayed for thousands of people on the streets. As we were evangelising he often shared his own testimony of how he was 100 % handicapped and bound to a wheelchair, but God healed him. He even had proof constantly with him in form of a parking certificate for handicapped people. I asked him to share his testimony to my camera, which he kindly did: