I was sitting together with around 3000 others in a big, old barn; listening to one of the best pacifist sermons I’ve ever heard. It was in August 2010, we were attending the Frizon festival – one of the biggest Christian youth event in Sweden (it doesn’t require much to be big in this country). The preacher, Jonas Eveborn, talked about how Jesus’ triumphal entrance to Jerusalem is a political contrast to how Pilate entered Jerusalem every Passover feast – while Pilate was riding a white war horse with armies and flags, Jesus rode a peaceful donkey with kids and palm leaves! Jonas went on contrasting the cross and the sword, and told us that he was convinced that Christians should not use violence.
After Jonas had given his message, the organisers of the meeting came forward and explained that the Evangelical Free Church – the church organising Frizon – had “a pacifist Baptist tradition” where “many had chosen not to do military service”. Then they invited those who wanted prayer to come forward – for salvation, for supernatural healing and for wisdom concerning Jesus’ peace message.
The next day, seminars and workshops on peace and pacifism was arranged. The next year, peace was the theme for the whole festival! What’s interesting is that the Evangelical Free Church is a theologically quite conservative Charismatic denomination. I talked the other day to a newly found friend who mentioned the troubles he had in his country when it came to find fellow pacifists in Charismatic and evangelical churches. In Sweden, it isn’t that hard.
As mentioned, the EFC has a tradition of peace. It is a coalition of three former churches, where at least one was officially pacifist and the other two included several pastors that frequently preached pacifism. In later years, pacifism within the denomination had become particularly evident in the youth organisation, EFK UNG.
Three years ago, they were very upset when the Christian Democrats, a political party founded by Pentecostals, organised an event together with arms companies on weapon export where the peace fellowships that wanted to give their view, including the Christian peace fellowship, were not welcome. When EFK UNG criticised this, a Christian conservative writer active within the word of faith movement criticised them back, stating they had a naive “moral of infants” since weapons and war are needed for our and other countries’ security.
EFK UNG then started to list other people with “moral of infants” – like Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Jesus – on their website to prove that pacifism indeed is the way to go. Then, as mentioned, they invited Jonas to preach on pacifism on Frizon, and thus inspired a whole generation young Charismatic Christians in Sweden to walk the way of peace and love their enemies. God bless them!