08 September 2008

Palin, Pentecostals, and Pacifism

Sub Ratione Dei has some interesting quotes and comments on how Pentecostalism seems to have changed over the last 80 years.

Palin, Pentecostals, and Pacifism:
It is true that there are exceptions such as the excellent Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship but it is revealing to note that in the space of one century the predominant, and nigh on exclusive view, has turned from pacifism to holy war (I don’t see how Palin’s remarks can be interpreted in any other way).

When it started, Pentecostalism was pretty countercultural, and sociologists noted that it tended to attract marginalised people. As time has passed, however, it has tended to become more respectable, and this seems to have been accompanied by a move to the right, politically. I wonder if this change in outlook was, consciously or unconsciously, part of an attempt to become more accepted and acceptable in society?

Now, however, there seems to be a strange inversion. On a pagan newsgroup someone said of Sarah Palin, "Since she an 'pro life' anti - abortionist i assume she also favors the death penalty."

Why should it be possible to assume that?

In another forum someone accused Sarah Palin of being a "Jesus Freak". My initial response was, "She's too young". The Jesus Freaks appeared on the scene 40 years ago as the evangelical Christian arm of the hippie movement. Hippies were called "freaks" by straight society, as an insult, but the hippies adopted the term as a badge of honour, and the Christian hippies were likewise nicknamed "Jesus Freaks", and were distinctly countercultural.

But to return to the specific question -- why is it that 80 years ago one could expect Pentecostals to be inclined to pacifism, but now people can safely assume that they will be warmongers, and that the only life they are pro is unborn humans?

If you look at the bottom of this blog, you will see that it is part of the Christian peacemakers blog ring. That means there should be a post on the topic of peace once a month, and this is it.


Magotty Man said...

It is because Pentecostals are committed to Dispensationalism, or closely related views. This ties them into the Mid-Eastern conflict, and an all or nothing support of Israel, even if it means attacking Christians in Palestine, Lebanon or Syria. Palin has already shown her colours in this regard - previously publicized photo's of her in her governor's office in Juneau, Alaska shws an Israeli flag in the background.

Also, I think Pentecostalism, as with most of American evangelicalism, has sold out to Americanism, a philosophy that makes the US God's special, chosen people. This view is similar to that held by some Afrikaner Nationalists in the past. Thus also the flag worshipping happening there - I'm specifically thinking of the iconic, and I mean iconic like in religious Icon, status the USA flag has in many evangelical churches. A Baptist minister in Florida recently got serious threats, requiring police protection, after he moved the US flag from the sactuary to the entrance of his church. Iy is a subtle form of Ceasar worship.

Sorry for the long comment, but it really gets me.

Steve Hayes said...


I know many Dispensationalists regarded the estalishment of the state of Israel in 1948 as very significant in the "prophetyic" countdown -- did the Pentecostals change then? And did they all change?

How many Pentecostals accept Dispensationalism, and do all Pentecostals accept it as official teaching, or only some of them?

Magotty Man said...

I know some Pentecostals do. But there are also a large bunch who are non-dispensational premillenialists, who, although less hysterically, would interpret the political meaning of their beliefs along the same lines. But it would be unfair to just name the Pentecostals, therefore the broader "evangelical" entity probably stands in the same tradition. The amount of grassroots support for Israel at the cost of all others in the US, among evangelicals, is astounding. It might also be that this support has outlived its dispensational roots. Now it bears saying that I'm not anti-Israel - anymore that I'm not anti-Lebanon/Syria/Palestine etc. I just think we need to think about these things with as few blindspots as possible.

But in my understanding the broader evangelical movement, incorporating penetcostals, baptists, some reformed (PCA even), and a multitude of independants, in the US, fill a role similar to that of most Dutch Reformed fulfilled in relation to the National Party under apartheid. Of course, the Republicans know this, and play to their ears, especially around the abortion issue. And the evangelicals fall for it, conveniently forgetting that there has been more years of Republican government since Roe vs Wade in '73 than Democratic government.

But after all is said and than, Christians conveniently forget that our kingdom is not of this world, that governments, countries and empires rise and fall. We should be the prophetic voice to the state, but the state is not our saviour - even when it looks as appealing (!) as Sarah Palin.


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