“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, hat he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”(1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
As you can see, Paul thinks that at the core of the Gospel lies Jesus’ death for our sins, His burial and His resurrection. And among these three, the resurrection receives most attention. He lines up everyone he knows of that has seen the resurrected Jesus, including himself. Then he goes on discussing the resurrection in the rest of the chapter.
Likewise, Paul, Peter and others who preach the Gospel in the book of Acts often emphasize the resurrection even more than they emphasize the cross. This used to confuse me, since the atonement happened on the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus died for our sins and defeated the devil – the cross is at the core of all atonement theories. The resurrection is great of course, Jesus is alive hallelujah, but shouldn’t the death of Jesus be the focus of the apostles rather than His resurrection? Continue reading →
Today, millions of Christians around the world are remembering the first last supper and celebrate holy communion themselves. However, all to often communion has become something different than what Jesus intended. I would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of community when celebrating communion.
The famous text in 1 Cor 11 that most churches quotes when celebrating communion, has an interesting remark that is not quoted very often concerning the extent of the Eucharistic food and the socioeconomic status of the participants:
So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter! (1 Cor 11:20-22)
Now, modern churches surely avoids the embarrassing situation of people getting drunk after receiving communion simply by just offering a little sip. But they aren’t solving the hunger problem by just offering a tiny biscuit. When I became a Christian, 1 Cor 11 confused me since I honestly believed that the communion ritual my Lutheran church celebrated was the actual one that Jesus instituted. But obviously it isn’t – the Biblical communion was a real meal. Continue reading →
It has nothing to do with cars. It’s about the crisis in the Central African Republic, a republic in central Africa that has about the same size as Ukraine.
The CAR crisis is one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophe on the planet right now. Due to the ongoing conflict, thousands have died, hundreds of thousands are refugees, millions need urgent humanitarian assistance.
The UN fears that the conflict soon will escalate into a genocide. Similar hate propagande that was used in the Rwandan genocide is used in CAR today.
The people that may commit the genocide are mostly Christians. And the victims are mostly Muslims. Yeah, sorry if I turned your prejudices on their heads there.
The conflict escalated when the Muslim rebel group Seleka took over the government, but they’re not in the government anymore. They left in in January 2014. But the conflict is still going on by ex-Seleka members fighting the mostly Christian militia anti-balaka.
Two years ago, professor Karen L. King at Harvard Divinity School announced that they had found an ancient papyrus fragment where Jesus is saying that He has a wife. Needless to say, it caused a lot of controversy; apologets, academics, the Vatican and others said that the document was a modern fraud. One of the arguments for this was that the text seems to be based on the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, and includes a typo made in modern times in a PDF document (!).
However, just a few days ago Harvard announced that the document had been subject to radiocarbon analysis and spectroscopy, and it turned out that both the papyrus and ink indeed were ancient, being produced somewhere between 659-859 AD. Professor King guessed that the original text, from which this papyrus was copied, could have originated in the second to fourth centuries, but this is speculation and not something the radiocarbon analysis show.
Harvard’s press release states that “[t]he fragment does not in any way provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, as Karen L. King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) has stressed since she announced the existence of the fragment in the fall of 2012.” King has said “don’t say this proves Dan Brown was right.” Rather, she sees this as an interesting contribution to our understanding of how Christians and pseudo-Christians viewed celibacy in the early church. Continue reading →
“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matt. 11:5).
My Facebook-friend Per Åkvist is a passionate evangelist that has seen a lot of miracles on his Joshua campaigns in eastern Africa. Two weeks ago they had a campaign in Sire, and my Facebook feed exploded with testimonies of God’s grace and healing power. Here are som photos Per published, with his comments in the captions.
Blind see, deaf hear, tumors is gone… many people had not the time to testify…
Polycarp, disciple of John the apostle and a smart theologian who was burned alive for the sake of the Gospel
As promised inmy last blog post about atonement theology, I want to share what I’ve found when researching the early church fathers’ view on the death of Christ. My countryman Gustaf Aulén wrote a book 83 years ago called Christus Victor when he argued that the church fathers didn’t believe in penal substitution but in a “classical” atonement framework which he calls Christus Victor, the victorious Christ.
The difference between the two views is essentially that while penal substitution emphasises that Jesus took the punishment for our sins on the cross, Christus Victor emphasises that Jesus defeated the devil and his wicked forces when he died on the cross. A form of Christus Victor which according to Aulén was popular during the age of the church fathers was the ransom theory, the idea that God sent Jesus as a “bait”, and when satan killed him he got hooked by the power of God like a sloppy wet fish.
Now, I don’t have any problems at all with the Christus Victor perspective. As a third wave charismatic, I think it suits well with the Kingdom message of the Gospels – Jesus is indeed at war with satan, which is evident in His healings, exorcism and finally His death and resurrection. The Bible clearly speaks about how Christ defeated the powers of darkness on the cross. So I do believe in Christus Victor. What I don’t believe is that this perspective by any means replaces the fact that Jesus took the punishment for our sins on the cross, which is also what the Bible teaches. As William Evans brilliantly argues, Christus Victor and Penal Substitution are not mutually exclusive and should be viewed as equally true perspectives rather than conflicting paradigms.
I also have a problem with that this blog and that blog and even Wikipedia as well as several books uncritically says that the majority of the church fathers believed in Christus Victor and that it was dominant for a thousand years before Anselm of Canterbury messed it up, and therefore we should not believe in penal substitution. Firstly, even if they emphasised Christus Victor we cannot conclude that they didn’t believe in penal substitution unless they say so, and as I wrote in my last blog post I think it’s really hard to deny penal substitution without ignoring large parts of the Bible.
Christian primtivism is the logical idea that the church Jesus founded was the church He wanted. It’s connected to the idea of restorationism, that teaches that we should restore Church to its original form when it starts to behave weird and contradict Scripture. As you’ve probably noticed I’m a passionate restorationist, and while I love and cooperate with people from the historical churches I think that their tendency to contradict the Biblical Church is quite harming. A couple of days ago a friend sent me an article on Catholic Answers called The Problems with Primitivism by Dwight Longenecker, which says that we should really not try to model church as Jesus and the apostles modeled it. Allow me to disagree. I will quote each of Longenecker’s arguments and turn them on their heads:
First, each restorationist movement, although it seeks to return to the ancient church of the apostolic age, is actually produced as a reaction to the circumstances of its own age and culture. For example, the peasant movement of the Bogomils came out of a church weighed down with corruption and aristocratic influence. The radical reformers in 16th-century Europe and the New World were influenced by the utopianism, the rise of the nation state, and revolutionary spirit of their age… Restorationists believe they are restoring something ancient. In fact all they do is create an expression of Christianity which is a reaction against the circumstances and assumptions of the age in which they live.
Well, I know of no restorationist movement that claims that we need to speak Arameic and live in the Roman Empire to be the original church. All churches adapt the Gospel to their culture and historical context – including the Catholic Church. It’s hard to argue though that since we need to adapt to our culture we need to believe in purgatory and seven sacraments.
Second, while restorationist movements are reactions to the particular age in which they live, they are also conditioned by the long history of restorationist movements. For hundreds of years, Protestants have perpetuated a particular vision of the early Church. Each new restorationist movement borrows those ideas, never questioning whether the tradition they are inheriting is actually true to the reality of the early Church or not. Therefore, the restorationist doesn’t so much restore primitive Christianity; he simply replicates are earlier restorationist model, reproducing what he has been told early Christianity was like.
It’s true that some restorationists are lazy, not double-checking their doctrines and practices by Scripture, but the same thing can definitely be said about Catholics. For example, they believe that there are seven sacraments – neither more nor less – an idea that originated with Peter Lombard in the 12th century! All restorationist movements at least try to break unbiblical traditions and restore biblical Christianity, Catholicism however is not even trying. Continue reading →
(This is a April’s Fools joke. Obama would never say this, unfortunately).
I was really discouraged when I heard about the new IPCC report, which shows that unless we change our lifestyle quickly we will be heading for disaster that will kill and damage millions of people, especially in poor countries. However, I was very pleased to see President Barack Obama’s response to the report; firstly because he acknowledge that a quick lifestyle change is necessary, and secondly because he referred to Jesus Christ when seeking for inspiration for this lifestyle change. The Guardian reports:
“What we now have is a massive environmental crisis that requires urgent action,” Obama told reporters. “My meeting with pope Francis the other day reminded me of the simplicity and charity of Jesus of Nazareth, a person that is of great inspiration not only to me personally but to millions of other Americans. Christians, of course, but also Muslims, Hindus, and non-believers.”
The president argued that Jesus lived “environmentally friendly” by using a sail boat and his mere feet as means of transport, creating food and other resources out of thin air and commanding the rich to sell everything they have and give the money to the poor. Likewise, Obama said that the United States must end its consumer culture, quickly reduce its emmissions and increase its aid to developing countries.
I quickly mentioned in my last blog post thousands of people have lost their homes and income in Mozambique due to flooding. My spiritual hero Heidi Baker and her organization Iris Global is in the midst of the action, having parts of their own property destroyed as well as seeing their poor friends losing Everything. Heidi writes on Facebook:
My friend Francisco is one of many whose home has been completely flooded due to the torrential rains here in the Northern province. We were able to help relocate him to stay in one of our churches and share in the perfect love of Jesus. Thank you for praying. We love you so much and so appreciate your support and prayers.
These are photos from many of us missionaries here in Pemba over the last few days. It has been heartbreaking to see the poorest of the poor loosing the little they own. Watching the Mamas run through the villages with water well above their waist and their mattresses on their heads with babies drenched on their backs and no escape. Please keep praying for all of us in the floods. Many lives have been lost, roads destroyed, electrictiy doesn’t exist, houses washed away, cars going into rivers and not coming back up… and now our base walls have started falling into the river. Rumors have it that a cyclone is coming our way next. Commanding that one to stop in Jesus name! Pray for all of us at Iris and our friends and neighbors in the villages.
Two types of rains are pouring over the nation of Mozambique right now – the sweet rain of revival, since God is saving, healing, raising and restoring thousands of lives through Iris Global, but also the devestating rains of flooding, that are destroying people’s homes, food and income. Iris is sending out a desperate plee for help, so please pray for them and give them something if you can. God bless you!
Essentially, the cross is explained exclusively in legal terms. You and I are the criminal, God is the blood-thirsty judge and executioner, and Jesus becomes the one who steps in between us and lets the angry judge beat and kill him in our place. Having killed an innocent person, this judge is somehow satisfied and a little less angry, so he sets friends of the innocent dead man free as he awaits the “end times” when he’ll finally get to let the bodies hit the floor and feel good about himself.
It’s actually quite twisted when you break it down. Jesus protects us from God? Or, if you accept the inspiration of Scripture (which I 100 percent do), it gets even more uncomfortable when you see Jesus say things like: “If you have seen me, you have seen the father, for we are one,” or in Hebrews, when it is stated that Jesus is the “exact representation of God’s being.”
Accepting both the inspiration of Scripture and the penal substitution theory of the atonement, one could actually say that Jesus died to protect us from Jesus.
Which is quite silly, really — from one aspect this makes God look schizophrenic, and on the other, it makes the cross look like a bad case of domestic violence — something I personally find offensive.
With hardly any Scriptural quotations at all, Benjamin Corey goes on claiming that penal substitution is responsible for the capital punishment and crual legal system of the United States, and like many other critics of the penal substitution theology he claims that the idea was founded by Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century and that no Christian believed in it in the first millenia of the church.
It’s exciting to see what’s happening in Scandinavia right now. Sweden’s starting point for revival is perfect – we are one of the most secularised countries in the world, xenophobia and racism is spreading, the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer – in other words, we’re desperate for something that will turn everything upsidedown. And there are so many disciples that are desperate for this. So many are not only praying for revival, but acting revival, spreading the Kingdom on the streets, in the schools, on the Internet -everywhere! Let me give you some examples of what is going on:
Cessationism is dead in Sweden. I have met one Swedish cessationist in my lifetime, and he wasn’t very young. Among the youth, charismatic theology is almost universal, and more and more are praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And we’re less focused on people and more on God. This weekend hundreds of people gathered in Stockholm for a Heaven Now conference with students from Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in California. No big names, just students. And God was there, and people were so hungry, and after they prayed and worshipped they went out on the streets to share the love of God with others.
And we do see a lot on the streets. Me myself is leading street evangelist groups, several others are going out regularly to pray for the sick and preach the Gospel. My friend Durckheim Blessing is seeing a lot, as is evident in the clip above. More and more people start questioning the tradititional, unbibilical way of doing church where the service really isn’t a service but a internal concert followed by a lecture, more and more people wants to go out, take risks, connect with strangers and see daily miracles and conversions. Continue reading →
I was preaching a prophetic sermon last Sunday. In my house church Mosaik we have been covering the Kingdom of God and the coming of the King in the Old Testament, and I was sitting in the kitchen figuring out what to speak about. My community brother Andreas entered and I asked him “What should I preach about, it must be from the Old Testament about the Kingdom of God?” “Jonathan”, Andreas answered. “Speak about Jonathan. You know what, I think that’s a prophetic word.”
Now what Andreas didn’t know was that I was actually looking at the texts about David, Jonathan and Saul in 1 Samuel 16-31, so it was prophetic allright. And a few hours later when the church gathered in our apartment I talked about how Jonathan made an enormous sacrifice.
As the son of Saul, Jonathan would eventually be the king of Israel. Instead, he helped and saved David simply because he loved him and recognized the power of God upon his life. He realized that the anointing of the Spirit isn’t static – it isn’t necessarily passing on to the next generation and it isn’t necessarily remaining on someone who once has received it – Jonathan clearly saw how his father became possessed and crazy.
Not only are they practicing community of goods and spreading the Kingdom through evangelism and social justice, the Jesus Army in the UK is a church that flows in the wonderful miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. They’re also experiencing a lot of signs and wonders. This testimony is from a series they’ve published called Revival Fires that I got at home:
During a Jesus Fellowship ‘covenant band’ (a small group meeting) in London recently, a mysterious oil appeared on the hands of three of the four women present while they were praying and worshipping.
They laid hands on the other woman in the group and the oil began to appear on her forehead and on her hands also. One of them attempted to wash the oil off with copious amounts of water only to find that the oil appeared again.
The next day, during lunch time the same four women began to pray for Ruth, a young woman who had had severe pain in her neck for the previous two months. The pain was so bad that Ruth had become housebound and was on large amounts of morphine to control the pain.
As they prayed they watched her face change from the chalk-white colour they had become accustomed to to a normal healthy rosy glow. Ruth found a large degree of healing and was able to run and dance about and later to walk around the block. At the same time, another woman who had become deaf in one ear through an ear infection was healed when she felt oil dripping into her ear.
The most powerful effect of the experience was an anointing to pray for others, and in particular to intercede for people in the housing estate where they had been meeting in Sharon’s flat. In the month since that evening, two residents of the same block of flats have come to Sharon’s door in tears, wanting to find faith in Jesus.
As some of you know, I am proud to be a part of the awesome MennoNerd blogging network, a bunch of bloggers that identify themselves with anabaptism, the radical reformation in the 16th century that wanted to go back to the Biblical roots in a better and more radical way than Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.
Unlike these mainline protestants, the anabaptists rejected violence and war, they argued that people should choose to follow Christ and not be baptized as infants, they protested against the state-church system and eagerly desired the supernatural gifts of the Spirit in a time where most protestants were cessationists.