This semester, I’m finishing my bachelor program in Peace and Development studies at Uppsala University, and I’m doing that by solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Seriously, I solved it. It’s done.
Now, what’s left is simply Israeli and Palestinian leaders obeying my policy recommendations, which could be a little trickier. But when it comes to the actual conflict resolution proposal, I’m quite confident that this would indeed solve the Middle East conflict once and for all.
Here you can download my paper as a PDF: Israel and Palestine – Solving this Mess Once and for All
The paper includes a lot of background, conflict resolution theory and a discussion about pros and cons with both a two-state and a one-state solution. The juicy part is of course my actual solution, which reads like this:
I propose the establishment of a Federation of the Holy Land, consisting of the State of Israel and the state of Palestine based on the 1967 Green Line, as well as the federal district of Jerusalem (including Abu Dis). Both the Knesset and a Palestinian parliament may be located in Jerusalem, together with a new federal parliament and possibly a senate.
As poor people are being oppressed by rich people, the poor paradoxically often blame other poor people for their misery. The apostle James, Jesus’ own brother who is one of my favourite author, writes in his letter about how strange it is for the Christians of his time to despise the poor while the rich oppressed them:
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? (Jam 2:5-7)
I have read in the news that in South Africa, some people suffering from unemplyment and marginalization violently attack immigrants from countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, accusing them for “taking our jobs”. At the same time, white South Africans earn six times as much money than blacks, which of course means that if whites earned less there would be more money to employ people with, just as this American CEO could raise the wages of all his employees by lowering his own.
The European colonisers who plundered Africa’s natural resources, installed racist segregation and enjoyed wealth and luxury in gated communities while the indigenous population suffered in poor townships, are the immigrants that black South Africans should really be caring about, since most of their white descendants still are much richer than the rest of the population. SA is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Yet, the poor starts to blame other poor people from other countries. Why is that?
Bill Johnson, Randy Clark and Heidi Baker aren’t false prophets, as some wrongfully claim, but who then are true false prophets? About a month ago I argued in a Youtube video that several charismatic leaders are falsely accused if being false prophets by primarily Christian internet warriors; many of them are even accused of being driven by false, demonic spirit.
A popular theory is that Kundalini spirits from India have infected large parts if the Christian, charismatic movement, but as I showed one month ago this Kundalini myth has neither biblical nor empirical support, and so saying that influential charismatic leaders are Hindus in disguise is quite similar to the claim that the pope and US president are alien lizards in disguise.
I received some feedback on my Kundalini Myth video that I want to address today. My friend Robert Martin wondered if it isn’t so that “weird manifestations” may be the result of demonic activity, even if the person has not any connection to a Kundalini sect. He mentions dog barking and laughter.
Two weeks ago we looked at how it is mathematically impossible to spend the same money on superfluities (i.e. unnecessary stuff) and aid to the poor, and from that we concluded that statements like “You need to be rich in order to give money to the poor” or “It’s good to give money to the poor, but there’s nothing wrong with being rich” either cannot refer to the possession or consumption of superfluities, or they are simply self-contradictory.
In this blog post I want to address another argument rich people use when defending their wealth, namely that all consumption is good for the economy and in the end also beneficial for the poor; there is really no need to point out consumption of superfluities as something bad, since the money one pays eventually trickles down to the poor.
This argument is obviously rooted in secular, neoclassical economic theory and commonly defended by people on the right of the political spectrum, but often adapted and argued for by Christians. Sometimes they try to fit these ideas into the Bible, such as Paul Segerstom who has argued that the Scriptures support laissez fair capitalism, something I criticised a while ago.
Even if we would assume that some percent of the price I pay for a Lamborghini will go to the poor – perhaps the man who printed the car plate or the women producing its electronics in Chinese sweatshops – this is still less than what the poor would have get if we invested the same money into development aid.
For the last two months, a friend of mine have contacted me almost every day, asking me for money. I trust her and know that she is in genuine need, but sending money via Western Union is so costly, and I am genuinely surprised that not a single soul in Coventry, UK, is giving her the help she needs. I’m very disappointed with the British churches, they have so far failed miserably when it comes to helping a mother in need.
I got to know Denisa when she was begging on the streets of Uppsala, Sweden, where I live. Being originally from Romania as most beggars in our town, she spoke very good English. It turned out that her mother lived in Coventry and that Denisa had studied there, but when her mother ran out of money she went to Sweden to beg.
Because of her language skills she actually got a job here that lasted until summer 2014. Then she and her husband Mugurel were begging for some months before they moved to Romania for a brief period of time. Having no source of income there, they then travelled to Coventry even though they had hardly any money and no income.
Two months ago Denisa gave birth to their first child. She contacted me and said that she needed money to get a place to stay and money for food. I helped her with the rent costs and asked her to go to the Jesus Centre in Coventry, run by the Jesus Army. She went there several times, but unfortunately they hardly helped her. I’m not surprised that they couldn’t give her money or housing (which she initially hoped for) but at least I expected them to help her with food. I mean, here’s a mother with a newborn child with no source of income at all!
However, they told me from the Jesus Centre that they could only give food on Tuesdays. And when she did get food there was no baby food at all, even though they knew that she had a baby. That’s just plain ridiculous, unworthy of a social centre that bears Jesus’ holy name.
So I send her money for food, but since I’m helping a lot of other families here in Sweden I’m running out of funds myself. And I don’t get how there is nobody in Coventry that can make sure that an infant won’t starve. I’ve tried to contact other churches but there has been no sufficient response. And so Denisa is contacting me almost every day on Facebook simply writing:
“Can you help me because I do not have food”
If you live in Coventry or at least the UK and want to help Denisa somehow, just call her on 07824070060. I especially pray that my friends at the Jesus Army will understand the seriousness of this situation.
Today I’ve spent some six hours with my Romanian friends, buying them a caravan. They used to sleep in a car. Northern Europe has seen a lot of Romanian economic refugees, due to the mistreatment if the Roma minority in the country. Romas (also known as the degrading name “gypsies”) are Europe’s most discriminated ethnic minority, especially in eastern Europe.
80% of Romanian Romas are unemployed, 30% can’t read, and their life expectancy is 10 years shorter than other Romanians. They’re trapped in poverty, not getting the social security they need, and then they migrate to other European countries to beg. Here, they lack homes, education and health care. It’s a mess.
I love them so much. Most of them are Pentecostal and we pray and worship together. I see Jesus in them. They are poorer than those I met when I was in Africa two years ago. I’m obliged to help them.
God wants equality. I know that I am destined to share community of goods with several of these people. I’ve identified a few families that could stay here in Sweden and build their lives here. Others have their future in Romania or another country. One woman I got to know here in Uppsala moved to Coventry, where I helped her to get in touch with the Jesus Army.
When I help the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are poor, why we are rich and why children have to sleep in cold cars in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, they call me a communist and extremist. But it was my Master, Jesus, who said “blessed are you who are poor… But woe to you who are rich!” (Lk 6:20, 24). I’m following His footsteps. And He walks among, and in, the homeless Romanians on the streets of Europe.
When I visited the Jesus Army in the UK last year I filmed a lot – eight hours of footage to be exact – and already then I planned to make a documentary about their community of goods, where they share everything just like the apostles in the book of Acts. Then I found out that some Swiss brothers and sisters had decided to do the same and made an awesome documentary called Living in Community. At first I thought that meant that I didn’t need to do my documentary but still, I had eight hour of footage to do something with. So…
GET READY FOR AN AWESOME, SPIRIT-FILLED DOCUMENTARY THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND, COMING THIS SUMMER ON YOUTUBE
In a world filled with consumerism, individualism and atheism, a mighty Jesus revolution arises that practises community of goods. The Jesus Army is centred around 40 community houses where disciples of Jesus share a common purse so that nobody is richer than anyone else. When watching Everything in Common, you will get insight in how this is possible, what the people involved think about it and how you can start practising community of goods.
Everything in Common – coming to YouTube Summer 2015.
An excellent piece by my friend Deborah-Ruth Ferber about how Easter without forgiveness of sins is no Easter at all… despite bunnies and eggs.
Originally posted on Zweibach and Peace - Thoughts on Pacifism and Contemporary Anabaptism:
Easter is NOT primarily about the liberation of people of colour, proving that gay lives matter, or radical civil disobedience – it is about proclaiming Christ’s ultimate triumph over evil so that all individuals (regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation) have a chance to rule and reign with Him. It is a radical proclamation of self-sacrifice – the most intimate and personal act ever committed by a man, and also the gateway to eternal life and salvation.
It’s Easter Sunday again. My Sunday school children have just gotten back from their frantic morning of Easter egg hunting and indulging in goodies – the only day of the year their parents will let them eat chocolate before breakfast. The choir has sung its cantata, the pastor has preached a stirring sermon on the resurrection, and the church is packed to standing room only with what we coin C&E (Christmas…
View original 1,614 more words
The guy to the right is my friend Botros. He had been living a tough life, involved in much sh*t, but somehow he finally became drawn to the Church. One Sunday he was in the Pentecostal Church of Uppsala, but he hadn’t yet decided to follow Jesus.
Suddenly he saw a vision. The people on the platform at the front faded away and there was instead the cross of Jesus. Botros could see the Savior himself, nailed and tortured, and needless to say he was quite surprised. “I saw it as clearly as I see you now,” he told me.
While he stared at the cross, Jesus lifted his head, looked straight into the eyes of Botros and then a voice said: “For you, Botros’. Then the vision disappeared.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was for our sake. He took our sin, our punishment and our darkness upon Himself and destroyed it. He killed death by dying, so that we may receive the eternal life we do not deserve by the death He did not deserve. The Bible says:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. “- Romans 5:6-8
However, I have noticed that many Christians who defend their personal wealth do not just use the Bible, but also theoretical arguments that are based on economics, ethics and experience. Most of them are quite easy to counter with other arguments in the same field for why wealth is wrong. So in a couple of blog posts, I would like to discuss some of these arguments for and against wealth, while also connecting them to the Bible.
The first argument I often hear is “You need to be rich in order to give money to the poor” or, alternatively, “It’s good to give money to the poor, but there’s nothing wrong with being rich.” Now, I could agree with the first statement if we define rich as “having an income that exceeds one’s own/family’s needs” because then, per definition, only rich people will be able to give money to the poor without harming themselves or their families.
However, what’s really confusing is that oftentimes, people who use this argument do not solely define “rich” as “earning a large income”, but also as “possessing abundant capital” (i.e. owning a lot of stuff) or “consuming superfluities” (i.e. buying unnecessary stuff). And these definitions are often mixed up, so that I’ve even met Christian brothers and sisters who argue that it’s perfectly fine to spend money on big houses and cars, because you need to be rich in order to give money to the poor.
Now, this clearly contradicts the basic rules of mathematics. Let us take John the Baptist’s redistribution commadment as an example: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11). Simple mathematics that most of us learn even in preschool tells us that if person A has 2 shirts and gives 1 to person B who has 0, they both suddenly have 1 shirt each and voilà, there is economic equality. Person A cannot keep and give away one of his shirts at the same time, 2-1=1. (more…)
There are many who have compared John Wimber and Bill Johnson. And they surely are similar: both are white, middle-aged male pastors from California with confusingly similar names. The main parallel people usually draw is that John Wimber in his time (the 80’s and 90’s) was arguably the most influential person in the Western charismatic movement, and the same can be rightly said about Bill Johnson today.
John Wimber, who went home to God in 1997, opened the door to the charismatic Renewal in America’s evangelical community through its healthy and relaxed attitude to the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the hysteria and manipulation that charismatics usually are associated with. His Vineyard movement boomed through church planting, and today it includes over a thousand churches in the world.
Bill Johnson is also a laid-back charismatic preacher, his Bethel Church in Redding is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of charismatics, and he gets invited to speak at a variety of conferences around the world. Although Bethel is not a denomination that starts churches, many churches have been impacted and inspired by Johnson.
Johnson has said repeatedly that he is very inspired by Wimber. Both base their charismatic theology on God’s Kingdom. Both have seen many miracles. Both are true prophets.
However. While Wimber is one of my greatest spiritual role models that undoubtedly has shaped my own view of the Spiritual gifts the most, I am not a very big fan of Johnson. Again, I do not deny that Johnson is a man of God who has many good things to say, but I would like to point out a few things where he is very different from Wimber that I think one should be aware of. (more…)
Being a Christian isn’t just an indoor activity. Here are seven reasons why everyone – yes everyone – who have chosen to follow Jesus should share the Gospel about Him in public areas.
Check out the Biblical foundation for why churches should view street evangelism as mandatory meetings just like Sunday services.
And here’s a description of how my own church does this in practice.
One of my favourite authors is Jack Deere, a charismatic evangelical, pastor and teacher, who has written an excellent refutal of cessationism called Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. In the book, he shares how he encountered Paul Cain for the first time and discovered how prophetic this man of God is in a dramatic way, at a meeting they were holding in Texas, 1988:
Paul had just finished giving a wonderful message and was beginning to pray for the people in the audience. There were about 250 people there that morning. He asked the diabetics to stand. As he started to pray for the diabetics, he looked at a gray-haired lady on his right. He stared at her for a moment, having never met her (or anyone else in the audience for that matter), and then he said,
“You do not have diabetes; you have low blood sugar. The Lord heals you of that low blood sugar, now. I see a vision of you sitting in a yellow chair. You are saying, ’If I could just make it until the morning. If I could just make it until the morning.’ Your allergies torment you so badly that sometimes they keep you awake all night. The Lord heals those allergies, now. That problem with the valve on your heart—it goes now in the name of Jesus. And so does that growth on your pancreas.”
By this time there was a strong sense of the fear of the Lord in the room. People had begun to weep openly as they saw the power of the Lord being displayed and the concern of the Lord for one of his children. Paul continued looking at the woman and then he said, “The Devil has scheduled you for a nervous break- down.” When he said this the man sitting beside her, who turned out to be her husband, began to weep. He knew that his wife was very close to a nervous breakdown. Paul said, “The Lord interrupts that plan now. You will not have the breakdown.”
And then, just as suddenly as Paul had begun to speak to the woman, he stopped and said, “I think that is all the wants me to do now.” Then he sat down on the front row.
American prosperity pastor Creflo Dollar wants 65 million dollars so that he can buy one of the most luxurious private jets there is: the Gulfstream G650. Dollar asks 200 000 people to give “at least” 300 dollars each so that he can buy this thing without wasting his own money, but thankfully this has caused a lot of criticism from other charismatics. J Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine writes:
The Bible calls us to be good stewards of God’s resources. Private aircraft cost an exorbitant amount of money compared to commercial flights because the owners must provide service and upkeep on the vehicles. If a preacher insists on renting a private jet, the cost to fly from Fort Lauderdale to New York would be in the ballpark of $59,000, compared to a $652 ticket on a commercial plane. People who own private jets spend as much as $4 million a year just on maintenance.
You know what could use the 65 million dollars instead? Vanuatu. The oceanic island state has been devastated by tropical cyclone Pam this week. By the grace of God, very few people have died due to warnings and public advice from the government, and a quick humanitarian response. However, over 65000 people are homeless, and countless crops have been destroyed leaving tens of thousands in need of food aid. Tourism, which accounts for 40% of the country’s income, will most likely also be negatively effected (rich people usually want to go to paradises where they can ignore the world’s problems, not find them).
My most well-read post on this blog ever is the Kundalini Myth, where I criticize Pentecostal kiwi Andrew Strom who argues that large parts of the charismatic movement is demonic, influenced by a false spirit from the Hindu Kundalini sect in India. I’ve now made a video where I develop this critique and talk about the difference between – and sorry if this sounds meta – true false prophets and false false prophets.
Strom’s only evidence to connect Bethel Church to Kundalini is basically YouTube videos; he has observed how people behave at the Kundalini meetings, found similarities with charismatic meetings and thus concludes that it is the same, demonic spirit behind it all. I critizise him for calling behaviour like shaking, laughing, crying etc “manifestations” even though the Bible never does so, and argues that a more suitable name would be reactions. These things are not necessarily produced by a spirit (whether Holy or false), but it could be a human reaction to it (or simply somthing people do without any spirits involved).
Strom’s biggest problem is that the Bible never says that these reactions is something we should pay attention to when discerning the spirits. These are some of the most important New Testament texts when it comes to false prophets and spirits: (more…)