Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity are proving as transformational as the first century church was in ancient Rome. They also reveal the stark contrasts between mere revolution and extraordinary transformation.
“Pentecostalism May Have Done More for Africa Than All Aid Organizations Combined,” declared a recent oped in The Christian Post. Research indicates “that Pentecostalism is the largest movement for social justice that has ever existed.”
The findings make it clear that social justice crusades without the Holy Spirit become ridiculous parodies and often violent authoritarianisms.
The oped quoted Dena Freeman, of the London School of Economics, and editor of Pentecostalism and Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa. Freeman’s conclusion bears repeating: “Pentecostal churches are often rather more effective change agents than are development NGOs.” The Pentecostal churches “are exceptionally effective at bringing about personal transformation and empowerment…”
Matthew Parris, in a 2008 Times of London article, told of returning to the African nation he knew as a boy as Nyasaland, called today, Malawi. While there Parris observed the work of mainly Christian charities in relieving the hardships of Malawi’s people. Such services, Parris wrote, “inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.”
Parris said even though he’s a “confirmed atheist,” he has become convinced “of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts.” These are insufficient, Parris wrote, because they do not bring personal transformation. “In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts,” he said. “It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.”
The Greek word often translated “good” in the New Testament refers to things that are profitable and beneficial. Thus, the “change is good,” I would argue, because it is not mere revolution, but extraordinary transformation. “Mere revolution” stands in contrast to reform efforts profitable and beneficial for all, which is transformation in the best sense of the word.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Wallace Henley