Further to my earlier post on Sider and simplicity - sometimes a cartoon speaks more than words. Here is one from Phil Somerville (from his book "I am Moderately Fond of Australia, Hardie Grant Books, 2001)
on his brilliant (if not sometimes irreverent) blog “chrisendom,” regularly highlights the amusing
conclusions reached by various fundamentalist Christians. Recently, he noted that Dial the Truth
Ministries” have labelled Amy Grant a witch. Their logic is:
On , Amy's video, That's What Love Is For
Amy is dressed in a red robe, (used in witchcraft rituals) flashing on the
palms of her hands, a six-pointed-star — A HEXAGRAM! … The word hex which
means to place a curse on someone, originated from this sign." And
the primary point of contact in the transmission of spirits — is the hand!”
I am proud to announce that I have also
joined the illustrious ranks of the apostate. As some of you may know, I completed my PhD with the Australian Catholic University (I am a Pentecostal
who has studied with the Assemblies of God, Wesleyans, and Catholics), under
the supervision of Professor Neil Ormerod and Anne Hunt. Neil and I have continued to work together –
including my asking him to teach on the doctrine of the Trinity at Southern
Cross College. Recently, the college
published a photo of Neil in my classroom, after which I received the following
Given the assumption of my series thus far (see here, here, and here), that addressing the situation of global poverty is central to the mission of the church in proclaiming the kingdom of God, the question that then arises is a practical one.How should this mission to the poor be framed?What should we do and say, as both individuals, local churches and global movements, that might be said to be an appropriate response to both Jesus’ priority for the poor and the needs of the contemporary situation?
Perhaps the most obvious response, at least for those Christians in wealthy nations, is the assertion that rich Christians should pursue a simpler lifestyle in order to give generously to the poor and, thereby, promote a more just distribution of the Worlds resources.Representative of this argument is the now classic text by Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.Describing the plight of our “billion hungry neighbours,” as well as setting out a biblical perspective on the poor and possessions, Sider challenges Western materialism and provides a compelling argument for plain living and, thereafter, expansive giving.Concerned particularly with the problem of the distribution of the world’s resources, he provides practical suggestions for ways that rich Christians (understood to include almost all Christians in wealthy nations) can spend less and give more; the graduated tithe, strict budgeting, reduced spending on consumables, use of public transport, second hand purchasing, gardening to reduce food budgets, and community living.
As much as i appreciate the prophetic challenge of Sider's work, i confess i have major economic problems with this argument. However, i reckon its best if i leave the matter for your response first.
Either side of Pentecost similar Spirit activity occurs, for example, Zechariah the priest prophecies (Lk 1:67) as does Agabus (Acts 11:27), and the 12 (new leaders in Israel: Lk 22:30)  heal and exorcise (Lk 9:1) as does Philip (Acts 8:7). Such duplication raises the question as to what distinction Pentecost introduces. My contention is that prior to Pentecost, periodic and ethnocentric salvation-historically significant individuals (eg. Zechariah the priest) are Spirit inspired for specific tasks, whereas post-Pentecost the Spirit is universalized (eg. Cornelius and Philip’s daughters). This is best expressed in Peter’s polemic citing Joel’s prophecy, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18). “All flesh” is unpacked as, all genders (“sons and daughters” 2:17), all ages (“young men… old men” 2:17), and all status (“my slaves” 2:18). If we add the promise of 2:39 and understand “those who are far away” as a reference to Gentiles (cf. Acts 22:21; Eph 2:13, 17),  then a further democratization includes all nations or ethnicities.