The Pope, Pentecostals, and the Gospel

Dale Coulter gives a Pentecostal critique of the Pope’s exhortation, “The Gospel of Joy.”

Again, the huge temptation is to focus on one small section concerning the Pope’s critique of greed in capitalism, but there is so much more in this exhortation.

One particular paragraph I am meditating on:

The pursuit of an equality of status at all costs produces a radical individualism, which is the very problem Francis wants to confront by calling societies back to the common good, the bonds of family, and the solidarity borne from a common humanity. It is a way of saying that apart from a moral center democracy and capitalism cannot succeed because of the inherent tensions between equality and freedom. Pentecostals and Protestant charismatics need to hear this call to recover a social holiness so central to the birth of the movement. By recovering social holiness, we can return to the idea that the prosperity of the gospel is to pour out oneself in joyous abandon. This is the pilgrim’s progress toward perfect happiness.

Pentecostals DO need to hear these words again because whether we use the phrase “social holiness” or something more “palatable” to our politically conservative ears, Azusa Street was a wondrous marvel of what William Seymour described as “the color line (being) washed away by the blood of the Lamb.”

Central to birth of the Pentecostal movement in the 20th Century was the understanding of being centered in the activity of the Spirit and knowing that blew away the racial lines and tensions of that time period. Sadly, we right back to those cultural settings after Azusa Street. It’s taken us the last 20 years to rectify our latent racism.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not centered in capitalism or socialism. The gospel of Jesus Christ, however, can thrive in any economic system because it’s not based on economic systems! Let’s not get caught up in economic arguments when our center needs to be Christ and through Christ we can find that joyous abandonment once again as we ask God to help us love ALL people.

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