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Wonders in the Heavens Above, Signs on the Earth Below: Pacific Islands Pentecostalism, Climate Change and Acts 2

Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)

Abstract

Pentecostalism’s understanding of creation is of growing importance as Pentecostalism continues to grow in areas most effected by climate change. As such, there is a need to identify, reflect upon and develop a Pentecostal ecology in order to establish an effective and lasting response to the present ecological crises in areas like the Pacific Islands. Pentecostalism’s enchanted understanding of creation, where the material is imbued with the spiritual, leads Pentecostals to propose spiritual solutions (repentance, exorcism) to material problems (ecological crises). This chapter develops this enchanted understanding of creation by incorporating an ecological reading of Joel 1–2 and Acts 2: 17–21, which brings to the fore the ecological themes of interconnectedness and voice. This chapter finishes with a concluding synthesis, which reflects upon the ways that Pentecostalism’s ecology can be further advanced through these ecological themes, and ways these insights can be applied to the modern context of the Pacific Islands.

Keywords

  • Pentecostalism
  • Pentecostal ecology
  • Acts 2: 17–21
  • Interconnectedness
  • Creation’s voice
  • Pentecostal theology of creation

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this chapter, I focus on the Pentecostal understanding of creation, and how the ecological lens of interconnected and voice help inform this Pentecostal ecology. As this Pentecostal understanding of creation is quite different from a technocratic understanding of nature, and due to space constraints, I do not significantly address the practical applications of this research. Further research could be done in the area of the practical application of this research.

  2. 2.

    Pentecostal ecologies often start with Smith’s first element, a radical openness to God (Clifton 2009; Kärkkäinen 2014), or the affirmation of embodiment, e.g. healing (Ede 2014; Tallman 2014), or they wrestle with the eschatological orientation of Pentecostalism (Waddell 2012). This chapter takes a different approach by focussing on the enchanted aspect of Pentecostalism’s worldview.

  3. 3.

    It is worth emphasising that not all forms of Pentecostalism have this clear enchanted worldview. Smith (2010, p. 41) notes, “While North American [and I’d add Australian] pentecostalism is increasingly ‘naturalized’ on this score, all commentators agree that the implicit cosmology assumed by spiritual warfare is one of the primary factors in the explosion of Christianity in the majority world, particularly where indigenous or ‘primal’ religions emphasize a similarly enchanted cosmology.”.

  4. 4.

    When building a theology of creation, Pentecostal theologians rarely address this possibility of a negative enchantment of creation, possibly due to the desire to be prescriptive rather than descriptive. That is, a Pentecostal theology of creation must account for the degradation of our environment and Pentecostalism’s tendency to understand this degradation through the lens of a negative enchantment.

  5. 5.

    My reliance on Fiji for examples are solely due to the fact that the majority of scholarship on Pentecostalism in the Pacific Islands has focussed on Fiji.

  6. 6.

    There are seven variations that Luke makes to the quotation from Joel 2: 28–32 (Keener 2012, p. 874–877).

  7. 7.

    Wall (2000, p. 542) describes intertextuality “as a broad reference to the various ways by which biblical writers presume the continuing authority of their Scripture that is cited or ‘echoed’… when it is exegeted to amplify the meaning of this sacred tradition (traditium) as the word of God (traditio) for new readers or auditors.” The intertextuality of Acts 2: 17–21 with the wider work of Joel 1–2 is well established (Wenk 2000).

  8. 8.

    The ecological readings in the following two sections will rely on the ecological readings Braaten (2008) for Joel 1–2 and Trainor (2020) for Acts 2: 1721. Further research in the ecological themes of these passages is needed, with could also explore the role that the priesthood and Temple play in Joel 1–2 and Acts 2: 1721.

  9. 9.

    In this discourse ‘technocratic nations’ are understood as countries where the majority of people can be characterised as adhering to a predominantly technocratic worldview orientation.

  10. 10.

    For example, Australians are one of the largest per capita contributors of carbon-dioxide on Earth.

  11. 11.

    Repentance in its most basic means to turn from something, to change.

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Griffiths, J.D. (2021). Wonders in the Heavens Above, Signs on the Earth Below: Pacific Islands Pentecostalism, Climate Change and Acts 2. In: Luetz, J.M., Nunn, P.D. (eds) Beyond Belief. Climate Change Management. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67602-5_17

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