Pentecostal pacifist impulse and the violent God of the Hebrew Bible: A balancing act of hermeneutics

  • Marius Nel Faculty of Theology North-West University Potchefstroom Campus
Keywords: Pentecostal movement, pacifism, violence, violent God


Most early Pentecostals took a pacifist stance toward violence and war, based on Jesus’ example of love for the enemies, and relegated human violence promoted as God’s will in the Hebrew Bible to a description of broken and sinful human behaviour that was not viewed as normative for Christians’ behavior. Since the 1930s and 1940s, Pentecostals adopted Evangelicals’ hermeneutic, and inter alia their Augustinian just war doctrine and support for nationalism and patriotism. It is argued that a new hermeneutic consensus that has been developing among Pentecostal scholars since the 1970s requires that pacifism should be placed on the Pentecostal agenda because it recognises that the Bible does not speak in a monosyllabic way; the Hebrew Bible contains conflicting views on violence that cannot be systematised into a clearly uniform “biblical view”.

Author Biography

Marius Nel, Faculty of Theology North-West University Potchefstroom Campus

Research professor

Chair, Ecumenism: Pentecostalism and Neo-Pentecostalism


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