Paul Alexander (Ph.D, Baylor University) is the professor of Christian ethics and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University and the director of public policy for Evangelicals for Social Action.
He co-founded Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice (PCPJ) (www.pcpj.org) and authored the award-winning book, Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God and Signs and Wonders. The three books that he has edited include Trajectories in the Books of Acts (2010), Pentecostals & Peacemaking: Heritage, Theology, and the 21st Century (2012), and Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Justice and Peace (2012).
Paul is a fellow in the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He recently received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to research Christians engaged in high-risk social action in Palestine, Colombia, Guatemala, and various U.S. cities. He is currently producing a documentary and writing a book about Palestinian Christians and the Israeli/Palestinian situation, and also writing Spirit Empowered Peace with Justice—a theological ethics book with Eerdmans Publishing.
Paul has delivered keynote addresses related to human rights, peacemaking, and justice in The Hague, Netherlands; Pune, India; and Bethlehem, Palestine, as well as throughout the U.S. He edits the Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice book series (Wipf & Stock Publishers), Pax Pneuma: The Journal of PCPJ, and is on the editorial board of PRISM magazine. Paul and his wife Deborah have been married for 19 years and have three children.
Posts By This Author
The Hidden History of Pentecostal Pacifism
WHEN I FOUND out years ago that most early Pentecostal denominations had been committed to nonviolence—including the Assemblies of God, the denomination of my heritage—I thought it was about the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. Not kill for the United States of America (or any country)?
Then I stumbled upon the Pentecostal Evangel, a weekly magazine of the Assemblies of God (USA), which published these revealing words during World War I:
From the very beginning the [Pentecostal] movement has been characterized by Quaker principles. The laws of the Kingdom, laid down by our elder brother, Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, have been unqualifiedly adopted, consequently the movement has found itself opposed to the spilling of the blood of any man.
This was new to me. I was reared in a U.S. Pentecostalism that taught intense loyalty to the United States and deep pride in combatant military service. Where did this hidden history of Pentecostal nonviolence come from?
Reading other early accounts of Pentecostal peacemaking prompted me to further examine where it had gone and whether it could re-emerge. It would also challenge and deconstruct my understanding of Christianity.
Three Ds for Israel & Palestine
Several of my rabbi friends have explained to me that there are three Ds that we should keep in mind when we criticize the policies of the State of Israel as we work for justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians. I think these three Ds can be helpful and can also be applied to the way that many people – including Christians and Jews – talk about Palestinians and the future Palestinian State.
The first D is Demonization. I have been told that demonization of the State of Israel occurs when it is called “a pariah nation,” compared to the Nazis, or accused of committing genocide. I agree that these references cheapen their meaning in their original context and are not helpful in pinpointing the exact policies that the State of Israel engages in that are harmful – like using tax revenue to subsidize housing for Israeli Jews in more than 120 settlements on land the Palestinians lay claim to for their future state.
The first D also applies to the ways U.S. citizens, Christians, and Jews demonize Palestinians. And just like it is never acceptable regarding Jews, Judaism, and the State of Israel, it is never acceptable regarding Palestinians, Palestinian Christians, Palestinian Muslims, Islam, and the future State of Palestine. This is most obvious in the widespread use of “terrorist” with no admission that violent extremists are a minority and that most Palestinians are hardworking people who want the best for their families and a healthy society to live in. An example of this demonization is Sacha Baron Cohen’s movie Bruno. Ayman Abu Aita, a Palestinian Christian who works for peace, was identified in the movie with the caption “Terrorist group leader.” Cohen lied to the Palestinian Christian and then for comedy purposes named him a terrorist. Abu Aita sued Cohen for defamation and they recently settled out of court.