NBC Nightly News recently aired Rev. Eugene Rivers‘ description of Pentecostalism and its appeal to the poor. Rev. Rivers is pastor of Azusa Christian Community in Boston. While I do not accept his emphasis on movement from “poverty to prosperity”, I understand that as a white middle-class AG Pentecostal I have my own biases when it comes to the social implications of Gospel. I would like to think that Pentecostalism can be socially-concerned without being “prosperity” driven. I cannot endorse a prosperity-Gospel in the vein of Osteen or Roberts, but I do believe that a Spirit-driven Gospel must confront materialism and the systemic oppression of the poor.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.