This month, we took a few minutes to interview A.J. Swoboda about his newest book, Blood Cries Out: Pentecostals, Ecology, and Groans of Creation, which was released last month. Dr. Swoboda, one of George Fox’s Seminary Stewardship Alliance liaisons, is a pastor, author, and professor.
What led you to write this book? What kind of people do you hope will read it?
I wrote this book with the realization in the back of my mind that many Christians, particularly Pentecostals, feel confused as it relates to the environmental crisis and their role in helping alleviate it. With that, I have come to believe that the least helpful way to deal with it (or any other cultural, global, or societal issue) is to put our collective head in the sand. It is my hope that this book offers a great starting place for Pentecostals to think through the various issues related to the environment in faithful service to Christ.
How have Pentecostal interactions with creation care changed over the years?
There has been little change because there has been little to change. Pentecostals, admittedly, struggle with societal issues such as environmental stewardship. What has become clear is a renewed openness to dialogue about the conversation theologically, biblically, and ecclesially. Pentecostals believe in the Holy Spirit. And I believe they are realizing that the Holy Spirit is moving them to begin to care about the topic.
How does this book engage with your work at George Fox Evangelical Seminary?
I teach with the Christian Earth-keeping Program at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. As well, I teach an Earth-keeping course at Multnomah University. This book largely will serve students and scholars interested in the intersection of Pentecostalism and ecology and will dovetail a good deal of what we do in the classroom to equip students in the field. This, along with my textbook, co-authored with Dan Brunner and Jen Butler entitled Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology (Baker Academic), serves as a good primer on Pentecostalism and ecology.
What do you hope readers will be called to do after reading it?
Pray. Act. Repent. I want this book to spur on action, not merely theological reflection. That last thing that is needed is theological dialogue divorced from faithful action. The two are, of course, inseparable. I want the reader to be theologically challenged to be challenged to act.