The Pentecostal Who Shaped Swedish Politics

Lewi Pethrus founded the Christian Democrats, started a still-in-print newspaper, and preached his countercultural values to whomever would listen, explains historian Joel Halldorf.

Joel Halldorf is a fourth-generation Swedish Pentecostal, so it was natural for him when he became a historian of evangelical religion and politics to take a strong interest in the most famous figure in his tradition: Lewi Pethrus.

Born in 1884, Pethrus was a tireless, creative leader of a relatively small religious group that received little notice at the time. After guiding the Swedish Pentecostal movement, Pethrus helped shape Swedish society by entering politics—something Pentecostals did not do back in the 1940s. Along the way, he founded a Christian newspaper and spoke out against secularism.

“If the church should learn one thing from Pethrus,” said Halldorf, “it is that there is no need to fear the loss of power, the loss of status, and marginalization. Because when you’re on the margin, you can do a lot of creative things as a church.”

Halldorf, author of Pentecostal Politics in a Secular World, spoke with CT about Pethrus’s lasting influence on his country, the impact of secularism on Swedish society, and the different political priorities of Swedish and US evangelicals.

Why was Lewi Pethrus such an important figure in Sweden?

When some people want to understand themselves, they go to a therapist. As a historian, I go to the past. Lewi Pethrus was a leading architect of the movement that shaped me, my family, and my friends.

He was a charismatic figure and public speaker, so the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including reports of healings and speaking in tongues, were an important part of his ministry. Not only did Pethrus establish contacts and friendships all over the Swedish Pentecostal movement, he also created institutions that became pillars of the Pentecostal movement such as …

Continue reading

Read More

This post was originally published on this site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.