THE RE-READING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BY AFRICAN PENTECOSTAL CHARISMATIC CHURCHES WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF HIV AND AIDS
When, in spite of evidence-informed biomedical facts that HIV has, to date, no cure, individuals give testimonies of miraculous healings on the basis of a reading of selected biblical texts and discontinue antiretroviral therapy, it raises critical questions that certainly warrant scholarly inquiry. This is the primary focus of this paper; it is not about the truth or falsity of miraculous cures from HIV but acknowledging the visibility of a growing phenomenon characterising neo-Pentecostalism in Africa today. To argue my case, I revisit the place of the Bible in the spiritual lives of faithful believers against the background of a changed religious landscape - the availability of antiretrovirals and advanced scientific discoveries on the management of HIV and AIDS. The idea is to reason out why beliefs in miraculous cures from HIV persist to this day given that people openly disclose their sero-status during televised healing ministries as a strategy to receive their blessings (cf. James 5:16) and testify of the total eradication of the virus from their bodies on the basis of texts such as Mark 5:19 and 2 Timothy 1:8. I therefore see those texts emphasising a renewed commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (Mark 9:23; 10:52; Luke 8:50; James 5:14-15; 1 Peter 2:24; etc.) for healing as the basis of unyielding interpretations embedded in a re-reading of the New Testament. This is an understanding that reinforces those “pinnacles of faith moments” orienting believers towards deferring coping strategies within the context of HIV and AIDS. I conclude by taking the position that, the theological thinking of neo-Pentecostal Churches is one of the greatest challenges of the millennium heightening the polarisation of messages communicated about the epidemic in Africa today.