Ulf Ekman in October 2006
8 December 1950 |
Ulf Ekman (born 8 December 1950 in Gothenburg) is a former charismatic pastor and the founder of the charismatic Livets Ord (Word of Life) organization in Sweden, which brought the Word of Faith movement to that country. Ekman is now Catholic. Ekman is married to Birgitta Ekman and has 4 sons, Aron, Jonathan, Samuel and Benjamin.
In his youth, Ekman was a member of a Swedish Communist party KFML(r) before becoming a Christian, graduating from high school in 1970. He studied ethnography, history and theology at Uppsala University and in January 1979 was ordained in the Church of Sweden, returning to Uppsala University to work as the chaplain for several years. He studied for a year at Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States and upon his return to Uppsala in 1983 founded Livets Ord. He remained pastor of the church until passing on the pastorship to Robert Ekh in 2002 to focus on international work, though he later took up the position again. He also founded Livets Ord University and Word of Life Bible School.
Through his church he has sent missionaries to Bangladesh, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Albania, Israel and India. Word of Life is also the host for the annual Christian event "Europe Conference." In the former USSR he started to preach in pentecostal churches and in stadiums. In Riga, Latvia he worked closely with Aleksej Ledyaev and the "New Generation Church" where he is a pastor. In almost every big city of the former USSR a Word of Life Church and a New Generation Church was established. The number of people reached with the Gospel can be estimated to be between 250,000–500,000 people. Cooperation with New Generation Church ended in March 2004 in doctrinal disagreement.
In the charismatic world, Ulf Ekman is considered to be a mentor, a spiritual father, and a pastor of pastors. Rev. Kong Hee has claimed Ulf Ekman to be his spiritual coach, and over the years they have had a close relationship.
During his Sunday service on 3 March 2013, Ekman informed the assembly of a major change – he, its founder and its pastor for 30 years, would resign in May and be succeeded by Joakim Lundqvist, the up–to–then youth pastor of the congregation.
On 9 March 2014, Ekman announced his and his wife's leaving Livets Ord with the intent of joining the Catholic Church. He indicated, that he received a confirming word of prophecy ahead of his decision from a pastor that just had attended Kenneth Copeland's Charismatic Evangelical Leadership Conference in February 2014, a Conference to which Pope Francis sent a video message through Tony Palmer urging for the protest of the Reformation to come to an end
Like many new Christian movements, Word of Life has been criticized by other Christians, but in particular by the media. Many critics claim that Word of Life's teachings about health and economic abundance created a survival of the fittest attitude, in opposition to the Christian ascetic ideal of being poor and humble. Ekman and Word of Life always responded to this criticism by saying that they strongly believed in God's promises in the Bible. Ekman claimed that a false image was created in the Swedish media on Word of Life as being against, for example, disabled persons, when the outspoken message was that God promises deliverance from sickness.
Ekman's theology, along with other representatives of the Word of Faith movement, was criticized for having gnostic elements. A thesis written by Kent Gunnarsson at Umeå University, published in 2004, had this claim. The opponent at the dissertation, Professor Alexander Radler, criticized Gunnarsson for a too-wide definition of Gnosticism. Radler appreciated Gunnarsson's thesis for its rich information about modern Gnosticism, but thought that Ekman's teachings could not be seen as gnostic. Ekman's own attitude against Gnosticism is negative.
Later on, Ekman rarely preached the typical Word of Faith teachings. He partially criticized some of them (for example, the Jesus Died Spiritually doctrine), but also wrote and said that the ground for his preaching was the revelation in the Bible he got from first listening to teachers like Kenneth Copeland and later studying at Kenneth Hagin's school in Tulsa.
Ekman seems to have broadened his doctrinal horizons with studies in patristic and church history. He has now an ecumenical approach to other congregations. In 2006 the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockholm, Anders Arborelius, was invited to Word of Life church in Uppsala for a public discussion. Through the Livets Ord University, which is a branch of the Oral Roberts University, Ekman published a theological magazine called Keryx, containing articles from a broad, classical Christian point of view. This magazine had articles from different Christian traditions and excerpts from patristic writings. But a critical analysis of the Word of Faith movement's own teachings hasn’t been published to this day.
- "Därför lämnar jag Livets Ord och blir katolik"
- "Ulf Ekman Converts to Roman Catholicism". Charisma Magazine. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Non-Denominational Megapastor Stuns Congregation With Personal Revelation". TheBlaze. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Sweden's Pentecostal Megapastor Converts to Catholicism". Christianity Today. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- Ulf Ekman says Prophetic Word Confirmed his Catholic Conversion
-  Keryx
- "Ulf Ekman Says Prophetic Word Confirmed His Catholic Conversion". Charisma News. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
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