ADVERTISING
 
Thursday, October 19   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Nature
Is creation care seen as a priority in your church?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Margunn S. Dahle
 

Church in Scandinavia navigates complex relationships

The folk religion is increasingly shaped by various types of Eastern, New Age, and neo-pagan religiosities, alongside continuous impulses from traditional Christian beliefs.

SOLAS MAGAZINE AUTHOR Margunn S. Dahle 30 JULY 2015 16:02 h GMT+1
norway, olso, town Town near Oslo, Norway. / Samantha (Flickr, CC)

The religious history of Scandinavia is one dominated by established Lutheran state churches. The current situation, however, is characterised by an ambivalent and changing context. The result is a number of complex and changing relationships for the established churches in Scandinavia. This is true whether thinking of their relationships to the states and the nations, to other denominations, or to individual members.



Historically, the Reformation legacy has been highly influential, but that heritage is no longer a key shaper of church and culture. There is still a strong evangelical tradition in Scandinavia, especially in Norway. Traditionally, many evangelicals belonged to inner and foreign mission societies operating within the old state churches. This is illustrated historically by the significant prayer house movement, with its evangelical, Pietistic and mission-orientated focus.



The strength and size of evangelical non-established churches and networks have increased in recent years in Norway. This is partly due to Christian immigrants from other countries. Overseas mission has traditionally been central to many Scandinavian evangelicals, with Norway as a leading country. The traditional established churches and many theological institutions have been influenced by so-called liberal theology of various kinds, even though there are many evangelical ministers serving within these historical Lutheran churches.



The Church of Norway has had a number of key evangelical leaders, also among its bishops, but its leadership has recently become more pluralistic. The Norwegian evangelical mission societies are still influential, alongside the Catholic Church and Pentecostal churches. The Church of Denmark is probably the most pluralistic of the Scandinavian established churches, with the whole theological spectrum within its formal structures. The Church of Sweden and some of the Swedish free churches are characterised by political correctness, whereas the Swedish Evangelical Alliance and its members represent a clear evangelical presence. The Church of Finland has a number of evangelical leaders and ministers, but is also deeply influenced by liberalism and political correctness.



The state church legacy has led to a number of popular misconceptions. Many would consider the local church as identical to the local established parish church, which has simply become a religious service-provider. Being baptised as an infant and confirmed as a teenager, are often considered as equal to being a Christian, independent of personal beliefs, values and commitments. Many view the biblical Gospel in purely therapeutic terms, especially related to crisis situations personally or collectively. In real life, many Scandinavians are simply indifferent to the biblical message, as something belonging to the past.



There is currently an increasing secularisation and pluralisation in Scandinavia, which is evident in many areas. There is a subtle kind of practical atheism, which is very pervasive in our affluent Nordic countries. The worldview influences from secular humanism and naturalism are becoming increasingly influential in the educational system, the academy, the media, and the arts. The number of Muslims is increasing, mostly due to immigration. The folk religion is increasingly shaped by various types of Eastern, New Age, and neo-pagan religiosities, alongside continuous impulses from traditional Christian beliefs.



The strength of the established churches is their wide contact with local communities, but the value of this is dependent on their theological conviction, profile, and impact. The most common evangelistic approach in Scandinavia across the denominational spectrum in recent years is the Alpha course.



Inspired by DAWN, there is an increasing emphasis across Scandinavia on church planting, with a focus on small groups, house churches, and personal relationships. However, these encouraging trends are not matched by an equal emphasis on authentic and relevant preaching and teaching, and the corresponding need to relate biblical faith to everyday life. These two latter tasks include the urgent need for evangelical churches to equip their members to be disciples and witnesses, especially in secular contexts such as the media, university, and the workplace in general.



It is more demanding to be a local church, since “going to church” no longer is a shared cultural commitment, not even among elderly people. The following excerpt from a news story in Sweden is telling: “Elderly people are more active today in all respects – including getting married at old age – and in all form of activities, with the exception of going to church.”



A related major weakness of many local Scandinavian churches is the alarming lack of real contact with young people. It is a fact that many denominations (not the least in Sweden) increasingly have lost their youth during the last 20-30 years. It is thus a real and urgent need to re-engage younger generations in Scandinavia with the biblical Gospel in all its richness and relevance.



 



Margunn Serigstad Dahle is Programme Director of and Associate Professor in Communication and Worldviews, Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication, NLA University College, Norway.



This article was first published in Solas magazine. Solas is published quarterly in the U.K. Click here to learn more or subscribe.

 


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Church in Scandinavia navigates complex relationships
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues

A selection of pictures of World Press Photo 2017.

 
The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
“Spain, we pray for you” “Spain, we pray for you”

Hundreds of evangelical Christians from many denominations marched in Madrid (Spain) to pray for their city, the authorities and asking God to bring hope to its society. Many gathered in other cities on June, 11.

 
VIDEO Video
 
“It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation” “It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation”

In creation care, “we need more people who lead by example”, says well-known Brazilian politician and activist Marina Silva. 

 
Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online

The new video of the European Freedom Network addresses the dangers of social media. 

 
“Remember you are dust” “Remember you are dust”

Vaughan Roberts speaks from 25 years of ministry experience to share four lessons on staying the course as a Christian, despite ongoing battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 
Walk Walk

A two-minute video on the meaning of Jude 24.

 
Playmobil animation on Luther’s life Playmobil animation on Luther’s life

British video platform GoChatter uses 4,000 individual photos to create stop motion video on Martin Luther's life.

 
Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi on how the Protestant Reformation underlined individualism as a means to please God, and how secular Europe corrupted it.

 
Students in Europe: “We are present” Students in Europe: “We are present”

A summary video of the IFES Europe conference which brought together 1,700 students from many countries in Aschaffenburg (Germany) to reflect on God's mission in society.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.