The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Public gatherings, concerts, television broadcasts and creative initiatives in many countries.
Evangelical Christians in European countries are celebrating the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, started 500 years ago.
The 95 theses Martin Luther wrote to denounce the abusive practices by preachers selling indulgences started a spiritual movement that later was summarised in the five “Solas”: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria.
Evangelical Christians in Europe and the rest of the world have organised thousands of initiatives in the last 12 months to highlight the central values of the Reformation and its effects in all areas of society.
Luther and the other Reformers understood that “what the people need is the Word of God, which drives away the darkness, brings live, brings creation into a new creation”, says theologian Mike Reeves in an interview.
With this high view of the Bible and its power to transform individuals and the whole of society, thousands of evangelical churches in Europe have organised big and small public events.
One of the biggest gatherings to celebrate the Reformation in 2017 happened in Ukraine.
In September, at least 160,000 evangelical Christians met in Kiev to celebrate the beginning of the Reformation with music, Bible readings and prayer. A few days earlier, President Petro Poroshenko had signed an order to recognise the anniversary.
“The doors that once were closed are wide open today. Evangelical Christians from all over Ukraine were able to praise the Lord for His blessings, but also to share the Good News with their friends and relatives”, a Christian told Evangelical Focus.
In France, hundreds of young evangelical Christians met in Le Havre in July to celebrate the Reformation and start social and mission projects around the theme “Move your France”. That same week, 10,000 Christians celebrated a special prayer day that ended with an evangelistic evening.
In Spain, a worship service to commemorate the Reformation was broadcasted on the public television on Saturday 28 October. It was one of the 500 special services organised by churches in dozens of Spanish cities.
The document “The 95 theses of the Reformation, 500 years later” brought together the ideas of about 90 authors to apply the Christian values to areas like education, economy, media, youth, political action and science. This document has been widely shared on social media on 31 October and handed to political representatives.
King Felipe received a delegation of Spanish evangelical Christians for the first time.
Classical and gospel and pop-rock concerts have filled theatres and churches in several cities and lectures on the Reformation in Spain were held in universities and cultural centres.
In Switzerland, evangelical Christians have distributed 500,000 copies of a Reformation newspaper, which “the greatest Reformer, Jesus” to its readers.
The surprise action #Thesenanschlag2 was organised on the 30 October. About 10,000 posters were “nailed” in public spaces of 140 towns and cities. They all linked to a website which encouraged every citizen “Reform yourself” in the light of Scripture.
In the Czech Republic, school teachers have promoted an educational program about Jan Hus, the Czech Reformer. This has been used in one in ten schools in the country.
Evangelicals in Portugal have also organised many events, including a worship service broadcasted lve on public television on Reformation Day.
In Bulgaria, 3,000 Christians gatehered in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia to commemorate the Reformation and celebrate the Protestant work in the country so far. A choir and orchestra formed by members of evangelical churches and a short documentary were some of the higlights.
“THE MESSAGE OF THE REFORMERS IS RELEVANT TODAY”
Representatives of the World Evangelical Alliance were received by the President of Kosovo. “The message of the Reformers is as relevant today as it was five hundred years ago”, the evangelical body has said recently.
The relevance of the Reformation has also been underlined by evangelical Christians in Italy (“The Reformation unearthed the Word of God”) and the United Kingdom (“Luther’s witness to the primacy of biblical authority shapes our identity as evangelicals”).