ADVERTISING
 
Saturday, March 23   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 
Flecha
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

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

POLL
Bible literacy
How often do you read the Bible?







SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Analysis
 

“Germany demonstrates that nations cannot rely on a rich Christian tradition but need constant renewal”

“Christian history is often just a cultural decoration”, says German theologian Evi Rodemann in response to a Pew Research survey which confirms the rapid decline of Protestantism.

AUTHOR Joel Forster BERLIN 28 FEBRUARY 2019 09:51 h GMT+1
A view of the Reichstag, the German Parliament in Berlin. / Photo: Ac Almelor (Unsplash, CC0)

Germany is one of the clearest examples of how Europe has left its Christian identity behind to embrace a new kind of undefined, moralistic and therapeutic faith.



A Pew Research survey focusing on self-identified Protestants showed their lack of biblical knowledge and the surprising trust in New Age and pagan practises, which collide with the basics of the Christian faith.



Evangelical Focus asked theologian Evi Rodemann to give more details about the spiritual state of the country that 500 years ago experienced and spread a gospel-centered Reformation.



 



Evi Rodemann.

Question. The Pew survey shows that more Protestants in Germany believe in astrology (33%) and reincarnation (24%) than in God with certainty (11%) or pray daily (9%). What does this tell us about German Christianity at this point?



Answer. Belief in Jesus Christ as a vibrant, living, currently present person in this world and their lives is unthinkable to the vast majority of Protestants in Germany today. If at all interested in spirituality, their spirituality can best be defined as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD), a phrase coined by Christian Smith1. What does this mean?



- "Moralistic" - God wants me to be a good person and not a jerk.



- "Therapeutic" - God or religion should help me feel good.



- "Deism" - God is a concept to decorate our lives with but not an agent who really does anything.



As Schindler describes it, “German Protestantism is anaemic at best, irrelevant at least”. German Protestants have to a huge degree lost their Christian identity and Christian history is often just a cultural decoration. Once known as the land of the reformation, Germany is in dire need of a new reformation.



 



Q. For evangelical Christians in non-Protestant countries, the collapse in numbers and the lack of spiritual impact of the historic Protestant churches - such as the EKD – in Central and Northern European countries is difficult to understand. How would you explain this reality to Christians in the South or East of Europe?



A. Evangelicals in non-Protestant European countries must understand that historic Protestantism has little in common with the Reformation of 500 years ago.



The behaviour of most German EKD Protestants belies their belief: reason (not Christ) alone, my work (not grace) alone, my self-reliance (not faith) alone, my philosophy of life (not Scripture) alone.



The secularization of society has pushed religion and with it its Christian heritage to the margins. Privatizing the faith has hindered further development. It demonstrates the need that a nation cannot rely on a rich Christian tradition but needs constant renewal and re-invention. The Protestant church has too long thought of playing a major role while they were taken over by a secular society.



 



Photo: Adrian I. (Unsplash, CC0)



Q. Catholics seem to be losing less membership. What are they doing better?



A. Catholics are losing less members at a slower rate annually than Protestants but both are losing with breathtaking speed. Largely the slower rate has to do with two things: identity (in Catholic countries to be a citizen of that country is to be Roman Catholic, e.g. to be Italian is to be Catholic, or Croatian, or Spanish) and theology. Roman Catholicism ties its members to the Mass where forgiveness is obtained. There is also mystery in the transubstantial aspect of wine becoming the actual blood of Christ or bread his body.



But to speak about doing something better might not be the right wording. The frame offered by the Catholic Church is more stable and even though they have many scandals they seem to offer more stability. People in the Protestant churches have a membership which seems to express less commitment. Also the fragmentation and disunity of Protestant churches speeds up the steady decline.



 



Q. What are the figures of evangelical Christians in Germany at the moment? Are there some evangelical denominations that are experiencing special growth?



A. About 2% of Christians in Germany can be deemed evangelical (both within the EKD and in the recognised free evangelical churches). 



Pentecostals and evangelical free churches are experiencing growth, though minimally, because of their emphasis on mission, evangelism, and church planting. Some of this growth is also due to migrant churches, which often have a Pentecostal background.



 



Q. How do non-Christians and the media see/portray free evangelical churches?



A. The media by large portray the free churches in culturally negative tones: against homosexuality, conservative values, puritanical. Often non-Christians do not know enough about evangelicals to have an opinion of them, interpreting them to be like the Protestant EKD churches which is very diverse in its theology and practice.



 



Photo: A. Bellone (Unsplash, CC0)



Q. Finally, how should Christians who believe in Jesus and in the Bible share the gospel in a country like Germany?



A. Christians have unique contributions to make in bringing peace and reconciliation through their faith in Christ Jesus. Serving a fragmented society in all its challenges is a task for Christians to tackle, starting with family, education and getting involved in all spheres of society through word and deed. Bringing God into the various cultures, people groups, religions, the marginalized and the well-educated and reflect Christ by their lifestyle. Germany needs Christians who are willing to stand up for the truth but do it in a manner of servanthood and sacrifice, loving people like Jesus loves them.



Evi Rodemann consulted with Hartmut Steeb, Secretary General of the German Evangelical Alliance and with church planting expert Dietrich Schindler from the Free Evangelical Church denomination to provide the answers to the following questions.





1. The term Moralistic Therapeutic Deism was first coined by sociologists Christian Smith and Melina Lundquist Denton in their 2005 book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press).




 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - “Germany demonstrates that nations cannot rely on a rich Christian tradition but need constant renewal”
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process

The Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance offers a Christian perspective on the crisis: “We can’t reduce people to just a number that needs to be controlled”.

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’ ‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’

Photos of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance’s annual gathering “Idea 2019”, in Murcia. Politicians and church leaders discussed about the role of minorities in society.

 
Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities

Christians rallied in Sofia on November 18 to defend their rights. It is the second Sunday of peaceful demonstrations against a new religion draft law that could severely restrict religious freedom and rights of minority faith confessions.

 
Rallies in Bulgaria: “New bill on religion brings us back to Communism!” Rallies in Bulgaria: “New bill on religion brings us back to Communism!”

Bulgarian evangelicals protested peacefully on November 11 against a draft law which could severely restrict religious freedom of faith minorities. Churches rallied in Sofia and other cities after the Sunday worship services.

 
Photos: #WalkForFreedom Photos: #WalkForFreedom

Abolitionists marched through 400 cities in 51 countries. Pictures from Valencia (Spain), October 20.

 
Photos: Reaching people with disabilities Photos: Reaching people with disabilities

Seminars, an arts exhibition, discussion and testimonies. The European Disability Network met in Tallinn.

 
Photos: Hope for Europe Photos: Hope for Europe

Unity in Diversity is the theme of the conference. Representatives of Evangelical Alliances and many other church leaders gathered in Tallinn (Estonia).

 
VIDEO Video
 
Romania: God’s Word among Roma people Romania: God’s Word among Roma people

Gypsies are one of the largest ethnic minority groups in Romania. According to 2013 estimates, the Roma groups make up 10% of the country's population, accounting for about 1.5 million people.

 
Latin American leaders unite to fight against imposition of gender ideology Latin American leaders unite to fight against imposition of gender ideology

Christian leaders from all over Latin America are concerned about the progress of gender ideology agendas in the region. Many are joining together in public demonstrations and training events.

 
How do fake news spread? How do fake news spread?

Tony Watkins, Coordinator of the Lausanne Media Engagement Network.

 
Lindsay Brown: The encouraging advance of the gospel in Spain Lindsay Brown: The encouraging advance of the gospel in Spain

Church planting, the amount of books authored by Spanish evangelicals and the growth of the Christian student movement in the last decades, are some of the marks underlined by Lindsay Brown.

 
What do Christian communication and science communication have in common? What do Christian communication and science communication have in common?

“As Christians, we also try to communicate a detailed and often slightly technical message”, says Kay Carter, Director of Communications of Tyndale House (UK).

 
Church planting in Strasbourg Church planting in Strasbourg

A video on how evangelicals are planting churches in Strasbourg (France).

 
Christians, resilience and a post-Christian culture Christians, resilience and a post-Christian culture

Lindsay Brown: “The biblical pattern is not one of speed, but of steady sowing and gradual reaping in due course”.

 
 
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.