ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, May 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
State and Religion
Should religious symbols be displayed in buildings of the public administration?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Freedom and mission
 

‘My understanding of freedom should not put boundaries to the religious freedom of others’

“It is very important to communicate with those we are going to defend, otherwise, we can hurt them, or put them in jeopardy”, says Hans Gravaas of the Stefanus Alliance International. 

SOURCES FOCL AUTHOR Evangelical Focus WISLA (POLAND) 19 SEPTEMBER 2017 11:08 h GMT+1
Demonstration for religious freedom./ Wikipedia

Two-thirds of the world’s population is experiencing limitations on religious freedom. How does the global struggle for human rights play a role in the spreading of the gospel?



Securing the right of others does not exclude, but rather presupposes, the right of exercising one’s own rights.



But, how do we find the right balance between our own rights and the rights of others? What is the contribution of the Christian church and Christians in society with regard to this challenge? How is this challenge related to global evangelism?



 



Hans Gravaas serves as General Secretary of the Stefanus Alliance International in Oslo. This is a Christian missions and human rights organisation, with a special focus on freedom of belief and religion.



In an interview with the European Leadership Forum in Wisla (Poland), Gravaas explains the connection between religious freedom and missions, and why and how should believers advocate for other Christians and non-Christians’ religious freedom.



 



RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND MISSION



Hans Gravaas believes that “we have many arguments for defending and working for religious freedom for all.”



“There are theological arguments as well as arguments from the UN Declaration, article 18, on religious freedom”, he explains.



According to Gravaas, “mission is a part of Christian faith to express our faith to others in the public sphere, therefore, our human rights also lead to express our faith.”



“Mission is evangelism and proclaiming good news through both words and actions”,he adds.



However, “this freedom does not necessarily include Christians only, but all human beings who want to proclaim their faith as well”, he says.





 



“PERSECUTION IS A PART OF BEING CHRISTIAN”



The General Secretary of the Stefanus Alliance International points out that “according to Pew Research statistics, 76% of the world population experience restrictions in their religious beliefs in one way or another.”



Additionally, “other statistics say that, among those who suffer persecution today, 90% are Christians.”



“That’s a part of Christian faith, of being a disciple, but when normal restrictions develop into disinformation, people telling wrong stories about us that put us in a bad position, the next step will be discrimination”, he warns.



Then, “we do not have the same rights as others, less privileges. It is a faith-based restriction,and when you move onward,you might face harassment, torture, and in the worse case, imprisonment, or even martyrdom for the sake of your faith.”





 



“WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT”



When we are going to defend the religious freedoms of other Christians, “we need to know where we find ourselves: are we cultural insiders or cultural outsiders?



“It is very important to communicate with those we are going to defend, because they know in what way they can be defended, otherwise, we can hurt them, or put them in jeopardy”, Gravaas says.



That is why ”we need wisdom and discernment. We have to develop a strategy with local Christians.”



In Gravaas’ human rights organisation, “we face this everyday, in terms of information: as journalits and outsiders, we would like to tell the stories and be a voice for the voiceless, that is our goal and mission. But, at the same time, we have to reflect on whether those stories have to be told”, he explains.



“And in some cases, our telling of stories might make their situation worse, so we have to talk with our local partners how to deal with it.”





 



“BOUNDARIES IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM SHOULD BE WIDE”



“As Christians we defend what we believe s the truth, our goal is to proclaim the truth to everybody, but at the same time, God has given us the right to choose Him or not to choose Him”, Gravaas points out.



He recalls the “story of the rich young man in the Bible, when he left Jesus; and the interesting thing is that Jesus did not run after him.”



“To believe and what to believe is a very personal issue, defending the right of others, does not necessarily mean that we are sharing what they think is true, but we are giving them the right to believe in what they think is right.”



According to Gravaas, “if we are defending our own rights, we also have to defend the rights of others.”



“Religious freedom is very much an unlimited issue, boundaries in religious freedom should be rather wide”, he argues .



And adds: “If my understanding of freedom puts boundaries to the religious freedom of others, we are in a big problem.”



“In some Islamic countries, you have the freedom to believe, but you do not have the freedom to change your belief, they accept you with your faith, but they do not accept that their Muslim people convert to Christianity, so they are not pursuing religious freedom”, he concludes.





You can see a full talk by Hans Gravaas about this topic here.



 



ABOUT HANS GRAVAAS



Hans Gravaas has a PhD in intercultural studies from Trinity International University, and master’s degree in theology from Norwegian School of Theology.



He has served as a missionary within the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus in Ethiopia, pastor of a Norwegian congregation in Chicago, mission secretary of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, and president of two different university colleges in Norway.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - ‘My understanding of freedom should not put boundaries to the religious freedom of others’
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
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.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
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’.

 
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. 

 
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. 

 
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".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
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.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement? What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement?

Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship (UK) summarises>the philosophical framework that made the transgender movement so popular.

 
Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid

Delta David Gier, Conductor and Music Director, on some of the dangers for artists.

 
Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation? Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?

“The reasons why somebody might have sex with a prostitute are very different from the reasons why somebody might want to have an affair with a member of their congregation”. An analysis by John Stevens, National Director of FIEC (UK).

 
Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
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.