“It is a must to be a significant voice in a secularized society like Europe”
Author calls all European Evangelicals who have the vision of “building bridges between the Church and society” to “join the project, write, contribute”.
BARCELONA · 09 JANUARY 2015 · 13:40 CET
Evangelical Focus has started with the aim to be to “be light in a European society that has rejected God, but at the same time thirsts for God”, as author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martinez has told our readers in an interview with this website.
Martinez emphasized the importance of discussing current affairs “from within a Biblical worldview” and the goal to be a strong voice in favor of freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.
You can listen to the AUDIO interview at the bottom of this article.
Q. We are in the second decade of the twenty first century. What are the challenges that the Gospel has in Europe right now?
A. There are challenges basically at two levels: the first level comes from the world of ideas, the ideology, I would say there are three main challenges in this area that we have to face as Christians: one is individualism, the other is hedonism, and the third is pragmatism. The combination of the three together makes a great threat to Christianity.
Individualism summarizes in the sentence “my rights first”. Hedonism summarizes in the sentence “my happiness, my well-being, first”, and pragmatism summarizes in the sentence “I have the right to change, to dismiss a situation, a person, when I do not need it, I only want what I need”.
Now, the outcome of all this, leads us to the second level: the personal consequences. So ideology greatly determines how a person feels, and the personal consequence in our society in Europe today, it is a big emptiness, a ‘vacuum’, the meaning of life is the question number one. I would say; the high rate of suicides in Europe is very, very worrying. This lack of sense of life, seeing life as absurd, life making no sense, it is the natural outcome, the result of this ideology crisis.
I would like to close this question with a quote from Pascal, the famous French thinker, who said: “There is a God shape void in the heart of every man, which can not be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator”, I think this sentence by Pascal is a good summary of the great challenge we face in a secularized Europe in the twenty first century.
We face the challenge to be a significant voice in a secularized society; our society has rejected God, but at the same time thirsts for God, has a great need for God, or to quote George Steiner the outstanding contemporary non Christian philosopher: “Our European society suffers from nostalgia for the absolute, kind of homesickness for the absolute”, so we are called to be light and shine in this secularized society.
Q. Thinking about what you have said about Europe and its nostalgia for the absolute, why is it important to have a publication like Evangelical Focus? What role can it play in this secularized European society?
A. I would say there are two reasons, well, there could be more, but basically I can summarize them in two reasons of why there is a need for something like Evangelical Focus. First of all, because digital media plays a very relevant role in today’s world in general, to the point that they are among the most influential ways of communication. In our society, we could say we live in a digital era, in a digitalized society; the written press and other traditional media, like radio or television, have given way to a new communication model, which reaches millions of people and serves, not only to inform, but also and above all, to shape opinion, and in Europe, I believe, there is not evangelical media like the kind Evangelical Focus aims to be, so this is the obvious main reason.
The second and also obvious reason is the importance of the evangelical journalism in Europe: there is an opportunity, so we cannot miss the opportunity, it is a ‘must’ to be a significant voice in a secularized society like Europe. If there is a need, we must do our best to fulfill that need. It would not be a good stewardship of our resources, time and energies, if we did not put all our efforts in fulfilling this need.
[As Christians] we are called to build bridges and to equip believers and the local church for the mission, that is the idea we have in mind when we created Protestante Digital first, and now Evangelical Focus.
Q. How can this project be a good resource to equip believers and the local church for the Mission?
A. I think that building bridges and equipping believers is not an aim just for the digital media, but for the church in general, we are called to do that. And we believe that churches must remain focused on Mission; Mission is not only evangelism, it is included in the Mission, but it goes beyond evangelism. And in this sense, a media project like Evangelical Focus, can provide believers and therefore, local churches, with resources that will help them examine issues and provide biblical answers as they relate to society.
We believe that helping believers maintain and have a biblical worldview regarding the society where they live, is probably one of the main contributions, if not the main one, we can make as Evangelical Focus, to provide a evangelical worldview. We also have to keep in mind that a significant number of readers of Evangelical Focus (this happens with Protestante Digital in Spain too) are not what we could call new born Christians. In others words, they have not got yet a personal relationship with Jesus, they may be nominal Christians or skeptics or atheists… so we are open to offer a biblical perspective to the world, to those who are not members of the Church in a broader sense.
Also, the word “network” is a key word, we want not only to be a relevant Christian voice, but also to connect evangelical Christians all over Europe, to share their resources and experiences, so, in this sense, one of the goals of evangelical Focus is to tell the stories of individuals and groups who have something important or valuable to share, some good practices, some witness, always offering a biblical perspective on this situations.
And one more point that we have not mentioned so far: Evangelical Focus pretends to be a strong voice in favor of freedom of conscience and speech, this is sensitive point in Europe today. Europe is becoming more and more intolerant with those who have a strong Christian commitment, Europe is becoming more militantly secularized, and we have to let our voice be heard for the freedom of conscience and of speech.
Q. Maybe more than ever before, we are seeing how much the Youth is present in social networks, they are playing an important role in the cultural and political changes that are taking place in many countries. Should publications like Evangelical Focus be a space for the youth to express themselves?
A. Absolutely so, we want to provide a space for young people, where they can share their ideas, their debates and projects, we feel it is extremely important that young people can find their own place in Evangelical Focus; this is something we are trying to develop in our Spanish site Protestante Digital, and our idea, our dream is including youth.
Q. As you were just saying, this new project has its origin in the Spanish publication called “Protestant Digital”. Why this European news website is called “Evangelical”, and not “Protestant” like the Spanish website?
A. The answer has two sides: one is Historical. Spain had not protestant reformation in the sixteenth century, it was repressed, so the first protestant testimony is from the end nineteenth century, the protestant church in Spain is only 130 or 135 years old, that has made that most protestant church in Spain until now kept their evangelical flavor, what we call the “evangelical identity”.
What I mean by evangelical identity would be long to explain, but it could be summarized in the highest respect for the authority of the Scriptures. For us, one of the evangelical hallmarks is the authority of Scriptures; whereas is Europe, 4 or 5 centuries of Protestantism lead to progressive for this evangelical emphasis on the authority of the Scriptures and ended up closer to the Anthropology than to the a real Gospel.
This explains why we have chosen the word “evangelical”, because we want to go back to the emphasis on evangelical identity, and primarily to provide a biblical view to the contemporary issues.
Q. Protestante Digital (P+D) started eleven years ago in Spain, and it is right now a consolidated publication. What are some good contributions that it has made which Evangelical Focus might also be able to do?
A. I would like to focus on two of them: First, [P+D] is a place where people can interact , it is like a civic public square, people can give opinions, there are the blogs where people can participate, you can visit the page, interact with each other, make comments, take part of the social media networks, all this interaction is important in a time when we have a lot of people speaking, and not many listening. I think one of the needing our society is fruitful dialogue, that is the first step for an encounter.
The second area is witness, to be present in our society. Having this in mind, one initiative among many others was the creation of “Unamuno Prize”. This prize is awarded every year to someone who is well known and who supports and is a “friend of Protestants”, (evangelicals) in Spain. And this year it was awarded to the Spanish Minister of Justice, Ruiz Gallardón, and I think it was an extraordinary opportunity to be present in this public civic square.
If we want to be listened to, we need to be present, it is the first step and I think Protestante Digital has fulfilled an important role in this area, being in the right place, in the right moment.
Q. Is there anything else you want to add now that we are launching Evangelical Focus?
A. I would like to close with a plea for help: please, help us, join us, write, contribute, we will appreciate your help very much, we are just in the beginning, we are trying to be fruitful, to be a blessing for the church in Europe, so the contribution of those who are listening or reading will be most welcomed.