Is there still hope for Europe?
ECM Australia Director Matt George talks about some of the barriers to the Gospel going out across Europe.
Recently I have heard some “prophets of doom” who predict that Christianity will disappear from Europe, the continent which was once the epicentre of world Christendom and theology. “It will suffer the fate as Northern Africa in Islam’s early days”, Lutheran bishop Jobst Schoene, warned a few years ago.
Certainly places like Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia were almost entirely Christian around the fourth and fifth centuries. Northern Africa produced some of great early Christian thinkers such as Tertullian and Augustine. Yet just two centuries later, Christianity in this part of the world had all but vanished, overrun by a mighty Arab-Islamic civilization.
Is Europe now meeting the same fate? Statistics bear out some of this story. According to the Pew Research Centre, between 2010–15 Europe lost six million people professing to be Christians. Just as dire is the evidence that there is an escalating number of regions across Europe that have no Bible-believing witness.
Certainly, I would contend that the Christian faith is under enormous attack in Europe. Secularisation – the transformation of a culture based on religious foundations to humanistic ones – is continuing its centuries-old march through Europe’s education and legal systems, institutions and popular thinking. By and large, even the Institutional Church in Europe (whether Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox) has fallen victim to secularisation.
On the surface it looks like there is little hope for Europe. But when we are tempted to despair, we need to remind ourselves that gospel work is his work, not ours. In Romans 5:6, it says that “while we were still weak” and without hope, God came to us in kindness and met our greatest needs. The good news of the gospel is that in God’s mercy He adopts those who have “no hope” and are “without God in the world” (Eph 2:2).
God’s grace and mercy have been brought home to us in a personal way through our experience with the adoption of our son, Calvin, from Bulgaria. Similarly I believe out of the seemingly dire situation in Europe, God’s light will continue to shine through in Europe.
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