Tag Archives: kyrkan

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is doing it again! And Richard Dawkins is on her side! – Battling fundamentalistic Islam

A friend of mine sent me his weekly letter where he addressed “the remarkable twist of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, darling of the liberal crowd, a modern day hero in Richard Dawkins’ book, is now appealing to Christian churches to wage a propaganda battle against Islam by starting new Christian schools, sending Christian volunteers into city neighborhoods and spreading the Christian message!”

Today we have again an article in SVD on the Muslim extremists, we speak about the need of dialogue and understanding each other.  Some years ago, our own Dick Erixon wrote in “Nyliberalen” that he considered Ayaan Ayaan Hirsi Ali as the worldest foremost debater especially in regards to the question of the survival of Western “Civilization” (notice the quotation marks!) – and how to deal with fundamentalist Islam in a free society. In August 29, 2005 Ayaan Hirsi Ali was awarded the annual Democracy Prize of the Swedish Liberal People’s Party “for her courageous work for democracy, human rights and women’s rights.” She received the prize at a ceremony at the Swedish Riksdag from the party leader Lars Leijonborg.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born Ayaan Hirsi Magan 13 November 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia is a Dutch intellectual, feminist activist, writer, and politician. She is the estranged daughter of the late Somali scholar, politician, and revolutionary opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse. She is a prominent critic of Islam, and her screenplay for Theo Van Gogh’s movie “Submission” led to death threats. Through the worldwide spread of this instance she became know to a wide international audience. Since van Gogh’s assassination by a Muslim extremist in 2004, she has lived in seclusion under the protection of Dutch authorities.

When she was eight, her family left Somalia for Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and eventually settled in Kenya. She sought and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, under circumstances that later became the center of a political controversy. In 2003 she was elected a member of the House of Representatives (the lower house of the Dutch parliament), representing the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

In 2005, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Now she is doing it again!

Let me quote from my friend’s letter: In her new book, Nomad, she continues her campaign against radical Islam. She is presently in Holland promoting her book, which quotes arch-atheist Dawkins on the cover saying: ‘This woman is a major hero of our times.’

Solution

Europe is sleepwalking towards its downfall, she warns, a cultural, ideological and political downfall; because churches neglected the immigrant ghettos. But there is a solution, she suggests. Mobilize the churches again! If Saudi-Arabia can invest millions in Koran schools and religious propaganda, why not the Catholic Church, with all its wealth and millions of faithful followers? She says that churches could be active in Muslim communities and offer there the same services that radical Muslims now do, by building schools, hospitals and civic centers, and doing the same civilizing work they did in Africa during the colonization period. 

Now, is there any white person who could get away with saying that?! Westerners have looked on for too long while Muslim scholars won souls, she continues. Churches of all persuasions must enter the competition of systematic religious propaganda with Islam, to curb its growth. Churches should revive such Christian institutions as schools, Christian volunteers in urban neighborhoods, and the spreading of the Christian message!

The West is losing the propaganda war, she says, and the Church can help Muslims assimilate. Motivating immigrants to adopt Western values has been neglected for too long. European leaders–including church leaders–have for decades neglected to take the newcomers into their flock.

“It’s maybe paradoxical to call in the church, while advocates of the enlightenment always fought the Vatican,” writes Hirsi Ali, “but Christianity has changed and the Church has become a much more tolerant institution.” (Dawkins may be reading her books, but she doesn’t seem to be reading his!)

Choice Muslims don’t need to give up their faith to assimilate, she allows. They can pray, keep Ramadan and other Islamic practices.  But they need to give up the social-political side like Jihad, Sharia, the oppression of women, intolerance against homosexuality or those born Muslims but who want something else. “That is a choice. Immigration is a choice. Nobody forced them to come here. Everybody came here willingly.” “In my opinion,” she was reported as saying, “many Muslims are searching for a God that answers to the description of the Christian God. Instead they are being given Allah.” Those Muslims who want to believe in a Creator and eternal life should choose for Jesus as their spiritual leader, she suggests.

The new approach of Ayaan Hirsi Ali to stop the “Radical Muslimization process” will without a doubt call forth many responses and reactions from both Muslims and secular people. She offers an alternative, the only alternative, to a challenge that has been left unchallenged for years because of its political un-correctness. The fact that Ayaan Hirsi Ali sees no other way out in spite of her anti-religious foundational stand makes one wonder whether she is starting to see light in the tunnel. (Of course could one wonder about her discernment in regards to earlier Christian missions and the present liberal stand of many churches, but what the heck, she is at least daring to speak out as usual!) She does need protection, so pray for her because many snakes will be rattled out from the fundamentalistic nest trying to bite her!

John

Positive trend of EFK and New Life Stockholm…but

According to the Christian Daily Dagen and my friend Stefan there has been a positive trend in the development of the EFK denomination. There has been some numeral growth from 31 283 membes to 31 616 and baptisms from 514 to 586 in comparison to the previous year. New Life Stockholm, the church where I am one of the pastors was mentioned too; 800 visitors during our worship services on Sundays…

Here I need to give a rectification: we do have approx. 800 visitors to our worship services but these are held at different times and days; our Ethiopian service is held on Saturdays at 16.00, our main Swe/Eng worship meetings Sundays at 10 & 12.30, the Mongolian meeting at 12.15, the Russian meeting at 15.30 and the French/Swe meeting at 15.30. Just to avoid any misunderstandings if people wonder; I was there, but where were the other 799?

Welcome anyway!

John

Jesusmanifestation: Announce May 2nd as Sweden’s national day of Christian celebration!

The 2009 Jesusmanifestation (here, here, here, here and here) is now bigger than the 1maj demonstration of the Socialistic Party! “Jesus is alive in the media again!” exclaimed Göran Skytte the former atheistic and communistic journalist who has come to a living faith in Jesus Christ. It’s true, but as Skytte emphasized its not necessarily positive coverage about Jesus.

As has been shown throughout history; you can’t keep a good man down! They couldn’t keep Him in the grave and they can’t silence Him even 2000 years after his death!

Personally I am inclined to start talking about a new national holiday of Christian celebration on May 2nd. Why? Because we need at least one day a year where we, free from the normal “religious” traditions, can focus, unite and celebrate the fact that Jesus still cares for our nation and our people.

I am already dreaming about what might take place next year! Jesus was walking the streets of Stockholm and it was a joy to just watch people’s faces as young and old walked through the streets towards Kungsträdgården… – The Garden of the King (of kings).

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Sergels Torg filled with Son Worshippers!

I enjoyed just walking there being part of the crowd… just a few minutes earlier we had finished off a three hour intensive meeting at Sergels Torg where Vineyard, Petruskyrkan, Korskyrkan, Tomaskyrkan, V.E.M. and New Life Church united in presenting Jesus Christ to everyone who was wiling to listen. Personally I have been the MC of the meeting, trying to keep a red thread in this three hour time of worship, testimonies, music, preaching and prayer. It was a joy to be on Plattan… the very place where our church was born years ago.

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Sergels Torg praying together for peope in our nation

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On our way to Kungsträdgården

I just want to wish you God’s blessings… and hope you will join us next year! See you then!

John van Dinther

By the way: Saturday’s congress of the Sverige Demokraterna with 150 participants in Frösundavik outside of Stockholm was in depth evaluated in the national news today while the Jesusmanifestation had it’s 8 seconds of national coverage… quite a development of attention in comparison to none coverage in last year’s reporting by national media!

The Swedish attitude towards the “entrepreneurial spirit” hinders us from the planting of new churches!

I read an article in last Sunday’s SVD under the business and economy section, Linda Skugge quoted Signhild Arnegård Hansen who stated that the attitude of Swedes hinders many from becoming entrepreneurs.

I will not confuse the planting of new churches with business endeavors, but this article confirmed something that I have been fighting against for many years; the fear many Swedes have, both Christian and non-Christian alike for insecurity and instability especially in the financial area of their lives.

I have literally met hundreds of people throughout my years in Sweden who expressed to me the calling and desire to be pioneers and church planters. However, few of them have actually become involved in ministry in these areas.

There are a number of reasons for that… one of the main reasons that I see after having talked with many of them is the unwillingness to make sacrifices. Many of them would be interested to be involved in a church plant or pioneering ministry IF THEY WERE EMPLOYED!

I suspect that the overwhelming majority of our potential pioneers and entrepreneurs are brought to slumber and cuddled to death within our anti-entrepreneurial church environment and society.

Another reason for the quenching of the entrepreneurial spirit is found in the educational modes within our Bible schools and theological institutions which prepare and equip teachers and (maybe) hopefully pastors, but surely not prophets, evangelists and apostles. In these organizations and institutions little attention is given to the development of leadership and the release of entrepreneurs… If you ask me (who is?) we have a whole lot of equipping and releasing to do in the Church to catch up to the challenges of the 21st century. We have a whole lot to learn and to sacrifice if we ever want to regain the kind of pioneering spirit which exploded in tremendous missionary and church planting endeavors within our nation and beyond as found in our rich and courageous history within the Swedish churches!

That’s the Way I see it!

John van Dinther

World Values Survey – Download 24 nations “happiness document”

Hundreds of people have entered this blog the last couple of days trying to find more information about the “happiness document” (I realize so may of us are in search of happiness). I have written in my earlier blogs here and here about these issues and the general approach of the World Values Survey, which is interesting dealing with many different issues.

The fact that so many of us are curious about the latest trends in this regard shows the importance of happiness in our time and age. However, let us not be impressed by these stats too quickly, as I meet hundreds of Western young people every year I have observed their deep sense of alienation in life. One of the reasons I write this blog is to continue address some of the issues that we are facing in Sweden (and the West). For me and hundreds of these younger people whom I mentioned earlier, the encounter with Jesus Christ has brought the kind of happiness that cannot be obtained by outward things; an inward change brought that deep sense of happiness and belonging.

Back to the document which you can find here, it states: “Indeed, among the countries for which we have long-term data, 19 of the 26 countries show rising happiness levels. In several of these countries— India, Ireland, Mexico, Puerto Rico and South Korea—there are steeply rising trends. The other countries with rising trends are Argentina, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Three countries (the U.S., Switzerland and Norway) show flat trends from the earliest to latest available survey. Only four countries (Austria, Belgium, the U.K. and West Germany) show downward trends. Almost five times as many countries show rising trends as downward trends.”

For more specific information about Sweden’s state of mind in regards to happiness read this.

I hope that this information will help you on your way to pursue happiness…

God bless you,

John


An invitation to Sven-Gunnar Hultman and Erik Bryskhe

Sven-Gunnar Hultman and Erik Bryskhe tell us in Dagen about their continued efforts to get as many as possible pastors in the Union. What puzzles me about their article is the constant affiliation to having “rights”. I have tried to address the issues involved in two earlier blogs here and here. I want to encourage either one of them to write some responses to my blogs (feel free to write them in Swedish). I am looking forward to hearing from you and until then I remain of the opinion that being a Christian is to learn to lay down ones rights, while at the same time not being used as a doormat.

Until soon, the discussion continues!

John van Dinther

Leadership in the church: dealing with the “hireling” mentality!

Two months ago I wrote a blog as a reaction on the article in Dagen about the fact that pastors were encouraged to become part of a union to secure their rights and jobs. My first blog was semi-seriously written (check it out here). However after today’s articles in Dagen (here and here) I want to add my side of the story.

The problem I see is that most pastors are regarded as employees of the church that they serve. The reason for that is because most pastors are hired by churches in order to fulfill a particular job description, much as is done in the business world. The way we look at this “job” might or might not be in line with the Biblical perspective on what a pastor is meant to be / do. In such situations a pastor is more inclined to compromise with any unbiblical expectations of his employer otherwise he/she might loose their job.

I know of numerous pastors in both small and larger churches where there are issues in regards to the application of Biblical standards within the congregation. The churches in Sweden acknowledge the pastor mainly as a “hireling” who is supposed to yield to the decisions being made by the eldership and/or board.

It is not uncommon that the established laymen leadership (elders and board) has allowed certain unbiblical practices in the church among lay leaders, themselves and its members, thus setting up a potential division between the new appointed (hired) pastor(s) and the congregation. It is not unusual that congregations seek to recruit for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Tim.4:3). The fact is that most established churches don’t want any new pastor to rock the boat; they want peace and rest, maintaining what is going on in the church by strengthening the present and maybe making manageable changes to embrace the future!

“The hireling mentality” as I described above however, also exists among pastors.

This becomes clear to me when pastors look for promotion opportunities rather than to grow and develop on a long term basis with the church they are called to serve. Some actually are self-interested, showing greater concern for their compensation package and the earthly security it supposedly brings than ministering to the body of believers they are called to serve (Jn.10:12,13).

The practice of regarding pastors as employees has not been the norm through the church’s history. Historically, pastors have not been considered to be employees, but bond-servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, they are slaves of Christ, not slaves to an employer.

My family and I have during 15 years lived and ministered without a regular salary. A couple of years after we started New Life Church (where I presently still am serving as a pastor), we received for the first time a part-time salary which as time passed has been raised and is a full-time salary today. Our church has well taken care of us although I for one, have been opposed to raising my salary at times because I preferred to use the money to provide support for other workers so that we could form a team. I consider myself a bond-servant to Christ and not an employee first of all (although legally I am in that position within the context of the Swedish society). So, in essence I am saying that you as pastor have to make a decision whether you are a “hireling” or have been “called” as a pastor! If you cannot exercise the gifts God has given you, or cannot minister as a pastor you might have chosen the wrong place to minister. (By the way; did you take the employment because a job was offered when you needed it, or was it a CALL from God?!)

Let’s face it; some pastors need to get rid of their hireling mentality, but so do some churches!

I have friends in churches where they receive very little support and encouragement from the congregations they serve. They experience that they have minimal impact in the direction of the church’s ministry and often find themselves on the receiving end of hurtful criticisms. Others are inadequately compensated and feel little appreciation for the important work that they do on behalf of the church. Expressions of discouragement and unhappiness are not uncommon, and for some, ministry is no longer a sense of calling from God nor a source of joy and satisfaction in their life!

Do members understand the concept of being a people of God?

Much of how we relate to our pastors depends on how we as individual members understand our relationship to the life of the church and its ministries. Are we essentially religious consumers who see ourselves as being receivers of ministry, or do we understand ourselves to be part of the people of God who partner and who have a vital role in helping to fulfill the church’s collective ministry? Do we see our pastors as employees who are paid to serve to congregational customers or as spiritual leaders whose ministries of the Word of God and their leadership enables us to better fulfill our ministries of service and proclamation in the world?

Our answer to those questions makes all the difference in the world when it comes to determining our expectations of the pastoral ministry and those who are called to serve within it. Our pastors are neither self-made nor self-maintained.

They need to be supported, encouraged and affirmed. And when we neglect that important work, we pay a very heavy collective price. I’ve never known a church whose spirit, enthusiasm and commitment to ministry exceeded that of its leadership. I’ve never experienced a vibrant, flourishing congregation whose pastor wasn’t also receiving generous amounts of prayerful support and encouragement from its members!

Remember, it’s not simply a matter of getting the kind of leadership we deserve. It’s more a matter of receiving precisely the kind of leadership we choose to call forth and then support.

That’s the Way I see it,

John