Tag Archives: pluralism

CHURCH NEXT! A church where you don’t have to believe in God – a marketing strategy for Sweden?

Imagine yourself a church building looking like a theater, without any sacred symbols, the community inside it embraces atheists and others who might want to maintain their religious orientation but do not necessarily believe there is a god.

There Sunday meetings (often held at “church hours”) are no “masses” but platforms where there are similarities to traditional religious services including music, community sharing and a sense of aesthetics. After a concert, conversations, songs and a discussion, a collection is taken up to support humanitarian causes…, this last week for victims of the earthquake in China!

No kidding! You have just entered the Society for Ethical Culture, in New York across Manhattan’s Central Park. Families bring their children to learn how to live in a world of diversity, respecting differences and finding common ground with others, being motivated to make a difference in the world.

This group whose motto is “Deed before Creed,” is, along with other US non-theist, atheist, agnostic and independent groups gaining ground in the United States. 16 % of the Americans see their spiritual dimension as “unaffiliated”, thus becoming the fastest-growing segment of the very complicated patchwork of American spiritual life!

Realizing this, it is not strange that books such as Christopher Hitchens’s “God is not Great,” Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith” and Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion” have all become US best sellers in the past three years.

Daniel Dennett, a philosopher who teaches at Tufts University says: “God is not exploding — which is what Nietzsche supposed — God is slowly evaporating before our eyes.”

Two observations…

1. This is the kind of church we are forming in Sweden when we take God and His absolute truth out of the picture. Take God away, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, His redeeming work on the cross and His purpose for our lives and the only thing left is an association. A group of well-willing individuals who take their life serious but are removed from their very roots. God is slowly evaporating before our eyes. I cannot refrain thinking about the Church in Sweden where tolerance, political correctness and Christendom have suffocated the life within it as it through a step by step approach has lost its lifeline and dependency on the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

2. Another “loud thought” I have relates to the tremendous commitment this group of people show as they consciously try to bridge the gaps between the many cultures, between the reality of life in New York and the rest of the (broken) world around them (all the way to China), raising their children as global, respectable citizens and trying to build a consciousness for their place in the world.

How many of us are doing that in our churches where so many of our so-called members have ample time to visit (! – I did not say minister) and hardly show any commitment to be part of the world changing overwhelming minority which was called out from the world and sent back into that world by Jesus Christ Himself?!

“Don’t ask me for the answers I’ve only got one; that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son!” (Larry Norman, “the great American novel” on “only visiting this planet”)

Let us in dependency upon Jesus Christ follow His example and His commands to be a blessing to all nations. People, that’s the way I see it at the moment…

John



Jesusmanifestationen in Stockholm…

I had the privilege to be part of the Jesusmanifestation… I was part of this day together with leaders and members from Korskyrkan, Vineyard, Tomaskyrkan and Petruskyrkan and our own church New Life as we met at Sergelstorg. See picture:

I had the privilege to lead the two-hour meeting on the infamous Sergelstorg where according to the Christian daily paper DAGEN 90% of Stockholm’s drugs exchange hands (pockets, mouths) or pass through. I told the audience (up to 2500 people) that the name “Jesusmanifestationen” was well-chosen because Jesus is able to manifest Himself and is still doing that as He is walking the streets of our beloved city Stockholm…

Musicians, gospel singers, a worship team, pastors and other people telling their stories of how Jesus had become real in their lives and the wonderful presence of Christians and non-Christians created a familiar atmosphere where many people stayed for long periods of time, sometimes maybe almost against their inclination… Yet they stayed… could it have been because the Holy Spirit was there and intercessors had prepared the ground?! (Thank you God!)

People were invited to receive prayer at the back of a truck which was dividing the stage from the people.. small trickles of people came for prayer… for different needs. At the end of the two hour meeting (divided in 3 sections of 40 minutes each) I felt the urge of the Holy Spirit to invite people forward to the stage as intercessors gathered… each of the 20 intercessors was busy praying for people who came forward to be prayed for (according to Dagen’s journalist).

What can one say about the manifestation… The press in the nation shows the importance of this event by its sheer absence (only Svenska Dagbladet wrote a small article about it).

I preached today in our church and said. “The only sin left in the Western world, and especially in Sweden is the sin of intolerance. “Diversity,” we are told, is the source of our strength”.

The absence of the press proofs another thing to me: In our pluralistic society we have to respect the “cultural diversity” of all peoples except those who keep Christ in the center of their lives!

Honestly, in the sermon (which you might be able to listen to via our homepage. I gave a warning in regards to pluralism and the temptation as a church to move the path of tolerance which our society offers us. (I even felt that the letter from the queen encouraged that pluralism which is endorsed by our society).

The church is following that same path and approach about which A.W. Tozer wrote,

“A new set of 10 commandments have been adopted by the neo Christians of our day, ‘Thou shall not disagree’ and a new set of Beatitudes too, “Blessed are they that tolerate everything, for they shall not be made accountable for anything.”

Now then we have the philosophers of our days who can give us tons of reasons not to join these kinds of events…

In an earlier blog about this event I said:

  • I rejoice, not because I find this the most effective and appropriate way to let the people in Sweden know that we as Christian Church exist. But because we are uniting around Jesus Christ and Who He is!
  • I rejoice because we are doing something! Many of those who are against this kind of manifestation have opinions on what to do, and how to do it. Let’s be honest; they are not particularly known of doing anything at all in regards of furthering the Gospel in our nation!

For now, that’s the Way I see it… and just that you know… I will join next time, and another, and another as long as I feel that God is in it!

Enjoy some of the pictures from Bas van den Eijkhof from this event!

John

For English news read the following