Tag Archives: tidningen dagen

Vårdnadsbidrag; conviction, trap or reaction?

The daily Christian paper Dagen and other media (here and here) write about how many parents use the special financial support of 3000 kronor which they can receive during a three year period if they take responsibility and care for their children instead of enrolling them in a pre-school.

There are big differences between the different districts in the greater Stockholm area. As my wife and I raised our children we wanted to remain at home as long as possible with them because of conviction; we wanted to give personal input and time for our children. This time we would never be able to give again in the same way in the latter stages of their lives. Svenska Dagbladet describes the Jenemark family which has a similar approach as ours. In the Stockholm area 7% of the parents have chosen for this opportunity.

vårdnadsbidrag

The findings also show that in the inner-city area of Stockholm many parents have decided to use this chance, I have to add though that for many people “living in the inner-city implies having a good income”. Many of the inner-city dwellers are high-educated, well paid professionals. They have the possibility and extra resources to make ends meet based on one (higher) salary and the 3000 kronor extra. Many others, middle class families, who might want to use this possibility, will not be able to make ends meet since they might have lower salaries.

The same research shows however that in the (poorer) suburbs many parents take the opportunity which is offered. As I spoke the other day with a person responsible in one of the mentioned suburbs this issue came up.

  • After out talk I considered this issue and realized that many especially Muslim families use this as an opportunity to maintain their traditional / cultural lifestyle where the mother remains home with the children. I find this also to be true among (conscious) Christian families who want to spend more time with their children. However, there is more to it than the eye can see… among the immigrant (Muslim) families it is not the traditional women-trap (as different political parties might call it), there is the segregation trap where women are kept away from society and thus from culture and language learning which enhances the element of isolation.
  • Another element that I consider is that of the strongly secularized (anti-belief) attitude which we find in our schooling system which is a threat to traditional values that many of our immigrants carry with them out of conviction or cultural background. Thus leading them to react against “the way of doing things in Sweden”, pushing them in a fundamental role and position.
  • This is one of the elements that influence the growth of- and return to fundamentalism; the threat of secularism pushes them into the opposite direction further than they have ever experienced before!

That’s the Way I see it!

John van Dinther

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Svenska Kyrkan – The Swedish Church – Politics as usual! Please: R.I.P

Svenska Kyrkan is top news again (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). In the “dry-spell of news” during the summer a discussion has blown up again about the acknowledgement and praxis of having same-sex-marriages performed with the Church context. It was ignited because of reaction from representatives of the Anglican Church in England who warn against a potential isolation because of this issue.

The large majority of the Swedish church, with the exception of a minority of local congregations, has lost its spiritual identity since many years ago. I remember discussing the process of the separation of Church and State with students from RMI Bergs the renowned commercial communication school enhancing different disciplines. Students of that school were to develop a marketing plan for the separation of Church and State (at that moment in time until the 1990ties, The Lutheran Church was the State Church).

As a number of their students and I were meeting, I suggested that a big advertisement campaign would be launched with photos and text displaying the funeral of the former State Church with the clear message R.I.P. (Rest In Peace). The students of Bergs were quite excited about that idea, but, as they later met with representatives of the Church, the idea was discarded. It was too radical, and it was probably too painful to admit that the Church needed a death to be able to resurrect.

RIP

The problem with the Swedish Church is that it never was separated from the State… It was done in name only and it is therefore that political powers and lobbying organizations like the RFSL do everything within their might to push their political and social agendas. (RFSL—The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights).

I personally look forward to an isolation of the Swedish Church! The Church with an agenda run by politicians and lobbying organizations needs to be isolated from the rest of the “Body of believers” to not spread its unhealthy unbiblical message poisoning the rest of Christianity. You don’t need to be a prophet to be able to “predict” where the Swedish Church is heading… and although there will remain a remnant of faithful and Biblically sound pockets of believers in the different congregations and fellowships, the Church as movement needs to undergo the long awaited and necessary funeral to be able finish the grieving process so that the ones who are still alive will be able to move on.

Without a death and funeral there will be no resurrection and new life! We will continue to see the rise of discussions, dissensions and frustrations as long as we don’t acknowledge the true state of the Swedish Church (and, let me add the spiritual state of many of our other churches as well!) Without that recognition we will continue to use the spiritual arena to fight our political and social battles. Jesus once said to people who were wondering about paying taxes (and fulfilling the obligation as a citizen): (Mark 12: 17) “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

For me, the idea of being an errand-boy of the State is far removed from my call to be faithful to God as His child, His son and His servant. I am for the implementation of keeping marriage sacred between one man and one woman… and to keep it as sacrament within the church where it belongs. Other, legal and juridical matters should be where they belong; in the hands of our government.

That’s the Way I see it!

John


Dagens Nyheter puts Li Changqing the 2008 Golden Pen of Freedom price winner behind bars…

Dagens Nyheter puts Li Changqing, a Chinese journalist, who went to prison for reporting on a health threat before Chinese authorities announced it, who had been awarded the 2008 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers behind bars. Papers from all over the world as well as in Sweden (here, here, here, here and here) took the opportunity to high-light this occasion and to use it to expose the censorship and suffering that many undergo in China because of their opinions and writings.

Ironically the same accusations against freedom of press which are made against the Chinese regime are practiced by so-called ambassadors of freedom, namely Dagens Nyheter. (The largest daily paper in Sweden which prouds itself to be one of the forerunners of freedom of Press!) DN puts Li Changqing behind invisible bars as they silence him and remove from his statement that which doesn’t fit them.

This is typically an occasion of so called freedom of speech and writing which I addressed the other day in a blog called “Is freedom of speech in Sweden a farce?”

In the blog I wrote: “The rights of freedom of speech and press are practiced as long as we conform to that which is the norm, as long as we are politically correct, our voices will be heard through the spoken and written word. If we don’t conform we are silenced, ignored or attacked.”

In the case of Li Changqing DN says that they published the whole text of his address. THIS IS NOT TRUE, The Christian Daily Dagen identified this as a problem! DN removed the text where Li Changqing shares about his dark hours and how Jesus Christ turned his life around.

He said: “In 1992, my life had also welcomed a great event when I, extremely weak and dark in my spiritual world, became a Christian due to the compassion of Jesus Christ. He restored my conscience, allowing me to walk in the light. He rectified the relationship between my world and my spirit and with an insight coming from above helped me traverse obstacle after bewildering obstacle for a more penetrating view of the world. Hence, I am convinced that only the truth can save us! Only with the truth can we surpass narrow partisan doctrines and break through ideological barriers”.

It is obvious that DN thinks this is not politically correct or not within their perception of what they want to endorse or allow their readers to read! Wow! That’s called outright censorship!

For the whole text in English of Li Changqing’s address click here.

Unfortunately I get only confirmed in my views on press and media in our nation. This shows again how we in a small country can be really small in mind! Let the Truth be heard on the streets!

That’s the Way I see it!

John






I am ecumenical in spirit, not in structure!


The latest article in the Christian Daily on Livets Ord addresses the ecumenical endeavors of the movement, in the same newspaper we read “How three can become one”… (this sounds very Biblical: Three in One!”) where a process is started to unite the Mission-, the Baptist and Methodist churches into one denomination.

There is so much to say about being ecumenical, about Christian unity and about the importance to recognize and respect one another. I come from a non-Bible-believing Catholic background where “Church” was part of the cultural life of people living in the Southern part of Holland. In our village and in most of the Southern part of Holland in those days (the 70ties) Catholicism had a cultural rather then a spiritual impact on the society and the people. Under my upbringing I did not know even ONE true believer among the thousands of people I knew. Later on as I had become a Christian through the Jesus People Movement I met a few true believers; they believed in Christ as their Savior and Lord and in the Bible as their authority. Actually some of them were nuns who would come by taxi to a bible study which I held shortly after my conversion, another believer was the responsible priest in the St. Jan cathedral in ‘s-Hertogenbosch who became a close friend to my wife and me. (He, together with an older evangelist performed our wedding ceremony in the chapel of the hospital where I was working as a nurse at the time).

As the articles show and as we all know there is a movement towards ecumenism in our nation, the Jesusmanifestation was a fruit of that.

Ecumenical, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary means: representing the whole of a body of churches b: promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation.

However, I need to say that I am not only undivided positive towards this. I identify myself as: “ecumenical in spirit, but not in structure”. With structure I mean the banding of different faiths with different doctrinal statements of truth in form of an organization. I do not believe in that at all, there is a valid reason for organizational separation. I see also an endangering of the absolutes of Scripture. We cannot accommodate everyone and everything. I am totally convinced that Christians who want to accommodate in such ways will soon abandon their beliefs for the sake of unity. Unity is never worth the sacrifice of the authenticity of Scripture! That, in short is my view about structural ecumenism.

In regards to being ecumenical in spirit, I believe that although we are separated denominationally, that there is in fact a “true church” which unites all true believers: Those who have been justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of denominational belonging are already one in Christ and are part of the true Church which is hidden to the human eye.

True Christian believers are always united spiritually as brothers and sisters in Christ despite their denominational belonging or identity. But I do not believe that this will ever express itself in structure here on earth. Because of humankind’s falleness I believe that the true kind of unification will take place as Christ will return to meet His bride (the Church).

I believe strongly in the slogan of the Moravian movement which says:”In essential beliefs we have unity. In non-essential beliefs we have diversity. In all our beliefs we show charity.” This slogan has been my motto since I read about this grant movement, it has permeated the way I think and live and has found its place even in the church where I am pastor. I believe we should work together when possible, but there will continue to be a structural separation because we cannot compromise Truth and accept different doctrines simply in order to have some kind of organizational sameness.

So, I will remain “ecumenical in spirit, but not in structure”.

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Christians – in name only! A call to radical Christ following – death to Christendom!

Christians – in name only! A call to radical Christ following Christendom!

Jeremiah 23: 1-4 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.”

We have heard alarming reports about the continued decline of the numbers of Christians in our churches in Sweden through tidningen Dagen. As I indicated before as passed on the statistics during the Pionjär 2008 conference which we hosted in our church on behalf of a number of different denominations, I am not overcome by these statistics.

I consider this process where (finally) the official figures start to portray a more realistic picture of reality as a blessing! Dead wood is removed from the forest.

I cannot refrain from thinking of the scripture in Jeremiah 23 where the word of the Lord speaks against the shepherds of Israel who have been destroying and scattering the sheep. The shepherds were accused of not caring for the sheep; thus the scattering and alienation of them. It reminds me of our present state of Christianity in Sweden; more and more leaders have opened “their” churches (as if they belonging to them and not Christ!) to anyone. It is important we hear that the church is to be accessible for all those who want to get in. It is important to be seeker-friendly. It is important to be having low thresholds. It is important there is room for everybody! This is like trying to go back to the idea of the “Folkskyrkan” – or Christendom!

Those of you who know me and know of New Life Church in Stockholm where I a one of the pastors can confirm how we from the very start of this church in 1993 have tried to be a low-threshold church. As our short history shows; we have truly become a place of refuge and a haven for many whom in many cases would not put their foot in a church. They feel accepted, they feel they can belong, they can be themselves and time is given for them to grow into a conscious Christian faith.

While having low thresholds for visitors and those curious enough to give us “a chance”, we have maintained a rather high threshold for membership. If our responsibility is to care for the sheep as is mentioned in Jeremiah 23, we need to apply a different kind of leadership and example then mentioned in that chapter. We have to care for the sheep. We have to create a save, secure and yet challenging environment where individuals and the church as a whole can grow into the purposes which God has for His Church, which is to be a light to the world! This implies clarity about what it means to belong to this body of believers which is called “Church”. It must mean that we are clear what people can expect within that Body and what the foundational values are. A friend of mine passed on the following quote which since then I have used many times in regards to the kind of “Body Life” in the local church that we endorse:

Stanley Hauwerwas says: “Christians, to be more specific, do not believe that we have a right to do with our bodies whatever we want. We do not believe that we have a right to our bodies because when we are baptized we become members of one another; then we can tell one another what it is that we should, and should not, do with our bodies.

I had a colleague at the University of Notre Dame. He was Jewish and always said that any religion that does not tell you what to do with your genitals and pots and pans cannot be interesting.

That is exactly true. In the Church we tell you what you can and cannot do with your genitals. They are not your own. They are not private. That means that you cannot commit adultery. If you do, you are no longer a member of”us”. Of course pots and pans are equally important.”

I realize that the kind of Christianity which results from a praxis of the above demands Christ-followership rather than Christendom! Therefore, for now I say death to Christendom, life again to the remnant of the people who have not yet been overcome by the agenda of our world! (Romans 12: 1-3)

That’s the Way I see it!

John