I just got back from North Carolina, where I gave one of the annual Luther Lectures that several churches there organize. The topic was Vocation, and John Pless, David Adams, and Detlev Schultz were also on the docket. The latter is a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne who is from Germany. Also coming down for the event were some seminary students from Finland, one a pastor working on his S.T.M. and another a soon-to-be pastor who will be ordained in Kenya.
Both are part of the mission initiated by Bishop Obare of Kenya designed to bring confessional Lutheranism back to Scandinavian nations plagued by an ultra-liberal state church. Dr. Schultz also said that Christianity is alive and well in Germany. (In a Bible class on Sunday, he told about some remarkable things the Ft. Wayne seminary is doing for missions, both in educating foreign students and in sending seminary professors to teach overseas to teach native pastors–work involving Latvia, Russia, Finland, Kenya, Madagascar, India, Indonesia, and Brazil.) Anyway, I came away from all of these conversations convinced that God is NOT finished with Europe.
This accords with this article that I came across, which also suggests some of the problems that evangelists must deal with. From Europeans More Religious than Assumed, Survey Suggests| Christianpost.com:
Three-fourths of all Europeans (74 percent) in the countries surveyed are religious, with one-fourth (25 percent) considered highly religious, according to German think tank Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Religion Monitor study.
Only 23 percent of Europeans are non-religious. . . .
Based on comparable data from seven European countries – Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Poland and Switzerland – religion is strongest in Italy (89 percent) and Poland (87 percent) – both heavily Roman Catholic countries – and weakest in secular France (54 percent).
The problem is, they don’t go to church much–especially Protestants–and they are highly compartmentalized:
In Europe, Roman Catholics are more likely to be devout than Protestants, with 42 percent of Catholics saying they attend church compared to only 15 percent of Protestants.
And unlike in America, Europeans say that religion has little influence over their political views and sexuality. Many Europeans expressed that they separate their conduct and attitudes in these two areas from their religious beliefs.
More than half (58 percent) of Europeans say that their religious convictions have no influence or little influence on their political views, while nearly half (48 percent) say religion does not much affect their sexuality.