State church says not to evangelize Muslims

The Protestant state church in the Rhineland has issued a statement saying that Christians should not try to evangelize Muslim immigrants.  It maintains that the Great Commission does not mean Christians should try to convert others to their faith.  This, despite the phenomenon of more and more Muslim immigrants becoming Christians, thanks in part to the efforts of the independent Lutheran church (SELK). [Read more...]

Muslim refugees converting to Christianity

Thousands of refugees from Syria–as well as Iran, Afghanistan, and other Islamic countries–have been pouring into Europe, creating big problems and provoking all kinds of controversy.  But many of these Islamic refugees have been converting to Christianity.

Some Europeans are skeptical, thinking the conversions are simply a facade to get asylum.  Religious beliefs aren’t supposed to be factors in immigration decisions, but a Muslim who converts to Christianity can make a good claim that deportation would mean a death sentence.  But taking that step, for a Muslim–publicly renouncing Islam and becoming Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–would surely be existentially difficult unless it is sincere.

And 90% of the newly baptized keep coming to church, unlike much of the nominally Christian populations.  Perhaps this will be a way of revitalizing European Christianity!  After the jump, an Associated Press story on the subject.

UPDATE:  The “priest” Gottfried Martens referred to in the article is actually a pastor in the SELK church, a confessional denomination unaffiliated with the state church that is in fellowship with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  Thanks to commenter Bror Erickson for that information.  And to sapling_Alex for pointing out that these Lutherans are taking the lead in refugee evangelism.  I would also add a reminder to the discussion about immigration that “Islam” is not a race but a religion, so that when Muslims convert to Christianity they are no longer Muslims.

[Read more...]

Who the unchurched really are

Most evangelism programs, church growth tactics, and other attempts to reach the “unchurched” concentrate on Millennials, young urbanites, college types, and the suburban middle class.  But, as Robert Putnam reminds us, the demographic that is the most unchurched is the working class, the lower income non-college-educated folks.  A big segment of these blue-collar workers has just stopped going to church.  They are also, with the personal and family problems that Putnam documents, arguably, most in need of ministry.  This is ironic, since the working class used to be the biggest supporters of conservative Christianity.  And yet, I’m unaware of any concerted effort to reach them, other than individual pastors in these communities doing what they can. [Read more...]

Evangelizing the condemned Nazis

Last year almost to the day we blogged about  Rev. Henry Gerecke, the LCMS military chaplain who was pressed into service as the Protestant chaplain at Nuremberg, charged with ministering to the Nazi war criminals who were on trial there, many of whom were executed.  There is now  book out about Chaplain Gerecke:  Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend.

It tells how he used both firmness and compassion, applying both the Law and the Gospel, in an effort to bring these moral monsters to repentance and to Christ.  Which he apparently did with at least 4 of the 11 who were hanged.  Then again, Hermann Goering repudiated Christianity just hours before he committed suicide by biting a  smuggled cyanide tablet, calling Jesus “just another smart Jew.”  After the jump, an excerpt from a review of the book.
[Read more...]

Igniting a second Reformation

Check out this new website, which, in turn is a forum for a new ministry and resource group whose goal is nothing less than “igniting a second Reformation.”  It’s all about Lutheran apologetics–defending Christianity and specifically defending the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions.  Not just defending, but promoting and evangelizing.  Lutherans often just talk with each other, but the idea here is getting the Word out into the world.

The initiative is called 1517 The Legacy Project.  After the jump, Dr. Rod Rosenbladt tells all about it. [Read more...]

How George Herbert’s poetry converted an atheist

I throw out opinions on all kinds of topics, but my real area of expertise is 17th Century English literature.  To drill down to an even more specific field, as we English professors have to do, I have a specialty in George Herbert, the great Christian poet.  He was the subject of my dissertation and my first book, which has recently come back into print: Reformation Spirituality: The Religion of George Herbert

Now British journalist Miranda Threlfall-Holmes tells how the poetry of George Herbert played a factor in her conversion to Christianity from atheism.  (He had a similar impact on the French philosopher Simone Weil.)

What does this tell us about apologetics and evangelism? [Read more...]