Anglocentric or Eurocentric Christianity?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Matt Black, Nov 28, 2003.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    This has been prompted by my musing on the following: there is a prevailing belief amongst English-speaking evangelicals that Bible-based Christianity originated with and is best exemplified by and through England and, later, America ie: that England and the USA are privileged bastions of evangelicalism and 'more Christian' than other nations. Well, aside from the flourishing evangelical Christianity in the Third World, my business partner, who is an evangelical Christian, made an idle remark the other day which got me thinking about all this. He had just returned from a trip to Germany and had noted in particular the lack of any advertising, decorations etc about Christmas; apparently the Germans only start to get excited about Christmas in the three weeks or so prior to the holiday; this is in contrast to the UK where all the Christmas paraphernalia has been up-and-running for quite a few weeks now. He then went on to say "Well, Germany is a much more Christian country anyway - you can almost feel it in the air - it's everywhere".

    That got me a-thinkin' and a-researchin'. My preliminary conclusions are that as Baptists we owe a lot more than we think to the Europeans and in particular the Germans. We like to think we started with John Smyth, an Englishman, in c1612, but the question is "where did Smyth get his ideas from?" The answer would appear to lie in Europe...

    Now, in principle, I am in favour of the EU. OTOH, I don't like the way it is evolving at the moment - there is a lack of democracy and a secularism there which disturbs me. BUT...Germany is the largest EU state, in terms of population and economic clout, and as such will almost certainly end up as the 'leading state' in the EU and I take on board what my partner says about them. There is of course the problem of their recent past, but I am inclined to view the Nazi period as more of a tragic aberration - an horrendous aberration mind you - than as indicative of the people, particularly in view of their leading role in both Reformations and their current spiritual staus today. They certainly seem to be more Christian than us Brits...

    Thoughts?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt

    Matt
     
  2. Archippus

    Archippus
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    You mention the secularisation of the EU. However, I think that the Christianity of true belivers has been much more secularised in the UK/US than in other countries. There may be fewer "real" Christians, but thei christinaity seems less secular to me and more genuine.

    I am a strong EU proponent. I think it is Europe's only hope to compete against the American hegemony. Her secular constitution does not distrub me. God is not in the US constitution either. Perhaps true Christianity thrives best in a secular society for it forces them to stand.
     
  3. Karen

    Karen
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2000
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, since you ask.... ;) , you ask interesting questions. But it is hard to answer them based on anecdotes. My husband does a lot of work in Germany and has been there many times for extended periods. He simply has not come home with the same impression as your business partner. On the other hand, we have a large number of friends who are British Christians.
    And they have been wonderful, powerful examples to us.

    In an ultimate sense, God is at work everywhere, and He is calling out a people for Himself from every tribe and language and people.

    I confess frankly to being one of those evangelicals who thinks that God has particularly chosen to use Britain in the past. The great modern missionary movement began in England and Scotland.
    God is at work now doing incredible things in "Third World" countries.
    When ANY of us is looking at whether another group is Christian or not, it is very hard to separate "true" Christianity from our own cultural baggage.

    Karen
     
  4. Karen

    Karen
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2000
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey Matt,
    Something else you said just now registered with me. Are you and your business partner saying that one of the reasons that Germany is more spiritual is that its citizens wait till after Dec. 10 to decorate for Christmas, vs. Americans often beginning earlier?
    This seems to me merely cultural. (Or perhaps a traditional difference, either taught or ingrained, between men and women? Left to himself, I daresay my husband would dimly start to think about decorations Dec. 23-24. And that doesn't mean he would get anything done about it.) Besides that, Germany has some GREAT Christmas markets starting the last of November.
    Many people in the UK head there as soon as the markets open.

    Karen
     
  5. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    29,402
    Likes Received:
    12
    Think EVERY culture thinks that THEY are the best or the greatest. This is inherent in our humanity.

    The way WE speak, WE think, OUR history, OUR culture is the norm (we feel). We measure all others by OUR standards, or at least how we envision ourselves.

    Tell me Americans don't feel better about their history of the past 100 years compared to the waning influence of Britain or the horrors of WWI & II in Germany?

    I'm proud to be an American. But Christianity should have NOTHING TO DO with cultural norms or thinking. Trying to make people "Western" in culture is a big mistake our missionaries make in dealing with other cultures.
     
  6. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Agreed, Dr Bob. Interesting answers from everyone. I tend, having thought further about it, to agree with Archippus' comment that the secularisation of the EU is not necessarily a Bad Thing (interestingly it is the traditionally RC countries like Poland who are objecting most vociferously to this rather than the traditionally Protestant countries), provided this does not translate into persecution against Christians; one of the things our Baptist forebears and European Anabaptist kin were keen to stress was their desire for the undoing of the 'Constantinian settlement' in Europe which married church and state and to tolerate all religious belief, it not being the business of the state to legislate religion. I tend to agree with this; as long as we are allowed to evangelise unmolested, it should not be the business of the state to be 'Christian' or espouse values which are the exclusive preserve of one religion. This was the common stance of the European Radical Reformation from which we are spiritually descended in so many ways, in contrast to the Magisterial Reformers with their emphasis on state churches

    Karen, the wider observation of 'Germany is more Christian than Britain' was not particularly linked to the statement about Christmas, although it did follow on from it. It did however spark me to do some further research into the Radical Reformation's European roots.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  7. Ingo Breuer

    Ingo Breuer
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2001
    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am from Gemany, but more important, the Lord saved me in 1995 and called me to preach the Word of God in 2000. That's right the Christmas excitement starts in December in Germany and lasts way into January. In the US it starts early, but when people go back to work on Dec. 26th Christmas seems past and gone. I noticed that difference.
    Another difference: European Christianity is for the most part the state church ecclesiasticism. Baptist people have always been persecuted there. That's why the found a refuge in the new colonies of America. Lots of German Baptists settled in Pennsylvania.
    The Pietist Christian were persecuted in Germany, so they also moved to America. The state churches of Germany were spiritually dead and they did not want to be revived. Those who brought revival were run off. That is in a nutshell the spritual degeneration of Germany which culminated in 12 years of heathen, antichristian Nazi rule. And nowadays Germany is once again slipping off into militant secularism, becoming good friends with China, pushing for European union to create some kind of secularist superstate who economic power might be used as leverage against the USA (Chrysler takeover through Daimler, steel tariffs, Boeing vs. Airbus, GPS vs. Galileo ...). The biggest problem in Germany is that most people are lost. They know all kinds of stuff, but they don't know God's plan of salvation. If you tell them about Jesus and His saving power, then they start hating you. If you go to Germany again, there are some great Independent Baptist Churches started by missionaries from the US. They are really a lighthouse to this country so full of rebellion, blasphemy, gainsaying, sodomy. Next time you go to Germany, let me know and I load you up with German gospel tracts and scripture signs. God bless you.
     

Share This Page

Loading...