Europe’s Christian Comeback


#1

Amen and keep up praying! Europe isn’t dying!
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Europe’s Christian Comeback**

By Philip Jenkins

Alarmist pundits prophesize that a secular Europe risks being overcome by its fast-growing Muslim population. Yet for all we hear about Islam, Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize.

The West is awash with fear of the Islamization of Europe. The rise of Islam, many warn, could transform the continent into “Eurabia,” a term popularized by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and other pundits. “A youthful Muslim society to the south and east of the Mediterranean is poised to colonize—the term is not too strong—a senescent Europe,” Ferguson has predicted. Such grim prophecies may sell books, but they ignore reality. For all we hear about Islam, Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize. What’s more, it is showing little sign of giving ground to Islam or any other faith for that matter.

To be fair, the trend is counterintuitive. Europe has long been a malarial swamp for any traditional or orthodox faith. Compared with the rest of the world, religious adherence in Europe is painfully weak. And it is easy to find evidence of the decay. Any traveler to the continent has seen Christianity’s abandoned and secularized churches, many now transformed into little more than museums. But this does not mean that European Christianity is nearing extinction. Rather, among the ruins of faith, European Christianity is adapting to a world in which its convinced adherents represent a small but vigorous minority.

In fact, the rapid decline in the continent’s church attendance over the past 40 years may have done Europe a favor. It has freed churches of trying to operate as national entities that attempt to serve all members of society. Today, no church stands a realistic chance of incorporating everyone. Smaller, more focused bodies, however, can be more passionate, enthusiastic, and rigorously committed to personal holiness. To use a scientific analogy, when a star collapses, it becomes a white dwarf—smaller in size than it once was, but burning much more intensely. Across Europe, white-dwarf faith communities are growing within the remnants of the old mass church.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than within European Catholicism, where new religious currents have become a potent force. Examples include movements such as the Focolare, the Emmanuel Community, and the Neocatechumenate Way, all of which are committed to a re-evangelization of Europe. These movements use charismatic styles of worship and devotion that would seem more at home in an American Pentecostal church, but at the same time they are thoroughly Catholic. Though most of these movements originated in Spain and Italy, they have subsequently spread throughout Europe and across the Catholic world. Their influence over the younger clergy and lay leaders who will shape the church in the next generation is surprisingly strong.

Similar trends are at work within the Protestant churches of Northern and Western Europe. The most active sections of the Church of England today are the evangelical and charismatic parishes that have, in effect, become megachurches in their own right. These parishes have been incredibly successful at reaching out to a secular society that no longer knows much of anything about the Christian faith. Holy Trinity Brompton, a megaparish in Knightsbridge, London, that is now one of Britain’s largest churches, is home to the amazingly popular “Alpha Course,” a means of recruiting potential converts through systems of informal networking aimed chiefly at young adults and professionals. As with the Catholic movements, the course works because it makes no assumptions about any prior knowledge: Everyone is assumed to be a new recruit in need of basic teaching. Nor does the recruitment technique assume that people live or work in traditional settings of family or employment. The Alpha Course is successfully geared for postmodern believers in a postindustrial economy.

The result has been a rediscovery of the continent’s Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jürgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.
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foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3881
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#2

This is good to hear. I’ve wondered if what bascially boils own to a Muslim attack on Christianity in Europe will lead to Europeans reassessing it’s Chrsitians roots and returning to the faith from secularism… maybe it’s happening.


#3

Pentecoastal movements are popping like mushrooms in Holland. There’s also a lot of debate about Islam. One politician expressed his fear for “tsunami of Islamicization”.


#4

Europe has been there, done that: Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, Socialism, Statism, and finally Multi-cultural secularism. Nothing seems to work and it is all done within a century. So, I guess they are rediscovering their root which is Christianity. The fear or rise of Islam on European soil possibly plays some part in it. Bombing, killing, forcing Sharia laws, etc. on everyone by the Islamist will farther catapult that rediscovery of faith.


#5

I think most of this comeback is due because of Pope Benedict XVI. I recalled he is asking all European Catholics to practice their faith and become more active Christians…


#6

I wonder if Europe will make a Christian comeback. Secularism and atheism are very aggressive there and many Christians are probably merely nominal observers of their faith. Islam will probably be the most important religious force there in the coming decades, along with Buddhism.


#7

Gives one something to ponder, doesn’t it?:thumbsup:


#8

More good news from Europe!

STOP ISLAMISATION OF EUROPE (SIOE) DEMONSTRATION 11th SEPTEMBER OUTSIDE THE EU PARLIAMENT

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

NO SHARIA HERE!

DEMOCRACY NOT THEOCRACY!

For complete article see here.

It’s about time! :clapping:

Vickie


#9

Have we heard from any Europeans (other than me) yet?


#10

There is definately a revival of interest in Christianity here in England, and with immigration from Eastern Europe Catholicism is poised to become the dominant religion in the UK again. I think if we got a visit from His Holiness there would be a massive change in the religious habits of most Catholics here and probably gain quite a few converts.


#11

LOL - is that description intended to “win friends and influence people” ? :cool: - it may do the latter; as to the former…

Compared with the rest of the world, religious adherence in Europe is painfully weak. And it is easy to find evidence of the decay. Any traveler to the continent has seen Christianity’s abandoned and secularized churches, many now transformed into little more than museums. But this does not mean that European Christianity is nearing extinction. Rather, among the ruins of faith, European Christianity is adapting to a world in which its convinced adherents represent a small but vigorous minority.

In fact, the rapid decline in the continent’s church attendance over the past 40 years may have done Europe a favor. It has freed churches of trying to operate as national entities that attempt to serve all members of society. Today, no church stands a realistic chance of incorporating everyone. Smaller, more focused bodies, however, can be more passionate, enthusiastic, and rigorously committed to personal holiness. To use a scientific analogy, when a star collapses, it becomes a white dwarf—smaller in size than it once was, but burning much more intensely. Across Europe, white-dwarf faith communities are growing within the remnants of the old mass church. …

The result has been a rediscovery of the continent’s Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jürgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.

foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3881

As to “cultural Christianity” - what is meant ? That sort of thing is no friend to Christianity, but one of its worst enemies - if he means the sort of Christianity which is an heirloom, & little more.

As for democracy - why does the article praise Habermas for mentioning it, when so many Catholics seem to have no liking whatever for it ? One detects some mixed signals here, some confusion about what Christianity is thought to be good for. AFAICS, if Christianity does not lead men to Christ, it is either worthless, or an idol. Western civilisation will perish eventually, as all things must - faith in Christ is infinitely more valuable than a mere culture. To confuse the purpose of faith in Christ with its cultural by-products is exceedingly dangerous. :blush:


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