In the least religious country in the western world (Sweden), the most embarrassing subject is God

2
3432

By Charles Braddix

David Moench
David Moench

What’s the most embarrassing thing you can talk about in your city? Discussions that include God, said a Scandinavian pastor.

The pastor in Denmark told this to sociologist Phil Zuckerman, who spent 14 months interviewing nearly 150 Scandinavians, according to The New York Times.

This can pose a dilemma for Christian workers trying to evangelize and plant churches in countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The key, however, is not leaving God out of spiritual discussions, but knowing how to have an appropriate spiritual conversation with Scandinavians, said International Mission Board strategy leader David Moench.

Moench said sharing one’s faith in a postmodern culture must be done in ways that are genuine, not prepackaged. Rational approaches just don’t work. Stories are the key.

“You ask a lot of questions and you listen, then you look for bridges,” Moench said. “What are bridges from their story to my story? My story, because I’m a believer, involves my faith in Christ, my community that I live in, the church that we’re part of planting. Then I can begin to share God’s story, and that’s where it might be alright.”

Talking about God throughout Scandinavia can be tough because people are not interested. It could easily be believed that religion is a personal issue, thus not discussed. Zuckerman’s research states, however, that it is actually a non-issue.

“Interviewees just didn’t care about it,” he says in his book “Society Without God,” cited in The New York Times article in 2009. He uses phrases like “benign indifference” and “utter obliviousness” to describe most Scandinavians’ ideas about religion. For them, religion and Jesus are both “nice.”

Sweden is the least religious nation in the Western world, according to a WIN/Gallup International poll, conducted at the end of 2014. Eight out of 10 Swedes are either “not religious” or “convinced atheists,” the poll shows.

“It’s a little bit surprising because we have a lot of [church] members,” said Gunnar Sjöberg, head of communication for the Swedish Church. The poll shows that 63 percent of Sweden’s population is comprised of members of the once official state church.

“The presence of religion and the church in many Swedes’ lives is most visible when traditional rituals or ceremonies are performed,” Sweden Sverige, the official website of the Swedish government, reports. “Chief among these are christenings, marriages and funerals.” The site points out that “secular” ceremonies are now becoming more and more common, however.

The Church of Sweden has often accompanied liberal social change rather than obstructing it, the site notes.

“Christianity and the church may have maintained ritual and cultural importance in Sweden, but this has not prevented the country from becoming one of the world’s most liberal societies,” the site says.

“In some areas where religious and social conservatism often prevail, such as the right to abortion, no serious debate exists in Sweden. Living together and having children without being married is also socially acceptable, and recent statistics suggest more than 40 percent of first-time parents in Sweden have children before getting married.”

The Church of Sweden has performed legal same-sex marriages since 2009.

Moench said postmodernism is not a culture one is born into or that one acquires. “It’s actually a filter on how [to] look at everything,” he said. “So postmodernity exists within the church. Therefore, it’s not something to be challenged, to be confronted; it’s actually a way that we should communicate the Gospel cross-culturally.”

He warns that what is happening in Scandinavia now is a good indication of what is to come in the United States.

“…You’re not fighting against necessarily a cultural view of Christianity. You’re actually fighting the ignorance of the fact that they’ve never met anybody who genuinely believed and acted upon the words of Jesus, lived in community, and carried out those truths.”

Pray

— Pray those serving in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries will find ways to have significant spiritual conversations with friends, neighbors and acquaintances.

— Pray the Holy Spirit breaks through hearts made indifferent by postmodernism, creating an eagerness to hear God’s story and a receptivity to what it means for them.

— Pray the church throughout Scandinavia will regain its zeal as the body of Christ and not be seen as an institution that just upholds some ancient Christian rituals.– Baptist Press

See other related stories and videos at stories.imb.org/eurasia/.

2 COMMENTS

  1. All religions come from mythology.
    There is no printed Authors in the bible.
    No appendix itemizing the source of anything.
    No original publishing date, updates, or factual address of publishers.
    The bible is printed on paper with a PH of 4.7 to hide the bacteria, mold and mildew rather then the legal 7.4 making it unfit to touch.
    There is no name, item or situation that fits the time period or places.
    Our names have a sound. In translation only the symbols to produce that sound change.
    There was no alphabet with the symbols to produce the sound for. Or the symbols J, H, y, W, A, E, I, O, U. For another 1500 or more years.
    Every name and the names they say they came from did not exist other then in mythology which would have been written after those symbols and sound existed.
    The shame of accepting, teaching, or preaching sectarian control and lies rather then secular facts is just to much.
    With the internet and information available there is no way they can continue to brain wash people.

  2. I am really worried for Sweden and God too.The whole society is falling apart and it is just a matter of time, when it is too late to save Sweden from being totally destroyed. It is starting to become a lawless society and nobody cares for each other anymore.The ego and the materialism is roaring. Thank you for praying for my country and for the lost, deceived people there, who are blinded by darkness and spiritual strongholds. prayer change everything because God is on the throne and He wants us to repent for the past swedish generations and to ask for forgiveness. He is a merciful God.I would like to have a day for prayer in Sweden for example, the first Saturday every month, 11am to 1pm. We should repent 11am to noon,then shout and cry out to the Lord and blow the trumpets(or any instrument or pots and pans),and after that give thanks to God until 1 pm. This should be in every christian home and church and whereever in the whole of Sweden! Revival is happening in Sweden and we have to just ignite the Fire. God is a merciful God and He will save Sweden. We do not need religion,but we need a friend and the relationship with Jesus, the son of God and we need our Holy Spirit to come to us and open our eyes and ears and soften our hearts to the Truth! This is the Truth Sweden needs to hear! We need to be bold! Nothing can happen to us,because God is for us and He is for righteousness and Peace and Love.Let us pray!

Comments are closed.