Sunday, August 16, 2015

More chance of hearing the Gospel in Africa than Sweden. . .

Once a solid, vibrant Lutheran stronghold, Scandinavia today is probably the most secularized region of the Western world. Spiritually, Scandinavians have become “the people that dwell in darkness.” Scandinavia is filled with large, beautiful, empty churches. This has not happened by accident. . . It is probably the case today that a randomly selected African has a better chance than a randomly selected Scandinavian of hearing the Gospel clearly preached. 

There was a time when every Swede was Lutheran from birth by law, and no other denomination was permitted. The Church of Sweden took to calling itself Den Svenska Kyrkan, "The Swedish Church." The Swedish Church was literally the only one in town, and local life centered on it, even for those who were not believers. To be a Swede was to be a member of The Swedish Church. Education was centered on Luther's Small Catechism and the schools were Lutheran parochial schools. Similar developments occurred in other Nordic lands, and Scandinavia was solidly Lutheran.

 What happened?  The Church of Sweden, as an arm of the state, became a tool of the state, of socialism, designed to strip from the Church its faith and replace the Gospel with a progressive socialism in which the government controls nearly every aspect of church life and uses the church for its own purpose.  Though the Church of Sweden was formally disestablished in 2000, it remains governed by forces outside the faith, dominated by political people pushing political agendas, in which the liturgy and catechism remain a remnant of the once profoundly Lutheran and vibrant church.

The Church of Sweden remains Lutheran only in the barest form of that identity.  The Church of Sweden has found reason to disregard or dispute passages of Scripture in favor of its own politicized agenda as you can read below in the justifying of same sex weddings:

The official position of the Church of Sweden Steering Committee in defending its decision to offer same-sex weddings in the Church:  As regards a theological perspective, what is relevant is that the commandment of love is superior to other commandments and prohibitions in the Bible. What is crucial concerning the human cohabitation forms is not individual Bible passages but what is beneficial or harmful to people  Or, to paraphrase that ancient serpent, "You can be like God, deciding what is good and what is evil." And the Steering Committee continues: We therefore have reason to be critical of individual Bible passages about homosexuality. These need to be related to the Bible's more overarching message, including the double commandment of love, and to what the Biblical authors have expressed in other contexts.  [emphasis added]   HT Scandinavia House

Yet, the miracle is that a stirring of confessional young Lutherans has begun to develop in Sweden.  Where the liturgy remains, the Word remains and God will raise up people who will hear and heed His Word and preach it without qualification or fear.  The goal of the Nordic Confessional renewal movements is to bring the Gospel back to these spiritually devastated lands.

As one who is proudly half Swedish, I am personally anxious and hopeful for the day when faith will not be a museum piece but will reflect a new hunger of people in the pews for hope built upon Christ and a new generation of confessional Lutheran clergy will work to restore the faith the Scandinavia by the faithful preaching and teaching of God's Word.  Once Sweden came to the rescue of Lutheranism and now it is time for Lutherans (like the LCMS) to come to the rescue of the Church of Sweden.  Pray for those young men whose faith and confidence in the Gospel may well signal the first real hope for the Church of Sweden in a very long time!

Imagine how something so near and dear to the culture and life of a people could become alien and estranged from their culture and life!  Look around you.  The Gospel must be addressed by one generation to those who come after.  The Church is, from our perspective, always and even one generation from disappearing.  We cannot let this happen. . . not in Europe and not here, either.


6 comments:

Janis Williams said...

I have heard many times how the state churches of Europe lost the Gospel. Amazing! America is doing it all on her own without the benefit of a state church! Ingenious, independent, self-sufficient Americans....

Kirk Skeptic said...

"There was a time when every Swede was Lutheran from birth by law, and no other denomination was permitted. The Church of Sweden took to calling itself Den Svenska Kyrkan, "The Swedish Church." The Swedish Church was literally the only one in town, and local life centered on it, even for those who were not believers. To be a Swede was to be a member of The Swedish Church. Education was centered on Luther's Small Catechism and the schools were Lutheran parochial schools. Similar developments occurred in other Nordic lands, and Scandinavia was solidly Lutheran.

What happened? The Church of Sweden, as an arm of the state, became a tool of the state, of socialism, designed to strip from the Church its faith and replace the Gospel with a progressive socialism in which the government controls nearly every aspect of church life and uses the church for its own purpose. Though the Church of Sweden was formally disestablished in 2000, it remains governed by forces outside the faith, dominated by political people pushing political agendas, in which the liturgy and catechism remain a remnant of the once profoundly Lutheran and vibrant church."

If you dance to the music, you must pay the piper. Pr P, I hope your wish for Scandinavia excludes establishemnt.

Carl Vehse said...

How does the "Church" of Sweden differ in its position on ordaining active LGBTQ clergy from that of the XXXA, which both President Harrison and the CTCR have declared as "embodying apostasy" (i.e., no longer considered to be a Christian church body)?

William Tighe said...


If any readers wish to learn more about the History of Sixteenth-Century Sweden and the Swedish Reformation, one could hardly do better (in English) than to search out a copy of *The Early Vasas: A History of Sweden 1523-1611* by Michael Roberts (Cambridge University Press, 1968). There are surprisingly inexpensive copies available at Abebooks.com and Amazon.com. Roberts writes with clarity, style, and panache.

William Tighe said...


To descend from the sublime to the, well, ordinary, these articles of mine on the Swedish Church scene may be of interest to some:

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-02-036-f

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=22-08-035-i

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=13-06-035-i

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=11-06-046-r

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=15-04-050-r

SKPeterson said...

I think it is also necessary to point out how quickly this transformation came about, and that it was two-fold in nature: 1) the Swedish Church came slowly under the influence of historical criticism beginning in the early twentieth century, though this didn't take hold aggressively until, 2) the social democracy movement came to power in the 60's and 70's and began to co-opt Swedish society. While the Swedes have repudiated a goodly portion of the economic fallacies instituted during this period, many of the social reforms along with their impact on the Church have not. Thus, in the matter of one or two generations almost the entirety of centuries of Christianity in Sweden has been undone.