Sunday, August 16, 2015
More chance of hearing the Gospel in Africa than Sweden. . .
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.