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A Bundle of Myrrh

"My beloved is unto me as a bundle of myrrh." Song of Solomon 1:13

Thoughts on Europe

July 24th, 2010 by Aubri

I will offer some thoughts on my recent experiences in Europe, especially on their church life and population changes. Most peoples’ roots and our Lutheran heritage are based in Europe. As America ages, we are becoming more like an European nation. Let’s take a peek at what may come.

Lutheranism is not German. Though it started in Germany, both Sweden and Finland are officially Lutheran, even today. Strangely enough the German state church is “prostestant,” not “Lutheran.” These countries have large and beautiful churches. While many people go to see these churches, they do not go to worship services. For the most part, they don’t care to hear about the Gospel or Jesus.

I was able to attend a Sunday morning service at a state Lutheran church in Finland. It must have seated about 500 people. Yet, there were only around 30 people in church, including some visitors, like us. This church serves 1000’s of people, but they do not go. Even members of the church think of going to church as little as visiting the North Pole. A majority of Europeans live as if there were no God who speaks to them in words.

In Wolfenbuttel, a town of 50,000 in northern Germany, there are two large, elaborate churches. Because less than 100 people attend services, they rotate between the churches. The history and centuries old churches do not create faith in Christ. Only the Word is God does. Despite all their culture and history, they do not have the living God.

Wittenberg, where Luther taught and preached, was also a sad place. They revere Luther as a cultural hero and for his Germanness. But they despise what he actually said. Less than 20% of those in the province of Saxony-Anhalt, where Luther was born, even belong to a church. How did this happen?

Many destructive ideas and philosophies took their toll on Germany. Rationalism in the 1700’s and 1800’s denied the possibility of miracles. Philosophy made man and his thoughts the center of the world. Preachers stopped preaching the Gospel of Christ. The state of East Germany held atheism as the state religion. Once people fall away from the Gospel, they become too learned and cultured to hear the Gospel again.

Church attendance in Germany is one of the lowest in the world: 1.2%. At that percentage, Bancroft would have 5 people attending church a week and Lyons would only have 9-10 people a week. Thankfully, God’s Word still calls people out of the world.

But it is not just churches that are dying. People that reject the knowledge of God are often punished by Him. Sometimes they bring it on themselves, by their own sinful choices. The Old Testament is full of divine retribution. Germany, along with all of Europe is dying. Their population is shrinking, because they do not have and raise children.

It was very odd in Germany to not see children. You sometimes saw a family with one child, but it was very rare to see a family with two kids. That is a large family there. Why? They care too much about having a fun-filled, easy life. It is sad to see a people so concerned with their pensions and comfortable lifestyle that they are bankrupting their nation. They are not having the children necessary to support the welfare state they have created. It takes an average of 2.1 children per a woman to maintain a population. Germany’s fertility rate is 1.3. The U.S. is holding steady at about 2.1, meaning we are not growing either.

It is interesting that in the richest nations of the world, people complain that they cannot afford children. Those who are parents know that children require great sacrifices and the biggest is not money. But some parents feel like they have to give their children all the luxuries of society to make them happy. Baptism and life in Christ is not enough for most, though these are free. Germany is a nation of spoiled adults. Some say it could become a Muslim nation in just a generation or two, because the German people are dying out and the Muslim population is growing.

Belief in heaven and the word of Christs’ redemption gives us a different perspective. Life is good because God created it. And God uses us to bring life into the world. Our God is not our lifestyle, our possessions, or the activities we do. We have a living God, who was raised from the dead for our life.

But it is not that bad in the U.S., you might say. We are headed that way, though. Our churches are shrinking. Our morality is losing it way. Look at our own church roll. Many choose not to hear Christ preached. People often talk of church growth, but how can churches grow if the population is not growing? Even the LC-MS has lost quite a few members in the last few decades. Atheism might soon be the default way of life. In the U.S. possessions, security, and a quality life are tempting false gods.

I do not say all this to make you despair. It shows the danger of rejecting God. All nations become corrupt and fall eventually. They are replaced by new nations. But God’s Word remains. The Lutheran churches in Tanzania and Ethiopian both have over five million members. Together that is more than all Lutherans in the U.S. Africa, in total, has 18.5 million Lutherans. We pray that God’s Word will bear great fruit in that part of the world.

Isn’t the story of Europe and the direction of the U.S. what Jesus talked about? Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:12-14). We have a better world waiting for us, not just a failed man-made society. We have one designed by our loving Lord and He wants us to have it. The Gospel went out in Europe clearly 500 years ago. We hold on a little while longer, knowing the Word is still going out, then the end will come.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on Europe”

  1. Neil Hale says:

    Great insight. It is with a heavy heart that I realize I agree with you. But perhaps, God is raising up our this young U.S. Christian generation to reverse the drift from God of my generation.

  2. Justin Chester says:

    That was amazing I think it proves that Christianity and Lutheranism is going downhill in some places to other religions.