The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of BCNN1.
One week ago, I met with an old friend who was born in America but who has spent almost all of his life in Italy. He was struck by how openly and boldly the Gospel was proclaimed here in the States, from massive billboards on the roadside to Christian radio and TV.
A few days later, I met with a young man from the Faroe Islands, now studying in Denmark, and wanting to do pro-life work in his home country and beyond. He flew to America to meet with pro-life leaders for input and example, since there was virtually no such movement where he lived.
To these visitors, one 49, with decades of experience on the mission field in Italy, and the other 24, now in medical school with a strong Christian conscience, the Church of America was inspiring in many ways.
My Italian friend, Grant, is a popular Italian actor who now uses his public platform to share the Gospel on TV and in other settings. (See here for our enjoyable and edifying interview.) But he has also spent many years sharing the Gospel on the streets of Italy with his father’s missions’ team.
He can tell you firsthand that, while there is a lot of traditional religion embedded in the culture, there is very little open Gospel witness. Having been to Italy 27 times myself, I can confirm this.
Of course, Grant is more than aware of the carnality and the superficiality of so much of our American Christianity. Yet on his most recent visit, which was much longer than usual, he was struck afresh by how openly and boldly the Gospel is proclaimed here.
It’s the same with American patriotism. Visitors from other nations are surprised to see American flags everywhere. They are also surprised to see so much Christianity openly displayed and proclaimed.
The young man visiting from Denmark told us that the last pro-life march there drew 30 people. Yes, 30, in a country of 5 million. There were actually more counter-protesters at the march than pro-lifers.
Yet an official Danish website notes that, “In Denmark, 75% of the population are registered members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.”
How can this be? The website continues, “But less than a fifth of Danes see themselves as ‘very religious.’”
More tellingly still, “Christianity has shaped Denmark’s culture, and the Danish countryside remains dotted with traditional churches. Most Danish cities offer a range of churches that include the Lutheran Evangelical state church as well as Catholic and Pentecostal congregations. However, few Danes go to church on a regular basis. In fact, many go only once a year — usually on Christmas Eve.”
It’s not surprising, then, that Operation World claims that 85 percent of Danes profess Christianity (in this overwhelmingly Protestant country) but only 3.5 percent are evangelicals. Little wonder they are having so little impact, especially in a country that can view committed Christians as fanatical.
Similarly, when it comes to Italy, Operation World claims that 82 percent of Italians profess Christianity (in this overwhelmingly Catholic country) but only 1.1 percent are evangelicals.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Brown