Thursday, March 13, 2008

Påske (Easter) 2008


Several years ago, attention was drawn to the Danish Folkekirke pastor in Tårbæk who declared unabashedly, “I do not believe in the physical God, in the afterlife, in the resurrection, and in the Virgin Mary.” He also wrote, “We do not believe in God or in God as Creator of Heaven and earth, or as Almighty, consequently nor in Jesus as his Son nor the virginity of his mother, nor in his Second Coming and the resurrection from the dead.” Such statements contravene what Protestant orthodoxy and historic Christianity have believed and taught over the centuries. The deity of Christ and the resurrection of the dead unquestionably are nonnegotiable tenets of Easter faith.

Though there are probably few Danish pastors who would go so far in their unbelief, in some respects the Tårbæk pastor’s atheism is understandable given the effects of secularism that has all but engulfed Danish life and culture. One member of the pastor’s church, epitomizing in a single sentence the view of much of Danish life and culture, declared, “Danes, we don’t talk too much about God, and Christianity is not a big force here.”

Fortunately, the larger percentage of Folkekirke pastors do believe in the resurrection as an actual historical event. Indre Mission and other Folkekirke revival entities have been vocal in their protests against the Tårbæk pastor’s views. Thankfully, numerous Danish pastors and theological professors who are orthodox in their beliefs have reacted with great fury to such stark unbelief. The not altogether surprising fact is that the Tårbæk pastor was allowed to retain his post in the town’s1200 member parish.

Easter is another of the times in the church calendar when Danes are more likely to gravitate to church services. So it would not be surprising to find Folkekirke churches (the State Church) and other Danish churches better attended during Holy Week and Easter than the usual five percent or less average weekly attendance.

While 85 percent of Danes are nominally Christian and members of the Folkekirke, it is not irrelevant to ask whether the average Danish citizen believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We note that one Danish source reported fewer than one in five Danes strongly affirms belief in the resurrection while more than half emphatically reject that the event ever occurred.

Danes are reputed to be the happiest people on earth, but without a firm belief in historic Christianity there is a terrible vacuum in spiritual understanding and commitment. Is it any wonder that we believe Denmark needs a massive wave of prayer for revival and a new Reformation to offset the secularism which is so infects Danish life and culture. In a very real sense, Denmark is ripe for re-evangelization. The Lutheran revival movements and the evangelical free churches seem poised to pray toward that end. Furthermore, the more than 150 churches established by “New Danes” (immigrants from Africa and other areas of the world), many of whom are strongly evangelical and evangelistic in their understanding of Christianity, may prove to be the opening wedge in Denmark’s return to the faith. These very alive churches are demonstrating something that has been lacking in many Danish churches.

As for the resurrection, we thank God for the faithful believers in Denmark, whether in the Folkekirke or in the evangelical free churches, however small their number, who hold unwaveringly to the nonnegotiable truths of the Word of God in spite of bumping up again and again against the country’s deadening secular culture. With irrefutable logic, they agree with the crystal clear assessment of the Apostle Paul when he wrote: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Corinthians 15:13-19, NIV).


PRAISE God for those Danes who have been willing to affirm the nonnegotiables of the Christian faith, among them the events of the Easter miracle–Christ’s deity, atoning death, burial, and bodily resurrection.

PRAY that during Holy Week and Easter the Holy Spirit will impress upon Danish pastors and churches the necessity of the resurrection as the crowning reality of Christ’s finished work of redemption.

PRAY for a resurgence of vital historic Christian faith in Denmark against such enemies as secularism, theological declension, lukewarm Christian life and practice, and aggressive non-Christian religions. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12, 2, NIV).

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but
what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners."

Danish philosopher Søren Kiekegaard