The eu as a strong foundation for the churches

Michael Bünker, former CPCE General Secretary shows the conference participants Vienna

Forum Young Theology in Europe met in Vienna

With much praise and fresh impetus, 22 young theologians from 12 countries look back on an eventful meeting of the Young Theology in Vienna in May 2022. The topic sounds rather difficult: „Protestantism between nationalism and cosmopolitanism“. Is there nationalism in the Protestant Church? „Yes,“ says Volkmar Ortmann, Privatdozent in church history at the University of Giessen, Germany. 

„The Protestants are not everywhere as cosmopolitan as they like to claim.“ That has a lot to do with the local historical developments. Ortmann, who organised this conference of the Protestant Federation of Hesse together with European partners, knows that Protestantism in Europe shows many traditions of its own, up to and including nationalistic currents. „But,“ adds his colleague Mirijam Sauer, „language, nationality and identity naturally belong closely together.“ Thus, Protestant minorities, as in Transylvania, find strength through their cultural imprint with their own identity. 

And because identity is far from being nationalism, the conference team developed the term „toxic nationalism“ and distinguished it from „national identity“: „We can’t help it, says Anna Lerch from Switzerland, „where we were born, what language we learned first and what costume we wear at festivals“, but she is of the opinion that we are responsible for ensuring that this healthy „national identity“ does not become toxic.

„The eu as a strong foundation for the churches“ weiterlesen

Austrian Radio reports
Protestant churches – nationalistic or cosmopolitan?

photo: Dollar Gill on Unsplash

On 25 May 22, the third programme of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation reported on the Young Theology Forum, which the Protestant Federation of Hesse hosted with its partners CPCE and ZEO: „Not least because of their national church structure, Protestant churches are usually also closely confronted with the respective political leadership of their country, not only with regard to their positioning in the Ukraine war…“ Listen to the whole contribution in this recording in German language

Young theologians want to found network

At the Young Theology in Europe Forum conference ending in Vienna on 14 May 2022, participants dictated the idea of a network to continue after the conference. The young people want to deepen the connection between their churches on a practical level. In the end, a book is to be produced. The spokespersons of the 24-member group from twelve European countries are Vittorio Secco from Italy and Frederik Grüneberg from Germany.

„Young theologians want to found network“ weiterlesen

Towards an Inclusive Identity in Christ

Theses about Nationalism, Identities and Christian Churches

  1. Everyone has local and/or regional roots and is living in such a context. A cosmopolitan way of life tends to deny these roots and contexts. Identifying with a „nation“ seems to overcame this tension.
  2. Nationalism can turn toxic, when it becomes exclusive (working with in- and out-groups) and can be used to manipulate a people. Nationalism (inclusive or exclusive) offers an identity, which a free global environment can’t provide.
  3. The positive alternative – we call it bottom-up communitarism – tries to build open and inclusive communities and nations.
  4. Any identity has two sides – it is a social construct, which can be experienced in context, and it may be a strong feeling. Institutions (churches, states) always highlight a certain identity. For a non-beliefing politician, who is using religion in politics, religion will be only a social construct, while for the believer religion has an additional transcendent aspect.
  5. The core of churches‘ identity is Jesus Christ. Belonging to church does not mean to leave behind national, regional, sexual or any other identity. (refer to Gal 3,28 and/or Romans 3,29-31).
  6. As Churches we cannot stay for ourselves, but need to be ready to serve society (diaconia) and to build up relationships with other Christians/churches (mission and ecumenism) – Math. 28, 19-20.
  7. Inspired by Martin Buber and Emanuel Levinas we see, that the encounter with Christians from other traditions has a transformative power – this is Gods work in people.
  8. Nobody and no institution is alone an executor of Gods will. God is acting in the world through the hands of different people.
  9. The message is higher than the language. National languages and cultures are a vehicle for the Gospel (inculturation). Experiencing different languages and cultures leads us to the catholicity (one undivided christian) of church. Speaking different languages is often weakening the national identity, in Christianity the opposite is happening.

Marie-Luise Großmann

I am Marie-Luise Großmann, 26 years old and studied theology. I come from the Lutheran Church in Bavaria and would like to become a pastor in this church. Above all, I find the contacts to other churches, within and outside Germany, enriching, in order to become aware of my own tradition and identity. On the other hand, I also want to continue to strive and struggle together with others for good and perhaps even better solutions and the shaping of our faith in this world. Identity is something dynamic and needs several counterparts – Martin Buber puts it this way: „Man becomes I in the Thou“. I am enjoying the process, the encounters, the development and I am curious to see where it will take me – for now I am very happy to have been in Vienna and to help shape the (church) future with other young theologians. 

I am interested in the topic of „nationalism and cosmopolitanism“ because for me there is the underlying question of how we shape this world: All living beings share the earth and its resources, need some of it and ideally give some back into the cycle. So how do we divide it up? What social, cultural structure helps us do that? And what role does/can religion have? I think we definitely need boundaries in this, to have smaller sub-units that make it easier to keep track of things, keep groups together and combine forces. Borders thus have a purpose and a function; they must not become an end in themselves. Rigid nationalism no longer fulfils the constructive function of borders. Nationalism is not enough, I think, to form an identity – there needs to be an unifying element at the same time. That’s where the Christian faith comes into play for me. It enables us to see the world as creation and integrates us as human beings into it. How we, supported by the Christian faith, can have a say in society and world events, how we can stand up for democracy and diversity and how encounters can happen across borders is what interests me in this topic and I’m very excited to have met young people, share ideas and ultimately give shape to and celebrating our reconciled diversity. I hope to continue doing so by being part of the Forum Young Theology.

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