Friday, March 11, 2005

France - from the Friday Fax

The below from the Friday Fax
France: new interest in Christianity
According to a study in 2003, 32% of the French who call themselves Christians
had recently returned to their faith. In 1994, the number was only 13%. "Is
Europe's most secular nation rediscovering its Christian roots?" asks Agnieszka
Tennant in Christianity Today. At the start of the 21st Century, the
post-modern French seem to have deconstructed Deconstructivism, seen through
Socialism's promised Utopia, and recognised that wine and other sensual
pleasures can only partially fill what French philosopher Blaise Pascal called
'the God-shaped hole in us'. "During the sexual revolution in the 1960's,
French intellectuals declared 'it is forbidden to forbid'," says Mark Farmer,
ex-pastor of a Baptist church in Paris. In his hotly-debated book 'Re-founding
the World: The Western Testament', Jean-Claude Guillebaud calls on the French
to examine and rediscover their own Judeo-Christian roots. "The 20th Century
was a century of disillusionment," he says. "Marxism, evolution, socialism,
hedonism, wars - what did we gain from them? Where does the human ability to
discern good and evil come from, which transcends every culture?" he asks, and
points to God.

God, your shares are on the rise!
"Bible sales are currently at an all-time high in France," reports the French
Bible Society's Christian Bonnet. Completely unexpectedly, 100,000 Bibles and
50,000 New Testaments were sold in 2003. La Bible Expliquée, a Bible with
explanations for seekers, sold 80,000 copies in the first month, even in
secular bookshops and supermarkets. "God, your shares are on the rise!" wrote a
business magazine in a 72-page report on the sudden rise of religious interest
in the post-materialistic age. "Since 1950, the number of Evangelicals in
France has multiplied sevenfold, from 50,000 to 350,000," says Tennant, and
many nominal Catholics have experienced a renewal of their faith through Alpha
Courses. Daniel Liechti, who researches church planting for France Mission,
estimates that one new church was planted in France every 11 days for the past
35 years.

Evangelical Catholics
40 million of the 60 million French population consider themselves Catholics,
but only 5 million attend a church service at least once each month. There are
some 5 million Muslims, 650,000 Jews and one million Protestants. "Up to one
third of the active Protestants have an evangelical mindset," says Liechti, and
the Evangelicals are growing: "There were 760 Evangelical churches in 1970; now
there are 1,850 plus another 800 to 1,000 immigrant churches." "The secular
climate has made allies of Evangelicals and Gospel-oriented or 'evangelical'
Catholics, as well as Reformed and Lutheran Christians," writes Tennant. The
Catholic Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, says that Catholics
have received two good things from the Protestants: the Charismatic movement
and the Alpha Course, which is booming in Catholic parishes: in 1998, five
Alpha courses were held; in 2004, the number had grown to 303. According to
Henri Blocher, French church leader and Bible School teacher, it is
predominantly the 20- to 30-year-olds who are throwing their socialist parents'
cynicism overboard. "They are Europe's Christian hope," he says.
Source: Christianity Today

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