Churches in Europe and the Challenge of Cultural Witness

Churches in Europe and the Challenge of Cultural Witness is a Special Issue of Religions edited  by Christine Schliesser (University of Zurich University / University of Fribourg), Ralph Kunz (University of Zurich), Benjamin Schliesser (University of Bern), Graham Tomlin (University of Oxford).

Our time is characterized by a lack of a common vision for the future of European societies. As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly retreats, inspirations for a post-COVID world are found wanting. Brexit is one symptom of the waning cohesive powers of the Union of Values. Christianity, the (still) dominant religion in Europe, is on the retreat as Christian churches throughout Europe face a steady decline in membership, finances and moral authority.

At the same time, God is far from dead in Europe. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of “Public Theology” seeks to engage as “Cultural Witness” by drawing out the relevance of church and theology for the public sphere, while taking up public challenges into its theological reflexion and action.

Yet the big questions remain: What is the role of the Christian churches and theology in Europe? How can we adequately conceive of a constructive interrelationship between Christian churches, culture and society? Which vision can guide the church into the future in Europe? What resources (from biblical, historical, cultural, etc. studies) can be made fruitful? How can the churches find a way to communicate the heart of their animating vision, humbly yet persuasively, within a post-Christian, and even a post-truth society while learning the chastening lessons of past imperialistic hubris?

This Special Issue seeks to provoke debate on established theoretical concepts in the study of the Christian church and its role in European culture and society. At the same time, this Special Issue will provide a platform for the emergence of new conceptual approaches. It will also emphasize the link between theological thinking and practical engagement, including Cultural Witness, church planting, fresh expression of churches, new monasticism, etc.

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