After six years of married life in Australia, my lovely Danish bride was pregnant with our second child which only served to magnify her longings for her Danish homeland. I now had the chance to make good on my promise to try and live there someday. After about a year of paperwork and red tape my probationary visa finally arrived, so in the March of 2007 we packed up, sold off, and flew out.
The timing seemed good in some ways as my growing love for Reformed theology and overt evangelism was beginning to cause some friction among leaders in my local Australian church. These passions and labors also served in unwittingly equipping me as a missionary for a difficult mission field.
My native Brisbane in Australia (though I was born and raised in the small remote township of Chinchilla) is a sub-tropical city blessed with year round t-shirt weather. My Aussie friends would often ask me about the weather in Denmark, to which I would reply, "the summers are beautiful . . . it's just the other 11 months I have a problem with"! I braced myself for the Scandinavian cold and put up a brave face but I must confess that the relentlessness of winter does wear me down. In the middle of winter the days are so short that you arrive at work and leave it in the cloak of darkness. And the brief interlude of daylight is usually shielded by a thick layer of cloud. Going outside to play with the children is like planning the invasion of a small country and the many layers of clothing leave me feeling like a Michelin man. Though these grievances are petty in the light of eternity, nothing prepared me for the dramatic change in spiritual climate.
Australia is hardly a bastion of Christianity, but it starts to look like a safe haven when compared to the devastating spiritual decline that has happened in Europe. And Denmark may well be at the bottom of that pile. Denmark is a land full of well maintained church buildings surrounded by manicured landscaped cemeteries. They are stunningly beautiful and yet served as a tremendous barometer for the type of "Christianity" that exists in Denmark. Standing in their serene beauty I can hear Jesus' words:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
It is interesting to note that the Danish word for cemetery is "Kirkegaard". If that word sounds familiar it is because it is also the name of Denmark's most famous theologian Søren Kirkegaard. Kirkegaard (1813-1855) rightly diagnosed the Danish disaster of cultural, state sponsored "Christianity" more than 150 years ago. Tragically, like the emergents of today, he correctly diagnosed the problem but administered a poisonous "cure". Instead of returning to biblical authority and faithful Gospel preaching, Kirkegaard became the "father of existentialism". This has only served to accelerate the downward spiral into the missionary wasteland I now found myself in.
To be continued . . .
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Weekend A La Carte (October 21)
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