Global Gospel

An Introduction to Christianity on Five Continents

Materials available for professors by request only


5. Europe

Discussion Questions

  1. Since the late fourth century, when the Roman Empire was Christianized, church and state have been intimately connected in Europe. Was this a positive or problematic development for Christianity? Ideally, how closely should church and state connect?

  2. Christianity in Europe has been religiously segregated for centuries into three relatively homogeneous and separate geographic regions—one that is predominantly Catholic, another that is predominantly Orthodox, and a third that is predominantly Protestant. How does living in a religiously homogeneous environment shape the personal experience of faith? What spiritual strengths and weaknesses might be associated with it?

  3. Twentieth-century European history has been extremely bloody, with two world wars and many other regional outbreaks of violence. How do you think this history of social violence has influenced the development of Christianity in contemporary Europe?

  4. Are Christians responsible for the Holocaust? What does the Holocaust say about God? What does the Holocaust say about Christian-Jewish relations? Do Christians have any special responsibilities toward Jews in the aftermath of the Holocaust?

  5. Gaudium et spes (one of the main documents issued by the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church) begins with the following words: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the [people] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.” What is your reaction to this statement? Do you agree or disagree? How might you want to modify this statement to make it more compatible with your own thinking?

  6. The twentieth-century European philosopher Simone Weil suggested that whenever Christians are presented with a seeming conflict between Christ and truth they should choose truth. What do you think about her advice? How are truth and faith related?

  7. Pope Benedict XVI suggested that Greek-style rationality is intimately and inseparably connected to the gospel. Do you agree or disagree? What role should reason play in the life of faith?

  8. The missionary and theologian Lesslie Newbigin says that what we call “truth” is only a given culture’s way of articulating its deeply held beliefs. Different cultures see truth differently. What do you think? How much truth can human beings know? What kinds of truth can human beings know?