Chapter 17 Confessing Christ in ‘Christian Europe’: The Death of the Church as a Theological Response to Populism

In: The Spirit of Populism
Author: Joseph Sverker

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Abstract

Christianity’s checkered relationship with power and politics in Europe is complex and paradoxical. Today, right-wing populism is increasingly using a Christianist rhetoric. Its refences to Christianity conjure up a ‘Christian Europe’ over and against a ‘Muslim other.’ At the same time, research shows that church attendance can ‘immunize’ churchgoers against right-wing anti-immigration attitudes. In this chapter, this paradox between Christianism and the Christian immunization against Christianism is explored from a christological perspective, drawing on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. How is the church to confess Christ in Europe today when Christianity itself is used as a means to demarcate and denigrate ‘the other’? The uncomfortable answer from Bonhoeffer’s Christology is to be ‘for’ the other in a radically Christ-like way. This Christ-like way might even call for the death of the church.

The Spirit of Populism

Political Theologies in Polarized Times

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