A Christian Croatia: Should You Care?

Why should you care about the work of Biblijski institut (and dozens of other evangelical ministries and churches in the former Yugoslavia)?

My life is dedicated to Croatia, to seeing the Kingdom of God grow here and in the former Yugoslavia (what Americans refer to as the Balkans).  So of course, I care deeply about the health of Christianity in Croatia; it’s my calling and my job.

“I’m on a mission from God,” to quote the great theologian Elwood Blues.

But why should YOU care?  Why should Christians in America and elsewhere outside this region care about (and support) ministries that promote biblical Christianity and work for stronger churches here?

I can think of three reasons.

FIRST, Croatia is on the border between the West (Christendom) and the Muslim world. The historic boundaries of the Ottoman Empire lie within Croatian territory, and the Battle of Sisak (which took place about 30 miles south of Zagreb, our city) in 1519 is one of the decisive events in containing Ottoman expansion.

I am no huge fan of Christendom (the institutions of Christianity, which often impede and corrupt Christianity itself.)  But Christianity–the faith, the community behind the institutions–is essential, and it is essential for world Christianity that there be a strong, healthy, Bible-believing community here on the border between the West and the Muslim world.

Do you remember the difference between Christendom and Christianity?

  • Christianity is the community of those who follow Jesus.  Christendom is the institutions, organizations, buildings, & authorities that manifest official Christianity.
  • Christianity began in the New Testament. Christendom began when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
  • Kierkegaard says: Christendom is a “forged copy” of Christianity.  It is actually “just the opposite” of what Christianity is in the New Testament.
  • Kierkegaard again: “In Christendom Christianity did not conquer the world but rather the opposite: the world conquered Christianity and Christianity became acculturated” [i.e., thoroughly taken over].

Christendom is relatively strong in Croatia; we’re 85% Roman Catholic, and 15% of the populace (again, virtually all Catholic) actively attend worship or participate in church activities monthly.  The Catholic church has huge political influence, and is intertwined with Croats’ identity: to be a Croat is to be Catholic.

Christendom is strong.  Biblical Christian faith is not.

It is essential for world Christianity that there be a strong, healthy, Bible-believing Christian community here on the border between the West and the Muslim world.

Why?  Because Croatia is one of the first places where Muslim refugees, immigrants, and college students encounter Christianity.

Christians and relief workers in Croatia have the first opportunity to share the gospel with them, and for them to see that there is more to Christianity than the corrupt, tired churches of Europe (or the commercialized churches, scandal-ridden churches of America.)

More on Wednesday …

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