Can we still speak about God at all in today’s secularised and plural society? And if so, how? Why do we have to speak about God? And: Who talks about God and in which places do we talk about God? – Answers to these questions are partly very different on our European continent and in the churches
Speaking about God is central to the Christian faith. However, we perceive that, among other things, the increasing secularisation and the plural individual offers of religion challenge the speech of God and lose its language. The Protestant churches have the task of constantly considering the appropriateness of God’s speech and therefore its contextuality and timeliness. They are called to speak of God in an understandable, provocative and encouraging way. How can this succeed? Delegates from 15 CPCE-member churches and cooperation partners dealt with all these questions at a consultation in Bad Vöslau (Austria) from 1 to 3 December 2022 on a draft CPCE study text on “Christian Speaking of God”.
At the last CPCE General Assembly in Basel in 2018 a process on “Christian Speaking of God” was suggested. At the consultation in Bad Vöslau, the present draft of the study text was now critically discussed and guidelines for editing the document were established. The discussions and contributions were very intensive and fruitful for further work. We experienced together, how theology comes into being among the different CPCE-member churches. It was exciting to see, which accents were brought in from the different contexts in Europe – from secularisation in the Netherlands, the position of the Young Theologians to the war situation in Ukraine.
The consultation was opened by Study Secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Thomas-Andreas Põder. General Secretary Rev. Dr Mario Fischer and Presidium member Prof. Dr Miriam Rose, also a member of the study group and editorial group, accompanied the consultation. Rev. Mart Jan Luteijn (Protestant Church in the Netherlands), Rev. Dr Tomi Karttunen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland) and Prof. Dr Georg Plasger (Reformed Church in Germany) gave impulses and first thoughts in discussion of the text at the beginning of the consultation. At the end of the days in Bad Vöslau an editorial group of eleven people was determined, which with the help of the results will revise the present draft of the study text until the next General Assembly in 2024. The CPCE-consultations also always offer opportunities for encounters and reports from the various member churches. For example, Prof. Dr Dmytro Tsolin (German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine) spoke about the situation of Christians in Ukraine.
We experience the church fellowship and the spiritual dimension of Christian speaking of God specifically in the communion of worship. Therefore, the consultation ended with a joint service in the Evangelical Church A.B and H.B. in Bad Vöslau.