Archive for the ‘Spain’ category

The Word of God is not chained

May 7, 2015
Title page of Lucena’s revision of the Reina Valera  printed by the Oxford University Press in 1862

Title page of Lucena’s revision of the Reina Valera
printed by the Oxford University Press in 1862

The Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy, written from a prison cell, were meant to encourage him as to the irresistible power of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:9). In today’s Europe we need to hear this message and to hold on to the promise that nothing can contain the power of the gospel.

This edition of Vista deals with Bible translation and engagement in Europe. That Bible translation might still be necessary in some European languages may come as a surprise to some. More generally, the challenge of Bible engagement is a pressing one across the continent.

Our guest editor for this edition is Maik Gibson, director of the Centre for Linguistics, Translation and Literacy at Redcliffe College. He presents the challenge of reaching today’s audience with translations which effectively and authentically communicate the good news.

Jim Memory then tells the story of two forgotten heroes of Bible translation and engagement in Spain: Lorenzo Lucena and George Borrow.

Darrell Jackson gives a personal account of evangelical Orthodox collaboration in Bible translation in Eastern Europe, and Joanne Appleton completes the edition with another review of resources, in this case non-English language Scripture resources.

No chains can bind God’s word, not even the apathy and secular disdain of today’s Europeans. Paul’s words to Timothy, written to encourage him to hope beyond hope in the power of the Scriptures, are words that we need to heed today. May we never take for granted the Bibles we have in our hands nor fail to remember those who work to translate the message of the gospel into the language of today’s Europeans.

Download Vista 21 here

The old rugged cross: ban or cherish?

September 13, 2010

We’re just working on the October edition of Vista, our quarterly research bulletin. The theme is secularisation and we’ve been researching how the personal or institutional display of a crucifix is increasingly a focus for social policy legislators. It may be too early to predict patterns, but the forthcoming ruling from the European Court of Human Rights may prove important to this whole debate (read more about that below). Our attention to the public displaying of crucifixes follows last quarter’s look at the wearing of Burqas in public. A quick round-up of recent decisions regarding the wearing or displaying of crosses in public  includes:

  • In October 2006 a British Airways check-in worker was banned by her employers from wearing a small crucifix around her neck. Of Egyptian ethnicity, Nadia Eweida, was told by BA that the wearing of all publically visible jewellery was forbidden by the company.
  • In January 2007 Robert Napier School in Gillingham, Kent, ordered a 13 year-old Roman Catholic schoolgirl, Samantha Devine to remove her crucifix at school because it posed a health and safety risk. The school indicated it would be happy with a cross worn in Samantha’s blazer lapel.
  • In December 2008 a Spanish court ruled that it was inappropriate for a state school to display crucifixes in its classrooms. Earlier that year, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance had supported the omission of crucifixes from public ceremonies and a law guaranteeing the religious neutrality of public officials.
  • In November 2009 the European Court of Human Rights, sitting in Strasbourg, ruled that an Italian school’s refusal to remove the crucifix following the request of Finnish-born Italian Soile Lautsi that it be removed from her children’’ classrooms was a ‘violation of parents’ rights’ to educate children in accord with their convictions. The ruling was expected to have repercussions across all 47 Council of Europe member states. Italy appealed the judgement in June 2010 and awaits a final ruling.
  • In April 2010 a British nurse, Shirley Chaplin, lost her appeal to wear a crucifix at work. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust argued that the cross and necklace she had worn for over 40 years was a health and safety risk. The Trust suggested she wear a lapel pin or cross earrings.
  • In April 2010, a German First Minister, Aygül Őzkan who is of Turkish heritage, , called for a ban on crucifixes in state schools in Lower-Saxony and Germany. She withdrew her suggestions following criticism from members of the ruling CDU to which she belongs.
  • In June 2010 the Spanish Government introduced a draft Law of Freedom of Religion and Conscience which regulates the use of the crucifix, including its removal from public places such as schools, hospitals and council buildings. The Spanish EA interpreted the use of crucifixes in such places as evidence of a ‘confessional state’, something to which they remain opposed.
  • In June 2010 an Amsterdam appeal court ruled that the city’s public transport authority was within its rights to ban an Egyptian-born tram conductor from wearing a crucifix. The judge ruled that the transport authority was correct in imposing a ban on the basis that the crucifix was attached to a necklace, not the fact that it was worn visibly.
  • During August, 2010, in Roman Catholic majority Poland, 80% of respondents in an online poll of 11,000 urged the removal of a cross from the square in front of the Presidential palace commemorating the death of the former President in an air crash.
  • The BBC reported in August 2010 that in Greece, the human-rights NGO, Helsinki Monitor, has urged Greek Courts to remove icons from its chambers and drop the practice of requiring witnesses to swear oaths on the Bible.

We’ll also summarise the reasons for and against displaying crosses in public. If you’d like to receive a copy of Vista by email please contact us at or

How important is religion to you?

September 9, 2010

At the end of August, Gallup released news of a 2009 survey examining the importance of religion for the population of 114 countries, based on telephone and face-to-face interviews. The global average for those who said that religion was important in their daily lives was 84% but this number dipped as low as Estonia (16%) and as high as Italy (72%) in Europe. Other European countries in the survey polled as follows: United Kingdom (27%) and 109th in the list of 114 countries. Denmark and Sweden were lower than the UK whilst France (30%), Germany (40%) and Spain (49%) were higher.

Further statistical  information and the Gallup press release are available by clicking here.

British Missionaries across Europe – 1951

August 19, 2010

A copy of Missionary Informer: A survey of British Missionary Activity has recently crossed my desk. It was published from a survey of British Missionary Societies in 1951 and lists missionaries by continent. The survey reveals that there were 103 British missionaries serving with missionary societies in continental Europe. The greater number of these were working in Spain (29), France (23), Malta (14), Germany (6), followed by Belgium, France, Portugal and Switzerland (each with 5) . The ratio of missionaries to nationals was calculated. Malta had one British missionary for every 22,000 Maltese nationals whilst in Italy there was only one missionary per 9,199,000 Italians.

The survey only counted protestant missionaries and probably didn’t include chaplains serving Anglican congregations and chaplaincies (serving for example with the Intercontinental Society or with the Diocese of Europe). It did include missionaries working with the Glynn Vivian Miners’ Mission (in France, Germany and Spain) and one missionary in Yugoslavia with the Barbican Mission to the Jews.

A pdf copy of the 8 page report can be downloaded by clicking here: Missionary Informer 1951 British Missionary activity

Basque Evangelicals apologize for not supporting ETA victims

June 9, 2010

Basque Protestants have produced a manifesto calling ‘for peace and remembrance’, and exhorting the Basque separatist organisation, ETA, to lay down its weapons. It tells ETA that ‘here can be no forgiveness without repentance’. At the same time the Evangelical Council of the Basque Country sought forgiveness from the victims of ETA terror campaign for ‘not having known how to help those who have been the object of rejection, public shame, abandonment and the cowardly violence of those who use arms to try to impose their will’. At the same time it affirmed that ‘silence’ from the universal Christian Church on any type of violence ‘should cause us profound pain’ and ‘repentance’.

The Basque Evangelical churches called on ETA, to ‘abandon their arms’, adding that ‘there is no true justice without peace, that there is no peace without forgiveness, and that there will be no forgiveness as long as there is no acknowledgment of guilt. Also, that guilt cannot be acknowledged without a desire to live together peaceably, and this coexistence cannot come about without the desire for a free society’.

The churches strengthened their commitment to ‘serve’ Basque society ‘by providing a shared space for healing wounds, for strengthening positive, constructive values in people, and for contributing, along with the rest of society and with the help of God, towards the creation of an environment where we can reach the ideals of peace, justice and liberty that we all long for”.

Source: Protestant digital