by Elvis, sx
On July 4th, 2012 the Loyola School of Theology (LST) organized a Theological Hour with the topic “Challenges to Christian Believing in Today’s World”. The speaker was the Most Reverend Anthon Jamnik, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
After situating geographically and historically Slovenia, Bishop Anton pointed out the three main Christian challenges in today’s world. First, how can Christian believers move from the strong traditional beliefs of the past to a personal believing? He gave the example of some European countries such as Italy, Spain and Ireland which in the past had strong traditional believing communities but now face faith crisis. Second, how can Christian believers of today’s world help to build communities? According to the speaker, believing is not to be done alone but to be done together and it is about being able to see in everyone’s face the epiphany of God (E. Levinas). Furthermore, Believing is not only about belonging but also the feeling of being actively part of a community. The third challenge is to be able to become witness of the Lord in the ordinary life. There is no separation between believing and ordinary life but rather they must go harmoniously together. In fact, Christian is the one who can be witness of God not only during celebrations but also in one’s working place, in one’s the family, in short, wherever one is.
According to our speaker the following three points illustrate the major problems of today’s world. First of all, Immanentism and secularization where the human person of today wants to take the place of God in the day-to-day life. Second, the Ethical relativism where nobody knows what is good or Evil. Everyone wants to enjoy their life (“the culture of enjoying”) as they please. People want to create their religion without any structure because it is supposedly against their freedom. Here, he mentioned the thirst for some Asian religions or beliefs which is common nowadays in some Western countries. According to him, Christianity is a religion of freedom but freedom with responsibility which is lacking in most of today’s behavior. The third is individualism. Today’s generation is an “I” generation, “I” am important and “I” can relate with you if only I can profit from you, otherwise no relationship shall be stablished. Ironically, this individualism is accompanied by a sense of loneliness. Many people, even those who are rich, long for someone whom they can be with.
To conclude, the speaker gave some solutions which can empower the Christians to cope with all these challenges: The first solution is to be close to the ordinary people, the ones left behind. The second is the language, what kind of language are we using? It should not be a language of moralization but a language of love and hope. A language that does not exclude anybody as did the one of Jesus. Last, but not the least, as St. Catherina said, “First of all respect yourself and then you will be able to relate with others and with God.” It is only on that condition that one can become a witness of the Lord in the world of today.