Echoes of Modernity in the Theologies and Praxis of Churches in Contemporary Latvia

By Teraudkalns, Valdis | International Review of Mission, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Echoes of Modernity in the Theologies and Praxis of Churches in Contemporary Latvia


Teraudkalns, Valdis, International Review of Mission


This article has two main purposes The first is to show how many of the issues the church faces today are a continuation of modernity. (1) We are living in times often characterized by the term "postmodernity" or "the other modernity". We need to remember that "modernism may be dead but, behind the facades of postmodernist architecture, it is certainly dominant" (2). The second purpose of this article is to interpret what these signs of our age mean for the mission of the church in the context of a post-socialist society, and how the church is reacting to them.

There are several issues that can be listed as going back to modernity:

1. Growing secularization of society

At the beginning of the nineties, Latvia, like other post-socialist countries, experienced national revival. The fact that its supporters indulged in this revival with an enormous intensity of devotion, and that for many people this highly ritualized movement gave meaning to life, points to the quasi-religious character of the phenomenon. At the same time, it activated institutionalized religions. Many people thought that this upsurge in nationalism was a sign of a long-awaited religious revival. Now that we are able to look to the recent past from the distance needed for a balanced analysis, we can begin to deconstruct both the national and religious revivals.

The process of political change at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s was very complex and should not be explained as a miraculous result of an awakening of a mysterious national spirit. It was partially inspired and monitored by the old regime, which was the same force that later failed to control it. We should also admit that religious renewal did not have a continuous impact.

According to sociological polls, about 300,000 to 600,000 persons in Latvia consider themselves Lutherans but only 30,000 are official members of the church. Of these, only a third (10,000) attend worship services regularly. (3) The dean of the Riga city district of Lutheran parishes, Janis Ginters, reports that in spite of the fact that the number of parish members in Riga has continued to grow, local churches have had to strike off from the list of active members quite a number of individuals.4 The Lutheran archbishop Janis Vanags says:

In the pre-war state of Latvia, Lutherans may have been a "people's church" but the Soviet occupation took from it any chance to be like that. In Soviet times faith was not a normal element of everyday life but something that took courage and sacrifice in honour of Christ... Today many "people's churches" are living off their great historical heritage. The Latvian Lutheran Church does not have this privilege. It has to work in the free market of denominations, religions and philosophies. (5)

I agree, and would add that even before the second world war the Lutheran church was not the people's church, in spite of attempts by the political powers to place it on the pedestal of national religion. Lutheran pre-war historian Ludvigs Adamovics has admitted that the independence of Latvia in 1918 did not put a halt to the crisis of Lutheranism. Since then, the people's church has remained more an ideal than a reality. (6) The statistics for Baptists are also worrying. There is still a small growth in membership but, compared with 1999 and 2000, the number of new members in 2001 slightly decreased. (7)

Living in a minority situation puts an additional burden on the church. At the same time, it frees the church from the laziness of status quo religion and motivates it to be a community of committed people. The process of transition for churches in post-socialist countries, which for many years have existed without enjoying any privileges, happens to be easier than for mainline western European churches. In eastern Europe, however, overcoming the inherited dualism is difficult and the risk of becoming a self-righteous community is higher. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Echoes of Modernity in the Theologies and Praxis of Churches in Contemporary Latvia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.