The past 50 years represent a most important period for Greece. Four wars, the absorption of 1½ million refugees by a small country of poor means, a disastrous enemy occupation and an internecine guerrilla war which followed hard on the heels of World War II, have all contributed to the great changes in the size, the population, the face, and the soul of the country. Signs of these changes are easily seen in the religious outlook of the people, as well as in the new potentialities for the evangelization of the country.

The vast majority of the population belongs nominally to the Greek Orthodox Church, though church attendance, according to the official statistics, does not exceed one and one half per cent on normal Sundays. There is a small Roman Catholic minority which is strongest in the islands of the Aegean Sea—a relic of the Venetian occupation of the country—and there is an even smaller Protestant body, the oldest and largest part of which, the Greek Evangelical Church, is Presbyterian. The whole Protestant community in Greece does not exceed 30,000 out of more than eight million.

One must, however, go beyond dry statistics and try to gauge the influence of Protestant bodies on the Orthodox church. This influence can be detected, for example, in the Sunday school. This was introduced into Greece by the Evangelical church, and for many years the leaders of the Orthodox church fought hard against it. But the Evangelical church persevered, and today statistics show that 2,170 Sunday schools operate within the Greek Orthodox Church.

More important was the matter of the Bible in the vernacular tongue. In November 1901 there was bloodshed in the streets of Athens, leading eventually to the resignation of both the Government ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.