Though persecution is on the rise, it isn’t stopping believers in Kazakhstan (Central Asia) from sharing their faith

English: Map of the Ethno-Linguistic groups of...

English: Map of the Ethno-Linguistic groups of central Asia.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click on photo to enlarge and for source.

From the Russian/Asian front. Mission News Network reports:

Kazachs consider evangelist worse than spies for bringing Kazakhs to Christ.

SGA serves Bible-preaching churches in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States by helping national pastors and churches reach their own people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. „There definitely has been an uptick in the level and intensity of persecution in these countries,” says Griffith.

„The worst persecution believers get would be in Turkmenistan andUzbekistan, but it certainly has been stepping up in Kazakhstan.” (Photo credit http://voiceofthepersecuted.wordpress.com)

Persecution Personified

Earlier this year, Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was imprisoned as part of a nationwide crack-down. He’s been arrested on trumped-up charges, denied medical attention, and imprisoned in a psychiatric asylum. Now, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), Kazakh officials are harassing members of Kashkumbaev’s Grace Protestant Church.

„You are worse than spies. You bring Kazakhs to Christ,” an officer reportedly told one of ICC’s sources.

In Eastern Kazakhstan, Baptist Pastor Pavel Leonov is facing up to a year in prison for refusing to pay a fine equal to two months’ income, according to Forum 18 News. Leonov is part of the Council of Churches Baptist, a group which refuses to register their fellowships with the government.

SGA works with churches of the Union of Evangelical Christians Baptist (UECB), a group registered with Kazakhstan’s government. But that doesn’t mean they don’t run into problems, Griffith notes. „They try to comply with registration laws,” he says. „They try to follow the law as closely as they can, and they still end up getting persecuted anyway.”

The Silver Lining

Though persecution is on the rise, it isn’t stopping believers in Central Asia from sharing their faith. „The churches remember what life was like under Communism,” Griffith states. „They know what it is to live and serve under persecution, and they’re certainly not going to stop proclaiming the Gospel because this seems to be stepping up again.”

Keep praying for persecuted Christians around the world. Pray specifically for believers in Central Asia. „Pray for these pastors who are encountering difficulty right now,” adds Griffith.

„For some reason, it just doesn’t seem to grab the attention of the news media, and it needs to,” says Griffith. „I mean, these are people that are actually being killed for their faith.”

You can read more of Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev’s story at http://voiceofthepersecuted.wordpress.com

Reclame

ISTORIA ANABAPTISTILOR Partea I-a Daniel Branzai (Lucrare de baza pentru Romanii Protestanti)

Vezi aici Partea II-a

Cateva linkuri importante despre Anabaptisti:

In ce orase a originat miscarea Anabaptista a secolului XVI

Photo credit http://en.wikipedia.org

sursa www.crestinul.ro/baptisti

Identitate Crestina in Istorie (I)

de Daniel Branzei

Miscarea Anabaptistilor e importanta pentru ca Anabaptistii au fost percusori ai Reformei.

Mişcarea anabaptistă

1. ASPECTE METODICE

1.1. Definirea, incadrarea si delimitarea subiectului.

Sub aspectul cercetarii istorice, subiectul se defineste atat ca subiect de istorie a crestinismului in cadrul istoriei religiilor, care apartin stiintei seculare, folosind metode obiective, cat si ca subiect de istorie a Bisericii, ca ramura a Teologiei, folosind metoda de cercetare teologica din perspectiva evanghelica.

Subiectul se defineste drept studiu al unei miscari crestine constituite in timpul Reformei din sec. al XVI-lea, miscare care are continuitate pana in prezent. Din acest punct de vedere, se coreleaza cu o alta ramura a Teologiei istorice, si anume istoria gandirii crestine sau istoria doctrinelor crestine.

Prin problemele de teologie sistematica pe care le pune istoria doctrinelor, subiectul se coreleaza si cu teologia sistematica, mai ales cu dogmatica si cu teologia polemica. Prin problemele de teologie practica, subiectul cercetat se leaga de ramuri ca teologia evanghelizarii sau misionarism, teologia pastorala, liturgica, etc…

Din punct de vedere al istoriei seculare, subiectul pune probleme ce depasesc istoria bisericeasca, raportandu-se la istoria culturii si civilizatiei, societate, economie, stat, corelate, bineinteles, cu problema fundamentala a relatiei dintre Biserica, stat, si natiune.

1.2. Importanta problemei cercetate care justifica abordarea ei in aceasta lucrare.

Lucrarea anabaptista apartine Reformei radicale, care, la inceput, a fost prezentata ca extremista, iar in prezent este reconsiderata de teologii protestanti, mai ales cei evanghelici, fiindca prin tendinta ei anabaptista este precursoarea tuturor bisericilor evanghelice care practica botezul la varsta adulta. Prin tendinta radicala de traire integrala a crestinismului, precede fundamentalismul neoprotestant, iar prin tendinta entuziasta, precede miscarea penticostala.

Anabaptistii au separat radical Biserica de Stat, prefigurand un aspect care va fi reluat in America de Nord de baptisti, si care se va impune in statele seculare dupa Revolutia franceza din 1789. Din alt punct de vedere, participarea partiala a miscarii anabaptiste la miscarea hiliasta ( milenista), care a incercat sa instaureze o societate bazata pe crestinismul comunitar, a prefigurat socialismul secular din sec. XVIII- XIV, de la Saint Simon la Marx, care nu au facut decat sa „teoretizeze” o imparatie de 1 000 de ani fara Dumnezeu.

Esecul de a instaura o societate milenista pe scara larga a condus la aparitia comunitatilor anabaptiste inchise. In prezent, aceste comunitati tind sa se deschida si contribuie prin scrieri si activitati practice la dezvoltarea conceptiei dupa care Biserica preia de la statul secular sfere intinse de activitate.

Invatamantul, asistenta sociala, asigurarile si multe alte domenii care privesc viata sociala a membrilor sunt preocupari importante pentru Biserica. In felul acesta este limitata activitatea statului, reducandu-se riscul aparitiei tensiunilor social-politice. Importanta miscarii anabaptiste, ca subiect de cercetare reiese si din faptul ca a influientat istoria crestinismului din tara noastra, unde tendinta anabaptista spre unitarism este si mai clara prin faptul ca promotorul unitarismului in Transilvania, David Francisc a fost si promotorul anabaptistilor.

Tendinta actuala de apropiere a miscarii anabaptiste de cea evanghelica justifica un studiu pozitiv al acestor reprezentanti ai Reformei radicale.

1.3. Obiectivele cercetarii.

Originea, aparitia si dezvoltarea miscarii anabaptiste evanglelice in Elvetia, Imperiul Romano – German, Olanda, Transilvania, continuarea miscarii anabaptiste pana in prezent si tendintele ei actuale.

2. DE LA PRECURSORII REFORMEI (PREREFORMATORI) LA MAREA REFORMA PROTESTANTA

2.1. VIATA SPIRITUALA IN EVUL MEDIU

2.1.1. DECADENTA CRESTINISMULUI

Biserica Crestina, din perioada apostolilor si pana la Reforma, a fost mai intai biruitoare, in ciuda persecutiilor, dar apoi, incepand cu sec.IV a cunoscut o perioada de decadenta si declin, care s-a accentuat cu trecerea timpului.

Una din devierile timpurii de la invataturile Noului Testament a fost supozitia ca actele de cult contin puteri magice si sunt mijloace prin care se obtine mantuirea.

Botezul, in decursul timpului, a ajuns sa fie vazut ca un instrument de regenerare iar participarea la impartasanie ca un mijloc de obtinere a iertarii pacatelor savarsite dupa botez.

In decursul catorva secole, alte grave erori si practici nescripturale si-au gasit drumul in biserica. Odata cu acceptarea religiei crestine de catre Constantin, imparatul Imperiului Roman, persecutiile au incetat. Atunci a inceput cresterea exterioara si expansiunea bisericii.

Constantin si fiii lui, care i-au succedat la domnie, au acordat privilegii Bisericii, iar mai tarziu, crestinismul a devenit religie de stat. Teodosiu I, in anul 380 a dat un edict in care declara crestinismul religie de stat. Biserica s-a unit cu statul si mai tarziu, populatia a fost silita sa devina crestina.

Toate conditiile preliminare de a putea fi primit ca membru in biserica au fost abandonate, cu exceptia botezului, care a fost facut obligatoriu. Deoarece, in teorie, acest act de cult trebuia sa fie un instrument de regenerare, membrii bisericii erau considerati persoane regenerate. A fost introdus botezul copiilor mici, ceea ce inseamna ca biserica nu mai putea fi un trup de credinciosi. Disciplinarea biblica nu mai putea fi aplicata in biserica.

Consecinta acestui declin in credinta si practica a dus la pierderea standardului de viata si practica lasat de apostoli.

Ideea de preotie, luata in mod literal, a inlocuit preotia spirituala a tuturor credinciosilor. Preotii acestor biserici erau considerati ca mediatori intre Dumnezeu si om. Acum, o preotie luata in sens literal, avea nevoie de un altar, sacrificii, deasemenea luate in sens literal. Acest lucru s-a realizat prin ceremonia liturghiei, cu supozitia ca painea sau azima, in serviciul de impartasanie, este schimbata in trupul Domnului Isus, si ca El trebuie, in mod literar, oferit din nou si din nou, ca ispasire pentru pacat.

Rugaciunea catre Maria si sfinti era considerata necesara. In limbajul Scripturii, sfintii sunt cei credinciosi. In viziunea bisericii numai cei ce se canonizau si erau despartiti de viata lumeasca, erau considerati sfinti.

In timp, imagini despre Isus si sfinti au inceput sa fie obiecte de inchinare si adoratie. Biserica de Apus si cea de Rasarit aveau practici diferite in ceea ce priveste obiectele de inchinare (picturi, statui de piatra, lemn).

Printre semnele clare ale indepartarii de invataturile Noului Testament au fost doctrinele cu privire la purgatoriu, indulgente, folosirea apei si uleiului sfint, superstitiile legate de relicve, si alte practici.

Dupa secolul al 12-lea credinciosului nu i se dadea si vinul, ci numai painea, considerandu-se ca fiecare element continea si trupul si sangele lui Hristos.

Muzica a devenit complicata si colorata ca un acompaniament potrivit pentru misterele sacre al liturghiei.

Intre anii 1309-1439 Biserica Romana a ajuns cat se poate de jos in ochii laicilor. Organizarea ierarhica cu cererea ei de celibat a dus la un declin in morala clericilor. Multi preoti aveau concubine sau se angajau in aventuri nepermise cu membre din bisericile lor.

Papalitatea si-a pierdut prestigiul datorita evenimentelor legate de “Captivitatea Babiloniana” si “Marea Schisma”. Impozitele papale si numeroase alte taxe au devenit o povara pentru populatie. In anumite tari(Franta, Anglia) statul national a devenit suficient de puternic pentru a-l sfida pe papa si a incerca sa supuna Biserica intereselor nationale. Toate acestea cereau reforma interna a papalitatii in perioada evului mediu tarziu.

GreatSchismMapEuropean Allegiances during the Great Schism 

Photo credit University of Oregon

2.1.2. O epoca a nelinistii

Cele doua secole care preced reforma s-au dovedit in mod remarcabil vitale in fata unei provocari si schimbari fara precedent. Cu cat se inmulteau abuzurile in biserica, cu atat se se auzeau mai multe strigate pentru reforma. Noi forme de pietate laica, mici tratate devotionale, interes renascut pentru relicve, pelerinaje si sfinti, miscarile religioase – toate marturisesc o spiritualitate cu radacini adanci. Se poate observa crestere constanta in intensitate si profunzime a sentimentului religios pana la perioada Reformei.

Acest lucru nu inseamna negarea realitatii ca Evul Mediu Tarziu a trecut si prin perioade de transformari politice, sociale, economice si religioase.

Poetul Eustache Deschamps spunea „Acum lumea e lasa, decazuta si slaba, batrana , invidioasa si balbaita. Nu vad decat barbati si femei nebune. Se apropie sfarsitul, intradevar …..toate merg prost„, exprimand starea generala de melancolie.

De fapt aceasta stare de indispozitie, sentimentul ca vremurile au scapat de sub control, combinata cu asteptarile religioase tot mai mari, a produs o epoca de extraordinara neliniste.

In cartea sa , The Courage To Be, Paul Tillich schiteaza istoria civilizatiei vestice in termenii a trei tipuri recurente de neliniste, de frica.

Sfarsitul antichitatii clasice a fost marcat de o neliniste ontologica, de o preocupare intensa pentru soarta si moartea omului. Catre sfarsitul Evului Mediu, a predominat o neliniste caracterizata de un sentiment de vinovatie si frica de condamnare. Aceasta, in schimb, a lasat loc, catre sfarsitul epocii moderne, unei nelinisti spirituale, unui sentiment de desertaciune si lipsa de sens. Moartea, sentimentul vinovatiei si al lipsei de sens rasuna ca o nota distonanta in literatura, arta si teologia acestei perioade.

Martin Luther

Aceste trei teme se contureaza in zbaterea lui Luther si in incercarea lui de a gasi un Dumnezeu plin de har. Prins in mijlocul unei furtuni cu tunete si trasnete, si temandu-se ca i se apropie sfarsitul, Luther a jurat ca va deveni calugar. O data ajuns la manastire, a fost cuprins de un coplesitor sentiment de vinovatie. Desi zbaterea lui Luther a fost doar a sa, ea rezuma sperantele, nelinistile vremii sale. El a fost, am putea spune, exact ca toti ceilalti,dar intr-o masura putin mai mare. Asfel teologia reformatorilor a fost un raspuns specific la nelinistea aparte a vremii lor.

In Evul Mediu Tarziu, Europa a fost invadata de o preocupare morbida pentru suferinta si moarte. La baza acestei experiente neplacute stau doua fenomene inrudite: foametea si ciuma. Criza agrara a fost deosebit de puternica la inceputul sec.al XIV-lea; acesteia i s-a adaugat ciuma bubonica sau Moartea Neagra, care a ajuns la apogeu in Anglia in jurul anului 1349 si care a cauzat moartea a cel putin o treime din populatia Europei.

Viziunea mortii s-a manifestat atat in predici si xilogravuri, cat si in pictura si sculptura vremii. Mormintele erau deseori impodobite cu imaginea unui cadavru gol, cu gura cascata, pumnii inclestati si cu maruntaiele mancate de viermi. Moartea, vazuta sub forma unui schelet, dansa conducandu-si victimele.

Siguranta mortii era o tema obisnuita si pentru predicatori. Un calugar franciscan, Richard de Paris, a predicat zece zile consecutiv, cate sapte ore pe zi, numai despre Zilele din urma: moarte, judecata, rai, iad. Nelinistea morala, pe care Tillich o considera a fi motivul dominant in epoca, deriva din faptul ca moartea implica judecata, iar judecata il aduce pe pacatos in fata in fata cu un Dumnezeu sfant si plin de manie.

Au existat diferite incercari de a diminua sentimentul de vinovatie, care apasa atat de greu asupra sufletelor oamenilor. Cele mai radicale au fost exercitate de diverse grupuri de persoane care practicau flagelarea, ascetismul sever, si care mergeau din oras in oras, biciuindu-se cu biciuri de piele, in sperata ca vor ispasi vina proprie si cea a intregii societati.

Nicaieri altundeva nu este mai evident sentimentul vinovatiei care caracterizeaza viata religioasa din perioada medievala ca in manualele confesionale si in catehismele laice, care au invadat lumea cu ajutorul tiparnitelor recent inventate. Analiza acestor documente, pe care o face Steven Ozment, arata ca, departe de a oferi un sentiment de iertare, acestea nu au facut altceva decat sa reinvie vina deja existenta.

In stransa legatura cu frica, ce a dominat toate fazele vietii in Evul Mediu Tarziu, se afla o criza de incredere in identitatea si autoritatea Bisericii. Spre deosebire de alte doctrine stabilite la diferite concilii, doctrina despre Biserica nu a primit niciodata un statut dogmatic.

Reforma din sec. XIV-lea a fost o continuare a cautarii adevaratei biserici, care a inceput cu mult inainte ca Luther, Zwingli, Calvin sau parintii catolici sa intre in scena.

2.2. Precursori ai reformei

De-a lungul veacurilor, pe masura ce Biserica unita cu statul se indeparta tot mai mult de adevarul Sfintelor Scripturi, au existat diferite grupuri de crestini care s-au straduit sa ramana credinciosi invataturii curate a Noului Testament. Astfel Dumnezeu nu a ramas nici o data fara sa aiba un popor al Sau, oameni care sa-L marturiseasca atat prin viata lor cat si cu gura, chiar cu riscul vietii lor. Dintre aceste grupari se pot mentiona in mod special: donatistii, valdenzii si anabaptistii. Supusi unor prigoane salbatice de catre „sfanta biserica”, hartuiti pretutindeni, torturati, macelariti, masacrati in mare parte, acesti oameni „nu si-au iubit viata, chiar si pana la moarte”. Asa cum spune autorul epistolei catre Evrei: „…unii, ca sa dobandeasca o inviere mai buna, n-au vrut sa primeasca izbavirea, care li se dadea si au fost chinuiti. Altii au suferit batjocuri, batai, lanturi si inchisoare; au fost ucisi cu pietre, taiati in doua cu fierastraul, chinuiti; au murit ucisi de sabie, au pribegit imbracati in cojoace si-n piei de capre, lipsiti de toate, prigoniti, munciti, – ei, de care lumea nu era vrednica – au ratacit prin pustiuri, prin munti, prin pesteri si prin crapaturile pamantului” (Evrei 11:35-38).

Chiar daca unele din aceste grupari nu mai exista astazi asa cum erau pe vremuri, ideile lor, credinta lor curata a strabatut veacurile si au influentat alti oameni de seama a lui Dumnezeu. Multe dintre ideile lor se gasesc in marturisirea de credinta si in practica Bisericilor Penticostale din zilele noastre. Este demn, ca pe langa aceste grupari pe care le-am amintit mai sus, sa consemnam contributia importanta pe care au avut-o unele personaje din istoria bisericii. Dintre acestea as aminti pe: William Ockham, Misticii scolastici, John Wyclif, Jan Hus si Savonarola, care au avut o contributie considerabila in pregatirea Reformei. O buna parte din ideile lor au fost luate si propovaduite de reformatori. Doresc in continuare sa vorbesc putin despre cateva dintre aceste miscari si personaje, care au avut un rol deosebit in pregatirea reformei care a urmat. Acestea sunt: Valdenzii, William Ockham, Misticii medievali, Fratia vietii in comun, John Wyclif si Jan Hus. Nu putem vorbi despre toti, deoarece spatiul acestei lucrari nu permite. De aceea i-am ales pe cei care au avut o rezonanta mai puternica in ceea ce priveste baza biblica a credintei lor precum si influenta asupra personajelor reformei, in special asupra lui Luther.

2.2.1. Valdenzii

Cea mai veche grupare crestina pre-reformatoare, care a existat si exista si azi o constituie valdenzii. Numele si l-au luat de la un negustor bogat din Lyon pe nume Petro Valdes, care pe la 1175-1176 si-a impartit averea saracilor si a hotarat sa urmeze pilda lui Hristos, traind o viata de saracie si propovaduind Evanghelia. El avea o traducere a Noului Testament din limba latina in limba vorbita de popor, traducere care a stat la baza actiunii lui de evanghelizare. Barbati si femei consacrati i s-au alaturat, iar acest ideal de viata dusa in saracie si simplitate a fost aprobat de papa Alexandru III la Conciliu Luteran III in 1179.

De aceea cred ca merita sa spunem ceva despre ei. Iata cum prezinta Elisabet Livingstone inceputurile lor: „Aceasta mica comunitate crestina, care supravietuieste in Piedmont, isi are originea in grupa <<Saracilor din Lyon>>, organizata in secolul XII de Petro Valdes, de la care si-au preluat numele… Valdes a fost un negustor bogat din Lyon care a murit intre 1205 si 1218. In 1173 sau curand dupa aceea el si-a impartit averea la saraci si a devenit predicator itinerant; in scurta vreme a atras o multime de urmasi, barbati, femei si … Alexandru al III-lea i-a aprobat lui Valdes juramantul de saracie, dar i-a interzis lui si tovarasilor sai sa predice fara invitatia clerului. Valdes a inceput curand sa nu mai de-a ascultare prohibitiei impuse… Valdes si urmasii sai s-au organizat separat de Biserica, au ignorat decretele si sanctiunile ei si si-au numit proprii lor slujitori. Mai presus de toate ei au insistat asupra dreptului datoriei de a predica”.

Dupa un timp ei au fugit din Lyon si si-au organizat miscarea ca o Biserica, alegandu-si episcopi, preoti si diaconi. In cele din urma s-au declarat Biserica adevarata si s-au raspandit peste tot: in sudul Frantei, si Spaniei, apoi in Germania, Piedmont si Lombardi dar predominand in Lombardia (Italia de nord) si Proventia (Franta de sud). Puternicul papa Inocentiu III nu putea ingadui aceasta situatie.

In 1214, el i-a denumit pe valdenzi eretici, schismatici iar in 1215, la marele conciliu Lateran IV, Inocentiu III a repetat denumirea generala a ereticilor, inclusiv a valdenzilor. Cu toate acestea valdenzii s-au raspandit atat de mult geografic si doctrinar, incat in 1218 au convocat un conciliu general la Bergano (Italia) unde s-au discutat diferentele doctrinare intre valdenzii din Lombardia si cei din Franta. Mai tarziu au fost urmariti de Inchizitie fara ca aceasta sa-i poata distruge.

Invatatura lor, pe care o respingea papa, era propovaduirea neautorizata a Bibliei si respingerea rolului intermediar al clerului, cele doua chestiuni fundamentale care le-au atras denumirea de eretici.

Una din sursele cele mai convenabile ale invataturii valdenze este un tratat scris pe la 1320 de Bernard Gui, un vestit inchizitor francez pe vremea cand valdenzii erau inca una dintre cele mai puternice miscari dizidente. Acesta ii descrie ca respingand autoritatea eclesiastica, mai ales prin nesupunerea fata de papa sau fata de decretele sale de excomunicare, si prin reinterpretarea tuturor sacramentelor romano-catolice, cu exceptia spovedaniei si iertarii si a impartasaniei.

In teorie, toti valdenzii, barbati si femei, puteau administra aceste sacramente, iar euharistia avea loc o data pe an. Pare sa se fi practicat si un botez valdenz. Sarbatorile si rugaciunile romano-catolice erau respinse de valdenzi.

Gui ii invinuieste ca se erijau ca Biserica alternativa in care „preotul” era pur si simplu un om bun, in loc sa fie o persoana ordinata de Biserica. Aceasta ii parea ceva mult mai greu decat alta importanta trasatura distinctiva ale valdenzilor, propovaduirea misionara in limba locala, cu o puternica scoatere in evidenta a Noului Testament.

Ei refuzau sa depuna juraminte, fiindca spuneau ca Biblia interzice aceasta. Valdenzii negau purgatoriul intrucat nu gaseau nici o baza pentru el in Noul Testament, negand astfel credinta romano-catolica in favoarea rugaciunilor si milosteniilor facute pentru morti. Pentru Valdenzi, daca mortii erau in iad, nu mai erau speranta pentru ei, iar daca erau in ceruri nu aveau nevoie de rugaciune.

In ceea ce priveste organizarea Bisericii spune Gui, valdenzii aveau superiori si credinciosi. Superiorii trebuiau sa traiasca vieti mai austere, fiind obligati sa evanghelizeze si sa rataceasca predicand fara incetare ca si apostolii.

Punctele notate de inchizitorul Gui in sec XIV sunt iarasi dezvaluite de inchizitorii ulteriori in sec. XV si in sec. XVI, cu anumite trasaturi, care par sa devina mai radicale.

Erau acuzati ca resping cladirile, cimitirele, altarele, agheasma, liturghiile, pelerinajele, indulgentele, toate fiind socotite netrebuincioase. Valdenzii si-au completat organizarea. „Clerul” valdenz continua sa se consacre exclusiv predicarii in dialectul local.

Zonele in care ei au fost mai puternici, au fost cele din Europa centrala si tarile romano-catolice din Europa rasariteana. Insesi invataturile valdenze au fost influentate de alte miscari dizidente.

Valdenzii francezi au continuat sa fie hartuiti pana la sfarsitul evului mediu. Aceasta a culminat cu o cruciada contra lor in 1488, in Dauphine (dofine). In Italia, ei au continuat sa reziste cu succes impotriva Inchizitiei, gasindu-si refugiu mai ales in Piemont, unde au fost atacati in 1488. Lucrarea celor din Europa centrala si partea romano-catolica a Europei de est, avea sa influenteze mai tarziu cursul Reformei protestante.

In sec. XV, in pofida campaniilor repetate impotriva lor, valdenzii au circulat mult in Europa centrala si au avut schimburi de idei cu husitii cehi si wyclifitii englezi care se aflau in aceasta zona.

Viata acestor credinciosi in munti nu a fost usoara atata timp cat ei erau cautati pentru a fi executati. Insa dupa un timp oamenii care locuiau la poalele muntilor le-a oferit un ajutor, iar mai tarziu „fratii din Boemia” au fost pentru ei un ajutor, acesta incercand o unificare cu valdenzii. Mai tarziu au luat contact cu reformatorii, fiind influentati puternic de teologia lui Calvin si identificandu-se in mare masura cu reformatii.

In ciuda tuturor prigoanelor care s-au abatut asupra lor de-a lungul timpului, au ramas si exista si azi, asa cum scrie Gunar Westin: „ei traiesc si azi inItalia si sunt unici in felul lor, o biserica libera protestanta din secolul XII, care este plina de vitalitate”.

Alaturi de aceste grupari crestine din biserica oficiala s-au ridicat si barbati de seama, cercetatori ai Sfintelor Scripturi, teologi remarcabili, care au inteles din studiul lor personal, luminati de Duhul Sfant adevarurile Bibliei si ratacirile doctrinei catolice. Cei mai de seama reprezentanti de care ne vom ocupa in cadrul acestui capitol sunt John Wycliff si Jan Huss.

2.2.2. Fratia vietii in comun (Devotia Moderna)

Aceasta a fost o comunitate de barbati, atat laici, cat si clerici, care s-au adunat in casa lui Radewijns din Deventer. Acestia erau in principal prieteni ai acestuia care aveau acelasi fel de gandire si erau adepti ai lui Groote Geert – un bastinas din Deventer (Olanda) care studiase la Paris si fusese profesor la Colonia (Koln). Acesta s-a pocait in anul 1374 (anul mortii lui Petrarca); mai tarziu a adunat in casa lui femei cucernice care traiau fara sa fi depus vreun juramant monastic, apoi s-a asociat cu Florens Radewijns. Acesta era un preot care studiase la Praga, era un bun organizator si a trait intre anii 1350-1400.

Cei care s-au adunat in casa lui Radewijsn au ajuns cunoscuti sub numele de Fratii Vietii in comun. Erau un grup semimonahal care respecta regula simpla a saraciei, castitatii si ascultarii insa neangajati prin nici un legamant formal. Astfel, orice membru era liber sa paraseasca fratia si sa se intoarca la viata seculara, daca asa ii placea. Fratii nu cerseau pomeni, cum faceau „fratii cersetori”, ci aveau grija sa fie tacuti, sa-si vada de treburile lor si sa lucreze cu propriile lor maini, dupa invatatura apostolului Pavel.

Cand Graote a murit de ciuma, Radewijns a preluat conducerea miscarii Devotio Moderna, iar in 1387 a intemeiat casa ei cea mai influenta la Windesheim, langa Zwolle, in Olanda. Acolo, Fratii Vietii in comun au devenit canonici augustini iar statutul lor a fost aprobat de papa Bonifaciu IX in 1395. Peste cativa ani, s-au asociat cu alte case din Olanda, ca sa formeze Congregatia de la Windesheim. Ei s-au consacrat nu doar vietii spirituale si renuntarii la lume, ci si intregului proces al educatiei. Ei predau in scoli locale si isi infiintau propriile lor scoli. Ca sa-si intretina comunitatea, se ocupau de toate aspectele productiei de carti: scrierea, copierea manuscriselor, legarea si comercializarea volumelor, iar odata cu aparitia tiparului, isi tipareau cartile in propria lor tipografie. Windesheim si casele sale afiliate s-au facut curand cunoscute ca stupi de sarguinta cucernica. Cu timpul, miscarea pornita de Grapte a luat avant si s-a raspandit. In secolul XV, Canonicii de la Windesheim au infiintat comunitati in Germania si Elvetia.

Multi dintre fratii vietii in comun si dintre cei mai educati de ei au marcat prin personalitatea lor lumea crestina. Cei mai de seama dintre acestia au fost Nicolaus din Cusa (Kues) si Erasmus insusi. Gabriel Biel (1420-1495), filosof cunoscut ca „ultimul scolastic german” si umanistul Rudolf Agricola (1444-1485), au fost membri ai acestei comunitati, intrucat cele mai stralucite elemente ale scolasticii si umanismului coexistau in Devotio Moderna.

Aceasta comunitate a fost importanta prin accentul pe care l-a pus pe studiu. Este deosebit de important sa stim aceste lucruri, deoarece ne vor ajuta sa-l intelegem mai bine pe Luther care a studiat intr-o asemenea scoala si este evident ca acest fapt l-a influentat in ideile si teologia lui de mai tarziu.

2.2.3. William Ockham (1280-1394)

English: William of Ockham

A fost un ganditor crestin de prima importanta. S-a nascut intre 1280-1290, probabil in satul Ockham din Surrey (Anglia) si a murit la Munchen (Germania) pe la 1349. Dupa ce a intrat in ordinul franciscan, si-a inceput studiile teologice la Oxford, pe la 1309 si a indeplinit conditiile pentru a primi gradul universitar de Magister, cu prelegerile sale asupra „Cartii sentemtiilor” de Petru Lombard pe la 1318-1320.

Dupa cate s-ar parea, fostul cancelar al universitatii l-a denuntat ca eretic papei Ioan XXII si William a fost convocat la Avignon in 1324. Cand a ajuns acolo, s-a implicat intr-o controversa asupra saraciei apostolice care l-a facut sa fie mai critic fata de papalitate; el a cerut ca biserica sa fie condusa de un colegiu de papi si a afirmat ca Hristos este unicul Cap al Bisericii, invataturi care prevesteau miscarea conciliara. Ockham a respins complet autoritatea papala in materie seculara. In 1328, a intrat in serviciul imparatului romano-german, Ludovic de Bavaria, sprijinindu-l in lupta lui cu papalitatea.

In filosofie, Wiliam a elaborat o noua forma de teorie nominalista. El a respins doctrina predominanta, dupa care „universaliile” – instructiuni mentale fara realitatea autonoma – ar fi avut existenta reala. Nominalismul lui William avea sa fie numit „via moderna” (calea moderna) in opozitie cu „via antiqua” (calea veche) a lui Aquinas. Ockham argumenta ca „universaliile” sunt pur si simplu produse artificiale ale mintii umane, necesare pentru comunicarea cu ajutorul limbajului. Numai indivizii sau lucrurile „particulare” (concrete) ar avea existenta reala. Intrucat cunoasterea se bazeaza pe experienta lucrurilor individuale, stiintelor naturii li s-a dat o noua semnificatie.

In multele sale scrieri, Gulielmus Occamus (pe numele sau latinizat) a dezbatut cu iscusinta logica, magistrala marile teme ale filosofiei si teologiei. Principiul sau cunoscut sub numele de „briciul lui Ockham”, afirma: concluzia care se poate formula pornind de la mai putine presupuneri nu are rost sa fie formulata pornind de la mai multe presupuneri („ceea ce se poate face cu mai putin, in zadar se face cu mai mult”); mintea nu trebuie sa inmulteasca lucrurile fara necesitate. Occamus a facut critica elaborata a dovezilor existentei lui Dumnezeu, desi el insusi formulase o puternica teologie pozitiva (KATAFATICA, care definea pe Dumnezeu prin afirmatii, spre deosebire de teologia negativa, APOFATICA, dupa care se poate spune doar ceea ce nu este Dumnezeu, nu ceea ce este.

Originalitatea si profunzineam lui Ockham, este deficitara. Dumnezeu este absolut liber si omnipotent, El poate face totul, inclusiv sa se contrazica, de pilda poate sa mantuiasca un raufacator si sa osandeasca un sfant. Aceasta afirma unii istorici despre Ockham deoarece el subliniaza ca Dumnezeu este cunoscut numai prin credinta, nu prin ratiune sau prin iluminare si ca voia lui Dumnezeu este absolut suverana dar aceasta nu inseamna ca se contrazice. In aceste privinte si in altele, Ockham a netezit calea pentru teologia reformatorilor din sec. XVI, in mod special a lui Luther care va fi influentat de nominalismul lui, pe care il va studia la universitatea din Erfurt.

2.2.4. Misticii Germani

Studiul acestor mistici este important deoarece ei au influentat gandirea lui Luther precum si lucrarea lui.

Primul mare mistic care l-a influentat pe Luther in lucrarea sa de mai tarziu a fost Johnn Eckhart (1260-1327).

Meister Eckhart a fost un calugar dominican german a carui opera este la originea curentului mistic renan si a traditiei conceptuale reluata de idealismul german. Dupa moarte, invatatura lui a fost condamnata de papa Ioan XX (1316-1334). Este recunoscut acum drept forta cea mai de seama in viata religioasa a Germaniei inainte de Reforma.

b) Johnn Tauler (1300-1361)

Elevul lui Eckhart, Johnn Tauler – si el un mistic dominican german, a fost un predicator puternic care a accentuat nimicnicia omului in prezenta lui Dumnezeu. Predicile lui au contribuit la modelarea gandirii lui Luther intr-un stadiu critic al experientei lui spirituale.

c) Johann von Wesel (1400-1481)

Johann von Wesel, din Renania a prefigurat pe reformatorii germani intr-o mare parte din invatatura sa. A respins multe dintre doctrinele si practicile specifice ale Bisericii catolice medievale si a declarat ca numai Biblia este autoritatea absoluta in materie de credinta. A scris impotriva indulgentelor in 1475, a fost judecat de Inchizitie in 1479 si condamnat la detentiune pe viata in manastirea augustina de la Mainz.

d) Wssel Gansfort (1419-1489)

Wessel Gansfort, un teolog olandez educat de Fratii Vietii in comun, a fost denumit unul dintre umanisti biblici. Si el a scris impotriva indulgentelor si a luat in mare masura aceeasi pozitie ca si Luther in atacearea pretentiilor papei si in denuntarea erorilor Bisericii din timpul sau.

2.2.5. John Wycliff (cca. 1328-1384)

English: John Wycliffe (also Wyclif, Wycliff, ...

English: John Wycliffe (also Wyclif, Wycliff, or Wickliffe, Czech Jan Viklef) (mid-1320s – 31 December 1384) was an English theologian and an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. He is credited as the first person to give a complete translation of the Bible into English (called Wyclif’s Bible). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Este foarte interesant modul in care apare pe scena acest credincios considerat un premergator al Reformei.

Supunerea Regelui John al Angliei fata de Papa Inocentiu al III-lea si umilirea sa de catre acesta, au dus la o atitudine ostila fata de papalitate in acesta tara. Intreaga natiune engleza s-a considerat injosita in urma acestui act. Pretentiile exagerate ale papilor si amestecul lor in numirea episcopilor englezi au dus in repetate randuri la dispute deschise intre Biserica si conducerea laica, contribuind la largirea prapastiei existente. In aceste conditii apare pe scena Bisericii engleze Wycliff.

Iata cum il prezinta Andrew Miller:

„Tocmai cand rabdarea poporului fata de abuzurile papalitatii parea sa se fi epuizat, Dumnezeu a gasit cu cale sa ridice un oponent puternic al intregului sistem ierarhic primul om care a facut sa se zguduie din temelii dominatia papei in Anglia, si inainte de toate, un om care a iubit in mod sincer adevarul si care l-a vestit atat celor invatati cat si poporului de rand. Acesta a fost John Wycliff. El este numit pe drept precursorul, sau steaua de dimineata a zorilor Reformei”.

O buna parte din viata si-a petrecut-o studiind si apoi predand la Oxford. La inceput dorinta sa nu a fost sa lupte impotriva autoritatii Bisericii Romano-Catolice, ci dorea o reformare din interiorul ei. Astfel pana in 1378 intentia lui a fost sa reformeze Biserica prin eliminarea clericilor si prin deposedarea de proprietati care, credea el, sunt cauza coruptiei. In 1376 scrie lucrarea „Of Civil Dominio” (Despre stapanirea civila) in care sustine ca exista o baza morala pe care trebuie sa o aiba conducerea eclesiastica. Insa nu a putut suporta modul in care clerul deposeda de bani pe credinciosii de rand ai Bisericii. Pamanturile, in mare parte, erau proprietatea Bisericii, de aceea la cererea lui de deposedare de proprietati a acesteia, s-a bucurat de un sprijin deosebit din partea nobilimii engleze, care dorea mult acest lucru.

Daca la inceput a incercat reformarea Bisericii din interior, mai tarziu „dezgustat de <<captivitatea Babiloniana a Bisericii>> si de schisma, Wycliff n-a mai fost satisfacut de aceasta abordare mai degraba negativa, si dupa 1378 a inceput sa se opuna dogmei Bisericii cu idei revolutionare”.

Intrebarea fireasca pe care si-o pune orice istoric este cum a reusit Wycliff sa-si propage ideile fara sa fie excomunicat si omorat ? Raspunsul este ca Dumnezeu l-a ocrotit prin nobilii englezi si prin John de Graunt. Astfel Biserica nu s-a atins de el.

Lovitura cea mai puternica pe care a dat-o Bisericii a fost in anul 1379, cand fara sa-i fie frica de consecintele nefaste care ar fi putut sa apara, a sustinut cu toata taria in scris ca “Hristos este capul Bisericii, si nu Papa”. Prin aceasta nega ca Biserica ar avea putere absoluta, spunand: „Puterea pe care a pierdut-o prin pacate de moarte”. Sau altfel spus: „chiar daca papa si toti clericii ar disparea de pe pamant… credinta nu s-ar pierde, pentru ca ea isi are temelia numai in Domnul Isus, Stapanul si Dumnezeul nostru”.

Vazand importanta pe care o dadea clerul Bisericii in sine precum si invataturile eronate cu privire la autoritatea ei, abuzand astfel de neglijenta fata de Sfanta Scriptura, Wycliff nu a mai suportat acest lucru afirmand ca: „Biblia si nu Biserica este singura autoritate pentru credincios si ca Biserica trebuie sa ia model de la Biserica Nou Testamentala”. Critica adusa Bisericii nu s-a oprit aici, el atacand prin predicile sale alte nereguli cum sunt: cultul icoanelor, cultul sfintilor, al moastelor si al sacramentelor, precum si infiintarea indulgentelor.

Cea mai mare realizare a lui Wycliff a fost aceea de a pune Biblia la indemana poporului in limba engleza. Astfel el a putut sa-si sustina mai bine convingerile cu privire la Biserica, Papa, Scriptura.

In ceea ce priveste euharistia a sustinut consubstantierea insa extrema la care a ajuns cu privire la sacramente a fost aceea de a nu recunoaste nici un sacrament, negand caracterul sacru al euharistiei. Dupa moartea lui insa cei care au continuat invatatura lui au fost numiti „lolarzi”. Acestia erau predicatori laici care au continuat ideile lui Wycliff, iar miscarea acestora a fost numita miscarea lolarzilor.

Cu privire la acestia Elisabeth A. Livingstone a afirmat: „lolarzii sunt urmasi ai lui Wycliff, isi bazau invatatura pe credinta personala, alegerea divina si mai presus de toate pe Biblie”. In general s-au opus celibatului preotilor, transsubstantiunii, indulgentelor si pelerinajelor, sustinand totodata ca validitatea actelor preotesti era determinata de caracterul moral al preotului. Acestia erau oameni simpli, tarani care au ales sa traiasca modest. Dupa 1401, prin statutul de „haereticis comburend” s-a aprobat osandirea oricarui taran sau croitor care tagaduia sfintenia Euharistiei sau care participa seara la o intrunire frateasca in care se propovaduia Cuvantul Bibliei.

Traducerea Bibliei in limba engleza si crearea grupului de predicatori lolarzi a avut o influenta asupra englezilor si a netezit calea Reformei. In afara de aceasta ideile lui Wycliff s-au raspandit in Europa cu repeziciune. Un rol important in raspandirea acestora l-au jucat studentii boemieni, care studiau in Anglia. Acestia i-au dus ideile in Boemia, unde au devenit baza pentru invatatura lui Jan Hus.

Concluzionand in ceea ce priveste ideile lui Wycliff in istorie pot spune ca ele nu constituie altceva decat „cateva grinzi” ale unui pod care face trecerea de la un ev mediu intunecat la o epoca moderna, acest pod prinzand contur odata cu declansarea Reformei.

2.2.6. Jan Hus (1373-1415)

Italiano: Jan Hus. Ritratto da http://de.wikip...

Pentru a intelege ceea ce s-a intamplat in centrul Europei prin anii 1400, trebuie sa ne reamintim ce s-a intamplat in Anglia precum si legaturile acesteia cu Europa centrala. In acest sens nu trebuie uitata casatoria lui Richard al III-lea al Angliei cu Ana de Boemia, care a avut o importanta istorica deosebita, aceasta concretizandu-se in ceva practic si anume: „schimbul de studenti intre Anglia si Boemia”.

Trebuie retinut faptul ca la fel ca in Anglia s-au facut simtite sentimentele nationale. In ambele cazuri, ele s-au ridicat impotriva stapanului strain, care domnea la Roma, si care avea pretentia de a fi loctiitorul lui Hristos pe pamant. In afara de aceasta, in Boemia existau nemultumiri si din cauza faptului ca germanii detineau multe pozitii inalte in cadrul Bisericii in detrimentul cehilor, iar la Universitatea din Praga pretindeau a avea o pozitie privilegiata.

Luptele dintre ei au dus la retragerea germanilor de la Praga si la infiintarea Universitatii din Leipzig in anul 1409. Atunci cand ideile teologice si filozofice a lui Wycliff s-au intalnit si s-au impletit cu nationalismul ceh, s-a dezvoltat in Boemia o puternica miscare de emancipare sub tutela Romei.

Am spus ca intre cele doua orase Oxford si Praga s-au facut schimburi de studenti. Astfel ideile lui Wycliff au ajuns foarte repede si usor pe teritoriul Boemiei, datorita studentilor care au studiat in Anglia si s-au confruntat cu ideile lui. Gasindu-le bune, acestia le-au luat in Boemia.

In vremea aceea la Oxford, in Anglia, se dezbateau ideile lui Wycliff. Acesti studenti le-au imbratisat si le-au adus in Boemia.

Dupa acestea intre studentii din Praga a luat fiinta o comunitate de admiratori ai ideilor lui Wycliff, in fruntea carora se afla Jan Hus. Pe langa acestia, ideile au fost imbratisate de multi intelectuali, clerici si laici.

Jan Hus s-a nascut in Bohmernald (astazi Husinet) in 1373 dupa unii ar fi 6 iulie 1369, intr-o familie modesta. Ramanand de timpuriu fara tata, a fost crescut de mama sa, care era o femeie credincioasa. Muncind din greu, aceasta l-a ajutat sa ajunga la Universitatea din Praga. Fiind un student sarguincios, a reusit foarte repede sa se adapteze situatiei. Interesat de cunoasterea Scripturilor, va deveni unul dintre cei mai buni studenti ai Universitatii.

Dupa terminarea studiilor ajunge predicator la Capela Betleem din Praga, avand un dar deosebit de a-si captiva ascultatorii cu predicile sale. Era familiar cu ideile lui Wycliff, astfel ca in predicile sale reproducea nu doar ideile acestuia ci chiar limbajul. Avea un rol important la Universitatea unde la inceput a fost magistru. Dupa plecarea germanilor la Leipzig, devine rector al acesteia in anul 1409. Ataca in predicile sale unele dogme ale Bisericii Romano-Catolice, coruptia clerului inalt. Sustinea, asemeni lui Wycliff ca Biblia este singura autoritate in viata si credinta crestinului: „Biserica este comunitatea celor alesi, iar Hristos este singurului ei Cap.

O vreme se parea ca Hus va reusi sa atraga de partea acestei invataturi prin predici si scrieri intreaga natiune ceha; insa si in Boemia existau ierarhi catolici, care i s-au impotrivit. Daca la inceput arhiepiscopul Sbinok de Praga l-a incurajat, curand acesta l-a abandonat, trecand de partea papei Alexandru al V-lea. Lui Hus i s-a interzis sa mai predice, iar papa a emis o bula in 1410 prin care s-a ordonat distrugerea cartilor lui Wycliff, iar pentru a curma influenta reformatorului ceh i-a interzis sa mai predice si in capelele private.

In 1411 papa Ioan al XXIII-lea l-a excomunicat pe Hus, care a trebuit sa se refugieze din Praga. In timpul acesta de refugiu, el s-a dedicat scrisului, elaborand, astfel principala sa opera „De Eclesia” in 1413, scrisa sub influenta directa a lucrarilor lui Wycliff.

Fiind citat sa se prezinte in fata Conciliului Bisericii, care s-a desfasurat la Constance in 1414, Hus bazandu-se pe promisiunea imparatului ca nu i se va intampla nimic rau, da ascultare si se deplaseaza acolo. Din pacate, imparatul nu s-a tinut de cuvant. Ba mai mult atat ideile lui Wycliff, cat si invatatura sa au fost condamnate ca eretice. Refuzand sa-si retracteze invatatura, Hus este intemnitat, iar in anul 1415 ars pe rug. Invatatura lui Hus nu a putut fi distrusa, fiind dusa mai departe de urmasii sai, care s-au impartit in doua tabere. Una era tabara radicala, „taboritilor”, dupa muntele Tabor, fortareata lor din sudul orasului Praga. Acestia au respins orice invatatura cu privire la credinta si practicile Bisericii Romano-Catolice care, spuneau ei, nu aveau fundament scriptural.

Cea de-a doua ramura care sustinea ideile lui Hus si care era mai moderata, era cea a „utraquistilor”. Ei au avut o pozitie proprie prin care sustineau ca numai ceea ce Biblia interzice trebuie eliminat si ca toti credinciosii, nu numai clerul trebuie sa primeasca atat painea cat si vinul la impartasanie.

Din gruparea radicala a taboritilor s-a format gruparea „Fratii Uniti”, sau „Fratii Boemiei”. Acestia au aparut prin anii 1540, constituind astfel suportul unei noi biserici care poate fi gasita si azi, numita „Biserica Moraviana”. Aceasta s-a dezvoltat foarte mult prin spiritul ei misionar, de aceea nu este ceva deosebit daca spunem ca Hus l-ar fi inspirat pe Luther. Deoarece Luther avea posibilitatea sa cunoasca invataturile lui Hus.

Seriozitatea religioasa, atat a lui Wycliff cat si a lui Hus, cere o admiratie deosebita. Dar in ciuda recunoasterii lui Luther a multor puncte de legatura cu Hus, Reforma s-a datorat intr-o mica masura eforturilor lor. Totusi nu trebuie uitat faptul ca ei au anticipat spiritul si lucrarea reformatorilor, netezind calea acestora si usurand astfel aparitia Reformei.

2.3. Reforma protestanta. Linii generale.

Reforma a fost o incercare de intoarcere la puritatea crestinismului Noului Testament si dezvoltarea unei teologii in acord cu acesta. Reformatorii erau convinsi ca aceasta teologie nu va deveni niciodata o realitate atata timp cat Biserica va fi autoritatea finala in locul Bibliei. In cea mai mare parte, Reforma a fost limitata la Europa de Apus si la popoarele teutonice. Nici Biserica de Rasarit si nici popoarele latine din vechiul Imperiu Roman nu au acceptat Reforma. In acele parti, inca stapaneau idealurile medievale de unitate si de uniformitate, dar in nordul si vestul Europei, popoarele teutonice au trecut la diversitatea protestantismului.

Totusi, in anumite tari Romano-Catolice in ciuda tuturor persecutiilor si-au mentinut existenta mici denominatii Valdenze si ale Fratilor Boemieni.

Oil painting of a young John Calvin.

Oil painting of a young John Calvin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Principalii lideri ai acestei miscari au fost Martin Luther (1483 – 1546), Ulrich Zwingli (1484 – 1531), John Calvin (1509 – 1564). La inceput ei au fost pentru o restaurare a Crestinismului primar, dar nu dupa mult timp, liderii acestei miscari au adoptat ideea si apoi au decis ca o unire cu statul este necesara succesului bisericii. Aceasta decizie a fost un compromis fata de pozitia sustinuta la inceput. Acceptarea acestui compromis de catre Luther si Zwingli, compromis care includea si eliminarea oricaror disidente, a dus la aparitia miscarii Anabaptiste evanghelice.

Martin Luther s-a nascut la Eisleben, 1483 in Saxonia, o provincie din Imperiul German. A primit educatie la scoala Latina din Eisenach si la Universitatea din Erfurt. In 1505, el a devenit calugar augustinian in acelasi oras, sperand sa gaseasca pacea sufletului prin efort personal. In cele din urma, a ajuns la concluzia ca iertarea divina si schimbarea interioara sunt rezultatul credintei in Christos.

In 1509, a acceptat sa fie profesor la Universitatea din Wittenberg in Saxonia. In 1517, Johann Tetzel a fost insarcinat sa vanda indulgente papale in diferite parti ale Germaniei. Luther a considerat ca Tetzel pretinde prea mult pentru eficacitatea acestor indulgente, si ca in aceasta privinta el a actionat in contradictie cu vointa papei si cu invatatura Bisericii Romano – Catolice.

In consecinta, Luther a scris 95 teze in latina si le-a fixat pe usa Bisericii din Witteberg. In aceste teze el a condamnat abuzurile de care se facea vinovat Tetzel, din punctul de vedere romano- catolic. In timpul controverselor ce au urmat, Luther a fost din ce in ce mai mult convins ca multe invataturi si practici ale Bisericii Romane sunt nescripturale. Inca inainte de expunerea acestor teze el a avansat ideea doctrinei justificarii prin credinta, care din punctul de vedere al Bisericii Romane era o erezie. Electorul Frederich cel Intelept i-a acordat toata protectia posibila.

In cele din urma Luther a fost excomunicat de papa in 1520. Obtinand o copie a declaratiei papale, Luther i-a dat foc in public. Anul urmator a aparut in fata Dietei, ori a Parlamentului Imperiului German, la Worms, dar a refuzat sa retraga ceea ceea ce i s-a cerut. Electorul Frederich, in secret, a aranjat sa fie dus la Castelul Wartburg, pentru siguranta lui personala. In timpul acesta, Luther a luat decizia ca Liturghia sa fie mentinuta pana cand ea ar fi putut fi inlocuita cu aprobarea autoritatilor civile. Aceasta atitudine cu privire la Liturghie si alte puncte practice ce trebuiau reformate a dus la o stransa legatura intre stat si biserica. Liturghia a fost in cele din urma abolita in Wittenberg si in toata Saxonia, dupa moartea Electorului Fredereck, de catre fratele acestuia, Electorul John, in 1525. Biserica Luterana a fost facuta biserica de stat in Saxonia si in cele din urma in toate provinciile Germaniei si Scandinaviei, ai caror conducatori acceptasera crezul lutheran.

In aceeasi perioada Biserica Zwingliniana sau Reformata a devenit biserica de stat in anumite cantoane din Elvetia.

Ulrich Zwingli a fost un lider al Reformei in regiunea din Elvetia in care se vorbea limba germana. El s-a nascut in anul 1484, la Wildhaus, langa St. Gall in Elvetia. A studiat in Bern, Viena, si Basel fiind consacrat ca preot in 1506. In anul 1518 a fost ales episcop principal al orasului Zurich, cel mai important oras din Elvetia.

Dupa sosirea lui in Zurich, s-a putut observa in predicile lui o nota evanghelica. In cativa ani, in predicile lui, Zwingli a atacat anumite doctrine si practici Romano – Catolice. Atitudinea Consiliului din Zurich fata de Reforma a fost favorabila, dar guvernul federal al Elvetiei s-a opus miscarii. Consiliul din Zurich i-a dat lui Zwingli deplina libertate in ceea ce priveste predicarea din Scripturi. Din motive politice, consiliul a ales o atitudine de compromis, interzicand toate devierile de la practicile Bisericii Romano – Catolice ce puteau avea loc. In concluzie, lui Zwingli i s-a permis sa predice impotriva Bisericii Romane, dar nu sa si abandoneze practicile ei.

Luther si Zwingli nu au avut, in toate, aceleasi invataturi. Principala controversa dintre ei a fost in legatura cu Cina Domnului. Luter a aparat doctrina Prezentei Reale, adica painea si vinul sunt in realitate trupul si sangele lui Hristos, in timp ce Zwingli sustinea ca acestea sunt embleme sau simboluri. Zwingli, a respins doctrina regenerarii prin botez, pe care Luther o sustinea.

Zwingli a ajuns la aceste pareri datorita controverselor cu Fratii Elvetieni, dandu-si seama de faptul ca Anabaptistii aveau dreptate cand sustineau ca nici botezul nici impartasania nu sunt mijloace prin care sa se obtina iertarea pacatelor. Reforma, in anumite state a condus la infiintarea unor biserici de stat protestante. Conducatorii care acceptau crezul luteran sau zwinglinian, stabileau fie o biserica de stat Luterana sau Zwingliniana. Formarea unei noi biserici de stat nu era ceva complicat. Conducatorul teritoriului respectiv dadea ordin preotilor sa se conformeze doctrinei si practicii noului credeu. Peotii duceau la indeplinire ordinele conducatorilor. Oamenii de rand nu aveau nimic de spus in aceasta problema.

Infiintarea acestor noi biserici de stat erau in avantajul personal al acestor conducatori. In felul acesta aveau control mai larg asupra bisericilor si asupra averilor manastirilor. In provinciile Lutherane, printul conducator era considerat summus episcopus al bisericii din acel stat. Surprinzator este faptul ca religia de stat se schimba in functie de poruncile autoritatilor civile.Anumite districte care trecusera la Zwinglianism, au trecut sub stapanirea unor conduceri Romano-Catolice, iar populatia acestor districte au reacceptat credeul Romano Catolic. Locuitorii regiunii Palatinelor de Sus au fost nevoiti sa-si schimbe religia de patru ori in timpul Reformei. Oamenii, fie protestanti fie catolici nu au luat credinta lor in serios ca sa fie gata sa sufere persecutii pentru ea. Numarul martirilor Luterani si Zwinglinian este foarte mic. Anabaptistii s-au plans de multe ori ca au fost ridiculizati pentru ca au fost gata sa indure persecutii pentru credinta lor. Dupa cum s-a aratat, orice disidenta sau deviere de la crezul bisericii de stat era sever pedepsita.

Din scrierile lui Luther si Zwingli, reiese clar ca in anii de inceput ai Reformei, ei au aparat principiul membriei voluntare, nevoia disciplinei in biserica si independenta bisericii de stat. Toate aceste obiective nu au putut fi atinse de Luther si Zewingli. Istoricul lutheran, profesorul Karl Mueller, Tuebingen, Germania, a spus: „Puterea agresiva, cuceritoare, pe care lutheranii au manifestat-o in prima perioada, s-a pierdut oriunde, in momentul in care guvernantii au luat problema in mainile lor si au stabilit Crezul Lutheran.”

Articolul continua aici: Partea II-a

Read the Journal for Baptist Theology and Mission online + link to articles and books


The Journal for Baptist Theology and Mission (published at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) is now available on this wonderful website – biblicalstudies.org.uk

You can now access a table of contents and all the articles from 2003-2011 here. The material is already available on the Baptist Center for Theology and Mission website, The pdfs of all issues have been split into individual articles to enable them to be downloaded more quickly by those accessing the Internet on slow connections.

On this same website you can also find a great number of hosted articles, Monographs and Books at this page – http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/articles.php

Kirk Cameron Interview at First Baptist Church Roanoke

Ray Comfort Kirk Cameron Todd Friel caricture

Dr. Bryan Smith had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Christian actor, Kirk Cameron. Kirk was at First Roanoke with the „Love Worth FIghting For” marriage event. This event was designed to strengthen and encourage the marriages in our church family (at First Roanoke).

Kirk first heard the Gospel at the age of 17, when he responded to a friends’ invitation and he attended a church pastored by Chuck Swindoll. He says that the biggest change in perspective for him was that it’s not about him, but that because this is God’s world, does God even care that he (Kirk) exists in light of his sins? Now, at about the same time, someone had given him a new age book to read which said exactly the opposite:  (that) „You are god, and you just need to feel that,” and although that fit very well with an egocentric celebrity, through God’s grace Kirk became a Christ follower.

Web Exclusive: Kirk Cameron – Full Interview from First Baptist Church Roanoke on Vimeo.

Jesus our Defense Dr. Timothy J. Keller

Photo via http://artistlight.blogspot.com/1-john-410.html

From monergism.com – The following sermon notes (an excerpt) preached by Tim Keller in 11/13/94 from a series on 1 John entitled: Knowing that we know God

„If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” ( 1 John 1:8-2:2)

…Only for people who see themselves as a moral failure. Only people who see that they are not worthy to go in, that they need someone to go in for them. If you don’t see that .. if you don’t see yourself as so sinful that you don’t have the right to just go to God and speak to Him you haven’t gotten the first point … You are not able to experience intimacy with the Father. Now, having said that, I immediately realize that you are going to fall into two categories here: As I just said, that John says, you have to see that you are sinner, such a sinner and so morally inadequate that you don’t even have the right to go in before God. As a pastor for almost 20 years now I have talked to people a great deal over the years and I have heard people’s reaction to this particular teaching of the Bible. And in general the teaching divides people. I find that people fall into one or the other category. Either they have a lot of trouble with this and they really don’t have that sensation at all … they don’t sense … they don’t feel that they are moral failures. They don’t think they are that bad, they don’t think they are that wicked. They don’t have this sense and they don’t see any reason why they can’t go to God and pray and talk to Him. They feel like, you know I have tried my best, I do pretty good. I am not perfect but I certainly have the right to go in. So some of you just don’t have nearly enough of this sense, according to the writer here. And others of you have an overwhelming sense of it. That are you just crushed under it. You can hardly look at Him. You don’t want anything to do with Him. Everybody [has the tendency] to go into one side or the other. Let me say something to both of you:

1st: Because it’s New York, maybe it’s wrong to say this … I would think that most of you …maybe not. More of you would tend to be in the first category … that you say, “I don’t feel that way … I don’t feel like I am such a rotten sinner. I know the Bible teaches this and I know conservative churches still teach this but basically that is an outmoded doctrine. We don’t believe that anymore. I don’t sense that at all, I don’t feel that way, I don’t see it that way.” But John says …look at … see verse 8. “If we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves. John says [in essence] beware you will not want to admit it. It is natural to deceive yourself on this. It is natural to say what you are saying. You will hide from yourself how self-centered you are, you will hide from yourself how much evil there really is in there. You won’t see it … you’ll repress it.

Everybody is talking about Union South Carolina, aren’t they? And the one thing that is so interesting since my wife and I ministered, we had a church in a city just like Union South Carolina. Similar size, similar kinds of people, it’s amazing. Same accent. Same phrases. And after it was discovered that the woman actually had killed her two children, the quotes in the newspapers from their friends went something like this: “she came from a good family – I knew her people – I sat with her in church, she praised the Lord, how could she do such a thing? I can’t believe it.” But what they mean is: “she’s just like me. She is my kind of people. I went to school with her. I went to church with her. She is just like me and I do not believe that I could do that.” And the reason they are so shattered and the reason they are so disillusioned and the reason they are so amazed is because of bad theology. They may be religious and may go to church and may even consider themselves conservative Christians but they are not reading their Bible. And as a result they are shattered and disillusioned. WE ARE capable of all sorts of things.

I think a lot of folks say, “Yeah, this is dirty pool, you shouldn’t pull this on us. I feel that person must be sick. To be capable of evil and wickedness … certain people are but I just don’t feel like I am that bad a sinner. And all I can tell you that no one has done a better job of explaining this than Charles Spurgeon. He is a Baptist minister and he has this great illustration which I have often had recourse to. He says, “Look at an acorn. What do you see in the acorn? He says, I know it is counterintuitive and I know it doesn’t really make sense, it doesn’t seem to be true but if you think about it you will know it is true. When you look into an acorn you will see an ocean of wood. Let me show you that. He says, first of all inside the acorn is a tree, a huge tree. And every single bit of that tree is in that acorn all scrunched up. In other words, there is not one thing on this huge tree that is going to come out of the acorn that is not in that substance. It’s in there. And that is counter-intuitive. Not only that, but on the tree that is in there are thousands of other acorns. And each acorn is another tree which means that inside that acorn is not only another tree but one thousand other trees and each one of them is a thousand other trees and he says, one acorn has the power to cover the entire world with an ocean of wood. That’s how much power is in there. But if that acorn falls on the pavement, within a couple of days it rots. All of its power goes to nothing. It doesn’t mean that the power is not there. To see the power, to understand the power, it has to actually fall on the soil; it has to get watered and so on. And Spurgeon would turn around and say, “what do you think murder is?” “What do you think it starts with?” Murder has to start with the thought that says “I wish that person weren’t here. I don’t like that person”… it starts with a grudge, it starts with selfishness, it starts with pride, it starts with self-centeredness. What do you think that is? He says, “in your heart, that acorn cup of your heart, there is and ocean of evil, and if you just happen, by God’s grace, to have fallen on pavement … if you have happened, by God’s grace, not to be in a situation where that evil is really being fertilized, if … you can’t see how much evil is in there it doesn’t mean that it is not there.

Now, if you still, considering all that say, „I just don’t see myself that wicked or evil. I don’t see myself capable of murder and extortion. I don’t see myself capable of any of those things”, then I will just say, “Ok fine I am done, I have got to move on. File what I am saying, would you please?” Because the great hymn writer John Newton once said in a letter, “you never learn you are a sinner by being told. You only ever learn that you are a sinner by being shown.” And I suggest to you that someday, some place you will find yourself in a situation in which the only way to explain the way you are acting or the way you are relating or the way you are being treated, is by recourse to the doctrine of sin. As Pascal says [and he was no stupid person] “certainly nothing offends us so rudely as this doctrine of original sin yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves.” And if you are not incomprehensible yet to yourself, unless you believe in the radical depravity of the human heart, just wait … just file what I am saying. Alright?

On the other hand, a lot of you are the opposite. You are kind of crushed under the whole idea. In other words when you read this and you see John saying you need someone to go speak on your behalf, you don’t have the right to go in. You are not worthy to go to God. Right away, you immediately know that is true. But you have been crushed … even if you are a Christian. John is writing to Christians here and he knows something. He knows that in the lives of certain people there is a voice that has them nailed to a wall. I have met people … Christians that haven’t stopped going to church necessarily but they have done something in their past that maybe the world calls a great sin. As a result this voice come to them and it says things like, “how could you have done that? All the sermons you have heard, all the promises you have made, all the things you have said, all that you know and you have done this. How can you go to God? How can you expect God to listen to your prayers? How in the world could you even think of yourself as a Christian? You are not worthy to go before Him.” And that voice has you nailed to the wall and it has had you there for years. Maybe you have not given up on your profession of faith. Some of your have, you have completely given up on Christianity. When you get near it the voice just comes at you and you have decided that it is Christianity doing that. And all of its guilt trips. But some of you have stayed in and you’re just crushed. You are bound in shallows and miseries. Well what John has to say is especially for you.

So the first thing you have to see is that you are not worthy to go in. The second thing you have to see is that we have an advocate with the Father. Notice this: Now in chapter 2:1 “if anybody does sin we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” Now what is this teaching? Let’s ask three questions:

What is an advocate? Now you say “where is the word ‘advocate’, I do not see it.” The real problem is that there is a Greek word here. It literally says “we have, when you sin, a paraclete with the Father.” But in this particular context it’s a hard thing to get this whole idea across with one English word. So the translators actually take this and open it up and taking one [Greek] word and translating it “one who speaks to the Father in our defense” But the word here could be translated “an advocate”. Maybe that is the best way to put it. What is an advocate? What is this person? An advocate is someone who has an official relationship with you so that whatever the advocate achieves, you achieve, and whatever the advocate loses, you lose. An advocate is a legal proxy. An advocate is a legal representative. In philosophical/theological language an advocate is a federal head, from the Latin wordfoedus meaning covenant. It means you have entered into a relationship with this person so that this person represents you so that what that person does is transferred to you. Here are some examples … they are all over the place actually:

In the area of negotiations. In most countries, in fact in all countries, the national leaders can declare war and also surrender and achieve peace. You don’t have a referendum on war. We don’t have a popular election to decide whether we are going to go to war or not or decide whether we will surrender or not. You have a relationship with the national leaders so that they have the right to do that and, of course, if they make a bad move we are all involved … if they make a good move we are all involved.

Let me give you an illustration that is a little more clear than that. In ancient times you had the idea of a champion. Here were two great armies coming together and sometimes rather than have the battle and have lot and lots of people killed each army would put forth a champion. In the old days they even had a word for this in the ancient Greek, anArchegos. And the champion would stand forth and would represent the army and the country and would battle against the champion of the other country/army. Of course the agreement is that when you did that it meant that if your champion was skillful you were skillful, if your champion was foolish you were foolish, if your champion had victory you were treated as if you were the victors. If your champion was defeated you were treated as if you were defeated.

And of course the one we often use most nowadays is a lawyer, a legal proxy. Especially a lawyer who has what we call today “power of attorney”. And in that case the lawyer stands in and represents the client so that what the lawyer achieves the client achieves and what the lawyer looses, the client looses. It’s all transferred. Charles Hodge, a hundred years ago was a Presbyterian theologian who put it this way:

“The relationship of Christ to his people is that of a legal advocate to a client. The former personates the later. The lawyer stands in the clients place. It is, while it lasts, the most intimate of relationships. You may not even have to appear in court. You are not heard. You are not regarded. You are lost in your advocate who for the time being is your representative. The advocate, not you, is seen. The advocate, not you, is heard. The advocate, not you, is regarded.”

Now if Jesus is our advocate, what is he doing up there? That is the second question. What does he do? He’s speaking. He’s talking. And if we stick with the lawyer illustration, everybody knows why, because that is the job of a lawyer. You hired the lawyer to talk for you. You hired the lawyer because you say the lawyer can talk. The lawyer knows what to say and the lawyer can make a case I could not. Now when I first became a Christian … I heard about this idea that Jesus Christ was before the Father (there are a number of words in the Bible for this). In the book of Hebrews it says Jesus Christ stands as our high priest before the Father. It means he stands as our representative speaking on our behalf. Our legal proxy, our advocate. And He’s up there pleading before the throne for our sake. When I first heard about this at first it seemed at best foolish and at worst very nerve racking. At best it seemed kind of silly like why are you arguing with the Father. But at worst nerve racking because it means when I sin Jesus says “Oh Father, please don’t wipe him out. For my sake please, don’t wipe him out.” This is what I pictured it as and I saw that I would sin again and the Father would say, “I can’t believe that Tim Keller did that again and Jesus says “I know but wait a minute” (this is my idea) that Jesus gets in front of the Father and says “One more time, just give him one more chance, please for my sake Father.” And then I see the Father looking down at Jesus saying, “well, ok, for your sake, alright, one more time.” You see that is a nerve racking metaphor, you know, you sit there and say, “when does the Father finally say “I’ve had it”? When does the father finally say, “forget it”. But you see it doesn’t say the advocate is standing there as Jesus Christ the merciful. It also doesn’t say Jesus Christ the persuasive. It says, “Jesus Christ the righteous one” and it says what he is saying. You see, a really good lawyer doesn’t just play on the emotions of the court. A good lawyer has a case. And what Jesus case is: an atoning sacrifice, and therefore the teaching of this passage which is so absolutely startling and which is absolutely unparalleled in any other religion, is that Jesus Christ is not just standing up there asking for forgiveness … no. And he is not just up there asking for mercy … absolutely not. Jesus Christ is telling the Father what the law is. Now it is unworthy to think of Jesus as having to persuade the Father. You have to remember that the advocacy of Jesus Christ was the Father’s idea. We read in 2 Cor 5 “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” You have to understand what this is about. What it is about is this: Jesus Christ stands before the Father. Before the justice of God, in other words. And relentlessly and continually says He something like this: ‘Father, yes Tim did do it again but I have died the death he should have died and have lived the life he should have lived in his place. I am his advocate. He is lost in Me. When you look at him you have to see Me. You have to see all that I have done. You have to see all that I am. And therefore Father it would be unjust for you to take two payments for this sin. I have already paid for it. Therefore Father I do not ask for mercy. I demand justice.”

Some people ask “c’mon where does it say that.” It says that in chapter 1 verse 9. “If we confess our sins”, it doesn’t say “he is faithful and merciful to forgive us our sins.” It does not say “he is faithful and loving’. He is of course faith and loving. He is of course faithful and merciful, I am not saying he is not. But it says when we confess our sins because we have an advocate with the Father, God forgives our sins because He is just. Listen, justice has to be stronger than mercy. If you ever have a judge and if that judges son or daughter would come to trial, no judge anywhere would be allowed or would allow themselves to sit and preside over a trial with their own kid. Why? Because justice has to triumph over mercy. Because justice has to prevail or you cannot have a civil order. But incredibly we have a situation in which the justice and the love of God demand that He accepts us. There is nothing beyond this. Nothing at all. “Father”, He says, “I don’t ask for mercy. I demand justice and there is no greater case than that. The justice of God on the scales. The thing we always worry about: the scales. And here are my deeds and my records and here is the justice of the law. And of course my deeds and my records can’t possibly outweigh the deeds of the law and so the idea of blind justice is a frightening thing unless you understand this: We have the law of God not on the other side against us. We have the law and justice of God completely for us. We have the justice of God completely for us. There is no such thing as this anywhere else. No other religion says this. This is far more than forgiveness. Most people seem to think that what it means that Jesus died for you and you go and ask for forgiveness is that “God now wipes off your past slate and your back now on probation, but now you better do a good job.” [rather] Jesus Christ has gone through the probation for us. He puts us beyond probation. Jesus Christ not only gives us forgiveness for our sins but has accomplished righteousness for us. He is not just the one who pays our penalty but is our advocate. He is the one who stands in for us. He is the archegos. It says that in Hebrews. He is our champion, He is the “author and finisher of our faith.” And you know what that word is “author” – archegos. That is in Hebrews 12:2. He is the one who accomplishes it for us.

How does that change your life? That is that last thing we will talk about and I will just tick it off.

Finally you can deal with your guilt. Finally!. Most people cannot deal with their guilt. The person who has got that voice nailing them down: “But I have done something wrong…” But you see God has not just given you forgiveness. People who think that is all that we get. The reason you can’t deal with your guilt is that you believe God is simply merciful. Well He is very merciful. It was mercy that brought forth the whole idea of Jesus dying on the cross and standing in for us but you must understand something else. That not only the mercy of God demands that He love and accept you and shower you with blessings and treat you as if you were His Son. And had done everything that Jesus had ever done, it is His justice that demands it too. Don’t you see the reason why Paul says “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”? Don’t you see why Paul will break in during that same chapter and say “who shall bring a charge against God’s elect.” See? ‘It is Christ who died yea rather that is risen again who is even at the right hand of the father. What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” See what is he doing at the end of chapter 8? He is going on and on that this is not just forgiveness. This is righteousness. God’s righteousness has come to us and it showers us and we are living in it. This is the end of the voice. You know, when the voice comes to us and says, “you call yourself a Christian. Look at what you have done.” And of course that great hymn:

Well may the accuser roar of sins that I have done
I know them all and thousands more and Jehovah knoweth none.

And if you don’t know the hymn, you have to be able to turn to the voice and say, ‘Jesus Christ is my advocate. Of course I have done these things. God knows that. But when he sees me he sees me in my advocate. I am lost in my advocate and all He sees is a beauty.” Do you know how to do that? If you say I am a Christian but I cannot deal with my guilt. If you say, I am a Christian but don’t feel worthy to go before God you don’t get this yet. Be here’s hope; keep reading about it. Keep thinking about it. Keep talking to somebody because when it dawns on you wait till you see.

But on the other had, what else does it bring you? Also it is the only way to deal with disappointment. I have come to the conclusion that most people get into despondency not over guilt necessarily but over the loss of a hope. Something in their life that is so important to them. Something in their life that is so valuable. Something in their life that means so much and you get despondent. You know why? Most of your deepest yearnings for success are actually efforts to be what only Christ should be for you. These things that you get so despondent when you lose they are your case, your arguments before God. They are the things that you look to and say, “see I am worthy” And when one of them falls through: This person doesn’t love me. This job has not worked out. Why are you so despondent? Because you don’t know the hiddeness.

Let me close with this. When Stephen, the great first martyr… you can read about him in Acts 6&7. When he was preaching and was brought into courts. And the religious authorities were upset that Christianity was spreading as it was. They looked at him and said we are going to execute you. Especially after he explained the gospel to them and told them they were wicked sinners. And it didn’t go over very well. You know the first part of the sermon tonight fortunately most of you probably will not try to execute me but some of you will probably be unhappy. In this case, Stephen was preaching to people who had the power to execute him so they did. And they took him out to stone him but just before they began to kill him God gave him something. He looked to the heavens and said “I see Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, standing at the right hand of God.” What did he see? He saw his advocate. And the thing that is so amazing is when on earth he was getting condemned – he was being called a loser, he was getting called a traitor, he was being called a cult leader and a liar. Everything he would want to claim. He would want popularity. He would want a good name. He would want success. He would want a good reputation. It was all being stripped away from him. What did he do in response? When he saw Jesus Christ as advocate standing up there, his face God radiant, it said. He says I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” In other words, to know that his advocate in Heaven, and his Father in Heaven loved him, commended him, acclaimed him and accepted him meant that all of the rejection and even an execution here on earth. – He got so excited he seemed to forget, if you read the text, that he was about to be executed – to the degree that you grasp the fact that you have an advocate with the Father you will be able to take criticism. This guy could take an execution. You will be able to take criticism. You will be able to take rejection. You will be able to take sin and guilt. You will be able to take the things that right now weigh you down. You will have the fullness of the Spirit to the degree that you grasp that when we sin we have one who speaks to the father in our defense: Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

John Piper at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – The sadness & beauty of Paul’s final words

From February 17, 2013 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Text 2 Timothy 4:9-22

 Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained atCorinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.

22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Here are a few notes from the message-

John Piper SBTS 17 feb 2013Piper: We’ll look at some of the most beautiful and some of the saddest words in the Bible, that are intended, I think, to establish you in your mission and your ministry… I think, the overall impact God wants you to have- to the Timothy’s in the room especially- is to inform you that ministry will be hard, and that in spite of all of its hardness, Jesus will stand you.

I have about 7 observations about the ministry in church and the ministry in missions. If you live long enough, you will find them all to be true in your life:

  1. Christian ministry is relationally hard
  2. Friends in ministry can let you down, and never care for you again. I want to give a warning to culture embracing Christians in the room, because you’ve got to embrace culture to be relevant. There is an embrace of culture- God ignoring, God denying, God demeaning, Christ distorting products of culture that is mutually exclusive with a deep love for Jesus. There is a love for the world that is irreconcilable with world exposing ministry, witnessing to world ministry. Rescuing from world ministry. If your heart is in love with the world, you just love what unbelievers love, you’ll either change your ministry to be compatible with that love, which happens all over the place, or you will leave the ministry, like Dimas did. More people leave Christ, more people leave church, more people leave the ministry, and more people leave the hope of heaven, out of love for the world, than anything else. (10:45)
  3. Good friends in ministry can let you down and still be your friend.
  4. Jesus never intended the enjoyment of His presence would replace the enjoyment of other Christians. In other words, when Christ died, so you would enjoy Him supremely, He did not nullify the enjoyment of other Christians. Christ always intended for your friendship with Him to be the centerpiece of your friendship with others. The joy of Christ centered friendship is meant to magnify the worth of Christ, as the common treasure of the friendship, and thus deepen the sweetness of the friendship, not eliminate it.
  5. Nevertheless, Jesus is the only totally reliable friend for sinners. He is the only flawless friend, and therefore the all satisfying friend, and therefore the only friend who can make other friendships eternal. As much as you may love your earthly friends and your earthly family, they can’t do this for you. They cannot rescue you from every evil deed, and bring you safely to the heavenly kingdom. Only one friend can do that (Jesus). Seek Christian friendships, but when they fail, when they don’t show up at your trial, don’t turn on your one Friend who will be there. Have you ever thought how insane it is, how many people, being let down by christian friends, use it as the reason to leave the one Friend  who will never let them down.
  6. Closeness to God at the end of your life does not remove the need or the desire to read or be spiritually nourished. (25:00)
  7. People with great influence and great authority don’t need great possessions. Paul handled a lot of money for his day and he kept very little for himself. Don’t lay up treasures on earth, lay up treasures in heaven. Keep it simple.

Let me close, by reading a quote form William Tyndale. This was written a year before he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. He was in prison, just north of Brussels. He had been arrested for putting the Bible into English. He’s gonna die for helping people read the Bible in English. And, as he’s in prison languishing, he writes this. It’s just a beautiful, powerful (in my mind, anyway, in my heart) illustration of what we’ve just said.

„I beg your lordship, that if I am to remain here through the winter, you will request the commissary to send me, from the goods of mine, which he has, a warmer coat, also. For, this which I have is very thin. A piece of cloth, too, to patch my leggings. But, most of all, I beg and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the commisary, that he will kindly permit me to have the Hebrew Bible, the Hebrew grammar, and the Hebrew dictionary, that I may pass the time in that study.”

The Sadness & Beauty of Paul’s Final Words

More from the SBC – SBC21 Panel – Jonathan Akin, Fred Luter, Paige Patterson, Albert Mohler, J.D. Greear, David Platt, and Danny Akin

Photo via Christian Post. Read their story here.

Jonathan Akin sits down with Fred Luter, Paige Patterson, Albert Mohler, J.D. Greear, David Platt, and Danny Akin on Tuesday afternoon of the SBC Annual Meeting to discuss the CR, the GCR, and the Future of the SBC. by  on vimeo.

Baptist 21 Panel Luncheon – 2012 SBC Annual Meeting from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

Dansul – O noua miscare „crestina”? Sau o religiozitate formala?

Dansul la Brasov, 2011

Nu stiu cum am dat peste acest video in care Romanii celebreaza Invierea Domnului Isus prin dans la Bucuresti, iar apoi am dat de acest video, incarcat pe Youtube de Second Baptist Church din Houston, Texas unde este pastor Ed Young. Biserica spune ca au fost inspirati de dansul din Budapesta aici – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVv0jH33nL4. E interesant ca in prezent, in mesajul la situl bisericii, Ed Young spune ca trebuie sa luptam impotriva culturii pentru ca asa ne-a invatat Hristos. Actiunea contrazice invatatura. Si Biserica Saddleback, Pastor Rick Warren a participat in Dansul 2011.

Cum scrie in Eclesiast: Nu e nimic nou sub soare 1:9 „Ce a fost, va mai fi, şi ce s’a făcut, se va mai face; nu este nimic nou supt soare„. Se incearca sa se „predice” cu orice metoda, inclusiv dans, in afara de singura metoda care este insotita de puterea Duhului Sfant de a strapunge inimile si a transforma o viata pacatoasa: CUVANTUL, adica Biblia.

Dupa cum e Biserica, asa e si societatea! 

Chiar in acest weekend citeam din nou din cartea lui Leonard Ravenhill „De ce intarzie trezirea?” Ravenhill a intitulat Capitolul 19 – Dupa cum e Biserica, asa e si societatea! Scrie Ravenhill:

E o nevoie disperata azi de oameni inspirati! Generatia degenerata de azi are absoluta nevoie de credinciosi cu suflete activate de Duhul. Vantul napraznic al nelegiuirii veacului din urma poate stinge usor o simpla faclie de religiozitate formala; asa cum o trestie uscata se frange in furtuna, asa se rupe si luminarea slaba a sectarismului firesc. Se aude in lume apropiindu-se vuietul infricosator al religiilor false si al crestinismului caldicel. Iar avertismentul impotriva acestora ne vine din partea unor oameni care nu au foc sfant, asa ca preferam adesea si noi sa fim mai bine de loc fara foc.

Nefiind in stare sa deosebim ce e firesc si ce e Duh, multi oameni religiosi ai zilei trambiteaza o noua spiritualitate in lume. Dar ceea ce e bun e doar un semn al mediocritatii, si ajunge din nou dusmanul de moarte al desavarsirii (Cei intelepti vor pricepe). Nu stati nepasatori! Conflictul se ascute! Aceasta e noaptea ruginii si a molimei. Dumnezeu sa ajute popoarele, ruinate de religii, faurite de oameni, aduse la blestem de culte intocmite de oameni, bantuite de doctrine nascocite de oameni! A mai fost vreodata asa o ora grozava? Stradanii irosite sunt pretul pe care-l platim pentru progesul de azi.

Dupa cum e Biserica, asa e si societatea. Cred ca e timpul sa ne trezim. Ar trebui sa ne apropiem de limbajul lui Patrick Henry astfel: „E oare lungimea vietii asa de draga si e oare comfortul caselor noastre atat de pretuit incat sa fim gata sa le cumparam cu pretul unei vieti de necredinta, cu pretul rugaciunilor uscate si fara viata? Nu cumva la marea judecata, in ultima instanta, in fata lui Dumnezeu, vor veni milioane de oameni trimisi la pierzare, in focul cel vesnic, sa ma acuze ca am fost nepasator de soarta lor, ca am trait un materialism doar invelit in cateva versete din Scriptura? Fereasca Dumnezeu Peasfantul! Nu stiu ce vor alege altii. Cat despre mine, dati-mi focul trezirii sufletului meu si a Bisericilor din intreaga tara. Daca nu, mai bine moartea!”

Doresc sa precizez ca nu am postat acest video ca sa dau cu pietre in oamenii care practica acest dans.  Si nu afirm ca nu sunt printre ei oameni sinceri si credinciosi. L-am postat ca sa ne aducem aminte de acuzatia lui Ravenhill: Dupa cum e Biserica, asa e si societatea si de ceea ce a spus apostolul Pavel: Romani 10:14 „Dar cum vor chema pe Acela în care n’au crezut? Şi cum vor crede în Acela, despre care n’au auzit? Şi cum vor auzi despre El fără propovăduitor? Dumnezeu sa ne ajute sa facem mai mult decat sa ne dam cu parerea; sa Il propovaduim pe Hristos celor din jurul nostru (caci cu cei din video, sigurat ca nu avem tangenta) pentru ca multi nu Il cunosc si chiar dintre cei care cred ca Il cunosc, realitatea este ca nu il cunosc de fel!

John Piper and David Platt at the 2011 SBC Annual Meeting

click on photo for source

If you don’t have time to watch the entire discussion- please watch the 2 shorter videos which contain some profound expositions of 2 very important topics from John Piper and David Platt: Missions and Materialism.

The first 2 videos are excerpts from the 1 hour B21 panel discussion. The third video is the full video of the panel discussion. There will be two more videos to follow tomorrow with a different panel, that touches on more provocative subjects. (That will be a new post that I will put up tomorrow)

Video 1 – John Piper speaks to the problem of people (such as Rob Bell and others) who have slowly drifted away from where they started from. (5:32 min)

Video 2 – David Platt and John Piper speak to the american way of looking at materialism and missions.

The full length (3rd) video is from Southeastern Baptist University.

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