This year’s Hungarian Reformed Church conference was organized in Balatonszárszó (Szárszó) from Thursday to Sunday under the name “We, the Reformed - Hungarian Reformed National Strategy” at the SDG Conference Center. Self-awareness and awareness of God in the XXI century were discussed during Friday morning’s presentation and round table talks. In connection with this, Bishop Zoltán Balog discussed the Reformed national strategy – the aim of which is to give a blessing to the world and to Hungarians.
Balatonszárszó is a symbol of Reformed thinking and honor, the meeting of gospel and literature, service to the church and the nation, and commitment to faith and to being Hungarian. A symbol of awakening and leavening work.
That is how, in 1943, literary historian Mihály Czine characterized the genius loci of the Balatonszárszó conferences at their fiftieth anniversary. From 1928 to the end of the ‘40s the Hungarian Reformed Students Soli Deo Gloria Association (SDG) organized the traditional youth conference which then became an intellectual conference. After a forced hiatus up until 1992, the Hungarian Reformed Church began organizing it every summer.
Another few years were left out in the 2010s, but since 2017 (with the exception of the compulsory gap in 2020) the SDG Conference Center has hosted the Reformed intellectuals’ most significant forum. The organizers – the Hungarian Reformed Church and the Reformed Public and Cultural Foundation (Református Közéleti és Kulturális Alapítvány) – aim to make this not only an analytical event, but a formative force in public life.
Viktor Orbán’s main message: American conservatives should join forces with Hungarian and European conservatives who believe in the nation and family to defeat liberal hegemony.
Even today we are saved by God’s love
Bishop Zoltán Balog, pastoral president by the Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church, highlighted in his presentation that,
God has endowed the Hungarian Reformed with strategic importance, a “treasury of grace” with which they can gift the entire Hungarian nation. This also why it is natural for the Reformed Church to have a national strategy which aims to give a blessing to the world and within that, to Hungarians.
In connection with this, Zoltán Balog told Magyar Nemzet that:
The Reformed community has the peculiarity that we understand ourselves as a community created by the word of God, a part of the nation, and by this we can serve the whole nation. This is why we created the national strategy which aims to make it clear for all Hungarians that it is worthwhile and valuable to live knowing that we are of the love of the Lord and this is how we survive. When difficult times come, like nowadays, it is especially important to emphasize that the biblical values to which the Hungarian Reformed have been faithful for centuries are still suitable today to keep us and make us happy.
The Reformed Bishop also told our paper that it is not enough for society to know of the Reformed community “only” for their public services. After all, a good school hospital or nursing home can be maintained and operated by others, but the Reformed institutions are home to that special spiritual surplus –which we must put on display – where people are working according to the sustaining power of faith in their own lives and they want to pass this on through service.
Footholds for the youth
Zoltán Balog said that appealing to young people is especially important, with a particular emphasis on religious education. In the Carpathian Basin, 300,000 students participate in Reformed religious education and this number has an even more significant meaning today given
this world ruled by mass and social media, where our values are threatened and there is a visible trend of relativized and weakened identities among children and young people.
This is why they would like to provide sure footholds, reference points, and routes for young people which have worked and supported the Hungarian community for the past 500 to 1000 years. “If we can appeal to these young people genuinely and with love, so that they view religious studies as a helpful resource and not homework or compulsory – and to do so we must renew our souls and language – then we have fulfilled our mission,” he said.
In his presentation, Zoltán Balog also stated that in order for the church to lovingly and simultaneously effectively represent the truth of the Holy Scriptures, the divine revelation – which is the main source on God and ourselves – on the one hand it is necessary for the Reformed to understand and follow God’s word in their daily lives. On the other hand, the spiritual workshops operating in the Church must be connected, and dialogue and cooperation must be organized in such a way as to unite the knowledge that exists separately in the church, thus raising it to a higher level.
The Balatonszárszó intellectual conference is a good example of this. As Bishop Daniel Pásztor said, though it has a grand tradition, it cannot become a tradition-preservation association, just as the Reformed Church cannot either.
The reaction of the Polish media as a whole to Viktor Orbán’s Tusnádfürdő speech reminded Paweł Lisicki of when a great love turns to hatred overnight.
We cannot give up on the truth
A good church does not have to keep count of how many people come to Sunday mass, but rather how it can be of service to everyone,
– said former Bishop and synod president, current head teacher of the Károli Gáspár Reformed University, István Szabó Bogárdi at the round table discussion. In the world today, most people are not searching, they are just waiting. That is why, according to him, it is necessary to face the fact that a part of society accepts the services and gifts of the church but now it is no longer certain that they will accept an invitation to Sunday service. However, we still must not abandon that truth revealed in the scriptures in the name of some kind of general tolerance and love cult because then we have no chance to know God and ourselves. In our individualist age, it is a fundamental question that man can only know and define himself as a social being, as a member of a community.
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