“The freedom to worship did not
bring holiness to the church. –Andrew
the end of World War II until 1989, Romania was under the rule of the Communist
Party. Here in the northern city of Sighet, the town’s prison housed political
prisoners, many of whom were executed in the courtyard of the prison and buried
a few kilometers outside of town. Today, the prison has been transformed into
the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance, a remarkable and
eye-opening experience for those who may be unfamiliar with the devastating toll
the decades of communism took on this country. One out of every eight Romanians
was imprisoned. –Andrew
the Romanian Orthodox enjoyed a careful and measured amount of freedom, the
Catholic and Protestant churches were heavily persecuted. Evangelical believers
met in secret while pastors and church leaders were often imprisoned for their faith.
After the bloody revolution of 1989 resulted in the death of Nicolae Ceausescu, things began to change in Romania. But as one of our trainees, who also doubles as an interpreter, said, "The freedome to worship did not bring holiness to the church." Romanian evangelical churches are somewhat notorious for legalistic proof-texting. Many of the countries TLI teaches in have very limited biblical knowledge. That's not the case here. The trainees know their Bible and are often quicker than the instructors to look up a reference. But so often the Biible is used as a support for a preconceived notion rather than a litght for the gospel of Jesus.
reviewing the hermeneutical process this evening, I had a trainee approach me
during our break. He pastors a small village church and has rarely spoke in our
classes, listening quietly with his arms folded and what appears to be a scowl
on his face. For four days he had listened to us argue for an interpretive process
that prioritizes things like authorial intent and contextual controls before
jumping to conclusory applications. “My people just want the conclusions. How
do I help them see the text as its meant to be read and understood?”
only “easy” answer to this question with a long tradition behind is it that his
church – like all churches – needed a steady diet of faithful, expository
preaching. Show them from the pulpit the process of seeing the text in its
original context before bringing it into our world for application. Show them
the centrality of the gospel of Christ throughout Scripture.
of these pastors speak of a slow and rather painful transition occurring in
Romanian churches. The moralistic legalism is giving way to a rediscovery of
the gospel. As these men faithfully proclaim God’s Word, be praying that the
light of the gospel continues to rise in Romanian churches.