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Hungarian Unitarian Catechism
The Catechism of the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Transylvanian Romania
written by Ferencz Jozsef
last edited and modified in 1991 (20th edition)
Translated from Hungarian by the Rev. Gyorgy Andrasi, Counselor to the Bishop of the Romanian Church in collaboration with Byron C.Miller
(Published in The Unitarian Universalist Christian by The Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, FALL/WINTER, 1994, Volume 49, Nos.3-4)
I. Concepts 30 questions-answers
II. God 15 ---//---
III. The child of God 11 --//--
IV. Jesus 30 --//--
V. The Holy Spirit 7 --//--
VI. The Unitarian Church 7 --//--
VII. Sin and repentance 11 --//--
VIII. Eternal life 3 --//--
IX. Liturgical Services 22 --//--
I. II. III. IV. V. - VI. VII. - VIII. IX.
1) What is religion?
Religion is love toward God and toward our neighbor (all neighbors).
Mark 12,28-31: And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered: "The first is: Hear, O Israel: the Lord, our God is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
1John 4,21:The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also ;
Matthew 7,21: Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
2) How do we know that God exists?
Whether we look to the universe and its order, or to ourselves and our talents, we obtain the conviction that there exists one God, who created, maintains and manages everything.
3) Of what does love toward God consist?
Love toward God consists of our respect for his laws and our endeavor to fulfill them.
The child sincerely loves and respects his parents if he obeys them and conduct himself so that he merits their love. In the same manner, we respect and love God if we are obedient and try to live according to his will.
4) What is the purpose of religion?
The purpose of religion is to refine our souls through LOVE toward GOD and neighbor, to ennoble our feelings and to encourage service to God and neighbor.
5) Does humanity need religion?
The purpose of religion clearly shows that humanity needs religion; human history demonstrates this as well, according to the evidence of which there has never been a people that did not have religion.
6) How did we obtain a more pure religion?
According to the teaching of the history of religion, we obtained a more pure religion because God sent enlightened, wise, morally religious teachers who led us to a clearer religious conviction, corresponding with reason.
We uses to call God's messengers prophets, Apostles or founders of religion.
In the course of history, such messengers of God were Zoroaster to the Persians, Confucius to the Chinese, Buddha to the Hindus, Moses and the prophets to the Jews and Mohammed to the Arabs.
7) Who was the greatest prophet of God?
The greatest prophet of God was Jesus, the founder of the Christian Religion. He taught us both the knowledge and love of God.
See: For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3,11)
8) How do we know about the teachings of the prophets and of Jesus?
We know the teachings of the prophets and of Jesus from the Bible. Usually we call the Bible Holy Scripture.
9) What is the Bible?
The Bible is a collection which includes 66 books from antiquity, the authors and contents of which differ.
10) How many parts does the Bible have?
The Bible has two principal parts: The Old Covenant or Old Testament and The New Covenant or New Testament. The Old Testament contains 39 books, the New Testament 27 books.
11) Who wrote the books of the Old Testament?
The books of the Old Testament were written before the birth of Jesus by teachers and prophets of the Jewish people in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages
The order of Old Testament's books:
The Five Books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles, Esra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastics, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah, Malachi.
12) What does the Old Testament contain?
The Old Testament contains the morally religious laws of the Jewish people and the teachings of the prophets.
13) Which is the fundamental teaching of the Old Testament?
The fundamental teaching of the Old Testament is the Ten Commandments of Moses, which can be summarized as follows: God is One and you shall worship only God, do not make idols and do not worship them, do not take God's name in vain; keep the holy days; honor your parents; you shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steel; you shall not lie; you shall not be envious.
See for the whole text of the Ten Commandments:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of Bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Honor your father and you mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's.
14) Who wrote the books of the New Testament?
The books of the New Testament were written after the death of Jesus in Greek language by the evangelists and Apostles.
The order of the New Testament books: The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, The Acts of the Apostles, the letters of Paul: Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Thessalonians, I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews, the letters of James, I and II Peter, I,II and III John, the letter of Jude and the book of Revelations.
15) What does the New Testament contain?
The first part of the New Testament: The Gospels According to Mark, Matthew, Luke and John contains the life history and the teachings of Jesus; the other part acquaints us with the work and teaching of the Apostles. Because of its content, the New Testament is also called the Gospel which means "joyful message".
16) Why it is necessary to know the bible?
It is necessary to know the Bible because the teachings included in it are the basis of the Christian religion and (the basis for) direction of Christian life. For this reason we have to read and study the Bible with love and reason.
See: But he answered, it is written: One does not live by bread only, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4,4)
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scripture we might have hope. (Rome 5,4)
17) How do we call those whose religion is based upon Jesus' teachings?
Those, whose religion is based upon Jesus' teaching we call Christians. The "Christian" name is derived from the Latin "Christians" which means: belongs to Jesus, the follower of Jesus.
See: So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people and it was in Antioch that the disciples were called first "Christians". (Acts 11,26)
18) Are Christians United?
Christianity is not united. In the course of history the Christian Religion has divided into different denominations. But Christians living on earth are bound together by Jesus' teaching on brotherly unity. The number of Christians is about one billion.
See: For just as the body is one and has many members and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the One Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1Corinthians 12,12-13)
19) Why it Christianity divided into different denominations?
Among the Christians of antiquity and later in the age of the Reformation, different thoughts about the personality and teaching of Jesus arose. Denominations have been formed from the followers of these different religious concepts.
20) What is your religion?
I am a Unitarian.
21) Who was the founder of the Unitarian Church?
The founder of the Unitarian Church was Francis David (Dávid Ferenc).
22) What do we know about the life of Francis David?
According to tradition, Francis David was born in Cluj (Kolozsvár) around 1510. He completed studies in Cluj (Kolozsvár), Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár) and Wittemberg (Germany). After he returned from his pilgrimage, he worked as school director and minister in Beszterce, Petres and Cluj (Kolozsvár).
23) To what purpose did Francis David devoted his life?
The purpose to which Francis David devoted his life was the restoration of the pure Christianity of Jesus.
24) How did Francis David endeavor to realize this purpose for his life?
Francis David endeavor to realize this purpose for his life by preaching and spreading the pure Christianity of Jesus through the pulpit, debates and books.
The co-workers of Francis David were: Gaspar Heltai, Istvan (Stephen) Basilius, Benedek (Benedict) Óvári, Miklos (Nicholas) Bogáti Fazekas, Gyorgy (Georgio, George) Blandrata and others.
25) How did the people of the country accept the teaching of Francis David?
The greater part of the Hungarian people of the country agreed with Francis David and along with King John Sigismund, became followers of the pure Christianity of Jesus, as it was taught by Francis David. This religion was named Unitarian, from (the doctrine of the) unity of God.
The word "Unitarian" is of Latin origin "unus, unitas" which means "believers of one God who profess the indivisible unity of God". The Unitarian name was first used in 1600 at the Diet of Lécfalva.
26) What was the most important result of spreading the Unitarian Religion?
The most important result of the spreading of the Unitarian faith was the proclamation of religious freedom at the Diet of Torda in 1568. It was first declared to the world in Transylvania, that everyone can exercise that religion which agrees with their understanding, because "faith is the gift of God".
We consider the founding of the Unitarian Church (to be) from the proclamation of this law.
The Diet of Marosvásárhely (Tg.Mureş) confirmed the law of religious freedom in 1571.
The decision of the Diet of Torda in 1568:
"Our Royal Highness, as he has decreed on matters of religion, together with the Diet, now confirms again that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel, each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, then it shall be considered good; if not, no one shall compel them, for their soul would not be satisfied, but they shell be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall annoy or abuse the preachers on account of their religion, in accordance with the previous resolutions of the Diet, or allow any to be imprisoned or punished by removal from his post on account of his teachings, for Faith is the gift of God; this gift comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God".
27) How long was Francis David able to serve the pure Christianity of Jesus?
Francis David served the pure Christianity of Jesus only until 1579; the enemies of the religious freedom sentenced him to prison for life as an innovator. They imprisoned him in Deva castle, where he died on November 15th 1579.
The grave of Francis David is unknown. At the place of his suffering, in one cell of the castle of Deva, a memorial column preserves his name and proclaims his life's work.
The first memorial was placed in 1910 by our Church on the occasion of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Francis David's birthday. The present memorial was placed in reverence by Unitarian believers in 1948. (note from Sandor Leta: this was destroyed by unknown people and the last plaque it was commemorated in 1997.)
28) What happened after Francis David's death?
Francis David's death was followed by a very difficult period in the history of our church. First, religious intolerance and later, political suppression oppressed our church. Instead of building, our ancestors were forced to gather all their forces for self-defense. In this hard struggle many of our churches and congregations were lost, as well as about three-quarters of our believers. Only the providence of God, the law of religious freedom and the heroic persistence of a portion of our believers saved the church from total destruction.
29) How long was this difficult period?
This difficult period continued nearly 300 years. After that, due to historical developments, there came a time which was more free. Our church was delivered from suppression, gathered together its remaining strength and was able to build the kingdom of God freely. Through the sacrifices of believers, churches were built and the number of church members increased. Then it was possible to mention the name of Francis David and to preach in his spirit. In 1879, our church was able to celebrate the memory of its founder, Francis David, for the first time on the occasion of 300th anniversary of his death.
30) What is your Confession?
My confession is:
I believe in one God, the creator of life, our providential Father.
I believe in Jesus, the best among the sons of God, our true master-teacher.
I believe in the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the mission of the Unitarian Church.
I believe in repentance and eternal life.
I. II. III. IV. V. - VI. VII. - VIII. IX.