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Reform Magazine | November 18, 2019

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A letter from… Budapest

A letter from… Budapest

Balázs Ódor writes from the Church in Budapest, Hungary

It is deucedly difficult to tell a lie when you don’t know the truth,’ reads the opening sentence of a rather famous book, Celestial Harmonies, by the Hungarian writer, Péter Esterházy. Celestial Harmonies tells the saga of his ancient aristocratic family, whose members were present at many of the important events of Hungarian and European history. The family was ultimately disrobed of their fortune by communist rule. This family saga reflects the ups and downs of our common history in Europe.

The quote is a reminder that even if you want to lie – I mean, truly lie, not just be wrong – you need to know the truth. Or, at least part of it. How much more is this true if you want to witness to the truth? You know, to the one which sets us free, as Jesus says in John’s Gospel. For this kind of witness, we need to listen to Jesus very carefully and recognise that we can be slave to anyone, if we are not liberated by his word from our idols.

Living as Christians in Hungary, seeking credible, relevant and fresh ways of witnessing the truth of Christ, you realise how difficult that can be. Not because politics would be indifferent or even hostile to the Christian truth – rather the other way around. Our politics sells ideas and promotes ideologies like ‘illiberal democracy’ and ‘ethnic homogeneity’, and anti-migration stances as if they were ingredients of a Christian truth narrative. This ‘truth’ supposedly needs defending from liberalism, the devil, or even from the EU and the Hungarian-American investor philanthropist George Soros. …

Balázs Ódor is Head of the Reformed Church in Hungary’s Ecumenical and International Relations Department

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the September 2019 edition of Reform

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