Yarnell presents paper on Anabaptists in Hungary, preaches to Hungarian Baptists
Not all countries are like the United States with regard to the presence of Baptist churches, and that is also true in Hungary. Malcolm Yarnell III, research professor of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was invited to speak at three different gatherings of Hungarian Baptists during a visit from April 14-17.
Yarnell was asked to present an essay to the Scientific Memorial Conference in Budapest, Hungary to commemorate 500 years of Anabaptism in the Carpathian Basin. His essay and presentation offered a history of the theological views held by the Anabaptists in Hungary.
“While modern-day Hungarian Baptists were more firmly established in the 19th century, the establishment of Anabaptism can be traced back to 1523,” said Yarnell. “There was a Hungarian man who studied under Martin Luther during the Reformation who started questioning infant baptism in 1523, and that is why they chose that year, because they have records.”
Yarnell said that he was “very impressed with the depth of scholarship that the Hungarian Baptists have.” He said that the Hungarian Baptist Union is “active in church planting” and much like Southern Baptists, “they are very active in their local churches and preach the Word of God.”
Yarnell said that he was “very impressed” by how committed the Hungarian Baptists are to traditional Baptist beliefs. “They are, to a great extent, much like Southern Baptists,” said Yarnell.
After presenting at the conference, Yarnell was asked to preach at the Úzpest Baptist Church on the love of God. In his sermon titled, “God Loves You,” Yarnell exhorted those in attendance that God truly does love them. He was able to preach through the assistance of an interpreter and he was able to clearly present the Gospel.
“The church asked me to preach and I enjoyed preaching to them on the love of God,” said Yarnell. “I was able to present the Gospel to them, which they really appreciated.”
During his sermon, Yarnell mentioned that he and the pastor of Úzpest Baptist Church in Budapest, Hungary, did not work together to plan sermons that built on one another, “but the Lord worked it out that way.” Yarnell preached on Romans 5:8 and encouraged the congregation that “God saves us to prove that He truly loves us.”
In his third and final presentation, Yarnell spoke at a monthly meeting of the Hungarian Baptist Theological Seminary. The seminary holds a monthly chapel-type meeting and Yarnell was able to speak at the gathering after the main speaker preached a message. The audience also included Romanian Baptist guests.
In his presentation to the seminary, Yarnell recalled much of what he said during his presentation to the Scientific Memorial Conference. He was able to provide the students and others gathered with historical context of what it means to be a Baptist in Hungary. His main exhortation, however, was that the Hungarian Anabaptists understood that Jesus is Lord and that they should follow in their footsteps.
“It was nice to see that they were as serious about theological education as Southern Baptists are,” said Yarnell. “It was a large gathering of people there, and I enjoyed being able to represent Southwestern there.”
Hungarian Baptists are considered a minority denomination, but they are still represented quite well there, Yarnell explained. “They have some 500 churches, which is a pretty good size for their size of nation,” said Yarnell. “They’re seen as part of the whole Hungarian social fabric. They are very respected by the people of Hungary even though they are a minority.”
Yarnell expressed gratitude that he was able to present at these three gatherings in Budapest. “It was a great opportunity to present an essay before the Hungarian Baptists,” said Yarnell. “Hungarian Baptists have a rich theological history and I was honored to be able to present on this and to be able to preach before a great congregation.”