A Message from Kyiv, Day 7

Only a few hours ago (today) I had a privilege of speaking with a good friend via FaceTime.  Irene, who lives in Kyiv, in a moving account shares how her life has been changed in the first seven days of the Russian aggression on Ukraine. Desiring to remain true to her message no alternations have been applied to the content of her message. Irene has given her approval to share her message in its entirety. She said: “People need to know what we are facing.”

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Solidarity with Ukraine Protest in Houston

Standing in solidarity with Ukraine: As Ukraine is enduring its fourth night of deadly terror there is nothing that could justify the naked and shameless aggression orchestrated by Putin’s regime on the unsuspecting nation of Ukraine. No “what-about this or that” could give a human face to this act of naked aggression. Today I have joined a group of at least 500 citizens of Houston in a dignifying protest of solidarity with Ukraine that took place this cold and rainy afternoon in front of the Russian Consulate in Houston. 

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Covid-19, Social Upheavals and the Christian Response

We are glad to inform you that we are now beginning with the new season of webinars and online conversations. We would like to invite you to join us at the first 2022 webinar, planned for Thursday, February 10, starting 7pm GMT. Webinar  theme: Covid-19, Social Upheavals and the Christian Response

An international group of panelists include artists, social and community activists, mentors in leadership, political advisers and pastors. They will analyze the current state of international social, political and religious affairs as we are entering the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The questions will include: How have two years of pandemic affected our relationships, friendships and our faith communities? What impact has the longevity of the pandemic had on the political, social and religious scene of Europe and the world, and what hope is there we should hold on beyond the pandemic? How is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the future of church communities and organizations? Has the Pandemic exposed the questionable political and policy making decisions, and what are their economic and social consequences? What will it take for Christians to become the instruments of healing, truth telling and healthy social action in the days of political, social and spiritual confusion? 

Our panelists are – Liviu Bocaniala (Romania), Brian Morgan (US), Camilla Bocaniala (Norway), Jack Fallow (UK) and Heather Staff (UK). Moderator: Tihomir Kukolja. 

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The Revival of Spiritual Gaslighting

Image: still from the 1944 film Gaslight

Author Tihomir Kukolja

When confronted with the simple truth that the Covid-19 pandemic is real and that vaccines save lives, some of my Christian friends are quick to question my spiritual sanity. On Facebook they tell me: “You should preach the gospel and not the vaccines.” Frequently I’ve been asked: “Do you trust in vaccines, or in God?” 

I’ve been called a stupid idiot, asked to repent, told that I am not doing God’s work, given Bible verses and other quotations meant to open my eyes – all that and more because I have dared encourage people to be vaccinated. I have had my share of sleepless nights wondering about my own sanity. I have been generously gaslighted. 

Just as gaslighting is understood to mean emotional manipulation that leads people to doubt what they know and believe, so in the days of the pandemic spiritual gaslighting is a pious tactic of putting other people down, mostly by social media trolling or spamming. It is exercised by people determined to control a conversation though meaningless spiritual statements, cliches, phrases, and pointed misplaced quotes. It is a damaging manifestation of arrogance informed by spiritual ignorance. 

Experts on spiritual gaslighting are everywhere. They can be found even among world leaders. The late Tanzanian President John Magufuli (1959-2021), one of Africa’s most outstanding anti-vaxxer presidents, died earlier this year. The official government accounts denied that Covid-19 was the reason for his death. He was a man proud of his faith who gaslighted his nation and the world only a few months prior to his death that Tanzania “had eradicated Covid-19 through three days of prayer.

The Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, a Catholic loved by many evangelicals and Pentecostals, who disregarded the serious threat of the encroaching pandemic loved to gaslight his nation too. In the middle of the growing pandemic, while reported to have done nothing to stop it, he said: “We will call for a day of fasting by Brazilians so that Brazil can free itself from this evil as soon as possible.”

Dave Ramsey, an evangelical Christian and radio celebrity who has built a fortune teaching people how to get rid of their financial troubles allegedly did not want his 900 employees to act preventively against the pandemic. He was reported saying that not daring to work in the office because of Covid demonstrated “weakness of spirit”, and that “taking preventative measures were against the will of God.” A currently ongoing lawsuit against Dave Ramsey states that the employees who wore masks at work were “mocked and derided.” 

Spiritual gaslighting can be quite painful experience if you happen to be on the receiving end. It renders you helpless because no argument seems to ever change the views of the one doing it. Only a few days ago one person commented on social media in response to another article I wrote on a similar theme: “I can’t listen to you anymore. Vaccines are destroying our DNA. Are you forgetting that the Bible says that ‘we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that God will destroy anyone who destroys his temple?” When challenged by another commentator that vaccines do not alter DNA, she responded: “The Bible and the Bible alone is my authority.” Another person, known for her vocal support of conspiracy narratives, declared a moment later, “We Christians should be occupied by far more important themes at this time (than vaccines).” Discussing the pandemic with a spiritual anti-vaxxer is like grabbing fog with one’s bare hands.

However, the most subliminal spiritual gaslighting has come from the faithful middle, pastors included, and individuals who see themselves as the neutral group of “unifiers” and “reconcilers”. They love to say: “Do not let them divide us. Vaccinated or not, we are all one. Let everyone choose whether to be vaccinated or not. What we need is reconciliation.” I have heard it said also recently: “In our church community we are united, and we love each other. No one asks anyone if they are vaccinated or not.” 

It is true, we need love and unity. But at what cost? And what do we mean when we treat the current discourse as a conflict that needs reconciliation?

The problem with this “moderate” manner of spiritual gaslighting, reverently broadcast at the time when our ill-informed decisions may have dire consequences, is that they equate facts with lies, and truth with nonsense. Those unifiers remind me of a “neutral” military force placed between rebels and freedom fighters in a way that advances the rebels’ cause. In other words, it is misleading to treat the current discourse of arguments for or against vaccination as a matter of two sides in need of reconciliation. Facts do not have two sides that need to be reconciled. The facts of the pandemic call for clear action that collectively saves lives.

I am told that in one local church in Serbia, which seems to treasure this kind of unity above safety, a member of the congregation gave a public testimony during a recent church service – “My wife is in bed at home today, sick with Covid. But praise the Lord, I’ve managed to come to the church today and am glad to worship with you in person right now.” A few worshipers who took the threat of the Covid pandemic more seriously immediately moved a few pews further away from this brother who, had he been better informed about the potential consequences of his decision, would have stayed at home too.

At this time the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is reporting over 5.5 million deaths caused by Coronavirus worldwide. How many more deaths are required for us to recognize that the calls to responsible living during a global pandemic are not calls to disunity, but to sanity? Instead, those who are piously gaslighting, who are misquoting the Bible, who are misappropriating their favorite quotes and encouraging public defiance are the factual creators of division, and often accomplices in creating the worst outcomes. I know of small church communities in Southeast Europe that have lost members to Covid thanks to the defiant attitude of highly pious virus spreaders, who have encouraged believers to ignore the pandemic, hugged each other indiscriminately, spoken face-to-face with one another without wearing masks, and even visited each other’s churches when advised to restrict their movements while declaring presumptuously: “We are not afraid of Covid. We believe in God!”

The chief mastermind of spiritual gaslighting, who knew how to twist Bible statements beyond recognition, was Satan himself. At the time of Jesus’ greatest physical exhaustion, he came cunningly to Jesus with “a solution”: “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:5. NIV 

It is not much different today.  Too many believers are encouraging other believers to jump presumptuously off the pandemic cliff, unprepared and unprotected, into the agony of uncertain outcomes, even unto their own deaths. They are creating a state of confusion and division among the faithful by advancing presumptuous and pious statements that the pandemic is not real, that vaccines are meant to kill us all, that our genes will be altered irreversibly, that our freedoms are being taken from us for good. They are telling the multitudes of confused, uncertain, and exhausted people: “Jump, you will be fine! God is with you!” They are misappropriating the Word of the Lord and His promises in the days of great peril, to their own peril.

But the story of spiritual gaslighting does not end here. The easily accessed Facebook pages of many pious gaslighters reveal a peculiar interest in the previously ignored means of social activism. Many Christian anti-vaxxers are now protesting in the US, Australian and European capitals against the “tyranny” of their governments. They believe they are a part of something big, and they want to be “on the right side of history”. But are they?

A case in point is the Australian populist Graham Hood, a retired commercial pilot, and proud Adventist believer who is anything but timid when it comes to sharing his faith. Each of his Facebook video messages, which by now have become almost a daily occurrence, is viewed, approvingly commented, liked and shared thousands of times. The contents of his inflammatory messages include everything from outrage at the Australian government wanting to “jab their children”, Q-Anon conspiracies, twisted theology, to literal calls to his followers to bring the current Australian government “to its knees.” His heart is set on a sacred mission of “getting our country back”, an Australian anti-vax take on “Making Australia Great Again!”

Hoody, referred to by his many followers as “our captain”, has become a hero and a champion to many Australian Adventist and non-Adventist anti-vaxxers alike. At the November “Millions March” against mandatory vaccination in Sydney, he was treated like a celebrity as he spoke to a large crowd.  In his address he blended his faith with a call to the protesters to stand up to the government. He compared their antigovernment movement to the boldness of the American WWII hero and pacifist combat medic Desmond Doss. “If they want to stick a needle into our children, they will have to come through us first”, he declared in the middle of his speech. 

Another case in point is professor of molecular biology Dr Tomislav Terzin, a Canadian of Serbian background, and loved by many “pro-choice” Christians across Southeast Europe. His video appearances would easily pick up thousands of viewings in the first couple of hours of their release. In a recent video interview titled “Don’t Let Them Divide Us” he invited “Christians, Jews and Muslims” to gather around the same God in “defiance and resistance to the prevailing godlessness”. “Let us be disobedient to this small group of people who want to herd us into their sheep pens”, said Dr Terzin as he affirmed a recent protest against Covid vaccination in the Croatian capital Zagreb.

The protest was organized mostly by far-right political groups and supported by right-wing Catholic groups who, at the rally, displayed banners featuring the image of the Virgin Mary – seemingly suggesting that the protest had her endorsement too. Dr. Terzin expressed hope that other cities and countries in Europe and the world would follow in the footsteps of the Croatian protesters.  He spoke approvingly of other protests at which people were seen publicly destroying what appeared to be Covid vaccination certificates in an “act of solidarity and unity with people who do not want to be vaccinated.” He also compared the restrictions aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic across Europe to the fascist persecution of the Jews in WWII.

The blanket of the holy resistance to vaccine mandates is spreading evenly over the entire Christian denominational spectrum. It is not only an Adventist problem. It is dividing Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Pentecostal, and all evangelical communities, with potential to cause permanent damage to some of them. Wherever it sets its roots it comes in the company of endless supplies of Q-Anon conspiracy theories, twisted unorthodox theological variations and eschatological misinterpretations, with an abundance of prophetic miscalculations, and with expressed political allegiances to the far-right. In the US, for example, many white evangelicals are driven by the Republican urge to oppose everything that is supported and called for by Democrats. They are against vaccinations just because Democrats are calling the nation to be fully vaccinated. The reasons so many Christians across denominational lines are defiantly against vaccinations might differ slightly, but in their zeal to oppose all calls to responsible vaccination they are more than united. A new ecumenism has been born with defiant anti-vaccination drive and wild conspiracies at its heart.

Too many Christians, who until recently weren’t too concerned about human rights and the state of social righteousness, have suddenly become fierce “human rights” and “freedom of choice” activists and cheerleaders. The state of the poor, homeless, refugees, and concern about the spread of nationalism, racism, and ethnic injustice was far removed from their consciousness. Their usual response to any challenge to get involved in social healing of their countries would be met by another set of misreading mandates of the Bible. Until recently they loved to say: “We Christians are not meddling in politics.”

Now, in the middle of the pandemic, they are awake.  They want to save their countries and the world from the “tyranny of impending dictatorship”. In their views, calls to responsibly love our neighbors by getting vaccinated is pure tyrannical nonsense. They are a part of the global family of those who do not believe in any officially released scientific data about the pandemic. They hate ‘socially distancing’. They hate masks. They hate vaccines. They don’t want their governments to tell them what to do. And they maintain those views because, in their view, “the Bible tells them so.” 

On the other hand, many warriors against vaccine mandates and the reality of the pandemic do not hesitate to implement whatever mischief they know to dodge the vaccine mandates, or to speak untruthfully about their own, or their families’ encounters with the pandemic. 

I know of an instance in the US where church members placed their pastors under pressure to issue exemption letters or statements based on “religious or conscience objections” even though their church leaders had officially declared that there exists no conflict between the faith they professed and vaccination against Covid. When a pastor under pressure asked his superiors to help him handle the crisis, he was told: “Deal with it the best you know how.” They did not want to offend the conservative, antivax constituency of his local church. 

I have heard of several places where people are begging medical doctors to supply them with fake medical exemptions, or falsified vaccination certificates. An Australian medical doctor, an Adventist Christian (again), was investigated by police and recently had his medical registration suspended because he had reportedly issued hundreds of fraudulent vaccine exceptions. Most of his clients were said to be Christians too.

Others are vaccinated in secrecy, worried what their faithful friends might say if they knew they were vaccinated. In some instances, even when a family member succumbs to Covid, close family members would keep on denying the facts of his or her death. “He died from pneumonia”, they would say, or “We are not certain what caused her death.”

The widespread presence of pious and deceitful blindness is almost impossible to avoid. It is the veil of piety that makes it so deceitful. Almost every day another friend, who I’ve until recently believed to be a discerning person, surprises me with a message, or a statement. When on any given day I receive an invitation to watch yet another bizarre “truth telling and eye opening” video, on the same day I would receive another two, three or more messages requesting of me to watch the same conspiracy-driven latest revelation about the pandemic or vaccines. They are often introduced with a warning that suggests urgency, “Watch it before the Satanists have taken it off the Internet.”

Two or three months ago I thought we were talking about a tiny vocal but aggressive minority. Now I believe that some church communities have been almost entirely taken over by the sway of fanaticism, driven by anti-vaccination conspiracies, twisted eschatological narratives, and right-wing political ideologies. The ambiguous official church statements, that seem to aim at not offending anyone, only complicate the matter further. Those that speak with clarity, like the recent official video message released by the Adventist leadership in Germany, are met by a multitude of scornful comments, even warnings that such clear invitation to vaccination may cause a denominational split. “5000 fewer (members)”, one comment attached to the video shared on Facebook stated. I sincerely fear for the survival of some religious communities beyond the pandemic. What will be left of them when the pandemic and dust of anti-vax insanity settles? 

The spectrum of insanity does not end with spiritual gaslighting about Covid vaccinations. Yet, at this point we may say that the pious gaslighting is at its peak, to such an extent that we can speak of the phenomenon of transforming a part of Christian community into a new cult, or a new sect. While the guardians of the church administrations are frantically protecting the status quo, the wolves are destroying and irreversibly scattering the herd. To them this pandemic came in very handy. In the words of a friend, this pandemic has pushed to the surface all the theological and ideological garbage that until recently has been hidden below the surface. We are far from the end of the tunnel, and the pious antivaxxers are having a revival.

Meanwhile, many of our friends, and people we know, are continuing to be infected with the coronavirus. They are struggling to survive. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are sending us their heartbreaking prayer requests. I have stopped counting how many people I know have died since the beginning of the pandemic.  Some have died unnecessarily. 

At the same time spiritual gaslighters and minimizers are continuing to double down into conspiracies and denial, always ready to deliver another spiritual cliche, or misquoted statement, or another misplaced accusation that the whole mess is to be blamed on us who are lovingly asking people to take this pandemic seriously and love our neighbors by sharing in the acts of collective accountability towards each other, of which the most crucial one at this moment is to be vaccinated.

The facts of the pandemic cannot be altered or spiritualized away. They do not have two sides that need to be reconciled. The facts proven by the millions of people vaccinated so far declare that those imperfect vaccines actually save lives. The tragedy of it all is that when large groups of Christians spread deceitful information, they are not only contributing to the unnecessary prolongation of the crisis. They are helping more people to die too. 

Moreover, their denials of facts are becoming even more cynical when wrapped in holy gaslighting. Robert K. Vischer, professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis, warned recently: “When the world sees Christians as gullible, naive and unwilling to do the hard work of critically evaluating information, we lose credibility on everything — including our assertions about the historical veracity of the gospel.”

This article was also published by Spectrum on December 28, 2021.

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A New Year Message for My Friends

A Christmas and New Year message for my friends everywhere.  The world has become a toxic place. How many times I’ve heard it said over the past months: “The world has gone mad.” It seems we are witnessing it all coming to the surface at the same time and at many places: social hysteria and restlessness; spreading of big lies, deception and delusion; spreading of nationalism and racism, fear, hate, confusion. People are divided. Religion is politicized. Nations are angry. Tensions are high. And the extended season of pandemic, and our impatiences with it, are  not helping. In 2022 we need to return to Jesus, for He is our only hope. In this New Year message I am trying to explain why. 

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Covid Update – Focus on Europe

In Medias Res, Covid Update: Dr. Tihomir Odorcic delivers the latest update on the Covid situation in Europe. Dr. Odorčić is a family medicine doctor from Kocevje, Slovenia, where he and his wife Lidija run their clinic. He is also active in the local municipality covid clinic and emergency unit. He is also involved in public and radio health education through lectures, workshops, seminars and counseling across Slovenia and Croatia. 

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Christian Freedom and Responsibility

Webinar Feature: Christian Freedom and Responsibility to the Community, Dr. Zdravko Plantak, Professor of Religion and Ethics at Loma Linda University, California. “This is the crux of the controversy today: if someone wants to risk their lives, even their health for not been vaccinated, that is their right. But when their decision puts other at risk, it assumes a broader public health impact for all of us, and also a Christian responsibility.”

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Upholding the Common Good

Heather Nicola Staff, Political Adviser on Refugee and Migration Policy, UK. Webinar highlight, Leadership Focus International. Theme – Overcoming Pandemic, Call to Responsible Living. Not all questions are wrong. Nevertheless, many are pursuing irrational thinking which paralyzes them from making rational  decisions. Heather Staff is responding to a question about how to engage in a positive public action that takes care of the common good for all into consideration? Need to watch and listen carefully. 

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May All the Other Garbage Go

Reformation Day Reflection, May all the Other Garbage Go. As long as something is being added, whatever that may be, to which we give even partial redemptive attributes, we have not grasped the heart, meaning and continuing urgency of the Reformation. Instead of “always reforming” we are continually deforming. Whenever and wherever we live in the attitude of helping Jesus to save us we are reducing the Gospel of Jesus to a caricature. 

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Luther’s Protest is Not Over

Over the recent years we could hear numerous Christian leaders, organizations and committees calling for the restoration of unity within a divided Christian community. “Luther’s protest is over” – they argue. What they mean is that there exist no more justifiable reasons for the separation between the Protestant world and the Roman Catholic Church since, as they love to claim, “now we all believe that we are all saved by grace and Christ alone”. 

Those calls to unity beg a question: are the currently known calls to theological reconciliation doing justice to the integrity of the Gospel of Christ?

Just over 500 years ago, on October 31, 1517  Martin Luther, a German monk nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany. This event, that was initially designed to invoke an intellectual conversation,  set in motion the unstoppable wave of Protestant Reformation in Europe, and led to a major breakup between the churches identified with the Reformation and the Roman Catholic Church.

In the heart of the big divorce were the differences between how the two sides understood the centrality and role of grace and faith in the lives of believers. On the one hand the Roman Catholic Church claimed that she was the God given means of deciding the conditions under which the grace of Christ was to be administered in the lives of believers. The Reformers, on the other hand, understood that if the grace of Christ was to be grace, it had to be the undiluted gift of God with no human strings attached, administered to all believers unconditionally.  

The Reformers understood the workings of the grace in us as God’s declaration of righteousness. In Christ, and because of Christ, we were declared righteous on the basis of Christ’s merits alone. The Roman Catholic Church understood the workings of the grace as a means of making us righteous, and the Church was given the authority to decide how would that grace be operational in the lives of believers. Apparently what appears to be minute differences in understanding that keep us apart are actually much more than differences in semantics. It is true that most Christians believe that we are saved by grace, but what we mean by the statement would often differ radically. 

Often we could hear that what led to the Reformation breakdown was nothing more than an unfortunate or ‘tragic misunderstanding’. But, has anything really changed for better over the centuries in the ways we understand the Gospel of Christ to justify such a bold claim? Have we all really come to a clearer understanding of the meaning, centrality and all-sufficiency of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in our salvation? Have we finally stopped turning our denominations and churches into the ‘dens of robbers’ by selling in them our own brands of saving supplements? Have we all, after many debates, commissions and joint declarations finally come to our transfiguration moment similar to the one when Jesus’ disciples “saw no one else but Jesus”? Matthew 17:8.

I am not convinced that we have. And I am saying “we” because all kinds of self-saving placebos are on the market across the entire spectrum of Christendom today. The examples vary from the outrageous and extreme self-molestations of the Filipino Catholics during the days of Easter, to the superstitious veneration of deceased human intercessors and co-redeemers, still very much alive even in the most liberal circles of the Roman Catholic Church.

By the same token, have we Protestants moved forward “ever reforming” when many of us are relying on our subjective forms of mysticism (for example, listen to the most of the contemporary praise and worship music and you will discover that we praise our emotions more often than Jesus the Redeemer)? 

Are we really pursuing the spirit of Reformation when we rely on the subjective prophetic and charismatic gifts for the assurance of our standing with God rather than on the firm promise that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved?” Romans 10:13. 

Are we truly reformed and “keep on reforming” when many of us have lost any appreciation for the uniqueness of Jesus as “the only name given to men to be saved”? Acts 4:11. Unfortunately in many protestant and evangelical circles the real meaning of salvation by grace has been reduced to a meaningless cliche. 

In other words, wherever a Christian culture exists that encourages its followers to believe and act as if their salvation, or sense of God’s approval depended on our works (whether they are the works of the Law or our own rules); or on our subjective inner feelings, notions or imagination; or if we are a part of a Christian community that has produced questionable exclusive beliefs – through it all we are demonstrating that we are not sure if trusting in Jesus alone is enough to keep us in the saving embrace of God. Thus the grace of Christ, as the supreme and all-sufficient agent of our salvation is compromised, diluted, even lost. 

As long as something is being added, whatever that may be, to which we give even partial redemptive attributes, we have not grasped the heart, meaning and continuing urgency of the Reformation. Instead of “always reforming” we are continually deforming. Whenever and wherever we live in the attitude of helping Jesus to save us we are reducing the Gospel of Jesus to a caricature. 

Let me share an illustration. Recently I’ve watched a video series covering the origins, life, beliefs and practices of the Amish people in the US. I even visited an Amish community in the state of Michigan a number of years ago. What impressed me then, and what has impressed me as I watched the series, was the work ethics, profound sense of belonging to a community in which people leave for each other and serve each other sacrificially. In the days of Reformation those people, better known as Anabaptists at the time, in the mountains of Switzerland decided that they would serve the Lord unconditionally. However, over the centuries those beautiful people, desiring to be the true faithful, got stuck in time and the legalism of their own making. The freshness and claims of the Gospel were replaced with their own customs and laws that had to do much with how and what they wear, and how strictly they keep separated from their non-Amish neighbors, and how thoroughly they would shun their own family members who abandoned their faith. Despite the best intentions they have added heavy loads of their own rules and regulations to their diminishing faith in Jesus, and in the process Jesus and the saving faith that brings assurance and the joy of salvation were lost.

The heart and legacy of the ongoing reformation, kindled by the Reformers of the sixteenth century is in this: no religious system is given the authority to hijack or manipulate the Gospel of Christ,  or to expect believers to give their unquestionable allegiance to a religious system in the name of unity. Instead, the legacy of Reformation is calling us to go back to Christ again and again, and nudges us to genuinely seek to understand the heart of the Gospel and the mind of Christ. No religious system, organization or structure can ever claim the ownership of the truth of the Gospel and the gift of grace. This is the true legacy of the Reformation.

Today many are praying for unity and quoting the prayer of Jesus “that all may be one”. Unfortunately, they are forgetting that the only legitimate unity shared between the followers of Jesus is the one with Jesus firmly occupying the throne, and deciding the rules of the game. “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You”’ prayed Jesus. John 17:21.

Jesus never prayed for unity for its own sake or at all costs. Unity that does not have Jesus-plus-nothing in the center is a hijacked unity.  Cosmetic unifications are not based on the truth but on compromises that always sacrifice the Gospel. There where Jesus Christ is not on the throne, some other, false christ will be enthroned. This is why the warning of Paul the Apostle sounds so urgent and so uncompromising: “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned”. Galatians 2:8.

The 16th century Reformers understood that the heart of the Gospel was the gift of Jesus Christ without human strings attached. This was the landmark which they did not dare compromise or subject to improvisation. Neither should we.

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