Translated Sermon #24: The Freedom of Faith and Conscience by Ferencz József

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheFreedomofFaithandConscience.

Summary of the sermon: The author, Ferencz József, was a Unitarian minister in the town of Kolozsvár until 1876, and Bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church from 1876 through 1928. Please consult his wikipedia page to learn about his many significant contributions to the Transylvanian Unitarian Church.

This 16 page sermon was delivered in August of 1868 in Torda, during the synod to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Unitarian religion in Transylvania. According to Gellérd Imre, the unequalled expert on Transylvanian Unitarian sermonic literature, this is an “epoch-making” sermon for Unitarian ideals, and the best illustration of the thought processes of the author.  Thus, this sermon is a unique opportunity to understand the 19th century view of 300 years of Unitarian history and the outlook into the future  from a speaker who was destined to lead the Unitarian Church for 52 years.

In the introduction Ferencz József explains the year for the establishment of the Unitarian Church to the year 1568, because that same year was the year when the Transylvanian law securing freedom of faith and conscience was enacted.

In the first part he describes the historic events related to the fulfillments and the degradations of the freedom of faith and conscience. This part ends with the death of Dávid Ferencz, and the subsequent intolerance and cleansing.

In the second part he describes the effect of the French Revolution in resurrecting freedom of faith and conscience, and the changes in religious that followed. This part ends with acknowledgement of Unitarianism taking hold in England and in America, and the presence of a more tolerant attitude towards Unitarians in Transylvania.

In the third part he explains how education is a key to create a kind of humanity where enlightened thinking will forever prevent discrimination and prosecution based on religious difference.

Technical note: The author’s name and the Hungarian names in the body of the sermon and in the above summary are shown in their Hungarian form (Family name then Given name), and using the letters with diacritical marks.

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