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November 2019
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Speeches

M. Vymetal: Address to World Summit

Address to World Summit 2019, Seoul, Korea, February 7–11, 2019

 

Hello, Shalom aleichem, Salaam alaikum, Pax vobiscum, Eirene hymin, Namasté.

This combined greeting in many languages I occasionally use at weddings where people from different backgrounds and countries meet and want to say that love is a universal reality in all religions and cultures—and also in interreligious and intercultural worship.

I am honored to speak to you as an evangelical pastor from the Czech Republic, the heart of Europe.

Czech evangelicals have deep cultural and religious roots. The Czech priest Jan Hus (1378–1415) began a reformation a century before it began on the European level. "Love, truth to everyone," was Hus's slogan. In another version used by Hussites, it was “Truth Wins: Veritas Vincit.” Of the Czech evangelicals, I will also mention the bishop and teacher Jan Amos Comenius (1592–1670) and his motto: "Let everything spontaneously flow; let violence be distant to us."

Truth, love, harmony, spontaneity and nonviolence: This is, in my opinion, a legacy of the Czech Reformation to the world. These mentioned words were expressed in thatmotto of our first democratic president, Vaclav Havel (1936–2011): "Truth and love must win over lies and hatred."

Europe has a great past with both bright and dark chapters: From my point of view, it is positive that from Europe, Christianity spread throughout the world. A dark side was colonialism and the fact that Christianity often came along with soldiers and economic and political dominance over other nations, cultures and religions. Humanism and the Enlightenment that also emerged from Europe was, according to the evangelicals, a positive value. All this is past, though, and I believe that we still have some debts: As we read in the Bible, "Do not be indebted to anyone except to love one another, for one who loves one's neighbor has fulfilled the law" and “Be in debt for nothing but love for one another: for who has love for his neighbor has kept all the law” (Romans 13: 8).

Love is an often-used word. What does it mean in practice? As a Christian I live my faith on many levels.

1st Level: Individual. As an individual who has a personal relationship with the nearest people around him—to my wife, to my children, to my friends, my neighbors, to those with whom I can be in personal relationships—I bear the greatest responsibility for them.

2nd Level: City. As a pastor in the Evangelical Corps, I am responsible for the life of a choir in the small town of Beroun, that our faith should be manifested in active love.

3rd Level: Nation. As a Czech Protestant, I have a responsibility for our nation, where Protestants are a minority. The Czech Republic is currently experiencing a strong rise of xenophobia, fear of foreigners, Islamophobia, fear of Muslims and Gypsies, and isolationism within the European Union. The task of the evangelicals in our nation is to create an alternative to this trend and show that living together with other people different from us is enriching and worthwhile.

4th Level: Religion. As a European and world Christian, I also have responsibility for others in Europe. The task of the 21st century is to lead dialogue between religions. I want to emphasize the relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians. I regard them as brotherly religions, all of whom refer to their forefather Abraham. There are Christian, Muslim, and Jewish friends in many places around the world. I believe that if we reach good relations among Muslims, Christians and Jews, it will contribute to peace all over the world. I also have personal experience in Israel, where interreligious dialogue is primarily a dialogue between Jews and Muslims. Christians make up only a small minority there. However, as they often talk with both antagonistic parties—Jews and Muslims—Christians become intermediaries who help Jews and Muslims to discuss together.

5th Level: Humanity. As a believer, I belong to all other people who are religious (spiritual). There is a significant secularization in Euro-Atlantic civilization. Being people of faith, our job is to lead practical dialogue with nonreligious (even antireligious) people about the values we share and the shared responsibility for this world.

6th Level: Assets. As a citizen of the Czech Republic and the European Union, I live in a country that is in the top 20 percent, worldwide, in terms of wealth. Humanity's mutual responsibility also includes charity and solidarity. Those richer are coresponsible for the living of the poorer—in one nation, as well as among nations and continents. The challenge facing us is that in the context of global weather changes, freshwaters are rapidly decreasing in many countries. The rich countries are already undertaking the desalination of seawater. The task of the richest countries is also to help people in countries at risk of drought to live a dignified life. 

7th Level: Life. I am a living creature, and I belong to nature, both alive and inanimate. Christians believe that the world is God's work and that people are not the owners of the world but are more like guests in God's house. That is why we also bear environmental responsibility for the whole world. Due to the global climate changes, which are also reflected in the Czech Republic (for example, in the region I live in, wells are being dried up), environmental coresponsibility has become a priority. 

I believe that in all these roles we can follow these slogans, rising from the Czech Reformation and the Bible: Love, truth to everyone. Let everything spontaneously flow; let violence be distant to us. Truth and love must win over lies and hatred. Do not be indebted to anyone except to love one another.

Thank you for your attention.

 

 


To go to the 2019 World Summit Schedule page, click here.