Primoz Trubar

As I’m sure you could tell from some of the previous posts, Megan and I had a really great time in Slovenia. The families we worked with there have a really interesting extension to their work revolving around Primoz Trubar and his 500 years of influence on the Slovenian people, culture, and nation.

Trubar was almost destined for greatness. Born in 1508, at a time when the general population was fairly short, Trubar towered at over 6 feet tall. He pursued a very academic and religious path, studying in Salzburg, Trieste, and Vienna. At this time, the Slovene people were grouped into very localized populations, each with a distinct dialect of the Slovene language, and their identity was more local than national. In just a few words, though, Primoz Trubar united the various people groups of Slovenia by calling them “My dear Slovenes” in the opening line to his book Catechism. This is the first time (on record) that these groups of people were united under one name – Slovenes. In an effort to further unite the people of Slovenia, Trubar was instrumental in developing a common Slovene language – one that could be understood and spoken by all the local dialects. He’s therefore credited with giving the Slovene people not only their language, but their cultural identity. As the Wikipedia article about Trubar says, his “legacy among Slovenes cannot be overstated.”

500 years later, Trubar is still a popular figure, but more for these linguistic and cultural reasons than his views on faith. He’s pictured on the back of the Slovenian 1 Euro coin with one of his most popular phrases: “Stand and withstand,” a phrase taken from Trubar’s book Catechism, published in 1550. To many, the phrase “stand and withstand” has become a symbol of independence and strength. Unfortunately, this is far from Trubar’s original meaning. Here is the context from which “stand and withstand” comes:

“But true faith, which Christ speaks about … is possessed only by one who not only knows and believes that God exists, but also personally knows the true God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the faith by which a person receives the forgiveness of sins and by which he will be made godly and righteous before God, so that he can come into heaven.”

“With such faith a Christian can stand and withstand in troubles and temptations and resist the unbelief that is in our flesh.”

“True Christian faith in a person creates such good habits and thinking and completely changes him. From a foolish person he becomes wise, from a sinner faith makes him a saint, in short, it takes him from hell and puts him in heaven… May the heavenly Father grant us such faith because of his beloved Son Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit! To him be all honor and praise, always and forever. Amen.
WOW! This guy GOT IT! And 500 years later, “stand and withstand” is being circulated around the European Union!

The issue remains that most Slovenes have no understanding of the context or the true message that Trubar stood for. That’s where our friends come in. Over the last few years they realized that the icon of Slovenian culture held an unwavering stance on faith in Christ as the only way to God, and that this part of Slovene history should not be kept silent. Unfortunately, the 500 years of language evolution meant that only scholars could understand Trubar’s writing, since his reformation theology was not popular with the state-run church of his time, and he was banished from his homeland. After years of work, the Trubar Forum was formed and organized the translation of Catechism into the modern Slovene language, thus making the words of Trubar and the faith he stood on available to the masses. This work involved pastors (both American and Slovenian), linguists, and even one of Slovenia’s most popular authors.

We were there on October 23rd to document the release of Catechism and the events surrounding it – a press conference and lecture series. These videos will be turned into tools that the Trubar Forum can be use to help further explain Trubar's teaching to Slovenes. The lectures discuss topics like “Reformation”, “the right understanding of God”, and “why Trubar’s message is important for the modern Slovene”.

It was really exciting to have our eyes opened to such an impactful historical figure, see some incredible ways he’s still making an impact today, and join in with Trubar’s glorifying of the Lord: To him be all honor and praise, always and forever! Amen.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Ahhh...that explains the press conference and lecture pictures!
500 years later! This is awesome!