Toivo Pilli, Director of Baptist and Anabaptist Studies at IBTSC Amsterdam, participated in an international conference in Minsk on 9 December 2017. EBF General Secretary Tony Peck (UK) and Mateusz Wichary (Poland) also offered papers. The conference was organised by Minsk ECB Theological Seminary and the Institute of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostal seminary). Bringing together about 90 pastors and scholars from Byelorussia, Lithuania, Poland, the USA, and other countries, the conference commemorated the 500 years of the publication of parts of the Bible in Byelorussian and the role of Francysk Skaryna. The first book, the Psalter, translated and published by Skaryna in the Old Belorussian, was printed in Prague in 1517.
Toivo Pilli’s presentation ’The Bible and the Revival: An Estonian Case Study’ focused on the use of the Bible in the 19th century Pietistic Revival in Western Estonia, then part of Tsarist Russia. The revivalist believers not only used the Bible for devotional purposes and for preaching, they also used Biblical texts to interpret their newly found focus on repentance and new birth, baptism upon personal confession of faith and congregational understanding of the church. The Bible also helped these believers to explain persecution and to balance outbursts of religious emotionalism, guiding the movement towards more sustainable and stable patterns of worship.
The topics of the conference, however, included a wider panorama: the legacy of Protestant Reformation, and the use and interpretation of the Bible in the life of evangelical churches, such as the Baptists, Pentecostals and others. Within one day, in three topical tracks, 25 academic papers were delivered. IBTSC Amsterdam continues to have close and friendly links with Minsk Theological Seminary.