October 20, 2017

Olde World Baptists: Mihály Kornya (8)

David Potter

Kornya was also famous for his thorough examination of baptismal candidates. He first questioned the candidate on his understanding of Bible doctrine in general and of the Gospel in particular. Then he questioned the candidate about his change of behavior after salvation. Here are sample questions on each topic. On Bible doctrine: “Who was Jesus Christ? When did the Lord order the Lord’s Supper? By whom can we be saved?” On the new life he asked such questions as: “Have you sinned? Have you stolen your neighbor’s duck? Have you loaded your wagon with someone else’s corn? Have you beaten your wife?”

His biographer has collected accounts of a number of these examinations. Here I quote from him:

What makes the cattle grow? A man in the middle of his life came to Kornya as a candidate. His weakness was that he really liked wine and as a result it caused him, his family and others a lot of troubles. Kornya was well informed of the candidates and therefore he was able to ask the right questions. When he answered the first kind – the Biblical – questions the second kind came about his life. People were afraid of this category the most because they had to open themselves. “Well, Gábor, what makes the cattle grow?” – asked Kornya. “Hay and corn.” -was the answer. “Did you give hay and corn to your young cow right after it was born?” – asked Kornya.

The man is staring and the church is smiling. Many of them know what the answer should be but the man who likes wine has hard time figuring this out. “What has made your cattle to grow so big so that it can now eat hay and corn?” “The milk,” said the man. “Yes, the milk. And if you had given wine to the animal, would it have grown so big?” “No, that would not have made it grow so big” was the answer. “What is then stronger and more useful drink, milk or wine?” “The milk,” said friend Gábor. “And which one do you want to drink in the future? What have you decided?” “I rather choose milk,” said he. “And who will guarantee that this is what will happen in your life?” The friend paused for a while and after hearing the question again he said “Well, I myself with the help of the Lord Jesus.” The candidate was accepted.

The faith of the young man. A young man was interviewed who had smiling eyes and who was always cheerful. Although he answered all the questions well, since he kept on smiling some believed that he was not serious and did not want to accept him. Kornya asked him to be ready for the next baptism. This man came again but in vain because he was rejected this time also. He was sad and did not say anything but stood aside. The church people went to the river to the baptism and this boy was forgotten. When all of them were baptized Kornya noticed the boy standing there with tears in his eyes. “Well, Gyula, now I see your faith,” said Kornya, and he hugged him and baptized him.

Where is it better for you? Sometimes Kornya asked the candidates at the same time first and then asked them individually. He asked a young girl from Szentjobb ,“What do you want here?” “I would like to be a believer,” said she. “Who convinced you?” “Nobody.” “All right, just go to the party tonight where the young people are. You can dance there. You cannot dance in the church.” “But I rather would like to come to church. I don’t want to go to parties, and I do not want to dance,” answered she.” “Where is it better for you?” “Here in the church.” “What attracts you?” asked Kornya. “My faith and love in the Lord Jesus.” “Where did you buy this faith?” “From hearing and reading the Bible.” She was accepted.

It is not time to harvest. The candidates from Szentjobb were not able to answer the questions. Kornya expressed this by saying “If the grapes are not ripe, it is not time to harvest.”

Do you have children? A friend was accepted and was ready to be baptized. But his wife asked Kornya to postpone baptism to the fall. Kornya asked the woman. “Do you have children?” “Yes, I do.” “When did you deliver the baby?” “In May.” “Why did you not postpone it to the fall?” “Because it was impossible.” “Postponing his baptism is also impossible, because this is about birth also, a new birth.”

Does your cat know that? When a rich young man was questioned after the Biblical questions Kornya asked the man “Does your cat know that you want to be a believer, or do you still kick up the cat?” “No.” “Do you mean ‘No, it does not know that yet.’”

“I do not kick it up anymore.” – said the man. “Does your ox know that you want to be a believer, and do you not beat his nose anymore?” “I do not beat his nose, I have changed.” “Who changed you?” “The Lord Jesus, because he was very patient with me.” “Is your mother sad because of you?” “No, she is glad.” “How long do you want to live this changed life?” “Until I die.” – said he. “May God help you.” said the widow mother.

The difference between the old and the new. A prosperous Romanian man was a candidate. In his village these prosperous Romanians had long hair. Kornya asked him, “If the church accepts you I will not baptize you with long hair. It is not enough to be a good man for the Lord you should sacrifice something for Him also. If you cut your hair the people in your village would see the difference between the old and the new man.” The Romanian fellow had his hair cut by the time of baptism.

The water is frozen. Two women who were good friends wanted to be baptized. They always helped each other and came to church first because of each other. The questions were done. But Kornya said, “Now it is fall and the water is frozen. Let’s postpone the baptism to next spring.” But the ladies were not afraid of the water and insisted on being baptized. They were baptized that day.

Do you still shut the door? A girl successfully passed the Biblical questions when Kornya asked her, “Do you still shut the door after your mother when you are angry?” “I don’t do it anymore and behave differently, Uncle Kornya.” She was sent out and the mother was asked if she can recognize the change in her daughter’s behavior. The mother gave a clear testimony of the girl and she was accepted.

Make your heart look nice. A 27-year-old man stood in front of Kornya. He was very good looking and his clothes were attractive and his hair was well combed up. While interviewing him Kornya with his hand changed the man’s hairstyle to make it more conservative and said to him, “It looks better now. Make your heart look nice, by being humble, meek and combing your hair down.” The young man listened to him and followed his advice and a year later was baptized.

The difference between two wooden boards. A young man during his training to be a woodworker wanted to be baptized. After the Biblical questions Kornya pointing at the table and the bench said to him, “See both have wooden boards. What is the difference between these two wooden boards?” “One of them is thick the other is thin.” “All right, and what else?” “One is stronger, the other is weaker.” “OK, and what else can we know of them?” The young man was looking and thinking and said, “One is painted the other has its own color.” Kornya smiled and said, “You hit the nail on the head. In other words one is sincere and the other is hypocritical, following the Devil. Which do you want to be like?” “I want to be a sincere Christian, like this nut tree table.” “Then you will be a strong Christian and the Devil will not be able to deceive you.” He was accepted.

If you found a hundred dollars. A serious and reliable young man after the Biblical questions was asked by Kornya, “If you found a hundred dollars on the street, how much would you give to mission of this money?” He was thinking and thinking and finally said “Nothing, because this money is not mine since someone has lost it. I would take it to the parish hall.” He was dismissed for some time and the members argued over the answer but finally concluded that he is very serious and honest person and the church accepted him.

The paralyzed leg. A man with paralyzed leg was questioned. Kornya beat his lame leg with his hand and asked him “Do you feel it?” “No.” Then he beats the other leg. “Do you feel it?” “Yes.” “This is like the Christian life. One is senseless, the other is sensitive to the teaching of Christ. Which of your legs are you glad for?” “The sensitive one.” “Why?” “Because it is healthier.” “Now, could you be a healthy Christian?” “Yes, that is what I want.” He was accepted.


David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.


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