The following article was written by Ida Bois, after attending the 5 Solas Conference:
Finnish summer is filled with Christian summer festivals. Every denomination, big and small, has their own summer gatherings, and there is no exception for a small and lesser-known movement in Finland. The Reformed movement started in the Reformation and has settled mainly in the British Isles, continental Europe, and North America. At the beginning of the millennium, there was only one congregation in Finland with a Calvinist concept of salvation, Perinteinen Baptistiseurakunta (now Grace Baptist Church, Tampere), but today there are five congregations: in Helsinki, Espoo, Jyväskylä, Tampere, and Pietarsaari. In addition to this, several localities have Reformed meetings and Bible Study groups. In recent years, there have been reports that Calvinism is rising in Finland, and that it reaches especially young adults who are disappointed with the lightness and rootlessness of the churches. The movement has grown steadily, and this is also evident in the Conference.
Since 2016, the Five Solas Reformation Conference has brought together Christians from all over Finland who are committed to the Reformed faith and teaching. Last fall, the conference gained great visibility across all denominations, with renowned American preacher Paul Washer, who was to be the keynote speaker at the conference. Tickets sold out within hours, but for health reasons, Washer had to cancel his coming. He was replaced by Benedikt Peters, a respected Bible teacher, and preacher born in Finland but living abroad since he was 2 years old. Peters, who lives today in Switzerland, has written numerous books in German, and is a teacher at the European Bible Training Center Bible School.
“Due to Covid restrictions and certainly also due to Washer’s cancellation, some entrants withdrew their arrival. However, the conference has increased the number of visitors every year, and now we have already gone with more than a hundred visitors”, says Don Duma, pastor of Agape International Baptist Church. The movement has been growing, and sees light, for their message really seems to evoke young adults, fascinated by a firm commitment to the Bible, and the fact that the tradition of preaching is Christ-centered.
“Congregations need in-depth, systematic and solid Bible teaching, and the theology that rises from it,” says Pekka Moisio, 33, of Jyväskylä’s Reformed Baptist Church called REBA, and continues: “We really need Sola Scriptura thinking in Finnish Christianity, and that all the teaching and preaching are mirrored through the Bible”. Pia Mäkelä, 45, and Leah Jokelainen, 19, from Espoo’s Reformed Baptist Church, called Espoon Kotikirkko, agree with Pekka: “Christianity needs a deep knowledge of God’s Word and the gospel. How deep and on the other hand, such a simple gospel really is. Understanding the Triune God correctly can, at best, free life from the wreckage so that we can live for the glory of God and the true best of our neighbor.”
Listening to the discussions, it becomes clear that many have been left empty by the lightness of teaching, and the entertainment of church life. This is why people have begun to look for churches that are committed to the teaching of the entire Bible and not to the ever-changing phenomena of times. The Reformed movement responds to this in an excellent way. The depth of teaching has also been reflected in the Conference, which this year was called “Solus Christus”. Benedikt Peters’ in-depth teachings about Christ, as well as inspiring lectures by Daniel Lundgren and Kyle McCartan on the lives of Hudson Taylor and Charles Spurgeon, strengthened and nurtured listeners in their own walk with Christ.
In addition to the lectures, the Conference included eating and spending time together, a summery atmosphere, and the highlight of the weekend was a communion service on Sunday. At the beautiful Uusikaarlepyy, the Five Solas Reformed Conference seemed suitable for Finnish Christianity. However, the diversity of languages and cultures enriched it, and the seriousness of living in honor of God was seen and heard in speech, dress, and conference content. This is how Five Solas came true at the conference bearing its name: Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria. The Reformed Christian lives alone for the glory of God, both in daily life and in celebration.