The kind folks over at Evangelical Seminary asked my to put together some thoughts on this question of “who are the new Anabaptists?” Although I am not an ethnic Mennonite or Amish, I am greatly inspired by their tradition. I’m hesitant to claim any label, but Neo-Anabaptist describes much of who I have always been, and who I want to be. I’m not an expert either, but I’m always happy to share my opinion.
I became familiar with the Anabaptists through the writings of Stanley Hauerwas, whose influential work owed much to the influence of Mennonite scholar John Howard Yoder. Hauerwas introduced me to the concept of Church as a Contrast Society. Around the same time I was reading this, the American Government was gearing up for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Using words like “crusades” made it clear that many saw these wars as a religious cause. In contrast, Hauerwas (here with Willimon) articulated a very Anabaptist role for the church:
“The most creative social strategy we have to offer is the church. Here we show the world a manner of life the world can never achieve through social coercion or governmental action. We serve the world by showing it something that it is not, namely, a place where God is forming a family out of strangers.”
Since the beginning, Anabaptism has always proclaimed the church as an alternative to Christendom. Many now believe that we Western Culture is entering a new Post-Christendom era. The ties between church and state are fading. Cultural institutions who supported “Christian Values” and a general sense of Biblical literacy seem to be a thing of the past. A growing bulk of society is either skeptical or antagonsitic toward religion.
You can read the entire article “The 7 Core Convictions of the New Anabaptists” here.