Archives For anabaptist

The church has the character of a polis (the Greek word from which we get the adjective political), namely, a structured social body. It has its ways of making decisions, defining membership, and carrying out common tasks. That makes the Christian community a political entity in the simplest meaning of the term

…stated very formally, the pattern we shall discover is that the will of God for human socialness as a whole is prefigured by the shape to which the Body of Christ is called. Church and world are not two compartments under separate legislation or two institutions with contradictory assignments, but two levels of the pertinence of the same Lordship. The people of God is called to be today what the world is called to be ultimately.

John Howard Yoder, Body Politics

The Church is “Political”?!

If we reclaim the doctrine of vocation…then the specific ministry of:

The Christian banker or financier will be to find realistic, technically not utopian ways of implementing jubilee amnesty; there are people doing this.

The Christian realtor or developer will find ways to house people according to need; there are people doing this.

The Christian judge will open the court system to conflict resolution procedures, and resist the trend toward more and more litigation; this is being done.

Technical vocational sphere expertise in each professional area will be needed not to reinforce but to undercut competently the claimed sovereignty of each sphere by planting signs of the new world in the ruins of the old. Baptism is one of those signs, and so is open housing. The Eucharist is one, but so is feeding the hungry. One is not more “real presence” than the other.

John Howard Yoder, Body Politics

Do You Have a Job or a Vocation?

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.

The suffering of the Messiah is the inauguration of the kingdom. “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” “Glory” here cannot mean the ascension….

Might it not then mean that the cross itself is seen as fulfilling the kingdom promise? Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despitefully use him.

The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom, nor is it even the way to the kingdom; it is the kingdom come.

The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder

The Cross is Not a Detour

Martin Luther wrote, “If we had to do without one or the other, it would be better to lack the works and the history than the words and the doctrine.”

The reformers agreed with Anabaptists that Jesus was “the source of our life,” but it seems clear that it was the death of Jesus, rather than Jesus himself, who was at the center of their faith.It is clear from their writings that he was not “the central reference point for our faith and lifestyle, for our understanding of church, and our engagement with society.”

…[This is why] in many Christian traditions, ethical guidelines derived from the Old Testament or pagan philosophy trump Jesus’ call to discipleship.

Stuart Murray, The Naked Anabaptist

Apparently Luther would pick Paul over Jesus