Ten.One: Stuart Murray on Weaknesses of Anabaptism

It is no secret that the Naked Anabaptist is one of my favorite books of the past few years.  As such, I was pumped to attend these sessions on Friday at my home church, Emmanuel Mennonite Church.  Below I humbly offer my condensed notes from the first session.

Session 1 notes from the Mennonite Church British Columbia LEAD conference, March 2nd, 2012 @ Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford BC.

Anabaptism is being discovered “It’s time has come?”

  • Anabaptist networks are emerging in different places
  • it’s beginning to click with people within our Post Christendom context
  • Anabaptism has lost touch, in some cases, with it’s radical’ness’
  • not sure how to express Anabaptism in an institutional church way
  • In UK, Anabaptism is ideal and inspiried
  • Here (Canadian Mennonites), we have the benefit of an earthed history and reality.  Depth within practiced Anabaptism.

Post Christendom Context

  • Post Christendom –
  • effecting all western societies
  • Canada is similar to the UK in the Post Christendom experience
  • the United States is about 25 years behind.
  • “Post” is a transitional word.  Tells us where we have been and where we are going.  It signals a transition
  • In Canada, we are moving through a transition.  People simply don’t know the Jesus story.
  • Christendom took Jesus from the margins of society to the centre, and took Jesus from the centre of faith to the margins.
  • This is where Anabaptism has the potential to make sense to a lot of people. 
(At this point Williams took time to review the 7 core convictions which you can find here)
To know it’s strengths, it is important to know it’s weaknesses:

Legalistic – The core convictions (in the link above) are generally ethical, not spiritual.  When it becomes ethical only their is a tremendous potential for legalism.  The question must be asked, where is the grace?  Where is the spirit?  Historically, many spiritualist Anabaptist writers were silenced.

Make our own Jesus – There is a temptation to make Jesus Menno!  With Christocentrism, there is a potential to minimize other texts.  Easy to avoid texts that don’t fit nicely within the tradition.

Intellectualism – Ignoring the potential disconnect between Anabaptist scholars and church life.  A healthy relationship here is quite beneficial to all involved.  They inform one another.

Divisiveness –  An inability to handle conflict well.  “One reason why Anabaptists are so involved in conflict resoultion is because they have a lot of expereince within their own tradition of resolving conflict.”  This divisiveness cannot happen particularly in Post Christendom.  We need one another.

Separatism – Past contexts provided strong reason to separate (severe persecution, etc…).  Are those reason justifiable to separate today?  Can we be distinctive, holy, counter culture and be present within our current Post Christendom context?

Quietism – There is no vocal, enthusiastic witness to the Christian narrative. This comes out of a situation of persecution.  Historically, tongues have been cut out for being vocally evangelistic.  This silence has become internalized.

Next Post  Ten.Two: Stuart Murray on Strengths of Anabaptism

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