Ten.Two: Stuart Murray on Strengths of Anabaptism

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

 Again, I offer them with humility.  Enjoy!

Important to be bi-lingual.  Speak the language of both Christendom and Post Christendom

Institution gets a bad reputation.  For any kind of longevity maintenance is important.  Maintenance/institution sustains.  Becomes problematic when it becomes central.

3 Roles that had difficulty within Christendom

  • Apostles – broke new ground.  unleash divine imaginations
  • Prophets – speak critically upon dominant culture, and our own churches
  • Evangelists – tell the greater story of God beyond our communities

Reclaim disciples as following. (I posted a bit about this compelling topic.  To check it out Click here)

  • following implies direction and that we are on a journey
  • does it make sense to drop the name Christian and replace it with “Jesus Follower” which is a helpful alternative
  • Christian does carry significant implications in Post Christendom

Strengths:

Hospitality and Community – Building community around the table.  Quite biblical.  Jesus was always around tables, eating and such with a diverse group of people.  Two best selling/most influential Anabaptist Mennonite Books are 1. Politics of Jesus 2. More with Less Cook Book.  Food is a strength that begets hospitality.  The trick is to move beyond shallow fellowship and expand the table for those whom are not currently sitting at the table.  In Post Christendom, belonging occurs before believing, prompting a sort of messy hospitality.

Making Peace – Peace is attractive in Post Christendom.  In UK much disagreement with the war in Iraq.  Must claim something more than the stereotype.  Pacifist does not imply passive.  Friend called himself a “Shalom Activist” catches this quite well.  Working toward the restoration and redemption of creation and humanity.  Peace is more than just the absence of war.

Radical Jesus –  Radical Christocentrism. People in the UK are not always interested in the church, but almost always interested in Jesus.  Even in athiest circles, Jesus is respected.  As Christianity moved from the margins of society into the centre, Jesus moved from the centre to the margins.

Mission – 16th century Anabaptism is a classic example of a missional movement.  However, Anabaptism now isn’t nearly as missional.  Lots of good justice stuff going on, but not very vocal about faith.  A disconnect between early Anabaptism as they had a hard time shutting up.  Lifestyle witness is a strength, vocal witness is not.  Mission needs a language for lifestyle witness.

Why so silent?

  • Persecution, historically punished violently, to the point of death for their faith
  • Made deals to shut up with the dominant culture.
  • Anabaptists carry a spirituality of humility
  • Don’t want to be brash or cause conflict

Important to pay attention to the stories of our history that we are communicating.  Framing it, celebrating it, and exploring it are important.

Anabapitsm is on the brink, but it is not the answer.  It is making a contribution.  Anabaptism is not everything we need.

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