Thursday, May 03, 2012

A couple of posts on Anabaptism for your reading pleasure

The first comes from Phil Woods writing from across the pond, Fall and Restitution: a British Anabaptist Perspective. Phil takes a look at the idea of tradition in the Anabaptist context and the idea of an uninterrupted chain of restitutionism (just made that word up) throughout church history. Phil is somewhat skeptical of this idea, and I am as well. However I do see a common theme that crops up throughout church history in the form of groups like the Waldensians, the Anabaptists and whatever is going on today that seems to lack a common identity because it lacks common suffering and persecution. That theme is that there has always been a small population that has been willing, or perhaps compelled, to dissent from the prevailing religious culture and that this dissent has always in the past been responded to with violence. That got me thinking once again about the disunity of the church today and what that means in light of past dissenting movements. While the Anabaptists were hardly a model of unity in their early days, they did have the unifying presence of the threat and reality of persecution. In the Western church today that is completely absent and that context is what leads us where we are today with untold numbers of Christians rejecting the prevailing religious culture but having nothing to unify them. Instead we have myriad movements that, like the dominant institutional religious culture, tend to compete with one another for the title of “True Reformers”.

In an inadvertent but convenient parallel post, Alan Knox puts up his next Anabaptist quote from Peter Hoover’s The Secret Of The Strength in his post From the Anabaptists: Simons on love and community. This quote comes from Über-Anabaptist Menno Simons. Here is the quote Alan put up in its entirety:

We teach that all Christians are one body (1 Cor. 12:13). All partake of one bread (1 Cor. 10:18). All have one God (Eph. 4:5- 6). It is only reasonable that Christians care one for another. The entire Scriptures speak of mercy and love, the sign by which true Christians are known. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:15).

It is not normal for a person to care for one part of his body and leave the rest uncared for and naked. No. The intelligent person cares for all his members. It is this way in the Lord’s church as well. All who are born of God and called into one body are prepared to serve their neighbours, not only with money and goods, but like Christ did, with life and blood. They show mercy as much as they can. No one among them is allowed to beg. They take strangers into their homes. They comfort the afflicted, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and do not turn their faces from the poor.
That is good stuff, written by someone who got it. We talk a lot of talk about loving one another but in practice we barely acknowledge one another. How many “local churches” are absolutely struggling and full of people that are struggling while just a few miles away another church is raising millions for a new multi-purpose activity center? Well it is their money right, they raised the funds and they should get to keep that money! That is an eminently American attitude but one that would be abhorrent to the early church and the Anabaptists. It is an abomination that we have Christians a few miles apart that are impoverished while others are wealthy. If you want to be wealthy and financially secure and live an opulent lifestyle, that is your business. Just don’t play at being a “Christian”. If you say you love God but don’t love your brother, the Word of God says you are a liar (1 John 2:4, 9-11).

Good stuff whether you are a student of Anabaptism or not.

No comments: