Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Anabaptist core beliefs

I have been reading Jacob Loewen’s book Only the Sword of the Spirit. In this book Jacob explores some of the core beliefs that Anabaptist’s (Mennonites) held to at the beginning. He then examines our history, evaluating how well we have done in living up to these requirements. According to Jacob as Mennonites we have not done a very good job of being faithful.

Here are the 12 main beliefs that early Anabaptists held to.

1) Disciples of Jesus are citizens of the kingdom of peace

2) Citizens of the kingdom of peace must separate themselves from this world

3) The followers of Jesus should live together as a community of equals under Jesus as Lord and master

4) Disciples are stewards, not owners of property

5) The believing community should be governed by the Spirit of God mediated by its servants – the ministers and teachers

6) Disciples are to live by the sword of the Spirit in building the kingdom of peace

7) The Anabaptists read the Bible as a focused rather than a flat canon

8) Menno Simmons believed that the believing community should serve as an exegetical community in interpreting Scripture

9) Menno Simmons believed that the church can best make decisions on the basis of consensus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit

10) Menno Simmons believed that the congregation should fully participate in church governance as part of the Body of Christ

11) Menno Simmons believed that church members should practice sacrificial servanthood rather than seeking privileged status as God’s chosen people

12) Menno Simmons believed that the people of God should be identified by their discipleship, not by doctrine and ideology

Are there any that you agree with? Any that you think are totally crazy?


Sister C said...

That is interesting, radical but not crazy.
6) What does that really mean I guess is the big question? To use the bible and not the sword?
7) What is a focused? or was that a typo?

Ben said...

There are some big questions that get raised by these beliefs.

A focused cannon means that everything gets interpreted through Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate revelation. Practically this means that when there is confusion we default with Jesus. For example there are parts in the Old Testament that could be read to say that we should kill our enemies. However Jesus says that we are to love our enemies. So Anabaptists say we are to love our enemies and not kill them.

On the other hand a flat cannon says that all scripture is treated equally. Jesus and Leviticus have the same authority in our lives.