Why Are There Mennonite Bible Schools?

By Cliff Schrock
Published on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Clifford Schrock conducted by Reagan Schrock.

Why Do Mennonites Have So Many Choirs?

By Benjamin Good
Published on Friday, March 16th, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Benjamin Good, conducted by Reagan Schrock.

How Should We Live?

By Elijah Yoder
Published on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Elijah Yoder conducted by Reagan Schrock.

In my growing up years, the importance of the principles of Scriptures in our lives, not just the practice, was stressed. In other words, you don't just want to teach the next generation to wear a head covering. They need to understand the biblical principle and reasoning behind it. We have the practice (how we live); we have the principle (the scriptural mandate); then we have the Person of Christ. Some have accused the Mennonites of making the Bible the fourth person of the trinity, which obviously is a very wrong concept. We have the practice, beyond the practice we have the principle, but then we need to go beyond the principle to the Person of Jesus Christ. When you have the focus on the Person and who He is, then the principles and practices will come as a result.

The Protestant Fundamentalist tradition in the United States has put a lot of emphasis on Paul and his epistles, and much less on the Gospels and Life of Christ. Another tradition of Protestant Fundamentalists has been for people to “get saved”. The apostle Paul affirmed that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). I don't want to minimize that at all, but Jesus said, “follow Me” (Matthew 4:19). Christ’s emphasis while with His disciples was that they should be with Him (Mark 3:14). Jesus taught the twelve by His life, which is what we will have to do as well if we are going make disciples. We must follow Christ in life, not in doing “the right things” in order to look good to people around us. We need to take hold of the person of Christ, what He has done for us, and from there we can go to The Sermon on the Mount. All of the things in Matthew 5 that Jesus wants us to live out today have to come out of a relationship with Christ and wanting to follow Him in life.

"End Those Muslims!" - A Response to Jerry Falwell Jr.

By perspectives
Published on Monday, February 26th, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Dan* conducted by Reagan Schrock.

Three years ago Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, the largest Christian Evangelical University in America, said,

“If more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they go out trying to kill us...Let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”1

The context for his statement was in regard to the San Bernardino shooting that was currently in the news at that time, in which two Muslims entered a holiday party in California and shot a number of people. That incident followed a string of other terrorist attacks that had been going on in the United States and other Western countries over the last several years. Liberty University often comments on current events and this was a reaction Falwell gave as a means of instruction to his students.

Advantages of Anabaptist Culture in Missions

By Elijah Yoder
Published on Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Elijah Yoder conducted by Reagan Schrock.

Anabaptists have historically tried to live a holy life style and not follow the things of worldly culture. Hence, we dress differently, are nonresistant, don't go to war, and our ladies wear the veiling. When conservative Mennonites began starting mission outreaches in the 1930's to 1950's, missions was a new thing for them. They wondered, “How are we going to teach? What do we do?” Typically they followed the methods of the Protestants, but they expected the results to be different. Missionaries were going out to save and bring salvation, but they didn't follow up on discipleship. Almost all of the missions that were started in that era have lost many of their conservative principles. They’ve lost the veiling, nonresistance, and nonconformity to the world. Obviously there are a lot of reasons that could bring this result, but one reason is simply that Mennonite missionaries didn't evaluate their methods, which we still see happening today.

In Protestant/Calvinist organizations, the goal is primarily to just get people saved, but there is little focus on discipleship and follow-up. In relation to missions, the methods of Protestants and Mennonites haven’t been all that different. What I would like to suggest is that one of the keys to being successful Mennonite missionaries and planting churches that are truly discipling others and following the Lord, not just in belief but also in principal and lifestyle, is to develop one-on-one relationships, discipling, and teaching biblical principles and what the Word of God says. Whether it is on the mission field or at home, we need more one-on-one mentoring and intentional relationships in our circles today.

The Challenge of Simplicity

By Cliff Schrock
Published on Thursday, February 8th, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Clifford Schrock conducted by Reagan Schrock.

What is the “simple life”? The simple life is often defined as canning food, making your own clothes, having campfires, and things of that sort. Maybe that's part of it, but that's not really what the simple life is all about. Simple life is about having a singleness of focus. In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul uses the word simplicity: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

The word simplicity is drawn from the Greek ἁπλότης (hap-lot'-ace), which means singleness or sincerity, the opposite of hypocrisy. Os Guinness spoke of the concept of “an audience of one,”1 living with a single focus towards God, a single eye like Jesus talks about in Matthew chapter 5.  Mark 12:30-31 speaks of this as well when it says, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

The simple life is not a list of “do this” or “do that.” It is not just an idea or a theological concept. The simple life needs to be woven into the fabric of our lives. Singleness of mind and focus is about discipleship. It’s about following the Master and learning to talk, think and live like Him. The simplicity of discipleship is wanting to be like Christ, to take on the mind of Christ; “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 2:5)

Get in the Way of Evil

By Val Yoder
Published on Monday, February 5th, 2018

“Get in the Way of Evil” was originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Daughters of Promise magazine (used by permission).

When the Apostle Andrew was captured and brought before Governor Aegeas, Aegeas told Andrew, “If you don’t stop preaching this message about Jesus and his cross, I’m going to crucify you on one too.” Andrew replied, “Sir, I would not have preached about the glory of the cross, if I was not willing to die on one.” He was taken and tied to the splintery wooden beams of a cross, where he hung in excruciating pain. He preached the Gospel for three days until he finally went to be with the treasure of his heart.1

Much of the Western church has deceived herself into thinking that she lives in a very unique dispensation (or geography) where Jesus’ words don’t apply. Even as contemporary Anabaptists we have passed off His clear, undisputable statements as not applying to us. We agree that what He said was true in the early church, and then to some degree throughout the Middle Ages. We see the truth of His words again in the Reformation and even today in some other remote parts of the world. “But”, we think, “praise God that His words aren’t true for us and haven’t been for our parents, or our grandparents, and beyond them, well … that’s too long ago to worry about.” Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you […] If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you […].” (John 15:18-20) We smugly say, “Thank you, Lord, that we don’t live in such a traumatic era of history.” But Jesus was not saying you might suffer persecution, some will suffer persecution, or if you are carnal Christians you will suffer persecution. If we follow Him, we will be persecuted. What does our lack of persecution say about us?

Radical Love, War, and Nonresistance

By Cliff Schrock
Published on Friday, January 26th, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Clifford Schrock conducted by Reagan Schrock.

The first thing to be said about nonresistance is that it is different from classical pacifism, in the sense that we do not think the government should not go to war, or that there is no place for capital punishment. The term ‘nonresistance’ is drawn primarily out of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says to “resist not evil”(Matthew 5:39). Whether one is in business, in church, or is involved in some sort of government job or government responsibilities, Jesus’ commands of nonresistance still encompasses all of a Christian’s life. A Christian’s life should be unified, not splitting to say, “Here's my secular life and here is my following Christ.” We must follow Christ in every area. Do we do that perfectly? Probably not, but that's the call. The vision is to be like Christ and to respond to that calling in every area of our lives.

Nonresistance doesn’t just mean that we don’t go to war; it’s a lifestyle.Sometimes people understand nonresistance only in terms of the negative, by the things we don’t do, such as not going to war. Even the word itself, nonresistance, is in the negative. During one of my classes on this topic we talked a good bit about terminology and if there could be a better term for this principle. A possible replacement would be ‘radical love’, because that's really what we are called to do: to love our neighbor, to love our enemies‒and that becomes proactive, it becomes something we do. It also takes us far beyond passive nonresistance and simply backing out of the situation. Jesus did not call us to back out and walk away. He called us to do more.

The Essence of Anabaptism

By Dean Taylor
Published on Thursday, January 11th, 2018

The following is taken from an interview with Dean Taylor conducted by Reagan Schrock.

What is the essence of Anabaptism? When we talk about the essence of Anabaptism, one thing that needs to be addressed from the very beginning is that Anabaptism is not a denomination. In other words, there is not a church or denomination called “Anabaptists”. It’s not like United Methodist, or Mormon, or something like that. Just as there is a Protestant worldview and a Catholic worldview, so there is an Anabaptist worldview. When we say Anabaptist, we’re talking about an entire way to interpret the Scriptures.

The essence of what is particular about the Anabaptist worldview is that it has a focus on Jesus Christ—on His teachings, His dreams for Humanity, His teachings to us—and putting those teachings into practice in our lifetime. Conrad Grebel, one of the earliest Anabaptists from before 1525, wrote a letter to his friend Vadian, and in that letter, Vadian begins to pull away from the radicals that were studying with Zwingli in Zurich. Grebel hits on two things in that letter that are really striking. The first thing he said was, “I believe in the word of God without a complicated interpretation and out of this I speak.” So he's saying that, when we look into the Scriptures and the Bible says something, we should just take it at face value; and actually, if you look at the different groups of radical movements throughout the world since the time of the Apostles, it seems like you get a bunch of people who get the word of God, open it up and just say “let's do it”.

For example, let’s say that we had an Anabaptist Study Bible. When we come to the passage of Scripture that says, “love your enemies”, there would be a footnote down at the bottom of the page that would then say, “What this really means is, ‘love your enemy’”. The second thing he said in that letter was that the words of the Lord were meant to be put into practice. Now, everybody kind of says that to some degree, but not really.

Introduction

By perspectives
Published on Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Welcome to Anabaptist Perspectives! The team which forms Anabaptist Perspectives identifies, as you may expect, with the historic Anabaptists and contemporary expressions of that movement through our respective churches. Anabaptists, both present and past, have important insights; ones that could be of value to many. However, we have observed that media outlets are mostly void of this perspective and an accurate description of Anabaptist lifestyle is only minimally present online. Accessible resources to our history and beliefs is sadly lacking.

Anabaptist Perspectives is an organized effort to help fill that void. Every week we will be uploading a new podcast, video, and blog post that addresses many of the important matters that define who the Anabaptists are and how we interact with the world around us. Episodes on schedule to be released include topics such as war, peace, the simple life, refugees, farming culture, education, cultural change and more. Most of our episodes will feature guests from Mennonite, Brethren, Hutterite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups who will address a variety of cultural, theological, social, and historical issues. Hopefully, through this the world will be encouraged towards thinking about old issues in new ways, new matters in more constructive ways, and difficult issues in better, more biblical and God-honoring ways.

Unfortunately, the task of representing the perspective of Anabaptism to the world comes with difficulty. Anabaptism has become a diverse category of Christianity; consequently, it would be wrong for us to pretend to represent all perspectives that are held by Anabaptists because the spectrum is broad and varied. So, be aware that we are coming from a conservative or moderately conservative background. Most of our guests will also come from relatively conservative perspectives. If you are an Anabaptist whose beliefs and lifestyle are not represented here, we apologize. Please understand that we sincerely want to honor God through what we communicate.