Essays for King Jesus
- Dean Taylor
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.
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.