- Dan Ziegler
Have you ever wondered what is behind the unique set of convictions that define conservative Anabaptists (Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, Brethren, and related groups)? We Mennonites often call them “distinctives” – deeply rooted practices among the “plain people” that are uncommon within much of the rest of Christianity, like:
- Non-resistance (conscientious objection to violence and participation in war)
- Not swearing oaths
- Not suing another person
- Strong teaching against divorce and remarriage
- A focus on servanthood and surrenderedness
- Simplicity and non-accumulation of wealth
- Church discipline
- Abstaining from political involvement
- Mutual aid and communal sharing
- Non-conformity and modesty in dress
- Women’s head covering
- Greeting one another with the holy kiss
- Distinct gender roles within family and church, etc.
Are we plain folks privy to some kind of special revelation? Or are we really just quaint cultural oddities – an anachronistic tribe of Germanic ascetics, suffering from the long-term effects of too much scrapple and over-ripe sauerkraut? The truth, of course, is that we are neither. We non-conformed Anabaptists are just regular folk, no more astute or intrinsically spiritual than our neighbors.
So, what drives the uniqueness of the conservative Anabaptist faith?