The Impossible Anabaptist

(x-posted at IndieFaith)

It is a blustery snow day out here in Waterloo County. I, however, snook into the church office before it got too bad . . . we’ll see if I get home. This is my first post here at YAR. And as I understand the tradition I should give a little sketch of myself.
I grew up in the Sommerfeld Mennonite church in southern Manitoba. I essentially stopped attending the church in junior high and after a brief hiatus from church-in-general I was baptized in the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Church just after I graduated from high school. At this time I pulled up stakes a did volunteering and eventually settled into a small non-denominational bible college (where I completed a BA and MDiv). In these years I was married to a former Catholic in the Anglican church while later attending a small house-church and inner-city baptist church. It was only after my academic career was put on hold (or extinguished) that I began thinking again about pastoral ministry. I realized that I could not pastor from nowhere. This eventually led me back to Mennonite church where I am now pastoring within Mennonite Church Canada. All this to say that my sense of Mennonite identity and theology are far from fixed. In my first year of ministry reflecting on what it may mean for me to be (or not to be) Mennonite led me to write the following article, The Impossible Anabaptist.

Nonconformity to the Powers

In response to my earlier post Transformationist Anabaptists?, Folknotions, asked me to explain why I would put myself in the Transformationist Anabaptist category. I started to write a comment, but realized it was quickly growing to post length. I suppose it’s because for me, this question cuts to the core of my convictions as a Christian. ST’s post on the lure of the dominant culture reminded me how the transformationist Anabaptist stream is so important for me as an alternative and challenge to the constant tug of “produce and provide”.

I see non-conformity to the political and social powers of this world as an act of faith and discipleship, not of politics. Rather then try to make any kind of systematic theological argument for this point. I’ll just describe a few of the influences in my life that have led me to this stream. One of the transformationist touchstones for me was when I first read Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. There’s lots of very profound things in that book, but at the time, the revelation that had the biggest impact on my life was Yoder’s reading of Jesus’ invitation to “Take up your cross and follow me”. (more…)

Transformationist Anabaptist?

In a number of posts in the last few months it has been quite clear that some of us have very different visions of what Anabaptism is than others. I wrote about this phenomenom two months ago on my blog on the Mennonite in a post on the four streams of Anabaptism. I thought that YAR folks might be interested the table I posted based on an article by Rodney Sawatsky (see the post above for more)

Streams of Anabaptism

Anabaptist Stream
16th Century Corollary
Social/cultural non-comformity to the world
Swiss Brethren with Schleitheim Confession
Biblical nonresistance/personal holiness
Menno Simons
Discipleship of Christ/service to the world
Pilgram Marpeck
Political/ideological nonconformity to the political powers
Hans Hut and apocalyptic Anabaptists