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Posts Tagged ‘Mennonite’

A Christian Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ,
And to God’s kingdom for which he died—
One Spirit-led people the world over, indivisible,
With love and justice for all.

—June Alliman Yoder and J. Nelson Kraybill, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Mennonites believe that the church is “God’s holy nation,” called to give full allegiance to Christ, its head, and to witness to all nations about God’s saving love.  We believe that the church is the spiritual, social, and political body that gives its allegiance to God alone.

We also believe that the governing bodies of the world have been instituted by God for maintaining order in society.  These government bodies are called to act justly and provide order.  Mennonites believe that we are to respect persons in authority.

In giving allegiance to God alone, many Mennonites have a problem pledging allegiance to the US flag.  Mennonites are to respect government authorities, but we do not pledge allegiance to anyone but God.

—Taken from the Third Way Café

Read the article, “The American Flag: Pledge of Allegiance,” here. The author challenges the reader to evaluate the recital of the pledge, particularly in light of the phrase, “under God,” which was added to the pledge in 1954, 62 years after its creation. The author also briefly traces the history of Christian refusal to recite a pledge to any ruler, nation, or to any symbol of the same, including the moving story of a Christian, Marcellus, who was killed on Oct. 30, 298, on account of his refusal to pledge allegiance to the emperor and the empire.

No one can serve two masters;
For a slave will either hate the one and love the other,
Or be devoted to the one and despise the other.

—Jesus of Nazareth, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:24


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From the beginning in 1525 through the present, Mennonites have pursued a dream:

Conrad Grebel

A dream that it is reasonable to follow Jesus Christ daily, radically, totally in life.

A dream that it is practical to obey the Sermon on the Mount, and the whole New Testament, literally, honestly, sacrificially.

A dream that it is thinkable to practice the way of reconciling love in human conflicts and warfare, nondefensively and nonresistantly.

Georg Blaurock

A dream that it is possible to confess Jesus as Lord above all nationalism, racism, or materialism.

A dream that it is feasible to build a communal church of brothers and sisters who are voluntary, disciplined, and mutually committed to each other in Christ.

A dream that life can be lived simply, following the Jesus-way in lifestyle, in possessions, in service.

David Augsburger, “The Mennonite Dream” (Mennonite Board of Missions, 1970).

Note: The Anabaptist movement, out of which Mennonites arose, began in Zürich in 1525 among Swiss Brethren when Conrad Grebel, a former associate of Ulrich Zwingli, baptized Georg Blaurock upon Blaurock’s confession of faith. Anabaptist means “re-baptizer,” a reference to the movement’s practice of believer’s baptism.

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“Probably the biggest difference between most Mennonites and Baptists is that Mennonites do not participate in the military. Mennonites believe that peace is the will of God and the way our lives should be lived daily. Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states: ‘Led by the Spirit, and beginning in the church, we witness to all people that violence is not the will of God. We witness against all forms of violence, including war among nations, hostility among nations, hostility among races and classes, abuse of women and children, violence between men and women, abortion and capital punishment.’”

“Another difference would be that Mennonites believe strongly in separation of church and state, and believe that allegiance to God takes priority over allegiance to country. Baptists wouldn’t sort out the issues in this way.”

“Again, quoting from Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective: ‘We believe that the church is God’s holy nation, called to give full allegiance to Christ as its head and to witness to all nations, government and society about God’s saving love. . . . In contrast to the church, governing authorities of the world have been instituted by God for maintaining order in societies. . . . As Christians we are to respect those in authority and to pray for all people, including those in government. . . . We may participate in government and other institutions of society only in ways that do not violate the love and holiness taught by Christ and do not compromise our loyalty to Christ.’”

Quoted from “Baptist and Mennonite Differences” in “Mennonite Glossary” on the “Who are the Mennonites?” page in the “Third Way Café” website. Third Way Café is a program of Third Way Media, a department of the Mennonite Mission Network, an agency of the Mennonite Church USA.

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Watch the following four-minute video and you might be surprised by the answer it gives to that question.

For more help, check out “Who are the Mennonites?” in the “Third Way Café” website. You also may want to look through the “Anabaptist” file in my electronic “File Cabinet.”

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Final installment in a series of brief, succinct summaries of common, distinctive Anabaptist affirmations followed by notes that clarify, expand, and interpret them

See Part One for “Introductory Remarks on Anabaptism.”

Tenth Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmation

Truth-telling: Disciples tell the truth and do not take oaths.

Notes

Personal integrity is the correspondence of one’s words and deeds. In other words, it is the embodiment of truth. In addition to being the Way and the Life, Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). He most perfectly embodies integrity. Therefore, one who worships and follows Jesus, the Truth, practices and tells the truth. In fact, truth-telling may be the paramount example of the necessary integration of faith and works in a believer.

In accordance with Christ’s character and the believer’s commitment to Him, Christ commands believers never to take oaths, but simply to affirm “yes” or “no” (Matt 5:34 – 37). An oath affirms that one does not ordinarily tell the truth, an action contrary to existence as a disciple. Furthermore, one blasphemes God through the action of taking an oath. Only God can guarantee future actions. The oath, then, is actually an attempt to manipulate God into guaranteeing an action which the oath-taker, in fact, cannot guarantee.

You may download a document combining all ten parts of the series,  “Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmations,” here.

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Part nine in a series of brief, succinct summaries of common, distinctive Anabaptist affirmations followed by notes that clarify, expand, and interpret them

See Part One for “Introductory Remarks on Anabaptism.”

Ninth Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmation

Peace, nonresistance, and nonretaliation: Disciples neither resist evil nor retaliate against its manifestations. Instead, they make peace.

Notes

The overarching theme of God’s story, and, thus, the story of Christ and the stories of his followers, is Shalōm (complete-positive-peace). Shalōm is the promise and goal of the messianic reign (see part one notes). Accordingly, peace, unity, justice, reconciliation, and forgiveness are central to the teaching and example of Christ.

Christ was predicted to be the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). His birth was announced by angels with a blessing of peace (Luke 2:14). Immediately prior to His arrest and consequent death, Jesus prayed for peace and unity (John 17). During His earthly ministry, as did His apostles, Jesus taught love, peace, unity, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, and nonresistance, considering peacemaking and forgiveness to be necessary components of faith and discipleship (Matt 5:9 – 10, 44 – 45; 6:12). In addition, he consistently practiced love, including loving His enemies and doing good for them. He also modeled nonresistance and nonretaliation, which finally led Him to death on a cross, whereby he obtained reconciliation and peace with God for all people (Rom 5:1, 9 – 10).

Jesus’ actions and teaching, and those of His apostles, provide the basis for disciples to live in love, including loving one’s enemies and doing good for them, as well as living in reconciliation, peace, and unity with one another and all people (1 Cor 7:15; Eph 2:13 – 16; Heb 12:14), even at the cost of personal suffering. Rather than punish His enemies, He loved them and did good for them—He died for them. Suffering and painful providences, therefore, are the normal expectation for the disciple (1 Peter 2:21 – 23; 4:12 – 13; 2 Tim 3:12).

Since peace—including nonresistance, nonretaliation, and unity—is the overarching theme or context of the story of the Kingdom, disciples, those who live out their stories in the story of the Kingdom, seek peace. Peace, then, is both the goal of a believer’s words and actions as well as the means whereby the believer achieves that goal. For example, disagreeing believers do not appeal to earthly courts to settle their disputes, but they rely on the wisdom of the church (1 Cor 6:1 – 11). Furthermore, believers seek to alleviate human distress and suffering, but they do not oppose violence with violence, whatever form the violence takes. Violent opposition to violence, especially lethal force performed in behalf of a king in competition with Christ, such as a secular nation-state, or in the name of a so-called “greater good,” is unjustified. Any form of opposition to violence must accord with biblical teaching.

See “Nonresistance and Peacemaking: A Brief Provisional Outline of Biblical Teaching.”

You may download a document combining all ten parts of the series,  “Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmations,” here.

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Part eight in a series of brief, succinct summaries of common, distinctive Anabaptist affirmations followed by notes that clarify, expand, and interpret them

See Part One for “Introductory Remarks on Anabaptism.”

Eighth Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmation

Social responsibility: Disciples help and comfort the weak, needy, and helpless, especially other disciples. They also instruct, encourage, correct, discipline, and restore one another.

Notes

The believer’s social responsibilities derive from two sets of obligations: (1) Obligations as a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom and, therefore, as Christ’s servant and subject. These obligations correspond to the values and principles of Christ’s Kingdom, including perpetual Jubilee. See part one notes. (2) Obligations as a member of the household or family of God, i.e., the body of Christ, the local church. See part six notes.

The obligations one has to fellow members of the local church may be summarized as a debt to love one another (John 15:12; Rom 13:8) in the context of unity and peace (Eph 4:1 – 3). One specific example of this debt of love is the obligation to share resources, both material and spiritual. Effective sharing requires a commitment to hospitality and simple living, practices which also demonstrate and strengthen the disciple’s faith. Another example of this debt of love is the obligation of mutual spiritual accountability. This accountability includes mutual interpretation of Scripture, discernment, and instruction. It also includes mutual encouragement, correction, and discipline, with the goal of confession, forgiveness, and restoration. When repentance is not forthcoming in these cases, however, the body must suspend fellowship with the erring member for the sake of the church’s purity and integrity before God and before the larger community. Nevertheless, even after suspending fellowship, the church prays for and holds out hope for the restoration of the erring person.

The obligation to make disciples from all nations is implied by what has already been written here, and is explicitly commanded by Christ (Matt 28:19).

The Bible gives specific examples of the weak, needy, and helpless whom the believer is obligated to help and comfort. These people include the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the poor, the grieving, the orphan, the widow, the displaced, the dispossessed, the alien, the ill—both physically and mentally, the disabled, the addicted, the abused, the oppressed, the persecuted, the imprisoned, the enslaved, and the victim of injustice.

You may download a document combining all ten parts of the series,  “Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmations,” here.

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