I have been identifying with the Anabaptist tradition of Christianity for a few months now, though I have been interested in it for much longer. When I first began to associate with Anabaptism, it was largely superficial, so I have been hesitant to identify with Anabaptism. Recently, however, I have been actually going in-depth into Anabaptist theology. I have mostly been reading about Menno Simons and Hans Denck, but three days ago I finally got a copy of Stuart Murray’s The Naked Anabaptist.
Typically, whenever I read a book, I will read it in sections rather than in one single attempt — for some reason I will get bored and have to regain my interest — but this was not the case for The Naked Anabaptist. I only got this book three days ago and I consumed it in only a couple of hours worth of reading. I found it to be one of those books that just keeps your attention (Gustavo Gutierrez’s A Theology of Liberation also had this effect on me).
This book was also of particular importance because it was my first serious investigation of contemporary Anabaptism (both traditional and Neo-Anabaptist). I found that Murray gave a wonderful summary of Anabaptist history, theology, and contemporary importance; he was very informative without sounding academic (such as Yoder). In addition, I found the book very helpful since it was not written from a Mennonite perspective. Despite Anabaptism being a broad movement like Catholicism or Evangelicalism, Mennonites are often assumed to equal Anabaptists — especially in North America. As a non-Mennonite Anabaptist (though I am considering joining the Mennonites), the perspective offered by Murray was very refreshing.
As I said, this book was one of my first serious investigations of Anabaptist thought, and what I am finding is that the more I learn about it, the more interested and inspired I am. I had this same experience with my current academic major — psychology. When I first chose this major, it was a rash decision because I needed to just pick one in time for the start of the semester, and when I started learning about it, I found that I was actually genuinely interested in it. This also occurred with Anabaptist Christianity. After reading this book, I think that I can finally say that “I am an Anabaptist” with confidence. I am very thankful that Mr. Murray took the time to write this book, and I strongly recommend it to those who have not read it.
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