Monthly Archive: May 2010

Some ponderings

Okay… I know I owe a post on Article 2 of the Confession of Faith… life has been strange lately.

In any case, something my wife mentioned today made me wonder some stuff.  Here are some questions that I think the Christian church in the USA needs to seriously ask themselves.  Likewise, these are fair questions for any Christian in any society today.  Please note, these are not political questions, these are ecclesiology and missiology questions.  They apply no matter what the politics, governmental structure, economic philosophy, or what not that you are currently living under.

  1. If your government were to fail utterly today and a tyranny that is unfriendly to the mission of the church arise in its place, what would you, as a Christian, do differently?
  2. If there is something you would do differently, why aren’t you doing it now?
  3. What is preventing you from making those changes in your life?

I personally need to think very hard and very carefully about these.   The answers may be a lot harder to deal with that appear on the surface.

If you are challenged by these questions, please comment here or on the corresponding FaceBook link.  Let’s start this discussion now, before it becomes necessary.

Mennonite denominationalism and the Concern pamphlets

I’ve been a Mennonite for nearly 8 years. I’ve felt welcomed in local congregations and regional assemblies and national conventions. I have enjoyed everything about our denomination–even the quirkiness. But I also can’t help but notice that there are lots of faithful people who have been Mennonite for a lot longer than I have been who are asking tough questions about denominational structures (both physical structures like a new office building, and institutional structures like the merger of various board agencies).

After reading Wipf & Stock’s wonderful collection of republished Concern pamphlets, I can’t help but notice similarities between Mennonite discourse in the 1950s and today. Here’s a passage from the introduction of the 1954 Concern pamphlet:

Are American Mennonites, in spite of their great institutional and even spiritual progress, perhaps after all moving rather toward ‘respectable’ denominationalism rather than toward a dynamic and prophetic ‘grass roots’ movement? And if so, what responsibility devolves upon us in our generation? (Concern, vol. 1, p. 3)

What do you think? Is this the same sort of question that needs to be asked?

I also beginning to wonder if this is a perennial Mennonite concern. Paul Peachey and his friends asked it back then, and plenty of others are asking it again today.

While the Concern group of the 1950s offered important criticisms of their denomination, I am also struck by one of quotes at the beginning of their first pamphlet–an epigraph that offers a kind of framework for their essays:

…send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may rebuild it. (Neh 2:5)

“I AM” – An examination of the Mennonite COF, Part 1

Note: This is a repost from

One of the ideas behind confessions of faith and creeds and the like is to attempt to answer questions being asked by people of the current culture and society as relates to matters of faith and the practice thereof.  So, in these posts I make about the articles of the Mennonite Confession of Faith I’m going to attempt to address them in how well they answer the questions of our current society and culture.  And, honestly, I do so with great humility.  I am by no means an expert in sociology or culture, nor am I a pillar when it comes to theological discussion.  But I am someone who struggles at times with belief and faith and what it means.  Perhaps we need more people like that talking about theology than people who study in the ivory towers.

So, with great trepidation, here I go.

The first article of the Confession of faith is simply titled “God”.  I think this is an important factor.  Any religion you pick has some sort of concept of a supreme deity or deities.  Even those that are devout atheists (those who adamantly deny the possibility of any existence of such a being) have something to say about supreme beings, albeit in the negative.  And yes, I consider atheism to be a religion in the purest sense of the word.  So, it is important for a confession of faith to start with a defining statement about that ultimate question: Is there a God?

Note that the article in the confession answers that question in the positive.  The Mennonite Church part of the body of Christ definitely believes that there IS a God.  We must establish that first.  There is a God and He has made Himself known.  Now, note that I am using the male pronoun.  Considering some words from one of my sisters in the church (Hi, KrisAnne!), I use this pronoun, not out of saying that men are superior or that God Himself has a gender.  However, the traditional form of addressing one aspect of God is as “Father” or “Son”, both being male indicators.  Rather than muddy the waters with some sort of strange way of addressing God, making up pronouns or words (like “godself”), I’ll bow to tradition simply because the English language is insufficient to truly describe God in those sort of terms.  However, as I said, God has no specific gender and even is described in very feminine ways in various scriptural passages.  Humans, male and female, were made in the image of God in that both human genders display the characteristics of God.  So, we can not say God is male or female, but is God.

Here we go…

Note:  This is a repost from my personal blog at  Since there are a number of post-modern/post-Christendom Anabaptist radicals hanging out here, I thought y’all would enjoy participating in the conversation.

Remember this post?

And this one?

It’s been a little over a year since I set that challenge before myself.  Well, guess what.  I’m starting this now.

See, I’m working on my MLI for the Mennonite Church Leadership Database and one of the questions in that database is my reactions and responses to the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.  Since I’m going to be spending the time looking at that in detail for that purpose, I thought I would blog about my reactions as well.

If I can swing it, tomorrow I’ll be hitting Article 1 on God.  If y’all wanna follow along with me, you can read the articles as I go.  I’ll be sticking to the order in the document.

Before that, though, you might want to review the Introduction.  There’s a lot of information there about the importance of Confessions but also points out that the commentary published along with the Articles are important in understanding the articles as they were written.  Instead of looking at the commentary as “opinion” commentary (as some commentaries on Scripture are), these commentaries should be viewed the same way the book of Romans would be if Paul had written it as a blog article and interacted with commentary.  (more…)