This is the second in a three-part series comparing Seventh-day Adventists and Anabaptists. The CBS television program â€œWorld Religions: Sikhs, Seventh-day Adventists, and Mennonitesâ€ (description, program, schedule) provided the motivation for this series. Please see the introduction to Part 1 if you have not yet read it. As I explain in the introduction, this project was initially designed as a way for Adventists to learn about Anabaptist views, rather than the other way around as in this present series.
One additional item I probably should have acknowledged in Part 1 is that this approach may make it appear as though I believe early Anabaptism was uniform, with all believers under that label holding all particulars in common. This was certainly not the case, as readers of this blog know quite well (see the YAR â€œAnabaptist Streamsâ€ series, for example). A more detailed study would note the similarities and differences between the various Anabaptist groups and then compare these with Adventism. However, that approach is well beyond my ability to adequately pull off, so I will continue with the much simpler and less precise comparative methodology I used while taking Anabaptist History and Theology at AMBS.
Part 1 was lengthy because of the extended series introduction. This second installment is long because it covers several expectations about Christians, both individually and collectively. With that warning, let’s get to it. And again, I ask for patience with the lengthy quotes.
Part 2â€”Expectations of Christians and the Church
Both Anabaptists and Adventists expect believers to (a) voluntarily unite, (b) follow after Jesus in discipleship, (c) be baptized, (d) wash one anotherâ€™s feet, (e) participate in the Lordâ€™s Supper, (f) form a holy church, (g) study the Bible, (h) show compassion, and (i) not engage in violence.
December 14, 2014
Conscientious Objection, Interfaith, Seventh-day Adventist Church
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On Sunday, December 14, CBS will air the television program â€œWorld Religions: Sikhs, Seventh-day Adventists, and Mennonitesâ€ (link). I don’t know why CBS selected these three particular faith traditions, and I don’t know if this is an on-going series on world religions, but as a Seventh-day Adventist who attended a Mennonite seminary, I find the combination intriguing. A conversation in the Young Anabaptist Radicals Facebook group about the CBS program led to the invitation for me to share a three-part comparison of Adventist and Anabaptist values and views. I thank the YAR blog editors for this opportunity, especially since I’ve appreciated following this blog over the past five or six years.
Before diving into the comparison, I would like to first share a few limitations regarding both me and this series. First, I have little knowledge of the Sikh tradition. I have taken a class in world religions, and I did my MA internship at the Ann Arbor Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, but I have little exposure to the Sikh community, so I will focus here on Anabaptists and Adventists.
Second, I am not an expert in the history and theology of either the Anabaptist or Adventist traditions. I am a life-long Seventh-day Adventist with many years in Adventist education, including an undergrad degree in religion, but I claim no advanced understanding of the nuances of Adventist theology beyond a layperson’s experience. I am not an Adventist pastor or theologian, but I will invite some experts in those areas to read and comment on the series.
Also, rather than earning an MDiv or an MA in theology, I pursued an MA in Peace Studies from the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, IN. I also studied briefly at Eastern Mennonite University, the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College, and the Latin American Anabatist Seminary (SEMILLA) in Guatemala. However, my focus was on peace and justice themes rather than theology or history. While I know or have met members of both sides of the recent Mennonite-Adventist dialogue (Patricia UrueÃ±a, Teresa Reeve, Bert Beach, Denis Fortin), I was not present for the conversations. I say this at the start to acknowledge I have much to learn about both communities, and I invite additional observations and critiques in the comment section. I will offer my observations and leave it to others to correct or expand on these posts.
December 12, 2014
Anabaptism, Interfaith, Seventh-day Adventist Church
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It was only recently that I have come to identify with Anabaptist Christianity, and it has only been within the last few days that I have come in contact with Young Anabaptist Radicals. Nevertheless, I have been graciously invited to share my story with you, and introduce myself.
My religious journey really started out like most Americans. I was raised in a home that was culturally Christian. We occasionally went to church (typically Christmas or Easter), were baptized at a young age, attended Sunday school every so often, and were read stories from the Bible. My family was the standard Mainline Protestant American family. Despite my early experiences with Christianity, I never did actually believe in it. Really, I was more of an agnostic on most days, and an atheist on some. I spent most of my early childhood like this.
Despite my secularism, I did eventually develop an admiration for the Buddha, and before I knew it, I was reciting the Three Refuges, reading Buddhist literature, and identifying as a Buddhist. Then, due to by brother’s influence, I developed a small interest in Christianity. I got my first Bible, and I began attending church with my brother. Unfortunately, it was an Evangelical Free megachurch that had an unholy mix of the Prosperity Gospel and Fundamentalism. It is needless to say that I did not last long in that church, but it did have an effect on me. I associated it with Christianity and returned to Buddhism.
This would all change when I came across a book by my favorite Buddhist scholar and activist — Thich Nhat Hanh. His book Living Buddha, Living Christ completely changed my understanding of Christianity. It introduced me to St. Francis of Assisi, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, Elaine Pagels, and numerous others. For the first time in my life, I was introduced to some good theology. Not a theology of greed or hate, but one of social justice and love. So with this book, I developed an interest in Christianity again.
November 2, 2012
Anabaptism, Biographical, Blog, Community, Interfaith, liberation theology, Politics, Social justice, Spiritual Life, Young Folks
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Cross-posted from As of Yet Untitled
It’s been less than 24 hours sine the tragic shooting this Sunday in Wisconsin. We grieve for all the victims, their family and their communities. The LA Times is reporting that the gunman had tattoos and biographical details which lead officials to conclude he had a “political agenda”. While we don’t know for sure what that political agenda is, the attack does fit a pattern that in which Sikhs have been mistaken for Muslims in attacks by Islamophobic extremists since the 9/11 attacks.
This is another opportunity for Christians in the US to reflect on our response to the ugly Islamophobia that bubbles just beneath the surface and spills out in attacks against all people that appear Middle Eastern.
There would plenty of examples I could cite, but the prominent Christian leader Franklin Graham exemplifies this anti-Muslim trend. From 2002 through 2011, Graham has consistently made comments that stoke fear and paranoia towards Muslims in the US, saying that Islam “preaches violence” (2002) and is “evil” (2009). Last year he offered this:
â€œThe Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active in our country. Itâ€™s infiltrated every level of our government. Right now we have many of these people that are advising the US military and State Department on how to respond in the Middle East, and itâ€™s like asking a fox, like a farmer asking a fox, â€œHow do I protect my henhouse from foxes?â€ Weâ€™ve brought in Muslims to tell us how to make policy toward Muslim countries. And many of these people weâ€™ve brought in, Iâ€™m afraid, are under the Muslim Brotherhood.â€
(all quotes from Franklin Graham and Samaritanâ€™s Purse, Sheila Musaji)
August 6, 2012
Interfaith, Islam, The Bible
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We are Mennonites (and fellow travelers) who reject the churchâ€™s mission activities.
We believe Christian mission, historically, goes hand-in-hand with cultural destruction. We love human diversity and seek to preserve it. Thus, we oppose evangelistic crusades and mission boards that proselytize, no matter how well-meaning they claim to be.
We reject the authenticity of the so-called â€œGreat Commissionâ€ (Matt. 28:19-20). We simply donâ€™t think Jesus said it. Most New Testament scholars doubt its authenticity as well, for a couple reasons. Firstly, any statements supposedly made by Jesus after his death must be called into question. Secondly, if Jesus told his followers to go out and convert the world, then the debate about the inclusion of Gentiles during Paulâ€™s time makes little sense. To modern scholars, the â€œGreat Commissionâ€ sounds more like the post-70-A.D. church talking than the historical Jesus.
July 7, 2012
Bigotry, Evangelism, Exclusion, Hate, Indigenous, Interfaith, Interpretation, Tolerance
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Love, compassion, joy, and equanimity are some of the hallmarks of the teachings of Jesus. But those concepts didn’t originate with Jesus.
He found them tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the Torah. Almost every saying in the Sermon on the Mount is a commentary on passages from the Hebrew Scriptures. The genius of Jesus was the way in which he put his own “spin” on the Scriptures, highlighting and elevating the positive aspects of God’s personality, while ignoring and rejecting the negative aspects.
The ideals of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity weren’t the unique property of the Judaic tradition, however. They could also be found earlier, and further east, in what is now India, Nepal, Bhutan. In the Fifth Century before Jesus, a man named Gotoma developed a body of teachings based on what are called “The Four Immeasurables”: (more…)
June 18, 2012
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, Church, City, Civilization, communication, Community, Contemplation, culture, Current Events, Dumb Stuff., Education, End Times, Ethics, Evangelism, extinction, Foreign Policy, Global Church, God, Group Identity, History, Indigenous, Interfaith, International Relations, Judaism, Love, MCC, Mennonite Church USA, Nonviolence, The Bible, Tolerance, Urban Ministry
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On the great day of judgment, all of humanity was gathered in a celestial banquet hall. It was a huge space, with a massive round table in the middle. The table was so big that it accommodated what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of people, probably more. As one looked to the left or the right, there were people as far as the eye could see. Yet somehow, by some supernatural optical phenomenon, one had no trouble seeing clearly everyone seated directly across the table. In a position of prominence was the Almighty herself, who interestingly had an appearance not unlike the way God was portrayed in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” yet whose Voice was unmistakably feminine. After a while, some grumbling was to be heard, as people began to take notice of who was present. Finally, a lone voice cried out, a voice with a thick Brooklyn accent, saying, “Hey God, I’m happy to be here, of course, but I see my old neighbor Moshe sitting over there and I know that rotten sonofabitch rascal ought to be in the other place. What gives?” (more…)
May 20, 2012
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, City, Community, Dumb Stuff., End Times, Evangelism, God, Group Identity, Interfaith, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Sex, Tolerance
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The Universe Loves You! … & thinks you’re perfect just the way you are!
The christian church teaches the doctrine of original sin, that everyone is born with a sinful nature.
… We, on the other hand, believe in original goodness, that the spark of the divine resides in each and every human being. (Psalms 82:6, John 1:9)
The christian church portrays God as the heavenly father.
… We believe in God as mother, as well as father. (Isaiah 49:15)
The church says God’s justice will require him to damn most of his creatures to eternal punishment.
… We believe hell is a myth, and that every person who’s ever lived gets a seat at the celestial banquet table. (Isaiah 25:6)
The church claims Jesus was rejected by the Jews, and that his message superseded the “Old Testament.”
… We believe Jesus was a Jew in good standing until his dying day, and that everything he taught was firmly grounded in Torah.
March 28, 2012
End Times, Evangelism, Exclusion, Interfaith, Polemics, Tolerance, Urban Ministry
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We are Marginal Mennonites, and we are not ashamed.
We are marginal because no self-respecting Mennonite organization would have us. (Not that we care about no stinkinâ€™ respect anyway.)
We reject all creeds, doctrines, dogmas and rituals, because theyâ€™re man-made and were created for the purpose of excluding people. Their primary function is to determine whoâ€™s in (those who accept the creeds) and whoâ€™s out (those who donâ€™t). The earliest anabaptists were also non-creedal.
We are inclusive. There are no dues or fees for membership. The only requirement is the desire to identify oneself as a Marginal Mennonite. We have no protocol for exclusion.
We are universalists. We believe every person whoâ€™s ever lived gets a seat at the celestial banquet table. No questions asked! Mystic-humanist (and anabaptist) Hans Denck was quoted saying that â€œeven demons in the end will be saved.â€
We reject missionary activity. Christian mission, historically, goes hand-in-hand with cultural extermination. We love human diversity and seek to preserve it. Thus, we oppose evangelistic campaigns and mission boards, no matter how innocuous or charitable they claim to be.
We like Jesus. A lot. The real Jesus, not the supernatural one. We like the one who was 100% human, who moved around in space and time. The one who enjoyed the company of women and was obsessed with the kingdom of God. The one who said â€œBecome passersby!â€ (Gospel of Thomas 42), which we interpret as an anti-automobile sentiment. (more…)
November 7, 2011
Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, City, culture, Dumb Stuff., End Times, Ethics, Evangelism, Exclusion, Fun, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Interpretation, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Nonviolence, Pornography, Schism, Sex, The Bible, Tolerance, Urban Ministry, Wealth, Young Folks
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Thereâ€™s a building boom on the Bowery these days. Itâ€™s been happening for a while, but the last couple years have witnessed an escalation in development, turning the neighborhood into a hip destination point.
Fifty years ago the Bowery was the largest skid row in the world. There were gin joints and flophouses on every block. Thatâ€™s all gone now, thanks to the forces of gentrification. In their place are condos, art galleries and upscale eateries. Only one skid-row relic remains: the Bowery Mission.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting behind the Missionâ€™s pulpit in the 1960s, looking onto a sea of expectant faces while my father preached. In retrospect I realize the men behind those faces were awaiting the sermonâ€™s conclusion so they could get their grub. (more…)
August 22, 2011
Anabaptism, Biographical, Change, Church, City, Civilization, Consumerism, culture, Current Events, Economics, Education, Ethics, Evangelism, Exclusion, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Love, Mennonite Church USA, Mental health, Nonviolence, philosophy, Polarization, poverty, Power, Privilege, Race, Schism, Sex, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Urban Ministry, Wealth
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As a note: This is also posted at The Wandering Road
So I’ve recently run across the Catholic Rosary.Â While I’m drawn to it’s structure and it’s ability to help people pray, as a good Anabaptist, I take issue with some of it’s theology.Â So here is my initial thoughts and proposal for an Anabaptist Rosary.
First- An orientation to the actual Rosary.
How to pray the Rosary
1. Make the Sign of the Cross and say the â€œApostles Creed.â€
2. Say the â€œOur Father.â€
3. Say three â€œHail Marys.â€
4. Say the â€œGlory be to the Father.â€
5. Announce the First Mystery; then say
the â€œOur Father.â€
6. Say ten â€œHail Marys,â€ while meditating on the Mystery.
7. Say the â€œGlory be to the Father.â€
8. Announce the Second Mystery: then say the â€œOur Father.â€ Repeat 6 and 7 and continue with the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Mysteries in the same manner.
9. Say the â€˜Hail, Holy Queenâ€™ on the medal after the five decades are completed.
As a general rule, depending on the season, the Joyful Mysteries are said on Monday and Saturday; the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday; the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday; and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday. (more…)
January 21, 2010
Anabaptism, Art, Church, Community, Contemplation, Discipleship, Faith, Global Church, God, Group Identity, History, Interfaith, Interpretation, Mennonite Church USA, philosophy, Pope, Prayer, Roman Catholic, Spiritual Life, The Bible, Theology, Tradition
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I don’t know whether in the States you have noticed the debate about the Swiss people’s decision last Sunday (29th of November) to amend their constitution to forbid minarets. Here in Germany and the rest of Europe fascists and right-leaners are celebrating and want plebiscites on these issues as well(check out their posters!). Swiss politicians are shocked as no one would have anticipated such a result and are now checking if they can squirm out of it, by saying that basic liberties cannot be changed, not even by the will of the people. Analysis shows that the most votes for the ban came from the rural areas where there are almost no Muslims, and most votes against the ban came from the cities where there is a relatively high Muslim population, still not high. In all of Switzerland there are four mosques…
To me, this shows a fundamental flaw in democracy as good as it maybe: Democracy does not mean the rule of people, it means rule of the majority and if the majority should decide not to tolerate the minority -like the case with Switzerland – so be it. Ok, in order to correct this there are things like independent judges and not directly elected secretaries, but that is exactly what the SVP, the “Swiss People’s Party”, wants to change next. Democracy is not an absolute value.
But how is the Anabaptist view on this, is there one at all? In the beginning, Anabaptists didn’t gather in fancy churches, they met in houses or caves in the forest to prevent being sent to prison. The only time one would find them in the usual churches was to storm the pulpit and preach the gospel. When Anabaptists were allowed to settle in Southern Germany after the 30 years war they weren’t allowed to build church towers.
The bells in church towers have often been melted in times of war to make swords and guns, a reversion of Micah 4,1-4 so to say.
During the campaigning for the ban on minarets the initiators always claimed not to be anti-Islamic, but that they were only against radical Islamists and that Islam didn’t need minarets, therefore aÂ minaret was a political extremist statement and it’s ban would not interfere with the right to religious freedom.
Let’s look at Christianity then, I did find one story in my Bible, where people wanted to build a tower. But after God “came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building” Gen.11,5 he didn’t like it too much and confused their languages.
In the New Testament there is not a single reference of towers… So, are towers needed in Christianity? Shouldn’t the Swiss people perhaps also ban church towers?
Or maybe Swiss Mennonites and Mennonites in general should build “mennorates” in solidarity with the Swiss Muslims?
December 6, 2009
Bias, Bigotry, Current Events, Exclusion, Hate, History, Interfaith, Polemics, Politics, Tolerance, Uncategorized
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New Heaven, New Earth: Anarchism and Christianity Beyond Empire
August 14 & 15, 2009
2509 Harvard Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38112
This year’s anarchism and Christianity conference, hosted by Jesus Radicals, will look squarely at the economic and ecological crisis facing the globe, and point to signs of hope for creativity, for alternative living, for radical sharing, for faithfulness, for a new way of being. We are living in a karios moment that will either break us or compel us to finally strive for a new, sane way of life. The question we face at this pivotal time is not if our empires will fall apart, but when they will fall–and how will we face it? We hope you will join the conversation. (more…)
June 25, 2009
activism, Anabaptism, Awesome Stuff, Change, children, Church, City, Civilization, Clothing, communication, Community, Conscientious Objection, Consumerism, Contemplation, Corporations, culture, Current Events, Discipleship, Economics, Education, Emerging Church, End Times, Environment, Ethics, Evangelism, Faith, Family, Food, Foreign Policy, Fun, Gender, Global Church, God, Group Identity, Healthcare, History, Immigration, Indigenous, Interfaith, International Relations, Leadership, liberation theology, Love, Loyalty, Mental health, Music, New Monasticism, Nonviolence, Peace & Peacemaking, philosophy, Polarization, Police, poverty, Power, Prayer, Privilege, Race, Roman Catholic, Science, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Stories, submergent, Technology, Television, The Bible, Theology, Tolerance, Tradition, Travel, Urban Ministry, war, Wealth, Writing, Young Folks
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The church basement’s cinder block walls radiate the cold. Coffee permeates the air. Two dozen people or so sit at 8′ X 3′ wooden folding tables, set up in a circle, eating cake and drinking the aforementioned coffee. Another dozen or more sit at chairs placed around the room. My friend, we’ll call him Brian, sits at the front, the Serenity Prayer scrawled on a plaque on his right.
God, Grant me the serenity,
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
This is an A.A. meeting.
Brian is celebrating one year. He is chairing the meeting, which means he gets to tell his story, speak however long he likes, and call on any member he sees fit to call on. Before any of that can begin, though, the various “officers” read off various lists of A.A. “rules”, “codes of conduct”, and other bureaucratic regulations. You would think these to be many considering A.A. has a reported 1,867,212 members worldwide with 106,202 meetings.
To put this in perspective A.A. is about the same size as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and larger than the Assemblies of God in the USA. (more…)
November 1, 2008
Awesome Stuff, Blog, Change, Church, Contemplation, Dumb Stuff., Evangelism, Faith, Interfaith, Mental health, Power, Prayer, Spiritual Life
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