Denominations don’t revise a creed, but they can revise their confessions of faith. For example, the June 9, 2014 Mennonite World Review reports that the Mennonite Brethren delegates will consider revising the peace article of their Confession of Faith. They propose to take out the word “nonresistance” and replace it with “peacemaking.” The Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches (formerly Evangelical Mennonites) have a proposal to add a reference to its Articles of Faith that identifies Genesis 1-11 as being ”literal history.” The proponents of the proposals feel that such changes will increase unity and peace within their denominations.
Everyone needs a sense of unity, commonality and peace. But the peace of the Mennonite Church USA is disturbed by one sentence in Article 19 of the 1995 Mennonite Confession in a Mennonite Perspective. The sentence is that We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life.
This sentence feels different to the Old Fool than most other sentences in the Confession of Faith. Most state what “is.” The troubling sentence focuses on the original intention of God. The Old Fool feels that the sentence does not need to be rewritten because we Mennonites should be able to agree on this simple statement of God’s intention.
Sadly, God’s intentions haven’t worked out. History is instructive. The Bible declares that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Our sadness turns to joy only when we accept God’s undeserved love and unmerited grace and show those same godly qualities to others. Then there will be peace, perfect peace.
Ponder examples of God’s grace with me: Even though Adam and Eve failed, they did not die. Eve became the mother of all living (through pain), and Adam was made a steward of the earth, to cultivate and harvest it (through sweat.) Their first son murdered his brother. God showed agape love and grace to Cain by protecting him from capital punishment by a mark on his forehead. If you look for God’s agape love and grace you will see it, even in the Old Testament.
In today’s world, the church recognizes that divorce ends a marriage covenant originally intended by all parties to be for life. Many churches act with undeserved love and grace toward divorced and remarried persons and grant them the privileges of full membership.
Some churches rule out lesbians and gays out of respect for God’s original intention. Others accept them openly by practicing God’s agape love and unmerited favor. True, the church needs a renewal of love, grace, and joy. My hope for the Anabaptist Renewal Circles is that they will not use up their time and energy in revising Article 19. “Grace, mercy and peace” is a key phrase in the New Testament. Family, church and communal peace and joy will surely be renewed when grace is extended by the unworthy to the unworthy.