As a Mennonite, The Old Fool ponders the meaning of the emerging “Anabaptist Renewal Circles.” For my first thoughts on the renewal circles click here.
We Mennonites are Anabaptists. We trace our identity to the radicals of the protestant reformation who would not compromise, even though it cost them life itself. Living faithfully to a communal consensus is an Anabaptist tradition.
Anabaptists believe in the baptism of adults only. Thus personal conscience and the decisions that follow are respected No one is forced to be baptized, and beliefs are not coerced. Believers baptism is an Anabaptist tradition.
Anabaptists formed a peace church. From the beginning we chose to follow Jesus and his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount instead of obeying governmental laws that harmed others. Our refusal to kill is an Anabaptist tradition
Anabaptists seek to form a pure church. When perceived purity is threatened, Anabaptists try to resolve it, but if the threat is unresolved, splits happen. Splitting to maintain purity is an Anabaptist tradition.
Anabaptists rely on the Bible as the sole guide for teaching and preaching concerning salvation through Jesus. Faith in the Bible is an Anabaptist tradition.
What does renewal mean in Anabaptist Renewal Circles? Which Anabaptist traditions need renewal? Are we in danger of compromising, losing our peace tradition, or our perceived purity, or our faith in the Bible?
And what does “circles” mean to Mennonites? The word is not much used by Mennonites, except for sewing circles where women gather to stitch and patch on behalf of others, and to communicate. In this context does it mean a group more inclusive than a conference? less permanent than a conference? and not so authoritative as a conference? Is it hoped that circles will have an energy that crosses conference boundaries? Is it expected that the circles will explore, create, discover, empower, and birth other circles. Are the circles defensive, like a caravan which at the end of the day’s journey pauses to circle their wagons for safeties sake.
Pondering on Anabaptist Renewal Circles to be continued.