Questions for Circles

OnionThe Anabaptist Renewal Circles have published their commitments. That’s good! Their first commitment is “To be radical in our love for the Lord and compassion for our neighbors.” With the aid of a thesaurus I learned that a radical person deals with fundamental, essential, and deep-rooted issues in a manner that is basic, drastic and thorough. These commitments  may lead them to a radical inquiry, a link worthy of diligent study.

Phil Waite is attempting to be a radical guide for the CMC.  On May 15, 2014 Waite said the church’s problem is onion-like. It is ugly, like the outside of an onion. To get to the meat (the real questions) of the onion, discard the onion’s exterior and peel away the layers. (You may enjoy this video on onion preparation.)  Waite peeled the onion of his imagination. The sermon caused the think-tank that I am a part of, to keep on dissecting the onion. (To see the preacher and hear the sermon click here. The whole service is helpful.)

The layer of the onion that annoys and frustrates the think-tank is the knowledge that a significant segment of the church chooses to ignore the findings of science. From our perspective, those who choose to ignore evidence for evolution, global warming, and sexual orientation pose a threat to the unity of the church and are an obstacle to those who want to believe the good news the church tells them.


Picture from the College Hill Mennonite Church

The concerns of Anabaptist Renewal Circles must be respected. Their commitment (1) to be radical in their love for the Lord and (2) to be radical in their compassion for their neighbors makes them strong.

No doubt the Circles want to be in radical love with the Lord Jesus. They choose to love one of whom Nicodemus inquired. Jesus dined alike with Pharisees and with the people they despised. He touched lepers and told the story of the Good Samaritan to the lawyer who asked the identity of his neighbor. He allowed women to follow him, and prayed for the unity of the church. The Circles need to ask if they will allow themselves to be shaped by this radical love for the one who loved the world so radically?

Florida trip 5 006

College Hill Mennonite Church pastors Roy Williams and Walter Crawford with the Old Fool in the middle

The Circles need to ask themselves how they will  demonstrate radical compassion for their neighbors who are LGBTQ in sexual orientation and practice?  Will the Circles demonstrate radical compassion for their neighbors who choose to ignore science? And how will they demonstrate radical compassion for neighbors who are on the edge of agnosticism or atheism, yet who follow Jesus radically?

These are hard questions and the Old Fool apologizes for asking them. But the hard times described by Phil Waite demand honest answers to difficult questions.

The Anabaptist Renewal Circles can further fragment the Mennonite Church USA or it can move the church toward unity midst diversity and a more effective witness.  Here is the registration form.  

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
This entry was posted in Biblical Interpretation, Church, Homosexuality, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Questions for Circles

  1. Freda Zehr says:

    You wrote, martin the above words, ” the Old Fool apologizes for asking them. But the hard times described by Phil Waite demand honest answers to difficult questions”

    The only words I have a problem with, are the words, “The old fool”. You are one of the least men whom I could possibly call, a “fool”! yes, the questions you ask are difficult, especially for those of us brought up with the words ringing in our ears, Thou shalt NOT question the Bible. There was a story on my email this morning about a women
    in a Muslim county who was stoned by her family for committing adultery. Everyone was up in arms, and those Obama haters even laid the blame on him.
    I once asked someone how then do we interperete the old testement demands to stone the women taken in adultery? I got the same answer—we don’t question that–it was Gods way of ruling in those days.
    I am a questioner, I freely admit, My mama used to say I was the “rebellious one”, because of my many questions about Biblical things. As I read your meditations, I can see that you are a man after my own heart. Thank you again for being brave and putting it all out there. Freda Zehr

  2. Harold Bauman says:

    I am surprised that you apologize for asking difficult questions. Let me encourage you to keep on asking difficult questions and then ask for help in testing and sharpening them and then answering them. Your questions push us to answers that push us out of our comfortable ruts and this often is painful. Walk with us while we struggle with the answers. Peace, Harold Bauman

  3. Arvid Martin says:

    I’m reading the book: A Letter to My Congregation An Evangelical pastor’s path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus by Ken Wilson.

    Rev. Wilson is founding pastor of Vineyard Church Of Ann Arbor, MI.

    This book certainly raises some interesting issues.
    Have the ideas in this book been studied within MC USA?

    If so, what are the conclusions?

    • Thanks for reporting on your reading of the book by Wilson. Pastors must sometimes make difficult choices on how best to lead a flock. Mentioning the book may help it find a place on some pastor’s reading list.

  4. philip rittgers says:

    Read blog for first time, most thought provocing for the old floridean!

    Phil rittgers

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