In his book the NAKED ANABAPTIST Stuart Murray Williams describes the core convictions of the Anabaptist movement. In case the term is new to you, the Anabaptists were the people behind the so radical reformation in Europe. The Amish are one part of the Anabaptist movement but most of the movement doesn’t reject technology or insist on big beards. So don’t worry i am not growing a beard and buying a horse and cart.
The original Anabaptists rejected state control of the church and believed that each individual had to decide to follow Christ for themselves and that that decision should be expressed in baptism on confession of their faith. Of course this meant they rejected State churches and infant baptism and for that they were terribly persecuted by both the .Catholics and other Protestants. That’s why many of Anabaptists like the Amish ended up in the States to avoid persecution. In recent years there has been a renewed interest in these radical believers and their heritage and it’s implications for how we live as GOD’S people in post Christendom Europe.
Since I became a Christian I have always regarded myself as a Wesleyan, in the sense that my theology and practice of being a Christ follower stands in the tradition that was started and shaped by John Wesley. I am in fact an ordained minster in a Wesleyan denomination. Now nothing about that has changed. However, reading these core convictions of the Anabaptists I found myself in strong agreement with every one. More than just agreeing, I resonated with them at a really deep level. They express the vision of Christianity I realised I have come to embrace.
So despite not having any plans for an impressive full face beard it looks like I will need to start thinking of myself as a Anabaptist as well as a Wesleyan. Maybe I am Wesleyan in theology and Anabaptist in praxis? Probably artificial distinctions.
What about you what do you think of these core convictions of the Anabaptist movement ?
Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer, and Lord. He is the source of our life, the central reference point for our faith and lifestyle, for our understanding of church, and our engagement with society. We are committed to following Jesus as well as worshipping him.
Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation. We are committed to a Jesus-centered approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which we read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.
Christendom Distorted & Damaged Christianity. Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era, when church and state jointly presided over a society in which almost all were assumed to be Christian. Whatever its positive contributions on values and institutions, Christendom seriously distorted the gospel, marginalized Jesus, and has left the churches ill equipped for mission to a post-Christendom culture. As we reflect on this, we are committed to learning from the experience and perspectives of movements such as Anabaptism that rejected standard Christendom assumptions and pursued alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
The frequent association of the church with status, wealth, and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness. We are committed to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless, and persecuted, aware that such discipleship may attract opposition, resulting in suffering and sometimes ultimately martyrdom.
Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability, and multivoiced worship. As we eat together, sharing bread and wine, we sustain hope as we seek God’s kingdom together. We are committed to nurturing and developing such churches, in which young and old are valued, leadership is consultative, roles are related to gifts rather than gender, and baptism is for believers.
Spirituality and economics are interconnected. In an individualist and consumerist culture and in a world where economic injustice is rife, we are committed to finding ways of living simply, sharing generously, caring for creation, and working for justice.
Peace is at the heart of the gospel. As followers of Jesus in a divided and violent world, we are committed to finding nonviolent alternatives and to learning how to make a peace between individuals, within and among churches, in society, and between nations.