Mainstream Anabaptism

I’m finally reading Stuart Murray’s Naked Anabaptist. It’s a great little book giving an overview of the “bare essentials of a Radical faith,” as the subtitle suggests.

In a world increasingly at odds with organized religion and in a time of waning Christian influence in Western culture, Anabaptism is gaining popularity in many places. To quote Gregory Boyd’s forward,
While the mainstream church has, to a significant degree, unwittingly absorbed the values of intense individualism, consumerism, and materialism, more and more post-Christendom disciples in the West are becoming convinced that these values are at odds with everything Jesus was about. They are realizing that we are called to live in community with others, to live simply, humbly, and justly, and to share our lives and our resources with one another an with all who are in need.
At it’s core, Murray presents Anabaptism as a history and tradition of people - oftentimes struggling on the fringes of society and culture - committed to follow in the way of Jesus, not just believe in him. Part of the attraction, Murray suggests, is that Anabaptism cannot be represented by one organization, church, or denomination. It’s diverse in expression, yet united in values. He ponders:
Why are Anglicans, Presbyterians, Catholics, Quakers, Methodists, Baptists, and others interested in the Anabaptist tradition? Most are not searching for a new denomination to join or looking for a way to leave their own. They are seeking inspiration, resources, and fresh perspectives to enrich and enhance their own lives, local church, or denomination, and tehy suspect that the Anabaptist tradition might have something to offer. Because Anabaptism is a tradition rather than a denomination, [people] can explore it without feeling disloyal to their own community.
By appealing to a tradition - stories of faithfulness - Anabaptism can offer an alternative to the church shopping mentality seen in church and theology, where success comes through competition and relevance usually wins the day. Anabaptism, in this regard, holds values all can learn from.

The challenge, which I hope Murray addresses, is what to do when a fringe movement becomes mainstream and relevant - when its' “time has come” as seems to be the case for Anabaptism? And Murray realizes a generalized Anabaptism can lose some of its force if only an "idealistic or disembodied" vision. Mainstream Anabaptism faces some obstacles, no doubt.

I look forward to reading more.

4 comments:

Ryan said...

One of the adult Sunday school classes in our church just began a series on this book, and your question about what to do when a fringe movement becomes has already come up. Now I know where I can send people for the answers :).

David Warkentin said...

No pressure! How about you tell them to come comment with their answers!

Kim said...

I was baptised as a baby by my parents and then again as an adult when I made my decision that Jesus was Lord of all, died for my sins, and rose again. I didn't care what the label was over the door because I had not been raised in a church. I just wanted the truth, spoken clearly, taught from the bible. Not changed by tradition or watered down for the times. I am so glad I found Hyde Creek Church. It is all of that, and more. Thank you Dave for your blog. I love it.

David Warkentin said...

Thanks Kim - great to hear a bit of your story too. And you are a literal Anabaptist - "rebapatized." Glad you like the blog too!

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