Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

25 Flavours of Mennonites

When we lived in Ontario it would happen from time to time that someone I had just met would ask me what kind of Mennonite I was. “Does your church allow cars? electricity? telephones?”

I knew these questions arose because there were at least 25 flavours of Mennonites within a 100 km radius of where we lived and for many of them things of this nature were a big issue. I would gladly have avoided these questions because I couldn’t see what they had to do with being Christian, which should be the most essential part of being a Mennonite.

People were curious and they didn’t know where else to start. It was so easy to answer the questions and wander down a rabbit trail that didn’t lead anywhere, leaving the questioner no wiser than when he started and leaving me feeling that I’d failed to say anything really helpful.

What I wanted to say was that the way we use the things available to us in this world can reveal something about our relationship with God. But making rules about things results in a group that is impressive in their outward unity, but does not ensure that they have a relationship with God. It does not even ensure that the members trust one another; sadly, the unity is often only apparent to outsiders.

What I wanted to say was that the essence of Christianity is to be filled with love, joy, peace and all the other qualities described as the fruit of the Spirit. To do that, it is often necessary to avoid things that will feed our pride. Pride is a sneaky thing that tries to enter our lives in so many ways that no amount of rules could ever cover them all. We must each deal with pride on a personal level.

What I wanted to say was that the making of rules provides fertile ground for thinking that I am doing a better job of following the rules than others. That feeds my pride and a critical, suspicious attitude towards others. That would be to head in altogether the wrong direction.

What should I have said? What would you say? What are your questions about being Mennonite?

One response to “25 Flavours of Mennonites

  1. Adam S Weaver October 31, 2018 at 04:57

    I can relate to the subject, except here in Pennsylvania there are 60+ flavors of Mennonites PLUS Amish. The question is more often; What is the difference between the Mennonites & Amsih. I am down to; On principals faith they are nearly identical. On choice of life style there is a great variation. This usually satisfies casual curiosity and opens the door if they have more questions, The main thing that separates the Church of God in Christ Mennonite (Holdeman) from the the “Mennonite buffet” is the faithful keeping of the Apostolic/Anabaptist doctrine of the unity of the visible New Testament Church. Not to be taken as holding “exclusive” salvation. Today’s common denominator in most Anabaptist churches of “the church consists of all true believers everywhere and is “invisible” among all Churches. This is not historically true and is not substantiated in the whole of the New Testament.

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