Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Category Archives: Faith and life

I will be true to Thee, Lord

“Fully surrendered, Lord divine, I will be true to Thee.” It’s an old hymn, expressing noble aspirations. I have sung it often and believed that I meant every word.

Lately, I’ve been wondering, though. “Though it may cost me friends and home.” It’s easy to believe I mean that when there appears to be no possibility of it ever happening. I read about the Anabaptist martyr brethren of years ago with great admiration. They were driven from their homes, betrayed by those they thought were friends. That was long ago and far away, it’s never going to happen here is it?

“Now to the world I bid farewell; Broken forever its deep spell.” Is it possible the world has cast a spell on me, making me feel at ease, unable to see the danger that I am in? That was not merely a theoretical question to those we claim as our spiritual forefathers. They saw only two possibilities: the way of the cross or the way of compromise with the world. Today we seem to have so many options. Yet as I look more closely I see that most of them are compromises with the world. They are cleverly camouflaged to look like Christian spirituality, but they avoid the cross.

In 1774 Henry Funk, the first Mennonite bishop in North America, wrote a little book called A Mirror of Baptism. He explains that the Bible speaks of three types of baptism: baptism of the Holy Ghost; baptism of water and baptism of blood. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the first, the most important and the foundation for the other two, but each one is essential.

The baptism of blood is the commitment to be faithful whatever it may cost, including dying as a martyr if it would come to that. Our spiritual forefathers found that liberating. Once they came to the point of being willing to give their life for their faith nothing could frighten them anymore. They did not live recklessly, endangering their families and brothers and sisters in the faith. But they live boldly, speaking freely of a relationship with Jesus Christ that was more meaningful and more important than life itself.

I want to have what they had.

The quiet in the land

According to the Scriptures, Christians should lead quiet and peaceable lives. Is that the same as being “the quiet in the land?” That slogan has taken deep root among many who call themselves Mennonite.

The words come from Psalm 35:20: “For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.” This psalm is a prayer of David when he was being hunted by Saul and his army. Both Saul and David knew that it was God’s plan to make David king in the place of Saul. Yet David attempted to live peaceably until that day should arise, twice refusing to take Saul’s life when the opportunity was given him. Saul, on the other hand, was determined to slay David and retain the kingship for himself and his family.

I believe we can take from David’s example that it is not God’s plan for us to become politically active, nor to agitate to replace a government that we feel to be misguided and oppressive. But I do not believe it is God’s will to take this further to the point of being quiet about our faith in order to avoid persecution. This is what the German Pietists did by remaining in the Lutheran Church and partaking of its sacraments. This is what the Mennonites in Russia did when they banned the reading of the writings of Menno Simons.

I do not believe that being “the quiet in the land” to such an extent is compatible with true Christian faith. Peter admonished us to “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” (1 Peter 3:15). There is a real danger that we can become so quiet about our faith that no one would ever have cause to ask us about it. And if they did, we might not have a clue what to say.

In our search years ago for a church that still held to the old Anabaptist faith, we found many Mennonite churches that were like that. They called themselves Mennonite, but had no idea what that signified.

Even for those of us who retain the faith that was held by Menno Simons, it is time to strengthen those things that remain. Let’s not be shy about talking about that faith with each other, endeavouring to discern how the Spirit is leading in our personal lives and in our collective life. I believe there are people around us who will find the old faith attractive, offering something solid to hold on to in a world that appears to be crumbling. Let’s not be so quiet that they cannot hear.

The fear of some people who called themselves Mennonites

Beginning in the 16th century many Mennonites fled persecution in Friesland and Flanders and settled in the Vistula delta region of Poland. Here they gradually lost their evangelistic fervour and their faith dwindled to a mere outward conformity to some principles that they felt to be the essence of the faith. It seems they ceased to read the writings of Menno Simons and lost any concept of what it meant to be of the same faith that he upheld.

When Prussia annexed the Vistula delta region in the late 18th century, many of these people moved into southern Russia (today Ukraine). Here they could live in peace and began to feel that their peace depended upon keeping quiet about the real foundations of the Mennonite faith. When two men had Menno Simon’s writings printed for the benefit of those who called themselves Mennonites in the Russian colonies, the Mennonite church reacted strongly.

In August of 1835, all 29 elders and ministers of the Moltotschna colony signed a letter demanding that all copies of Menno’s book should be confiscated and destroyed. The pretext was that some people of other faiths, or some government officials, might read those writings and cause trouble for the so-called Mennonites.

Abram Friesen, one of those who had arranged for the printing, had a different impression of the true motive for banning the book:

“One would like to ask these men: How come do you want to put the lighted lamp under a bushel? Oh, that they might take the words of Christ in Matthew 5:13, 14, 15 to heart! They would have to call out woe upon woe for having done so foolishly. For what do these good men think of this? Menno feared neither tyranny nor persecution, neither pressure nor disfavour, hatred nor poverty, but in this book has freely professed before all men his ground and faith, and confessed the Lord Jesus Christ before men according to Matthew 10:31-39. But without imminent threat of danger these good elders and teachers are afraid without reason, for the hearts of the higher authorities are favourably inclined concerning freedom of conscience and worship and rule over the pious with great gentleness. Not only do they refrain from interfering in their faith and principles but often refer us back to them.

“On the contrary, the elders and teachers, who should be more in favour of the work consider it a great risk, and fear hatred from people of other religious persuasions. I only fear that a different matter in their own conscience aroused hatred in themselves because Menno Simon’s teaching severely reproves the Mennonites of the present and especially the ministry. Consequently they feel ashamed and reproved and therefore prefer not to have these books in their congregations.

The last two paragraphs are taken from By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them, by Peter Toews, emphasis added.

The faith of Menno Simons

Thus we do not contend with carnal, but with spiritual weapons, patience and with the word of the Lord, against all flesh, world and devil, trusting in Christ. Nor shall there ever be found other weapons with us. Therefore, be not afraid of us (behold, in Christ Jesus I lie not); for we do not desire your destruction, but your regeneration; not your condemnation, but your everlasting salvation; not your flesh and blood, but your spirit and soul; on account of which I have these seven years suffered and yet suffer slander and scorn; anxiety, suspension, persecution, and great peril of being imprisoned.

The more the word of the Lord is extended, by the grace of God, to the reformation of some persons, who, however, are few, the more hatred and bitterness increases against me; so that up to this hour I could not find, in all the country, where, alas, the mere boasting of the divine word is a great deal more plenty than the fear of God, a cabin, or hut (blessed be the Lord) in which my wife and little children can safely sojourn for a year or two. O, cruel, unmerciful Christians ! O, that all magistrates and princes, as also all the wise and learned knew the seeking, intention and desire of my heart, as also of my beloved brethren who, by the grace. Spirit and word of God, are converted into a new spirit or new birth !

If they rightly understood our teaching how soon their hearts and minds would be changed into a different sense ! But as all of them, with but few exceptions, are nothing but earth and flesh and not gifted with the Spirit of Christ; therefore, alas, we hear nothing from them but upbraiding and slander, can expect nothing from them (I mean the evil-disposed) but the stake, water, tire, wheel and sword, as a reward of gratitude, that we have sought and yet seek our conversion, salvation and eternal life, and that of the whole world, with such diligence, solicitude, pains and labour from our inmost heart. For I strive after nothing, of which God is my witness, but that the God of heaven and of earth, through his blessed Son, Jesus Christ may have the glory and praise of his blessed word; that all men may be saved; and that they may awaken in this convenient time of grace, from their profound sleep of sinfulness; that they may lay by all adhering sin and the damnable works of darkness; that they may put on the armour of light, that they may thus become, with us by true penance, faith, baptism, Supper, ban or separation, love, obedience and true life, one holy, Christian church and body in Christ Jesus. Something which the whole world today yet opposes with all its strength with both shoulders and horns; not being willing that Christ Jesus, forever blessed, shall reign over them. Yea, they persecute, banish, burn, murder, and destroy all those who willingly teach and uphold the glory, praise, honour, will and commandments of the Lord.

Pietism

Oxford gives these definitions for pietism: 1 a a pious sentiment. b an exaggerated or affected piety. 2 (esp. as Pietism) a movement for the revival of piety in the Lutheran Church in the 17th c.

Perhaps the best dictionary definition of what a pietist is is this one that I translated from le Petit Robert, the most popular French dictionary: Member of a Lutheran sect that put more emphasis on the necessity of personal piety and religious feelings than on strict doctrinal orthodoxy.

The same dictionary gives this definition of Quietism, a similar phenomenon within the Roman Catholic Church: Mystical doctrine in which Christian perfection consists of a continuous state of quietness and union with God, where the soul becomes indifferent to works and even its own salvation.

To make my meaning clear, piety that deepens one’s relationship with God is a good thing. Pietism as a movement is not. There were earlier individuals that one might label as pietists, but as an identifiable movement it began in the Lutheran Church in the 17th century. These pietists were disappointed in the lack of spiritual life in the Lutheran Church and sought a meaningful relationship with God. They continued to attend the Lutheran services and take part in the sacraments, but also met privately to share their experiences and the vitality of their newfound faith. Heartwarming experiences were highly valued among them and taken as evidence of a living relationship with God.

So far so good. Up to this point a Pietist and an Anabaptist would seem much the same. The difference was that the Anabaptist believed that the Holy Spirit expected obedience. Obedience meant self-denial, bearing the cross, avoiding compromise, seeking baptism and communion with true believers and a fearless confession of Christ, even when it meant almost certain death. The Anabaptist would not hide the light of God’s truth under a bushel to avoid persecution.

Pietism, the capital P kind, has pervaded much of modern Christianity, even among those of us who claim to be spiritual descendants of the martyrs. I am not intending to criticize or blame anyone. No one opened the door wide and invited it in, it just seeped in under the door when we were looking elsewhere. Neither do I pretend to see all the ramifications of the danger of Pietism. But I do want to point out some of the things that I do see.

Are we still walking on the old paths?

“The believer, in his baptism, is baptized into the body of Christ, the church, 1 Cor. 12:13,27. And then he puts on Christ and unites himself to him to follow him truly and constantly, and bearing his cross after him. And should the believer be called on to suffer for the name of Christ and to lay down his life for his name, he should be willing to be baptized with the same baptism of suffering and shedding of blood wherewith his Lord and Master was baptized when he laid down his life to redeem man from death, and this is the allegiance of all the true disciples of Jesus Christ in this world. Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, Matt. 20:23. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you, John 15:18,20. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service, John 16:2.”
-Henry Funk, A Mirror of Baptism, page 83

“Anabaptism was essentially a movement which insisted upon an earnest and uncompromising endeavour to live a life of a true discipleship of Christ, that is to give expression in fellowship and love to the deepest Christian faith, with full readiness to suffer in conflict with the evil world order. So long as this willingness to suffer was an expression of deepest faith, and this readiness to enter into a nonresistant struggle for salvation, was a living reality, just so long was Anabaptism a great and powerful movement.”
-Robert Friedman, Mennonite Piety through the Centuries, page 11

Must we only talk about Anabaptism in the past tense, as if it were a spent force? I don’t believe so, but I fear that we have reached a perilous point in our history.

Many of those who call themselves Anabaptist do not appear to have much understanding of what that implies. Over the past century, pietism has been creeping into Anabaptist/Mennonite circles, to the point that many of us now accept their definition of true Christian faith to be the authentic definition. But pietism was not the faith of our spiritual forefathers. They taught the need of the new birth, but for them the religious experience was the beginning of Christian life, not its essence. It was the starting line, not the finish line.

The way of the cross is not a quick first step, leading to a life of joy and peace, unruffled by opposition from the world. The Holy Spirit gives joy and peace within, but the cross is rough and heavy, speaking of blood, death and opposition from the world.

I am a Mennonite today because over 50 years ago I embarked on a search for a church fellowship that still lined up with the ancient Anabaptist faaith. In coming posts, I want to take another look at the old foundation, the old faith and the ancient landmarks.

A Mirror of Baptism, Henry Funk, Gospel Publishers, Moundridge, Kansas. Henry Funk,1697-1760, was the first Mennonite bishop in North America. The first English edition published 1851

Mennonite Piety Through the Centuries, Robert Friedman, copyright 1949 by the Mennonite Historical Society, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana.

Living in Apprehension

Many people today are convinced that the Great Tribulation and the rule of Antichrist are imminent. One would think that if such a person had an assurance in the depth of his heart that he would be removed from the earth before that happened, he would be at rest about the future.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. Such people read the news with great fear. So many government initiatives are evidence of the coming of a one-world government, which will soon lead to the rise of Antichrist. Christian bookstores have whole shelves of books pointing out signs of the end. In many churches it is the main topic of preaching. There are blogs and podcasts. If people believe what they say they believe, why are they so anxious?

The spread of COVID-19, government actions to limit its spread, the vaccines that have been developed, are all fodder for the mill of conspiracy theorists. The underlying fear of many of those spreading these theories is that these events are preparing the way for a one-world government.

Other people see the Communist Party of China behind almost everything that goes wrong. For others the great danger is Vladimir Putin. The USA is descending into chaos. BLM and Antifa are actively promoting a Marxist revolution. Marxists have control of the schools, the media.

Whatever element of truth there is behind any of these things that cause so much fear, it is important to realize that the real problem is not secret conspiracies, Vladimir Putin, the Communist Party of China, or any other force in this world. It is the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan. He has been the source of all mankind’s strife and sorrow since the Garden of Eden.

The dragon loves for us to see the problem everywhere else but him. He loves it when we begin to blame one another because we cannot see the imminent danger of such and such a thing that is happening. His purpose is to divide mankind until eachy individual stand alone and trusts noone else. It is especially his goal to divide Christians. And we are letting him do it far too often these days.

It is time to stop and see what is happening, to us and to those we love. Let’s stop trying to fix the world. Every time we do that, the dragon is right beside us to lend a hand. In the end, we only succeed in making things worse than they were before.

The way to begin making the world a better place is to stop worrying about things we have no power to change. We need to let go of all our hurt feelings, forgive one another and work to mend broken relationships. We need to talk more about the healing, cleansing, saving power of Jesus’ blood.

That may not sound like much. But that is the only way to extract ourselves from the grip of the dragon and to help those we love get free. Every time that happens is a defeat for the dragon. Every time we try to do something big is a victory for the dragon.

Jesuitical craftiness

It was clear to true Christians (often called Anabaptists) until the late Middle Ages, that the Church of Rome was the Antichrist foretold by the apostles. In the sixteenth century Menno Simons made it very explicit. The following are only a few of the references to Antichrist in his writings.

Since Christ has commanded that believers should be baptized, and not infants, and the holy apostles taught and practised thus, in accordance with the instructions and commands of Christ, as may be seen in many places of the New Testament, all reasonable-minded men must admit, that infant baptism, although alas, practised by nearly the whole world, and maintained by tyranny, is nothing less than a ceremony of Antichrist, open blasphemy, an enchanting sin, a molten calf; yea, abomination and idolatry.

Beside this, the use of the cup is withheld from the people in the Roman church. If it were the Lord’s Supper, as they pretend, they would, in every respect, use it according to the ordinance of the Lord. But this custom shows that it is not the Supper of Christ, but a deluding seduction of Antichrist.

In short, they preach and lay before the poor people, lies for truth ; darkness for light; death for life, and Antichrist for Christ.

Behold, beloved sirs, friends and brethren, we openly declare that the sending and calling of your preachers are neither of God nor his word, but are from Antichrist, the dragon and the beast ; that they are not called to preach the word of the Lord, by the Spirit of God, and the church, but they are called and lured by their lusts with the priests of Jeroboam, to worship the golden calf, 2 Chron. 13: 8, 9.

Antichrist rules through hypocrisy and lies, with power and sword; but Christ reigns patiently with his word and spirit.

After the Reformation, the Protestant churches took up the refrain, even though they continued to practice many of the characteristics of Antichrist. They baptized babies, claimed that salvation was ministered by means of the sacraments and enlisted the sword of secular authorities to attack all who did not conform to their teachings.

Finally, the Roman Catholic church felt it had to do something. With the advent of the printing press it could no longer conceal the Scriptures from the people. The Jesuits, masters of sophistry and disinformation, came to the rescue.

The first was Francisco Ribera, a Spanish Jesuit, who published a commentary on the book of Revelation in 1590. He proposed a new interpretation of Revelation, saying that the first part applied to ancient pagan Rome, and the rest referred to a future period of 3½ years, immediately prior to the second coming. During this 3½ years the Antichrist, a single individual, would appear He would persecute the saints of God, rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, deny Jesus Christ, pretend to be God and conquer the world. Immediately afterthis Christ would return to judge the world.

Other Jesuits added to this line of thought, the most influential being Manuel de Lacunza, His book, The Coming of the Messiah in Majesty and Glory was published in Spanish in 1810, under the pen nmae of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra. He differed from Ribera’s interpretation in that after the 3½ years of tribulation Christ would return and rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years and then the Judgment would come.

Edward Irvine, a Presbyterian minister, discovered Lacunza’s book and translated it into English. The book appeared in 1827 and Irvine’s preaching began to be mostly focused on this millennial teaching. He was excommunicated in 1830 and a new denomin ation formed, the Catholic Apostolic Church. In 1830 Margaret MacDonald, a 15 year old Scottish girl in Irvine’s congregation, had visions that a secret rapture of the church would occur before Antchrist would appear. Irvine accepted this as a divine revelation and added this new wrinkle to his millennial teaching.

John Nelson Darby was first a lawyer, then a Church of England clergyman and later the most prominent figure in the Plymouth Brethren movement. He was a regular attender of the prphecy conferences that began in Powerscourt, Ireland in 1830. Here he was exposed to Irvine’s teachings, heard of Miss MacDonald’s supposed visions and went to hear them from her at her home in Port Glasgow, Scotland.

Darby added the dispensational teaching to the mix, saying that God has offered salvation to mankind in six different ways in six dispensations, all of which have failed. The seventh and final will ne Christ’s millennial kingdom. Darby popularized this dispensational pre-tribulation premillennial doctrine through extensive writing and preaching. C.I. Scofield learned the doctrine from Darby and gave it a major boost in North America with his Scofield Reference Bible. Lewis Sperry Chafer learned the doctrine from Scofield and went on to found Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924, from which many well known prophecy teachers have graduated.

Chafer taught for many years that Benito Mussolini was the Antichrist and would establish a new Roman Empire that would lead to the Great Tribulation. There have been numerous other failed attempts to identify some well known figure as the Antischrist. Despite this, the doctrine has now so pervaded Evangelical Christianity that to question it seems almost heresy.

An imposter in the temple of God

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) The apostle Paul wrote this warning at the very beginning of the Christian era.

A few years later, in the Revelation given to the apostle John, he sees two beast arise (Revelation chapter 13). The first beast rose out of the sea, which symbolizes the turbulent and unorganized condition of the peoples of the world. This beast is empowered by the dragon, Satan, to rule over these peoples and establish government and order. This is the pagan Roman empire.

The second beast rose out of the earth, that is out of the organized stability created by the first beast. This beast has some Lamb-like characteristics, evidently a counterfeit of the Christian church, yet is in league with the first beast. This is the Antichrist described by John in 1 John 2:22, 4:3 an 2 John v. 7. Antichrist means in the place of Christ, that is Antichrist denied to Jesus Chris the power and authority that was rightfully His and claimed it for himself.

1 John 2:18 says that there were already many anitchrists in the time of John. This he declares to be evidence that it is the last time, that is, there will not be another era of time to follow.

Our Anabaptist forefathers saw a number of forms of counterfeit Christianity, or antichrists, but the main one was the Roman Catholic church. It took until the time of Pope Urban II (1088-99) for the papacy to be able to claim authority over the Kings of Europe and enlist their power to attempt to eliminate the Anabaptist church. Shortly after this time, in 1120AD, some Christians in the south of France drew up a description of Antichrist and his errors. Here are a few excerpts:

“And therefore let every one take note thereof, that Antichrist could not come in any wise, but all these forementioned things must needs meet together to make up a complete hypocrisy and falsehood, that is to say the worldly wise men, the religious orders, the Pharisees, ministers, doctors, the secular power with the worldly people joining together. And thus all of them together make up the man of sin and error completely. For, although that Antichrist was conceived already in the apostles’ time, yet being but in his infancy, he lacked his inward and outward member.”

“The first work of Antichrist is that he perverts the worship properly due to God by giving it to Antichrist himself and his works.”

“The second work of Antichrist is that he robs and bereaves Christ of His merits. . . and imputes and attributes the same to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own works; unto saints and their invocation and unto the fire of Purgatory.”

“The third work of Antichrist is that he attributes the regeneration of the Holy Spirit unto the dead outward work, baptizing infants in that faith, and teaching that thereby baptism and regeneration must be had.”

“The fourth work of Antichrist is that he has constituted and put all of religion and holiness of the people in going to mass.”

“The fifth work of Antichrist is that he doth all his works so that he may be seen. . .and that he may make all things for sale.”

“The sixth work of Antichrist is that he allows manifest sins without any ecclesiastical censure and doth not excommunicate the impenitent.”

“The seventh work of Antichrist is that he doth not govern nor maintain his unity by the Holy Spirit, but by the secular power.”

“The eighth work of Antichrist is that he hates and persecutes and searches after, despoils and destroys the members of Christ.”

The temple of God

In the Old Testament the unity of worship was clearly God’s plan. That worship was to be centred on the temple in Jerusalem. While God prophesied the division of the kingdom because of sin, it was His intention that this should only be a political division, not a spiritual division. Two kingdoms were OK, two churches were not. That is why, when Jeroboam built a second temple at Bethel and another in Dan, he is forever after referred to as “Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.”

Is it any different in the New Testament era? Let me begin with a statement that might shock some readers: Almost all the mentions of the temple of God in the New Testament refer not to individual Christians as temples, but to the collective body of Christians known as the church. Lets go through the applicable verses, one by one.

Revelation 3:12: Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God,
The promise is that the overcomer will be part of the temple, not the whole temple.

1 Peter 2:5-7 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
Believers are called living stones who are built together into one spiritual house (temple) with Jesus as the corner stone.

Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
This is very similar to Peter’s words, believers are the household of God built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets and Jesus the corner stone to become one holy temple.

1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The temple is God’s building with the help of true ministers of the gospel, the foundation is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Ye is plural, these verses are addressed to Christians, as a group they are one temple. Paul does not say ye are temples of God, or thou art the temple. There is only one temple in view here., thus to defile the temple does not refer to the sins of an individual defiling his own body, rather those sins defile the whole body, the temple. Think of Achan, he thought it was harmless to take the things he did, no one knew about it, it would not bother anyone else. Yet the army of God was defeated in battle because of his sin.

2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Again, ye is plural, temple is singular.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
This is the one verse that does speak of the body of an individual believer as the temple of God. This verse must not be taken as the key to understanding other verses which speack unequivocally of the temple as the collective body, the church. But one must first be spiritually alive, a living stone, to be added to the holy temple. “Ye are not your own,” – we have no liberty here to think independently or to think we have no need of our fellow believers.

Quotations from Anabaptist/Mennonite leaders of the past:

“For jus as there was but one Adam and one Eve; one Noah and one ark, one Isaac and one Rebecca, so there is but one church of Christ, which is the body, city, temple, house and bride of Christ, having but a single gospel, faith, baptism, Supper, and service; travelling on the same road and leading a pious, unblamable life, as the Scriptures teach.”
Menno Simons, 1539, Complete Writings, page 191

“Paul teaches us in his epistle to the Ephesians, concerning the true church, which Christ has presented to Himself, that it is glorious, holy and without blemish, without spot or wrinkle; that they are baptized together into one Spirit, and into one body, the head of which is Christ, and are joined together as members of His body. These have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father, of us all, who is through us all, and in us all. This is the true temple of God, in which dwells the Spirit of God. This church Christ has bought and redeemed with His blood.”
Claes de Praet, 1556, Martyrs Mirror, page 558

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