Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: moral purity

The church as the most important family

There are serious consequences of losing a sense of family within the church. . . We assume that the nuclear family can meet this need, and yet some of the loneliest, most isolated people in our communities are married with children, often so frenetically busy with child rearing and/or caring for aging parents that they have lost touch with old friends and no longer know how to make new ones.

The church is not a collection of families. The church is family. We are not “family friendly” ; we are family. We learn the skills within the church to be godly sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, husbands or wives, fathers or mothers, and the reverse is also true. . .

God wanted to make Israel distinct, not just morally but also through the signs of the covenant and through the prohibition against their intermarrying with the nations around them. In order to bless the nations, Israel could not be absorbed into the other nations and cease to exist.

The Storm-Tossed Family, by Russell Moore, pages 60 & 61; © Russell Moore, 2018, published by B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee.

Keeping the faith

Most Amish trace their families back to Mennonites from the Canton of Berne in Switzerland. An Old Order Amish bishop once said to me, “There must have been a special strength of character in those Bernese Anabaptists that has enabled their descendants to keep the faith for hundreds of  years.”

The Amish divided from the Mennonites after some of them fled from persecution in Switzerland and resettled in Alsace. Some of the main issues were that  church members should not wear moustaches or buttons. (Soldiers had moustaches and buttons in those days were much like jewellery, made of silver, gold and other costly materials.) In my friend’s view, the fact that the Old Order Amish still shave their upper lip and fasten their clothes with hooks and eyes was evidence that they were keeping the faith.

John Holdeman was also descended from Mennonites who originated from the Canton of Berne and was also concerned about keeping the faith. His idea of the essentials of the faith was quite different, though. The concerns he mentioned were that only truly born again people should be baptized and that parents should have a proper love and care for their children that would guide them to avoid the dangers of youthful immorality.

John Holdeman’s concerns were shared by a few others in the Mennonite church of his day, but most seemed to think all was well. Almost 160 years ago those who felt that the old church was drifting away from the faith began holding separate services. That was the beginning of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.

John Holdeman’s first book was entitled The Old Ground and Foundation. That title portrays his concern to maintain the purity of the faith that has been handed down since Apostolic times. The essentials of that faith never become stale and outmoded, it can be adapted to every nation and era, yet still be the same faith. We cannot bind it to fashions and forms of a past era without deforming the faith and rendering it powerless.

Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6?

There are three lines of thought on this:

1. They were angels who took human wives.

2. They were kings exercising the “right of the first night” with any woman who was being given in marriage.

3. They were men from the godly lineage of Seth who took wives from the ungodly lineage of Cain.

Answer one has a magical, mystical appeal to it, but is such a thing even possible? Jesus said that the angels in heaven neither marry, nor are given in marriage (Matthew 22:30). Aree the fallen angels different? Would that mean that they are still capable of mating with human women? This answer appears completely improbable, even impossible.

The second answer has a little more going for it. Kings often claimed to be descended from the gods; the “right of the first night” was still being practised in parts of Europe in Medieval times and goes back to the earliest times (it is mentioned in the Gilgamish Epic). Still, it really isn’t clear that this would have been enough to cause God to destroy the world by a flood.

The third answer seems a better explanation for the fact that by the time of the flood, out of millions of people living at that time, only eight found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The warning given by Moses in Deuteronomy 7:3-4 is meant to avoid a recurrence of this: “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them [the ungodly people of the land of Canaan]; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”

Romans 8:14 states: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Was it any different in the antediluvian world? The sons (and daughters) of God are they who allow God to direct their lives. I see no need to imagine angelic beings in the passage in Genesis 6. Men who were of the godly lineage allowed themselves to be allured by women who did not share their faith in God and the children followed their mothers’ unfaithful lifestyle until only Noah and his family were left.

This is the position taken by most Bible expositors, it was certainly the position of our Anabaptist forefathers. The issue here is not some unearthly commingling of angelic and human persons, but the necessity of purity and a common faith in the marriage relationship.

The Anabaptist Faith – What is it?

Perhaps it is time to define in simple terms what is meant by the Anabaptist faith.  So here is my definition, in point form.  I will share further thoughts on these points in future posts.

1.    Unadulterated Biblical faith, taking the Bible as a unified book of which all parts point to Jesus Christ.

2.    Accessible to all people, regardless of nationality, language or social status.

3.    Genuine brotherly love, supporting and serving each other in times of material, emotional and spiritual need.

4.    Abhorrence of sin, because it is the one thing that can separate us from God.

5.    Servant leadership, without hierarchy.  Jesus Christ is the head of the church, no man shall exercise lordship over his brothers and sisters.

6.    The use of force is renounced.

7.    Moral purity, a commitment to maintaining healthy, happy homes.

© Bob Goodnough, May 1, 2013

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