Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Mennonite Heritage

The message of the Mennonites - and the Anabaptist tradition - has taken on a renewed interest for me.

My church denomination was founded by two ministers - one a Reformed minister the other a Mennonite - both from Europe. My mother grew up in Wilshire, but her family was from the Berne area - which is a Mennonite enclave. In reading through my mom's family line, there are many Mennonite ministers listed. My father grew up in Southern Ontario where there were also many Mennonites - a few of them shared the last name of Hallman as well.

But I really don't know that much about the Anabaptist tradition that gave birth to the Mennonite faith. So I asked Scot McKnight (a scholar who holds to an Anabaptist faith) who to read to get up to speed: John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus), Ron Sider (Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger) and Stanley Hauerwas (Resident Aliens). I already owned (and had read major sections of) Sider's book, and I'd always wanted to read Yoder's. The reading has been very illuminating. I also found Menno Simmons' complete collection of writings online, so I've been reading through it. McKnight also has a link on his site to an older article about the Anabaptist distinctives compared to the Catholic and Protestant faith.

I didn't know/realize that Anabaptists are not considered Protestants. They weren't part of the Reformation...they consider themselves part of the Radical Reformation: radical meaning "root" - they alone went all the way back to the foundational teachings of Jesus to shape their personal and political lives.

Apparently phrases I've been using like: Following the Way of Jesus; Loving God/Loving Neighbor; these are very Anabaptistic ideas. There is a resurgence of Anabaptist ideals...and Greg Boyd has this insightful blogpost on it: Cherish Your Treasure

If you know of some good Anabaptist stuff to read, let me know. So far it's been a fascinating journey.

1 comment:

Fresh Dirt said...

Tim, I think your rediscovery is wonderful. Fresno is a huge Mennonite area, and I got my MA at a mennonite school in Fresno. Hauerwas in particular has had a huge influence on my own thinking. Even though I still hold to a reformed view overall, I very much appreciate the influence the anabaptist tradition has had on my views-- I definitely lean towards the pacifists (not strictly though). Good luck on your journey and I hope to read more of it here.