I have found a home in the Anabaptist tradition and no matter where else I have looked in the vast expanse of Christian history and theology I always land right back in heart of the Radical Reformation.
That being said, I feel distant from the cultural traditions of the faith to which I am so drawn.
I am not a Mennonite and I’m happy with that reality.
I am an Anabaptist.
On the other hand, I also kind of want to be a Mennonite.
Confused, yet? Don’t worry. I’ll try to explain.
Why I am an Anabaptist:
- The absolute center of the Anabaptist faith is a deliberate focus on Jesus. The Bible and our lives are read through a Christological lens.
- Theological constructions are utilized in Anabaptism but it’s simple theology that stands as our greatest resource. Love your enemies, love your neighbor, love your God, seek the Kingdom.
- From the very beginning Anabaptists have declared that there has never been, nor will there ever be, a Christian political nation. The church is a redeemed community living Kingdom ethics and the state is a fallen power following worldly ethics.
Why I am not a Mennonite:
- I enjoy zwieback but neither my wife nor I know how to bake it.
- I don’t know any low German phrases or really any German phrases other than “ich liebe dich” and that one always makes me sound angry rather than sweet.
- No one in my family has any name remotely similar to Freese, Friesen, Janzen, Schroeder, Kroeker, Rasmussen, or Funk. Although, I am honestly jealous of that last one.
- I can’t grow a proper beard to safe my life.
- I have never attended a worship service in a Mennonite Church.
That being said, I want to claim the faith history of the Mennonites as my own because I see just how much they sacrificed for the sake of the gospel and I want to be counted as part of that lot. The faith of Michael Sattler, Dirk Willems, and the many other Anabaptist martyrs reflect the faith of Jesus. Reading their stories causes a restlessness in my heart to be part of that lineage; that movement. That is the group of Mennonites I want to join. I want to be with those who aggressively seek peace and the Kingdom.
I want to be a Mennonite not because of Friendship Bread but because they offer a desirable faith which looks like Jesus.