The other week I had the privilege of attending a session, dinner, and public lecture at Elizabethtown College with Stuart Murray Williams, the author of the book "The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith." During the session and the lecture Williams gave out a paper dealing with Core Convictions of the Anabaptist Network (in the UK....but could be affirmed by all Anabaptist) , on one side and thoughts on Post-Christendom on the other. I wanted to take the next few blog posts looking at the Core Convictions, Post-Christendom, and my thoughts in reading his book. Here are the 7 Core Convictions of the Anabaptist Network of which I resonate deeply with.
1. Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord. He is the source of our life, the central reference point for our faith and lifestyle, for our understanding of church and our engagement with society. We are committed to following Jesus as well as worshipping him.
2. Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation. We are committed to a Jesus-centred approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which we read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.
3. Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era when church and state jointly presided over a society in which almost all were assumed to be Christian. Whatever its positive contributions on values and institutions, Christendom seriously distorted the gospel, marginalised Jesus, and has left the churches ill-equipped for mission in a post-Christendom culture. As we reflect on this, we are committed to learning from the experience and perspectives of movements such as Anabaptism that rejected standard Christendom assumptions and pursued alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
4. The frequent association of the church with status, wealth and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness. We are committed to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted, aware that such discipleship may attract opposition, resulting in suffering and sometimes ultimately martyrdom.
5. Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability and multi-voiced worship. As we eat together, sharing bread and wine, we sustain hope as we seek God’s kingdom together. We are committed to nurturing and developing such churches, in which young and old are valued, leadership is consultative, roles are related to gifts rather than gender and baptism is for believers.
6. Spirituality and economics are inter-connected. In an individualist and consumerist culture and in a world where economic injustice is rife, we are committed to finding ways of living simply, sharing generously, caring for creation, and working for justice.
7. Peace is at the heart of the gospel. As followers of Jesus in a divided and violent world, we are committed to finding non-violent alternatives and to learning how to make peace between individuals, within and among churches, in society, and between nations.
I especially liked number 5 in relation to multi-voiced worship, something we have done since the beginning of Veritas, and something others are resonating with in the emerging, missional discussion. In fact I just finished a book called "Free for all: Rediscovering the Bible in Community" by Tim Conder and Daniel Rhodes from the Emmaus Way community in NC, in which the whole premise was about this ideas of multi-voiced worship and a communal exegesis and hermeneutic. I finished that book and thought just how Anabaptist their book really was.
Veritas has been founded from an Anabaptist understanding of the faith and we are trying to live out these same core convictions in our individual and corporate life together.