Shipshewana, In, March 28 – 30, 2019
I was very excited to attend the AIC and that excitement was justified. As a rather recent convert to the Anabaptist doctrine and having spent a few days with the Hutterites in Minnesota my love for the people and their values
Because it was an “identity” conference I wanted to know
Because of certain constraints, I will focus my critique on the second part since, in my estimation, the first part, especially for those who were present among us non-Anabaptist background “seekers,” the mysterious charm of these Godly people is very much alive in the 21st Century, but in all honesty, I do have an issue with their present stance.
My introduction to Anabaptism was an accident, or maybe a miracle. Yes, like nearly all Protestants I knew of these odd people with their funny ways, their gentleness, exclusiveness, value-driven lifestyle, hard work, and simple ways, but that is all I knew about them. My Bible training gave them the necessary “tip of the hat” acknowledgment as part of my curriculum that highlighted the heretics of the Reformation and the problems they caused to the progress of the “true” Christian message as professed by Luther and Zwingli. Grebel, Manz, Blaurock, and others now bearing the label of anabaptist (re-baptizers) by their foes, having discovered the buried treasure of non-resistance to evil, separation from the world, and believer baptism, proceeded to do what every believer should do, and that is, to share this vast wealth with anyone in need, begging for relief, or those who hold out an empty hand. All my Christian life I unconsciously hungered for their message and struggled often with The Sermon on the Mount only to have it explained away by my teachers and leaders. One day while reading 2Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” a live coal fell from the altar of God and illuminated my heart and changed my life forever, and along with that illumination came the beginning of my story of personal suffering that validated Paul’s message. And, now I realize too that there had been given, to a special people, a vast treasure that was not being shared.
Without the help of heritage, without the help of community, and without the help of men, but only a burning heart, a prophetic treasure, and desire to share, I ventured into my old haunts to find that Paul’s inspired words to Timothy are still true today. Just as in the days of the Apostles and the “Radical Reformers” I had discovered the secret weapon that is hidden to the world and to the institutional Church that “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.” This death is more than just an odd appearance to outsiders, giving up of the luxuries of technology and science, or building a wall around an “identity” to keep out the world; No! it is so much more than that.
I appreciate very much that my Anabaptist brothers and sisters have maintained their wonderful heritage because that heritage has become a sign to the world. The world of man and religion cannot help asking the question, when Anabaptist appear, “Who are these strange people?” The problem is, they get no answer, they are a sign with no message. They signify something to the world, but what? Must we find the answer by accident? The treasure that the Anabaptist reserve for themselves or bury will get out with or without their help, and I pray it with their help. Enjoying their craftsmanship and good food is not enough and I believe that if Conrad Grebel was here today he would say, “It is time.” It is time to infiltrate the cities, the Churches, the schools, the streets and neighborhoods of the world and to open our hands and to share this great resource of truth that the world fears and the Devil hates.
When the Israelites came out of captivity the first two things to be restored were the Altar and the wall. The altar represents our sacrifice and the wall represents separation from the world, security, and protection. Commerce took place during the day but at night the world was forced out and the gates closed, i.e. they were separated and “in the world but not of it.” The wall is the great heritage of truth of our Christian forefathers, but heritage quickly turns into legalism without the altar. True Christians are “light,” “salt,” and “sheep in the midst of wolves.” Yes we are the light of truth, and we are the salt of the earth, but we mustn’t forget that we are also sheep for the slaughter, that is our destiny. If we will be true to the first two the third will also come. We must pick up our own cross and follow Jesus.
We have allowed the world of religion to dictate just how much of the truth is allowed to be preached. And, how will we know when we are succeeding? It is no different today than it has ever been. How did the Apostles know? How did the Remnant of the Dark Ages know? How did the Radical’s know? The trail of blood has arrived at the doorstep of Twenty-first Century, will you be sheep in the midst of wolves or will you be sheep closed-up in a pen behind walls of protected identity?
I love the Anabaptist and it is not my goal to hurt them, unless the hurt has the effect of healing. I have much that I need to learn from them and my study is ongoing but maybe they can learn something from a Seeker?