Am I an Anabaptist?

Fellow blogger Robert Martin, who blogs at Abnormal Anabpatist made the comment in my previous post “Neither Calvinist or Arminian; But, I’m not sure I’m Baptist either.”

I keep tellin’ ya, mate… you’re pretty close to Anabaptist. 🙂

Go find the book “The Naked Anabaptist” by Stuart Murray.

Anything Robert says is worth considering. He is a deep thinker, a careful writer and I am always  encouraged in reading his blog. I also follow another blog called Menno Nerds, which is a compilation of a number of Anabaptist authors, where again I am often encouraged and forced to think outside of my comfort zone. I must admit I am drawn to the Anabaptist movement. In many ways it taps into my own heart for combining social justice as a natural outworking of the Gospel message.

Anabaptism is more of a movement than it is a organisation. Christians from every theological belief can be a member and so within their ranks are those who hold to Reformed, Arminian, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Baptist and those with more liberal views – who together believe that Christianity is more than just belief; its putting shoes on that belief and putting it into action. Hence they have a lot to do within a social justice environment. Along with their deep commitment to social justice, another deeply held conviction is that of being peacemakers and within the framework of peacemaking, there is no room and allowance for violence as peace makers.

For the most part, I too am a peacemaker. And so I too am almost a Anabaptist in my belonging. Except that I believe that God allows for Christians to be involved in violence when the circumstances permit. I hate war. I abhor it. At the same time, I believe there are times when we need to allow for war. During Jesus ministry, he had tax collectors coming to him for advice and asking what they must do to live out a kingdom life. His reply to them was to only collect the tax they were meant to collect, and no more to line their pockets with. Soldiers came to him asking him what they needed to do, and he told them to be content with their pay, and not to extort people.

We note that Jesus commended a Centurion’s faith, when he came to Jesus asking him to heal his servant,  saying just say the word, and he will be healed, for he too was a man who knew his authority and only had to say something for it to be done. In Acts, we find another Centurion who the Scriptures call a righteous and good man. He was a man who likewise had a heart of social justice and looked after the poor. He was a praying man, and he had an angelic visitation where he was told to send for Peter who would be found in Joppa. At Joppa, while in prayer, Peter had a vision of a sheet of unclean foods being offered to him to eat – and when he protested against it, God told him not to call unclean that which he calls clean. And we read that Peter accompanied the centurions messengers back to his home, where he shared the Gospel message with them. Not only did he share the Gospel with them, the Holy Spirit fell on them, enabling them to speak in tongues also. Something which amazed Peter and his companions causing them to offer them a hand of equal friendship and being equals in God’s family. We also read of the Apostle Paul in his imprisonment, where he is having fruitful ministry amongst the palace guards. And so we read from the Biblical witness its easy to find that people employed in jobs in which we would equate today as being security guards, policeman and soldiers. Apart from Jesus’ direction to them  to be content with their pay and not to extort people – I can’t find any other direction to them in regards to the work they were required to do. Certainly, there is no ‘recorded’ direction or commandment that they were to leave their positions and stop doing the work they were trained to do.

Because of this, I can’t say with any amount of certainty that its 100% wrong for Christians to be involved in any defensive acts of violence when its required of them. Even to the extreme of being involved in war, if the action is to provide protection for those who need it. Indeed, those actions could be considered a work of love, if indeed they save the lives of others, who would otherwise be wiped out. But, perhaps that is a another conversation for another day.

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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10 Responses to Am I an Anabaptist?

  1. Slight correction (I’m a nerd after all). You said:

    “During Jesus ministry, he had tax collectors coming to him for advice and asking what they must do to live out a kingdom life. His reply to them was to only collect the tax they were meant to collect, and no more to line their pockets with. Soldiers came to him asking him what they needed to do, and he told them to be content with their pay, and not to extort people.”

    That, actually, wasn’t Jesus. That was Luke 3, John the Baptist. 😉 Just sayin’.

    As for the rest of what you wrote…. you are correct, this is something to consider. The cool thing about Jesus is that the ONLY people he REALLY condemned during his walk in this world were the religious folks who claimed to have it all “right”. The folks supposedly should know better, Jesus called them all sorts of nasty things. But the folks who were stuck in bad situations, trying to figure out what was right and wrong, wrestling with stuff, etc… yeah, those were the folks Jesus basically simply loved and showed compassion to. Folks like that centurion.. or Zaccheus,etc…

    So, when it comes to Christians/Jesus followers interacting with people, that is our attitude, always… love, compassion, mercy, and grace… Yes, he says, “Go and sin no more” but that comes only AFTER he first glares at the rest of the crowd and says, “Go ahead… throw a stone… but be sure you are sinless first.”

    BUT

    Anabaptists look at Matthew 5-7, look at other similar teachings of Jesus, look at Jesus’ own example when it comes to how we “deal” with our enemies, whether they are personal enemies (like my cranky neighbor) or corporate enemies (like the oppressing Romans), his statement is ALWAYS “love”. This is the conviction that calls Anabaptist minded folks to say, “I cannot take up a weapon and kill another human being, even in self defense”. Why? Because Jesus didn’t. And if we are his disciples (walking behind him, in “the dust of the rabbi”), what he does, we do… We are not pacifists because we think there is some sort of law that says war is wrong. We are pacifists because we believe in the higher law that says “love your enemy, pray for them”.

    Or, as the Apostle Paul points out in Romans 12:

    “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
    Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

    Yes, Romans 13 does talk about governments having the sword… but we have to remember that Paul is writing about ROME… the very people that are killing Christians. Yes, governments are in place for a purpose… but that does not mean their methods should be our methods. Romans 12 tells us our methods… Romans 13 shows the contrast.

    Anywho… now you’ve got me sermonizing. 🙂

    Can someone be a Christian and be in the military? Yes. See? An Anabaptist can say that. But that does not mean I believe it is God’s best. It’s a point to be wrestled with, discerned, figured out… but not a point that should divide the body. 🙂

    Thanks for letting me blather on…

    • Craig Benno says:

      Robert. Im giving myself an uppercut for that John Baptist stuffup. 😦

      Blather on all you like mate. Looks like we could be on the same wavelength as I am always saying the church has a mandate to teach itself how to live and not make rules and laws for the society it lives in.

      • Amen to that, brother. And, again, that’s another classic Anabaptist thingie… that we aim to take a role separate from society in that we set ourselves up as an ALTERNATIVE to the world, not as a movement to take over the world. I think of ourselves as something like a resistance movement, loyal to the one true king, subverting and sabotaging the works of the usurping powers, ya know?

        OK.. not the BEST analogy for a peace-loving Anabaptist, but blame C.S. “Jack” Lewis for the imagery. 🙂

      • Craig Benno says:

        Yes. I get you. I was trying to be funny with my uppercut comment.

        I think the powers are already upsurped and we are mopping up their vomit.

      • I like that… mopping up their vomit…

        Oh, and my last comment was not to the uppercut… in fact, I TOTALLY LOLed when I read it. 🙂

  2. Craig Benno says:

    I knew you were not referring to my uppercut comment. I too was laughing at the violent imagery of C.S Lewis.

  3. Brian Sleeman says:

    ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you’ – think that pretty much says “sometimes it may come to not being peaceful (war)”.

    But don’t be unduly cruel to a combatant – if they surrender feed them and protect them etc.

    Don’t be the instigator of violence, and probably don’t resort to violence in response as your first option. But remember, there is a war raging all around us. And what of the imagery such things – the word of God being sharper than any two edge sword. Wearing the “armour” of God etc?

    Seeing a brother / sister in need and “wishing” them well when not assisting with in our abilities is not looked on favourably by God either.

    I agree Craig, sometimes I think we may be called to do very unpleasant things – as implements of God – but still with boundaries.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Brian. You raise a good point about seeing a brother / sister in need. Wishing them well, but, not providing practical needs.

      Its my belief and experience ( from the experience of divorce) that often there is no real good answer – all you can do is make the better bad decisions, out of real bad choices.

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