New Kid On the Mennonite Block. Part 7. The Futility of Anabaptism.

Does Anabaptism, and all of its segments, hold at  the center, a profound futility? If one follows the value and beliefs down to their conclusions, is there a feeling that what is desired can/never will happen?

One of the tenets of traditional Anabaptism, and some of the parts still,  is non-participation in national governmental politics. Meaning, no voting. Some participate in tax resistance and do not pay taxes.

Another tenet of Anabaptism is pacificism. The divinity reflected in all creation does not allow us to act violently towards others, personally and institutionally (war etc.).

Here is my thought exercise.

If Mennonites/Anabaptists had their way and got all of their wishes for the world, we would have an essentially Mennonite government. Nations would act in accordance to Anabaptist values (acting justly, renouncing violence etc.). HOWEVER, Anabaptists do not support involvement and participation with government. So…would they turn embrace government if it was to their liking? OR…does Anabaptism assume that government will never be to their liking and so always contain violence, war, injustice, and violations of Anabaptist teachings? There is the futility.

And is that a bad thing? To participate in something you know is not possible? Are we, as Christians, called to be right and win all the time, or are we maybe called to seek his peace even in the face of never getting it?

I hope for peace but do not see it because I know I will get it.

Is there any writing on this Anabaptist Futility?

 

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  1. It’s a bit more nuanced than what you would find in the Schleitheim or Dodrecht confessions…article 23 of the current confession of faith in a Mennonite perspective calls it a matter of conscience…will participation in earthly government systems violate convictions of following Christ?

    So, some vote, some don’t, some vote selectively… for me, personally, I see no particular evil in participating in voting by I see it as a very low priority in my life, especially considering the many faults in our current system. Folks talk about every vote counts but, for me, that only makes sense if it means the person who wins actually will live up to promises and values they espouse during their campaign and cannot be bought either by special interests or by the system of power itself which demands the elected person to maintain their power, even at the expense of integrity.

    Basically it comes down to which “authority” demands our allegience, thought, and resource… if earthly governments are good and just, great! That’s a GOOD thing…and we won’t stop them from being so…but it is not the means nor the end… The true “body politic” that matters is the ekklesia…everything is, while it may contain good, is secondary.

    So, it’s not a futility because having nations be Anabaptist is not the goal…the goal is, to quote JHY, “let the church, first and foremost, be the church.”

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