Losing the vision

Jun 29, 2017 by

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In 1944, Harold S. Bender’s “Anabaptist Vision” was embraced by many as a breakthrough in defining our identity. However, in the last 50 years, that vision seems to have been abandoned. The vision today seems best summarized as social justice, secular pacifism and community service missions. Reviewing Bender’s vision reveals that he assumed we were biblical pacifists, meaning nonresistance. He did not mention aggressive political action or civil disobedience for issues other than military service. And while community service missions would be consistent with his statement about love, it would seem that kind of activity has assumed a normative emphasis far greater now than in 1944. Bender was asserting that the vision as he articulated it accurately reflected the historical values of the church. If he was correct, and if we now have different priorities, then it seems we have departed from the historical values of the Mennonite church. Is that really what we intended to do?

James Rohrer
Rochester, Minn.

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