MWC presenters revisit the vision, add clarity to Anabaptist identityBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
BASEL, Switzerland — In three presentations at the Mennonite World Conference General Council meetings, theologians and historians revisited the Anabaptist vision in a global context and sought input from meeting participants.
Growing out of conversations at Assembly 16 in Asuncion, Paraguay, in 2009, the series of three papers seeks to respond to a call for clarity about what it means for MWC’s member churches to live in the Anabaptist tradition.
MWC’s Faith and Life Commission appointed Goshen (Ind.) College history professor John Roth project secretary. Pointing out the significance of meeting in Switzerland, home to five centuries of Anabaptist tradition, Roth said the documents are not meant to replace the Shared Convictions, a set of seven foundational tenets adopted by the MWC General Council in 2006.
“We share much with the broader Christian church, but every group has a particular lens through which they understand their identity,” he said. “This is helpful for us to understand how we occupy our corner of God’s kingdom.”
In his piece on holistic vision, Paraguayan theologian Alfred Neufeld offered theological grounds for MWC’s four commissions — Peace, Mission, Faith and Life, and Deacons.
One image that has grown out of this paper is how the four commissions work together like the chambers of a heart, beating together, each performing an important role for the living body.
Swiss seminary professor Hanspeter Jecker’s paper on Anabaptist tradition faced the challenge of condensing 500 years of history into three pages. He gave special focus to a section on weaknesses and deficits, which he connected to the concept of the back of a coin.
“Often strengths and weaknesses are related to each other, that’s why I like this expression,” he said.
While some groups have historically emphasized retreating from the world, “others would stress that we are in the world and go into overconformity,” he said.
Neufeld and Jecker had previously gathered input at MWC executive committee meetings in Taipei in May 2011.
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