ANABAPTIST VISIONS OF CHURCH AND SOCIETY

STEVE NOLT*

     Harold Bender's "The Anabaptist Vision" was not only a historical interpretation of events and people in the sixteenth century but also a programmatic theological and ethical statement for twentieth-century Mennonites.[1]  Yet despite its prescriptive purpose, his essay offers an ambiguous vision of the perennially perplexing problem of the relationship of the contemporary church and society. For example, at the outset of his essay Bender cited Quaker historian Rufus Jones in claiming that the Anabaptist vision was "a programme for a new type of Christian society which the modern world . . . has been slowly realizing." Yet Bender ended his address with an almost isolationist warning that "[the Christian] must . . . withdraw from the worldly system and create a Christian social order." Likewise Bender stressed that "the Anabaptist vision was not a detailed blueprint for the reconstruction of human society," yet in the next breath he maintained that the Anabaptists intended to "set up [the Kingdom] in the midst of earth, here and now, . . . forthwith"-presumably a highly detailed task.[2] 

     As a result of this ambiguity, since the mid-1940s subsequent generations of Mennonites-many of them shaped or influenced to some extent by his essay-have struggled to formulate a model for relating church and society. This practical task has absorbed considerable energy, demanded fresh creativity and sparked sharp ongoing debates within Mennonite circles. During the quarter century following the publication of Bender's essay, at least two major visions of church and society offered alternative models for Mennonites searching for a proper way to take the church's witness to the world.[3] 

     The first of these proposals emerged alongside the Anabaptist Vision and was in fact a product of Bender's own generation and academic compatriots. This vision was embodied in the Mennonite Community Association and its cooperating group, the Mennonite Church's Committee on Economic and Social Relations (CESR).[4]  As co-workers and thinkers with Bender, the scholars, church leaders and lay people involved in this movement sought to work out a specific set of social ethics compatible with the Anabaptist Vision.[5] 

     The second church-and-society program vying for acceptance during the postwar decades developed not alongside but in the wake of the Anabaptist Vision's initial impact. This contrasting model, championed by Bender's students and the generation succeeding him, was embodied most strikingly in the "Concern" movement. Concern scholars advocated another ecclesial-societal model which they argued was more faithful to the Anabaptist Vision and more useful to Mennonites seeking to implement that vision in the twentieth century.[6] 

     Stated succinctly, advocates of the Community movement apparently accepted the Anabaptist Vision's claims and developed their model of church and society to complement Bender's approach. Yet the next generation, though warmly embracing the Anabaptist Vision, rejected the Mennonite Community model as unfaithful and irrelevant to Bender's manifesto. Why did the Anabaptist Vision spawn such contrasting visions of church and society? Might the disagreements between these two movements be worth revisiting, as conversations regarding the appropriate relationship of the church and society continue to evoke interest today?

The Mennonite Community Movement

     The roots of the Mennonite Community movement pre-dated the publication of "The Anabaptist Vision." In the late 1930s sociologist J. Winfield Fretz's inquiries into Mennonite mutual aid practices marked the beginning of an emerging interest in Mennonite communities and their internal and external ethical relationships.[7]  In the decades which followed, historians, social scientists, business leaders and concerned lay people launched a significant series of studies and projects which assessed Mennonite communities and attempted to formulate a consistent approach to social thought. Never an academy-dominated initiative, the Community movement worked primarily through the lay-constituted Mennonite Community Association (MCA). Organized in 1946, the MCA presented its agenda through annual conferences; from 1947 to 1953 it also sponsored the magazine Mennonite Community, which served as the movement's primary mouthpiece.[8]  Beginning in 1950 the Mennonite Community Association joined with the similarly minded CESR in sponsoring an annual Conference on Christian Community Relations. These public gatherings drew significant lay participation and focused on a variety of concrete issues including fair labor practices, the church as employer, the ethical dilemmas of business people, an appropriate standard of living, racism, capital punishment, use of alcohol, and stewardship of wealth and natural resources. Meanwhile, under the thoughtful leadership of Guy F. Hershberger, the CESR sponsored creative projects such as placing student interns in industry and helping to establish an employee association to work cooperatively with management at a large Mennonite-owned firm.

     While the social ethics of the Community movement remained traditionally sectarian in their refusal to see the church as responsible for society, they broke new ground in advocating the church's responsibility to society. The Community movement, for example, helped to bring the words "justice" and "social justice" into the postwar Mennonite lexicon. Although still a suspect term among some Mennonites who feared that it would implicate the church in the use of force and thereby lead to the surrender of the principle of nonresistance, "justice" surfaced in Mennonite Community articles as early as 1948.[9]  It also appeared again prominently in the statement issued by the 1951 Conference on Christian Community Relations.[10]  At this gathering, co-sponsored by MCA and CESR, the conference approved a lengthy ten-point "Statement of Concerns" which urged the church to "acquire a better understanding of the principles of social justice contained in the Gospel of Christ," and it urged "preachers and teachers to study and set forth the social obligations expressed and implied in the teachings of the Old Testament prophets, of our Lord, and of all the apostles."[11] 

     But it was the Community movement's approach to social ethics which was fundamentally distinctive. The movement's method began with the affirmation that social ethics grow out of particular social settings and community patterns and that those particular settings must be the starting point for active Christian witness. Normative standards of scripture cannot be applied or understood theoretically apart from concrete human situations. Specific Mennonite communities, therefore, possessed ethical resources which were not only theological but also social and relational. As such, they offered not so much havens of withdrawal from the world but viable, valuable contexts in which to think ethically and to apply social justice principles in order to gain experience for subsequent engagement with surrounding society.

     Thus, advocates within the Community movement urged Mennonites to study themselves and their own communities as well as the wider society. Charting the full historical development of the church and larger society was the first step in beginning an authentic engagement with that society.[12]  Next, the Community movement supporters sought to create more equitable business relationships, racially integrated schools, service-oriented health facilities and other community institutions among church members-those "colonies of heaven," in the words of James Moffatt's translation of Philippians 3:20.[13]  This "internal" application then served as an experiential base from which "external" engagement could take place.

     This first Mennonite model for social involvement stressed the importance of historical and social contexts as well as the centrality of social relationships, structures and institutions in the life of any people-including the church. The church's witness to the world involved studying and developing its own experience in social organization and then bringing that experience into the public realm. The social ethics of the Community movement did not stress any specific form; rather they took form around the situation, institution or community at hand.

The Concern Movement

     The second major Mennonite vision for relating church and society was offered by a loose fellowship of young Mennonite church workers collectively known as the Concern group. Graduates of American Mennonite colleges, formed and informed by the Anabaptist Vision, the instigators of the Concern movement were living in postwar Europe where they were engaged in relief and mission work or graduate studies. The practical and intellectual challenges they faced in the classrooms and in the war-torn European context elicited energetic and creative ideological responses. In the spring of 1952 seven of these expatriates met for a two-week retreat in Amsterdam to share their thinking and concerns. Formal papers and informal discussion marked this and subsequent gatherings. The group also began to publish a series of pamphlets, called Concern: A Pamphlet Series for Questions of Christian Renewal. The first one appeared in 1954 and the series continued for seventeen additional issues, the last in 1971.

     The Concern group drew back from forming a new or separatist ecclesial body and consequently avoided any formal organization.[14]  During its first years, however, the movement brought an identifiable and sharply pointed critique of Mennonite relations with society and offered an alternative vision of Mennonite social ethics, aligned more closely, the group claimed, with the Anabaptist Vision.

     Concern supporters argued that the church had become acculturated to the point of no longer being fundamentally different from society; therefore it had surrendered its unique ability to engage in meaningful dialogue with the surrounding culture. This deadly compromise had been most damaging at the point of social and institutional acculturation.[15]  Concern participants feared that, like the early church, which had fallen prey to the pattern of the corpus christianum, the initially vibrant sixteenth-century Anabaptist wing of the church had succumbed to the second-generation formalism of a corpus mennonitarium. The Anabaptist Vision, they said, had degenerated into the Mennonite reality.[16]  North American Mennonite communities had hardened into closed, fossilized social systems. The recovery of the radical Anabaptist Vision had awakened this younger generation to an alternative vision of the church. But now, they announced, this vision was trapped in Mennonite communities, institutions and social patterns which could not deliver all that the Anabaptist Vision had promised. After all, as one of the Concern members wrote elsewhere, for the second generation "form determines substance."[17] 

     In the Concern scheme traditional Mennonite institutions and communities invariably produced social separation and cultural withdrawal, an emphasis on ethnicity, and thus barriers to serious social engagement. Implementing Anabaptist theology required radical Anabaptist forms. A genuine social ethic could be realized only within a churchly framework if the renewed community was unhooked from its degenerate history and its compromised social patterns. Thus, the Anabaptist Vision was a restitutionist call and its modern-day recovery demanded no less.

     Like the Community movement, the Concern vision was also a sectarian approach of sorts. The church was not responsible for society; yet, as with advocates of the Community movement, Concern supporters argued that the people of God had a responsibility to society. How was that responsibility best carried out? It definitely called for a church/society distinction, but Concern people insisted primarily on theological rather than sociological identity markers. The church could return to the theological stance of the sixteenth century only by shedding the cumbersome institutions and evolved social systems of more recent modern American life. In fact, Anabaptist theology could be fully recovered only at the expense of existing community patterns and church structures. An Anabaptist church needed to create first-generation members for each new generation, and do so by offering a clear religious alternative without the ethnic and traditional trappings of institutional Mennonite life. Actual Mennonite communities at mid-century served no positive purpose as the church met the world; they were solely a hindrance.

The Models Compared

     Thus, two postwar Mennonite options for relating the church and larger society stood in contrast: a Community vision and a Concern vision. The two alternatives were not entirely contradictory; both saw the church as central to God's mission, and both assumed to some degree the need for a sectarian stance vis--vis the world. Both had also chosen to accept and even embrace the church's responsibility to (though not for) society. But engagement for the Community movement began with the realities of given social and ecclesiastical communities, and led to the application of Christian social ethics within these contexts as a witness and invitation to the larger society. The Community vision began with traditional Mennonite ethnic enclaves and moved out from there to address specific needs of other communities. Regardless of the context, the movement's goal was to connect the social and the religious lives of people. The church's identity grew primarily out of its social uniqueness; its mission had to draw on that resource.

     On the other hand, for the Concern movement, established patterns of community life detracted from the work of the church since they often became confused with the church itself. In the Concern scheme the church had to be freed from its too limiting social-historical situation; it needed to operate independently of any particular social arrangement since its distinctive identity grew primarily out of its ideological uniqueness. Its mission was bound up in those terms.

     By the early 1960s the Concern movement discontinued its informal fellowship meetings, participants became increasingly involved in various occupational pursuits, and group members ultimately found themselves going in different directions. At about the same time, the Mennonite Community movement, long overshadowed by the Concern group, also began to lose energy. In 1966 its partner, the CESR, folded into another organization and by 1972 the Community movement in practical terms ceased to function and was all but forgotten.[18]  Although the Concern agenda had clearly been the more successful in shaping Mennonite thought and action, by the early 1970s both movements had run their courses.

     Several decades later a number of intriguing questions persist: What were the core disagreements between these two similar yet ultimately divergent visions? Were they really both Anabaptist visions?

     In at least two ways the Community and Concern visions differed in substance: in their philosophical approach to and use of history and in their understanding of social forms. Drawing on the restitutionist themes and underpinnings of the Anabaptist Vision, Concern movement activists adopted a largely ahistorical framework within which to create social ethics. The fallenness of the Mennonite reality offered few resources in reclaiming the sixteenth-century ideal. Principles from the biblical witness and the early Anabaptists needed to jump across several centuries in order to land, unsullied, in the modern world. A rejection of heavy-handed Mennonite traditionalism could easily become a general rejection of tradition. In the same way that the Anabaptist Vision could dismiss the medieval church and the mainline reformers,[19]  twentieth-century Anabaptist visionaries could easily dispense with the intervening experience of the unheroic church since the Reformation. Seen through these lenses, the Community vision seemed flawed from the start. Nothing from the historical experiences of Mennonite communities could contribute to the development of a meaningful social ethic. Then, too, the historical situation of wider society was completely relativized as it fell under a common sixteenth-century Anabaptist grid.

     The Mennonite Community movement, on the other hand, was more historically conscious even if, in the face of the critical rhetoric of the Anabaptist Vision, it tried not to be. Its vision worked within the community patterns and institutions of the church-fallible though they were-because those social systems were the result of the natural evolution of the church's life together. The Community movement insisted on the need to understand the surrounding culture as much as, if not more than, the culture of their sixteenth-century forebears. Studying and working within the established structures of a host society, or creating new structures patterned after existing ones, was a more authentic and helpful approach, according to its social vision. Even if such institutions tended toward traditionalism and ethnicity, they at least served as an authentic place to begin social transformation.

     Within the reigning Mennonite spirit of the 1940s and 1950s the Community movement at times tried to appropriate and work within the Anabaptist Vision framework of restitutionism, sixteenth-century normativity and the assumed degeneration of second-generation movements. This happened, for example, when a Community movement spokesman presented a response to racism with a paper entitled "Lessons from Anabaptist History for the Church Today"-regardless of the fact that the Anabaptists never spoke to racism in its modern form.[20]  In the end, however, the Community vision had to revert to its historical methodology. The movement's pronouncements against racism ultimately never drew on Anabaptist dictums but focused rather on the rise and development of slavery and racial inequality in North America, producing a dialectical critique with both biblical and historical evidence.[21] 

     Similarly, Community vision advocate Paul Erb began a lecture on the movement's rationale at the Conference on Community Life in 1951 with reference to the Mennonite Publishing House's recent reprinting of the classic collection of Mennonite martyr stories, The Martyrs' Mirror. These were indeed heroic stories of faith, and Erb might have proceeded in the fashion of the Concern movement to hold up the stories as models of Christian radicalism. Instead, he played down the significance of sixteenth-century stories for twentieth-century instruction. Although they are pillars of one expression of faithfulness, Erb said, "the difficulty that we face today is not quite the same type that our fore-fathers faced." In fact, Erb admitted, rather than being normative models, the martyrs were "more in a field of theory" for contemporary discussion.[22] 

     Such was typical of the Community vision's approach. No matter how Community advocates tried to co-opt the Anabaptist Vision's sixteenth-century normativity, their approach and method were too historical, too rooted in the ongoing experience of Mennonite life. To be sure, Guy F. Hershberger might spend a whole chapter on "Anabaptism and the Economic Order" in his social ethics text The Way of the Cross in Human Relations; but he then immediately devoted several following pages to an exercise in backpedaling, explaining why the many quotations of Menno Simons that he had just cited were not altogether helpful in formulating Mennonite economic ethics in the mid-twentieth century.[23]  Indeed, most of the book's economic conclusions flow from material in a subsequent chapter on "Modern Capitalism" and its effects. For the Community vision, only this approach made sense. Understanding and addressing modern economic issues or similar topics often required more attention to modern history than to Conrad Grebel.[24] 

Even though some writers and speakers within the Community movement and the Committee on Economic and Social Relations might publicly bemoan the wealth and acculturation of seventeenth-century Dutch and North German Mennonites, when they actually began to plan their own programs or to formulate position statements they addressed similar situations and dilemmas in the language of reformation rather than of restitution.

     The Concern and Community visions also diverged over questions of form and function. The Concern vision carried an implicit-and sometimes explicit-assumption that form determines function. Perceived New Testament and Anabaptist forms were universal models applicable anywhere. Proper social ethics thus grew out of given forms; and certain social settings might be unredeemable, worthy only of abolition. Their basic method of restitution held little room for reformation.

     Here again the Community vision was different. The Community movement worked with communities as they existed, even if they were obviously flawed. It did not assume a priority of form which demanded the adoption of a particular type of church or an anti-institutional stance. Rather than create a new society, activists in the Community movement worked to create ethical alternatives within a given social order. By modeling alternatives first within the church, the Community thinkers faced the questions of authentic form within given, concrete patterns. By addressing a wide variety of cultural issues beyond the church, they took the perspectives of Christian ethics to society, calling others to join them in working at positive constructions within established social frameworks.

Summary

     From the perspective of the Anabaptist Vision, the Concern movement was correct in its critical assessment of the Community movement's program and approach. The Community vision was not an Anabaptist vision; it was fundamentally a Mennonite one. Though it tried to reconcile its agenda with the dominant theology of the Anabaptist Vision, in the end the Community vision could not force an authentic, organic fit. As a result, the Mennonite Community vision was pushed to the sidelines and forgotten by a church enamored with the theology and axioms of a restitutionist Vision.

     But recognizing this historical development also poses a crucial question for the future. In light of some present Mennonite misgivings about the ahistorical and perfectionist irrelevance of the Anabaptist Vision,[25]  and amid stirring among some Mennonites for a new communitarian approach to social ethics,[26]  might the Mennonite Community movement deserve a second look-not because the Community vision offered the right answers (often its answers were far too rurally oriented), but because it was beginning to ask the right questions and to employ helpful historical and contextual methods?

     In addition, recent studies from the wider ecumenical world have challenged the assumption of the Concern movement that form and function must be harmonized within social ethics. Lutheran historian and theologian Mark Ellingsen systematically studied hundreds of statements on social ethics issued by church bodies from around the world between 1964 and 1990, including various Mennonite groups. He found no definite or direct correlation between ecclesiology and social ethics.[27]  The form of the church does not necessarily affect the way in which it engages society. Apparently a given set of social ethics can be built in many social contexts. Here is hope for the methods of reformation as opposed to those of restitution.

     In this light, might there be a place for a revived Mennonite Community movement? It is extremely doubtful that an official, reconstituted Mennonite Community organization would be of much benefit at this point. Yet its approach would be well worth re-examining and reconsidering as Mennonites on the eve of the twenty-first century continue to seek an authentic way of relating to broader society. Approaching culture by first studying the history of that culture would be a good first step. Being willing to work with and to recognize indigenously evolved institutions and structures would also allow the church to present a more authentic witness-true both to its own real, admittedly flawed heritage and true to the surrounding community. Further, the more contextual approach of the Community movement gives it greater relevance for a broad spectrum of Mennonite groups who do not always share a common historical development and are not always comfortable with the ahistorical normative ideal of the Anabaptist Vision. The Community movement method allows for different groups to approach society with their own backgrounds firmly in mind rather than with a theoretical restitutionist image as the singular standard.

     Where could the efforts of a renewed Community vision begin? Perhaps where they left off: racism, economic justice and stewardship of wealth and natural resources are issues as much with us in the 1990s as they were in the 1940s and 1950s.


[*] Steve Nolt is a graduate student in American History at the University of Notre Dame. 1. Especially for "Old" Mennonites, even though Bender probably conceived of its relevance more broadly. Return to Text

[2] . Harold S. Bender, "The Anabaptist Vision," Church History 13 (March 1944), 3, 23-24. Return to Text

[3] . Of course there were more than two visions of church and society afloat in the post-war years. Theologian J. Lawrence Burkholder, for example, presented an important social ethic sharply distinguishable from both visions discussed here. Yet during the time period considered in this paper Burkholder's views were suppressed and virtually silenced in "Old" Mennonite circles. His programmatic statement appeared in his 1958 Princeton dissertation, later published as The Problem of Social Responsibility from the Perspective of the Mennonite Church (Elkhart, Ind.: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 1989). See also his autobiographical reflections in Rodney J. Sawatsky and Scott Holland, eds., The Limits of Perfection: Conversations with J. Lawrence Burkholder (Waterloo, Ont.: Institute of Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies, 1993). In addition, many Mennonites of Russian background and immigration often spoke for another distinct tradition of approaching church and society. Since Bender's essay was largely written to an "Old" Mennonite constituency, this Russian Mennonite approach is omitted from the following discussion. Return to Text

[4] . Known as the Committee on Industrial Relations from 1939-1951. Return to Text

[5] . Little has appeared on the Mennonite Community movement. Consult the Menno-nite Community (1947-1953); Theron F. Schlabach, "To Focus a Mennonite Vision," in John Richard Burkholder and Calvin Redekop, eds., Kingdom, Cross, and Community: Essays on Mennonite Themes in Honor of Guy F. Hershberger (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1976); and archival collections at the Archives of the Mennonite Church (AMC), Goshen, Ind.-VII-26-1 (Mennonite Community Association) and I-3-7 (Committee on Economic and Social Relations). Return to Text

[6] . On the Concern movement, see the Concern pamphlet series; the spring 1990 issue of The Conrad Grebel Review and J. Lawrence Burkholder, "Concern Pamphlets Movement," ME 5: 177-80. Return to Text

[7] . J. Winfield Fretz, "Mutual Aid Among the Mennonites," MQR 13 (Jan. 1939), 28-58 and MQR 13 (July 1939), 187-209; and Fretz, "Mennonites and Their Economic Problems," MQR 14 (Oct. 1940), 195-213. Return to Text

[8] . Guy F. Hershberger, "The Mennonite Community," ME 3:619. 8. Millard Lind, "God and the Poor," Mennonite Community 2 (May 1948), 6-7. Unfortunately, because they omit the Mennonite Community movement and the Com-mittee on Economic and Social Relations, Leo Driedger and Donald B. Kraybill seem unaware of this significant "Old" Mennonite discussion of social justice, and mention it only in terms of the 1970s.-See Mennonite Peacemaking: From Quietism to Activism (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1994), 76, 85-86, 150-52 (and accompanying notes); the book does include a rather positive presentation of the Concern movement. Return to Text

[ Return to Text

[]]  10. The text appeared in Mennonite Community 5 (Nov. 1951), 17-19. Return to Text

[11] . Micah 6:8 was the sole sermon text for the 1956, 1957, 1959-1961 and 1964 Conferences of Christian Community Relations. Early Mennonite Community activist Millard Lind spent a lifetime studying justice as a biblical theme. Return to Text

[12] . J. Winfield Fretz, "A Methodology for Studying the Local Community," Proceedings of the First Conference on Mennonite Cultural Problems, . . . Aug. 7 and 8, 1942 (North Newton, Kan.: Bethel College Press, 1942), 26-34. Melvin Gingerich also stressed this point in his book for teens, Youth and Christian Citizenship (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1949). Return to Text

[13] . The Holy Bible: A New Translation by James Moffatt (New York: George Doran Co., 1926). This phrase was a favorite in the Community movement. Return to Text

[14] . The Concern movement's ambivalence toward institutions also mitigated against their creating an ongoing formal organization. Return to Text

[15] . A. Orley Swartzentruber, "An Estimate of Current American Mennonitism," Box 16, Hist. Mss. 1-171 (Guy F. Hershberger papers), AMC. Return to Text

[16] . John Howard Yoder's "Anabaptist Vision and Mennonite Reality," in A. J. Klassen, ed., Consultation on Anabaptist-Mennonite Theology (Fresno, Cal.: Council of Mennonite Seminaries, 1970) in many ways summed up the Concern movement's view of history. Return to Text

[17] . Ibid., 17. Return to Text

[18] . A reconstituted Mennonite Community Association organized around communal groups was rather different from the earlier movement. The CESR merged with the Peace Problems Committee to form the Peace and Social Concerns Committee. In 1954 the Mennonite Community magazine had merged with The Christian Monitor to form Christian Living, a forum for community and economic issues but increasingly given to family concerns. Return to Text

[19] . E.g., Bender, "Anabaptist Vision," 19: "They preferred to make a radical break with 1,500 years of history and culture if necessary . . . ." Return to Text

[20] . Papers of the Committee on Economic and Social Relations, Mennonite General Conference, I-3-7, 7/46, AMC. The paper was included in a compilation published later by Mennonite Central Committee Peace Section, 1964. Return to Text

[21] . See the 1951 statement, n. 10, above and the CESR-drafted "The Way of Christian Love in Race Relations," a statement adopted by Mennonite General Conference, Aug. 24, 1955, at Hesston, Kan. 22. Paul Erb, "Why a Conference on Industrial Relations?" Box 6, VII-26-1 (Mennonite Community Association papers), AMC. Return to Text

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[]]  23. Guy F. Hershberger, The Way of the Cross in Human Relations (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1958), 220-28. Return to Text

[24] . Another of many examples comes from the CESR minutes of Dec. 13, 1952 in which the speaker first "pointed out that the early Anabaptists set forth certain principles of love and brotherhood as guides to Christian living today." Yet he quickly admitted that "the complexity of modern society and especially the problems of an industrial society call for new interpretations of the Anabaptist vision." "Report of a Meeting of Mennonite Manufacturers . . . December 13, 1952," I-3-7 (Committee on Economic and Social Relations papers) 3/45 Minutes and Reports, 1949-1959, AMC. Return to Text

[25] . For an insightful analysis of the ahistorical approach of "recovered" (neo-) Anabaptism, see Dennis D. Martin, "Nothing New Under the Sun? Mennonites and History," The Conrad Grebel Review 5 (Winter 1987), 1-27. A theological critique of the ahistorical nature of (neo-)Anabaptist theology is found in David Wayne Layman, "The Inner Ground of Christian Theology: Church, Faith, and Sectarianism," Journal of Ecumeni-cal Studies 27 (Summer 1990), 480-503. Both articles drew printed responses in their respective journals. Return to Text

[26] . Ted Koontz, "Mennonites and 'Postmodernity,'" MQR 63 (Oct. 1989), 401-27. Return to Text

[27] . Mark Ellingsen, The Cutting Edge: How Churches Speak on Social Issues (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1993), 131-52, esp. 143-45. The Mennonite Quarterly Review Anabaptist Visions of Church and Society