Professor of History, MHL Director, MQR Editor
Read interview with John Roth.
My current passion is research and writing on the global Anabaptist-Mennonite church and promoting several projects related to the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA). Currently, I am writing a small book on the history of Mennonites in Indonesia to help provide context for North Americans who may be visiting Indonesia in July, 2021 to attend the Mennonite World Conference global assembly.
In June 2019, ISGA hosted an international conference (“Power and Preservation: Enabling Access to the Sources Behind Our Stories”) that brought 30 historians, archivists, and church leaders from 12 different countries together for a focused conversation on gathering and preserving sources that are crucial to the history of the global Anabaptist-Mennonite church.
The ISGA has given leadership to the Bibliotheca Digital Anabautista, a digital library of theological sources to support distance learning courses in Spanish-speaking contexts, as well as the Global Anabaptist Wiki , a website that enables Anabaptist groups from around the world to provide information about themselves and to post relevant texts, photos and archival sources. And we recently became the institutional home of GAMEO–the Global Anabaptist-Mennonite Encyclopedia On-line.
In February 2017 the ISGA published Global Anabaptist Profile–a survey undertaken in partnership with Mennonite World Conference that focused on the faith, beliefs, and worship practices of 24 Anabaptist-Mennonite groups from around the world.
The ISGA also sponsors the “Bearing Witness Stories Project,” a collaborative project to collect and shares stories of Christian faithfulness amid adversity within the Anabaptist-Mennonite global family. The first publication from this project, Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship (Plough, 2015) is now available in print. In addition, the ISGA supports a “texts in translation” series that helps to make some of the creative theological and historical work being done outside of North America accessible to English-speaking readers. Our first volume–John Driver’s Life Together in the Spirit: A Radical Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century–is now available (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We hope that all of this projects will deepen a sense of fellowship and mutual connectedness within the global family of faith.
Watch for more information about the ISGA and its projects in the coming months!
HIST 204 RW: What is the Good Life? Why do humans long for utopia, yet consistently fail to produce it? To what extent do we assert our individual freedom in creating the communities we live in, and to what extent do we recognize our lives as resting on forces beyond our control? Is it still possible, in our postmodern context, to anticipate the future with hope? Drawn from five centuries of utopian thought, the readings, discussions and assignments in this course will focus on three general themes: human nature, human community, and human encounters with Transcendence. A Religious World course in the Goshen Core.
HIST 102 SW: Becoming Modern Between the Fall of Rome in the 5th century and the French Revolution late in the 18th century, Western culture assumed its distinctive character. One common way of describing the trajectory of that history is “the rise of modernity.” This Social World course offers an overview of the emergence of modernity in the Western tradition. Along the way, we will also raise questions about the shadow sides of modern culture. What was gained and what was lost in the adoption of modern ways of thinking and acting? Throughout the course, students will be challenged to reflect more carefully about the assumptions that shape their lives. Along the way, we will ask hard questions about agency, responsibility, and choices. And we will explore the foundational role of telos in the traditions and choices that structure our lives.
HIST 304: Renaissance and Reformation. Topical survey of European civilization in the period from about 1300 to 1550. Intellectual, cultural and religious changes receive most attention, along with assessment of the impact and relevance of the era for modern and post-modern life.
CORE 171 RW. GC Sem: World Christianity. Why is Christianity growing so rapidly in most parts of the world while it appears to be declining in Europe and North America? This course will investigate assumptions about secularization and globalization. It will look especially at Catholicism, African Indigenous Churches, Pentecostalism, and the Anabaptist-Mennonite church. Students will participate in interpreting data gathered in primary research by the professor. A Religious World course in the Goshen Core.
HIST 315: War and Peace in Twentieth Century Europe. Exploration of major European political, cultural, intellectual and economic developments since the 1890s. Major themes include; modernism, the onset of totalitarianism and totalitarian regimes in Europe and the Soviet Union, war as an agent of social change, the Cold War, the dissolution of Soviet-style communism in Eastern Europe and peace-making efforts throughout the century.
HIST 318: Anabaptist-Mennonite History. Introduction to Mennonite history and thought, with particular attention devoted to the contemporary global Anabaptist-Mennonite church. Special attention given to distinctive Anabaptist religions ideas, changes in Mennonite religious ideas and practice in Europe, migrations, and contrasts in social-communal practices among Mennonite and related groups.
Classics of the Radical Reformation reference council (Aug. 17), Elkhart, IN; keynote at Oregon Mennonite Historical Society, 3 presentations on Global Anabaptism at Zion Mennonite Church (Sept. 22-24), Salem, OR; “On Being Wrong,” GC Chapel (Sept. 26); Goshen, IN; Amish Historians meeting (Sept. 27), Nappanee, IN; “The Holiness of Beauty,” sermon at Bev Lapp’s installation at AMBS (Oct. 19), Elkhart, IN; Planning mtg for MWC/WCRC ecumenical dialogue (Nov. 10-12), Geneva, Switzerland; planning meeting for MWC Renewal, (Nov. 16-19); Heredia, Costa Rica; 3 public presentations and 1 sermon on Global Anabaptist church (Jan. 18-20), Lendrum Mennonite Church, Edmonton, AB; 2 public presentation and 1 sermon on Global Anabaptist church themes, Portland Mennonite Church (Feb. 23-24), Portland, OR; external reader/PhD diss defense for Katrina Moss–Conrad Grebel University College (March 12), Kitchener, ON; “The Anabaptist-Mennonite Churches of Indonesia,” Michiana Anabaptist Historians (March 23), Elkhart, IN; “Die ‘Renewal 2027’-Dekade der Mennonitischen Weltkonferenz und die Herausforderung von Erneuerung in der täuferisch-mennonitischen Tradition, keynote address at “International Colloquium on Renewal Movements and Anabaptist History: Reformation Commemorations – Renewal – Right Remembering,” Bienenberg Conference Center (March 27-March 29), Liestal, Switzerland; planned and moderated symposium of 8 Anabaptist scholars on current debates in Swiss Brethren historiography (March 31), Liestal Switzerland; external reader, Eric Schnitger’s PhD dissertation defense–Fuller Theological Seminary (April 3), Goshen, IN; coordinated day-long international conference/MWC Renewal 2019 event (April 6), Heredia, Costa Rica; MWC Ex. Comm mtgs, San Jose, Costa Rica; hosted annual GAMEO management board meeting (May 6-7), Goshen, IN; coordinated MWC-WCRC ecumenical dialogue planning meeting (May 11-13), Zurich, Switzerland; 2 lectures, 2 pastor seminars, 1 sermon on Global Anabaptist church themes (May 21-23), Providence Seminary and Canadian Mennonite University (May 21-23), Winnipeg, MB; planned/hosted ISGA conference “Power and Preservation: Enabling Access to the Sources Behind Our Stories” (June 17-21), Goshen, IN; MWC Commission mtgs (June 22-29), Schoorl, Netherlands.
Recipient of the Washington Theological Consortium 2018 Ecumenism Award (Feb. 13, 2018), “for outstanding contributions to the Mennonite-Lutheran dialogue, scholarship, and leadership in the wider cause of Christian unity.”
Delegate to the MCUSA general assembly (July 4-8); seminar on MWC Renewal 2027 (July 6), Orlando, FL; Menn scholars retreat (Aug. 10-12), Sturgis, MI: organized “Word, Spirit and the Renewal of the Church” Believers Church Conference (Sept. 14-17), Goshen, IN; “Menno to Muenster,” Community of Christ conference (Sept. 22-24), Nauvoo, IL; planning trip to Kenya for Renewal 2027 (Oct. 11-18), Kisumu, Kenya; co-organized “Remembering Muted Voices: Conscience, Dissent, Resistance and Civil Liberties in World War I Through Today,” (Oct. 19-21), National WWI Museum, Kansas City, MO; “Introduction to Anabaptist/MHL,” Andrews University class visit (Oct. 27); “Renewal 2027/Commemorating 500 Years of Anabaptism” (Oct. 29), College Mennonite Church SS; “An Anabaptist Perspective on Luther’s 95 Theses,” keynote address at Hanover College (Oct. 31), Hanover, IN; meeting with General Secretaries of the Global Christian Churches (Nov. 7-12), Bogota, Columbia; “Mennonite-Lutheran Reconciliation,” (Jan. 14), Christ the King Lutheran Church, South Bend, IN; “Text and Tradition: Encountering the Bible as an Anabaptist Community,” six presentations as part of the Bethesda Mennonite Church Bible Series (Jan. 26-28), Henderson, NB; (Feb. 13), Figel Lectures on Christian Unity, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA.; 2018 Ecumenism Award of the Washington Theological Consortium (Feb. 13); organized “Voices of Conscience” exhibit, Good Library (Feb. 18-April 8); “Anabaptism and the Reformation” 3 keynote lectures, Fresno Pacific University (Feb. 27-March 1), Fresno, CA; lecture/book discussion at Middlebury Public Library / Roland Bainton, Here I Stand (March 13), Middlebury, IN; Anabaptist Identity Conference (March 16-17), Mt. Hope, OH; Conference on Mennonite Higher Education, Eastern Mennonite University (March 23-24), Harrisonburg, VA; MWC Faith and Life Commission (April 14-19) and MWC General Council meetings (April 23-28), Limuru, Kenya; MWC Renewal 2027 (April 20-22), Kisumu, Kenya; lecture/book discussion at Middlebury Public Library / Adam Nicolson, God’s Secretaries: The Translation of the KJV (May 8), Middlebury, IN; GAMEO management board (May 11-12), Kitchener, ON; “From Kisumu to Jerusalem: Why the Global Church Matters” (June 3), Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church, Goshen, IN.
“Radical Reformation,” NEH Teaching the Reformation Seminar, Calvin College – 5 sessions (July 18-19); ecumenical guest at the ELCA assembly, New Orleans, LA (Aug. 9-11); trip to Augsburg (MWC), Strassburg (LWF), Bruges (“Sixteenth Century Studies Conference) (Aug. 14-21); GC Pastor’s Academy, Merry Lea Environmental Center (Sept. 21); trip to Nairobi/Kisumu, Kenya (MWC – Renewal 2027) (Sept. 28-Oct. 5); MHS Strategic Planning (Oct. 15); “Reflections on Voting” Bethel College, N. Newton, Kans (Nov. 7); trip to Augsburg, Germany [MWC Commissions] (Feb. 9-20); Bearing Witness Steering Group, Goshen, IN (Feb. 24-25); keynote speech and 4 workshops, Lancaster Mennonite Schools 75th anniversary (March 3-5); “Renewal 2027,” College Mennonite Church SS class (March 12); Middlebury Public Library, lecture/discussion on All Quiet on the Western Front (March 14); presentation to Menn. Historical Society of BC, Abbotsford, BC (March 17-19)teaching visit with nine Ana-Menn house fellowship in Holguín, Cuba (April 21-27); “How to Commemorate a Division?” presentation at the Luther and the Rise of Pluralism conference, Wittenberg, Germany (May 11); fraternal visit to Bruderhof at Bad Klosterlausnitz, Germany (May 13-14); Pastor’s Academy, Merry Lea Environmental Center (May 24); convened the Global Anabaptist-Mennonite Scholars Symposium, Goshen College (May 30-June 1); “Crossing the Line: Women of Anab. Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries,” Harrisonburg, VA (June 22-25)
“Anabaptism/Teaching that Transforms,” Lancaster (PA) Mennonite Schools – 3 sessions (Sept. 4); “Tagung über Mennoniten in der NS-Zeit,” Mennonitische Geschichtsverein, Münster, Germany (Sept. 25-29); Faithbuilders Educational Programs, Guys Mills, PA – accreditation visit (Oct. 23); “Just Peacemaking: Christian Pacifism as a Form of Political Responsibility,” LWF Reformation in Global Perspectives, Windhoeck, Namibia (Oct. 27-Nov. 3); Conrad Grebel College (Ont)., Ana-Menn textbook review committee (Nov. 13-15); “The Earth is the Lord’s: Sharing the Anabaptist Story in the 21st Century,” Hopewell (IN) Mennonite Church (Nov. 22); “The Global Anabaptist Movement and its Meaning in the 21st Century,” keynote + 5 presentations, Korean Anabaptist Conference, Seoul, Korea (Jan. 20-25); “Who is Jesus?: Christian Convictions, Religious Toleration, and the Future of the Christian Faith,” Eastern Mennonite (VA) University – chapel (Feb. 5); “Taproot or Rhizome? Retelling Brethren and Mennonite Stories as if the Global Church Mattered,” Valley Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center, Harrisonburg, VA – banquet (Feb. 5); MWC Executive Committee and Faith/Life Commission, Salatiga, Indonesia (Feb. 12-19); Virginia Mennonite Conf. Minister’s Retreat, Williamsburg, VA – 5 sessions (Feb. 26-28); “Paying it Forward: Stewardship in the Anabaptist Tradition,” Everence seminar, Kidron, OH (April 7); “The Beauty of Holiness,” Eastern Mennonite Seminary Commencement (April 30); “Understandings of Art and Beauty in the Anabaptist Tradition,” Dandelion Seed Conference, Syracuse, IN (May 21); “The Earth is the Lord’s: Sharing the Anabaptist Story in the 21st Century,” Salem (OH) Mennonite Church (May 22); Plough Publishing, NYC (May 23-24); “Declaring What We Have Seen and Heard,” South Central Conference Assembly – 3 sessions (June 10-11); “Expressing Our Faith in a Complicated World: The Beauty of Holiness,” Whitestone (Hesston, KS) Mennonite Church (June 12); “Without Spot or Wrinkle: Discipline, Separation and Authority in the Mennonite Tradition,” Believers Church Conference (Acadia Uni/Wolfville, Nova Scotia) – keynote address (June 22-25)
Speaking Engagements/Travel/ISGA work: Met with LWF “Task Force on the Mennonite Action,” Utrecht, Netherlands (July 29-31); “Shaking Historicism: Reflections of a ‘Confessional’ Historian,” paper given at a symposium in honor of Constantin Fasolt, Uni. of Chicago (Sept. 13); attended “The Church and Post-Christian Culture,” Missio Alliance conf, Harrisburg, PA (Sept. 19-20); Bearing Witness Steering Committee, Goshen, IN (Oct. 3-5); “World War I: Dissent, Activism and Transformation,” Georgian Court Uni. (Oct. 17-18); Represented MWC at Consultation on Global Education, Fresno Pacific Uni (Oct. 20-21); preached for Mission Sunday, Orrville (OH) Menn. Church (Nov. 2); spoke at CMC’s Men’s Luncheon, Goshen (Nov. 19); evening presentations on Anabaptist History, Riverview Conservative Mennonite Church, White Pigeon, MI (Oct. 5; Nov. 2; Dec. 7); preached at Hively Mennonite, Elkhart (Jan 25); presentation at Mennohof (“Paying It Forward: Joyful Stewardship in the Anabaptist Tradition,” Jan 25); “Vision of the Future of the Church,” East Goshen Mennonite (Feb. 8); 4 keynote presentations at the Canadian Association of Mennonite Schools conference, Winnipeg, MB (Feb. 11-13); presentation on MWC at College Mennonite Church (Feb. 15); “Being the Body Together? What are we Learning from Interchurch Relations that can help us be church together” North Goshen Mennonite Church (April 11); Behind the Scenes of MWC Assembly 16,” College Mennonite Church (April 15); 3 keynote presentations at the Illinois Mennonite Conference Assembly, (April 17-18); “MWC/LWF Reconciliation: Its History and Significance,” retired Lutheran pastors, Grace Lutheran Church, Chicago (May 12); research at the Lutheran Ecumenical Institute, Strasbourg (May 20-21); planning meetings for MWC, Vienna and Hamburg (May 22-27); Hosted Karl and Doris Kienitz (Brazil) for research in MHL (June 13- July 18); supervised work of Tim Litwiller on MWC-related video projects in the Maple Scholars program (June 1- July 31); Workshop on Ecumenism, MCUSA convention, Kansas City, July 2.
“Radical and Dissenting Groups, 1517-1650,” Cambridge History of Theology (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)
“The Anabaptist Vision of Politics: The Church, Not the State, Gives History its Meaning,” Plough Quarterly Magazine (April 2020), 7-20.
“Die «Renewal 2027» – Dekade der Mennonitischen Weltkonferenz und die Herausforderung von Erneuerung in der tauferischmennonitischen Tradition,” Mennonitica Helvetica 42 (2019), 158 -166.
Was heißt „mündig leben“ aus der Tradition der Mennoniten heraus? Gewagt! (Weierhof: Mennonitsche Geschichtsverein, 2020), 62.
“Foreword,” in Anabaptism in Outline, ed. Walter Klaassen, 2nd ed. (Walden, NY: Plough Publishing House, 2019).
“William Henry Angas Encounters the Mennonites: How Nineteenth-Century Palatine Mennonites Became Protestants,” in Crossing Baptist Boundaries: A Festschrift in Honor of William Henry Brackney, ed. Erich Geldbach (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2019), 242-262.
“Foreword,” in Layton B. Friesen, ‘Seditions, Confusion and Tumult’: Early Anabaptism and its Threat to Society (Steinbach, MB: EMM Publishers, 2019).
“’Without Spot or Wrinkle’: The Tendency toward Separatism in the Mennonite Tradition … and a Vision for a “Rhizomic” Church,” Separationism and the Believers Church Tradition, ed. William Brackney and John D. Roth (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2019), 66-84.
New translation, foreword and annotations of: Martin Luther, Obs K[r]iegs leutte auch ynn seligem stande seyn kuenden [“Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved?”] and Vom Kriege wider die Türcken [“On War Against the Turks”], for The Annotated Luther: Fortress Annotated Study Edition, vol. 5: Christian Life in the World, ed. Hans Hillerbrand, Kirsti Stjerna, Timothy Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017), 183-233, 335-389;
“Hoffman, Melchior” and “Anabaptists/Spiritualists” in Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Tradition, ed. Timothy Wengert, Robert Kolb, Jonathan Strom, Mary Jane Haemig, Mark Mattes, and Mark Granquist (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2017).
“Radical and Dissenting Groups, 1517-1650,” Cambridge History of Theology (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)
“How to Commemorate a Division? Reflections on the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation and its Relevance for the Global Anabaptist-Mennonite Church Today,” Mennonite Quarterly Review (January, 2017), 5-36.
“500 Years After the Reformation Churches Can Still Reform,” The Mennonite (January, 2017), 31-33, 35; “Global Anabaptism: Stories from the Global Church” [monthly column in The Mennonite];
“Historical Conditions of Mennonite Peacebuilding Approaches: Global Anabaptism and Neo-Anabaptism,” in Andrew Klager, ed. From Suffering to Solidarity: The Historical Seeds of Mennonite Interreligious, Interethnic, and International Peacebuilding (Eugene, Ore.: Pickwick Publications, 2015), 90-114.
“The Limits of Confessionalization: Social Discipline, the Ban, and Political Resistance Among Swiss Anabaptists, 1550-1700,” Mennonite Quarterly Review (October, 2015), 517-538.
“The Emergence of Mennonite Peacebuilding in an International Perspective: Global Anabaptism and Neo-Anabaptism,” Mennonite Quarterly Review (April 2015), 229-252.
Editor and project manager for a new edition of John Driver, Life Together in the Spirit: Radical Spirituality in the 21st Century (Plough Publishing, 2015).
“Global Anabaptism: Stories from the Global Church” [monthly column in The Mennonite]
“Global Window” [The Mennonite World Review] – ended in January, 2016
Where the People Go: Community, Generosity, and the Story of Everence (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2020)
Separationism and the Believers Church Tradition, ed. William Brackney and John D. Roth (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2019)
Global Anabaptist Profile: Belief and Practice in 24 Mennonite World Conference Churches (with Conrad Kanagy and Elizabeth Miller) (Goshen, IN: ISGA, 2017).
[translated from the German]: Hanna Schott, Love in a Time of Hate: The Story of Magda and Andre Trocme and the Village that Said No to Nazi Hate (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2017).
Constantine Revisited: Engaging Peter Leithart’s Defending Constantine, ed. John D. Roth (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2013).
Teaching That Transforms: Why Anabaptist-Mennonite Education Matters (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2011). [Spanish translation, 2015]
John Driver, Life Together in the Spirit: A Radical Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century (Goshen, Ind.: ISGA, 2011) [editor/publisher]
Healing Memories: Reconciling in Christ. Report of the Lutheran-Mennonite International Study Commission (Strasbourg: Mennonite World Conference / Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 2010); German translation: Heilung der Erinnerungen—Versöhnung in Christus. Bericht der Internationalen lutherisch-mennonitischen Studienkommission. [co-written with Timothy Wengert and other members of the dialogue team]
Täufer und Reformierte im Disput: Texte des 17. Jahrhunderts über Verfolgung und Tolerenz aus Zürich und Amsterdam. Hrsg. Philipp Wälchli, Urs B. Leu and Christian Scheidegger, unter mitarbeit von John D. Roth (Zurich: Achius Verlag, 2010)
Practices: Mennonite Worship and Witness (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2008)
A Companion to Anabaptism and Spiritualism, 1521-1700, ed. John D. Roth and James Stayer (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2007)
Stories: How Mennonites Came to Be (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2006)
Beliefs: Mennonite Faith and Practice (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2005). [Korean trans., 2016]
Choosing Against War: A Christian View (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2002). [Trans. into Korean and German]
Letters of the Amish Division: A Sourcebook, trans. and ed. by John D. Roth. 2nd edition (Goshen, IN: Mennonite Historical Society, 1993, 2002).
Engaging Anabaptism: Conversations with a Radical Tradition, ed. John D. Roth (Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 2001).
Migrant Muses: Mennonite/s Writing in the U.S. (Goshen, IN: Mennonite Historical Society, 1998). Co-editor (along with Ervin Beck).
Refocusing a Vision: Shaping Anabaptist Character in the 21st Century, John D. Roth, editor (Goshen, Ind.: Mennonite Historical Society, 1995).
Costa Rica (Fall, Spring, Summer 1995-1996)