Anabaptist Christians Have Been Around For AlmostYears But What Does Anabaptism Look Like When Not Clothed In Mennonite Or Amish Traditions Writing From Great Britain, Stuart Murray Peels Back The Layers To Reveal The Core Components Of Anabaptism And What They Mean For Faith In His Context And Ours It S A Way Of Following Jesus That Challenges, Disturbs, And Inspires Us, Summoning Us To Wholehearted Discipleship And Worship Read This Book, And Catch A Vision For Living A Life Of Radical Faith Good introduction to Anabaptism This is a good place to start for those interested in Anabaptism Murray provides a concise history of the movement and the priorities of Anabaptists throughout the centuries justice, peace, community, following Jesus, etc The only negative of this book, in my mind, is that it felt extremely brief Perhaps this is the point of a book on the bare essentials of Anabaptism Anyone who is interested in going much deeper and learningabout the theology of Anabaptism might be better off looking elsewhere. This book is written from the view point of a neo Anabaptist That is a person who comes from a background of main line Christianity, has witnessed the slow demise of the traditional world view of imperial Christendom, and has concluded that the heart of true Christianity can be found in the Anabaptist tradition The neo Anabaptist may appear to embrace their discovery of Anabaptism with an enthusiasm of a new convert which those of us who were raised within the Anabaptist tradition may find surprising, but gratifying However, the neo Anabaptists are not necessarily lining up to join the churches that trace their ancestry to Anabaptist origins Many are willing to go by titles such as Methodist Anabaptist, Catholic Anabaptist or even Agnostic Anabaptist The title of the book traces its origin to frustration with the traditions that many traditionally Anabaptist churches, such as Mennonite or Amish, have picked up over the years that have little to do with the basic concepts of Anabaptism Thus, this book attempts to define Anabaptism that is naked of cultural or ethnic traditions There are some shades of differences in core values between neo Anabaptists and those of historical Anabaptists It s interesting to compare the core values stated in this book with those of the Schleitheim Confession of 1527 However, the spirit of first loyalty to a Jesus centered faith over that of cultural, national and or political obligations remains The differences are a result of changed cultural circumstances over the past 500 years For example, the issue of pastors and leaders having high ethical standards was important in 1527 because of prevailing immorality among the state church clergy of the 16th Century Such an issue is still important, but it s an issue that neo Anabaptists are not likely to included in core values of today The neo Anabaptists of today arelikely to emphasize the community of believers working together to determine how a Jesus centered life is lived in the context of the 21st Century post Christendom world And this, of course, is still consistent with the overall spirit of the 1527 Schleitheim Confession I won t take time here to list the seven core values of Anabaptism as listed in this book you can read the book for yourself But I will discuss two statements with which some Anabaptist may be surprised The first is the issue of nonviolence The author acknowledges that the peace tradition, and pacifism or nonviolence has been one of the distinguishing features of the Anabaptist tradition But he goes on to state that, not all Anabaptists today are pacifists Well, technically he is correct, but many within the Anabaptist tradition would maintain that the peace emphasis is a central distinguishing feature of Anabaptist thinking, and that not accepting that feature is a compromised version of Anabaptism The second is the practice of adult baptism The author indicates that he seriously considered not including adult baptism as an important practice for today s Anabaptists That is ironic since the name anabaptist originated from the practice of 16th Century believers who asked to be baptized again as adults because they didn t think their baptism as a baby was legitimate The thinking of the author is that since western society no longer considers failure to baptize infants as a sign of treason against the state, that its significance as a religious symbol is diminished as well But in the end the author included adult baptism as a traditional symbol that remains important to Anabaptists of today The author is willing to recognize that there are weaknesses and limitations inherent with the Anabaptist tradition There s even a section titled, Anabaptism Warts and All But the author remains generally optimistic about the future of Anabaptism He sees a future in which traditional Christianity will become increasingly marginalized The author believes the fading influence of Christianity to be a positive change because it frees Christians from the inferred obligation to be a significant player within western culture Thus freed it can become what the Christian Church should have been in the first place The author sees the Anabaptist tradition as an unusually helpful lens through which to look at Scripture and discern the genuine heart of Christian faith and belief. I ve been seeing increasing mentions of Anabaptists recently Like many American Christians, probably the only associative reference I have of Anabaptists are groups such as the Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers This book was a good introduction on some of the history, the core values, and how these values are practiced in contemporary society.The title The Naked Anabaptist comes from the purpose of the book to strip away group and cultural accouterments that are associated with forms of Anabaptism and get at the core values that are shared across most, if not all, who belong to it There are seven such values, and among them are what is likely familiar to many Christians peacemaking, community, and social justice There are others that are less familiar, but no less important such as methods of reading and interpreting scripture engaging the public sphere and ministry according to gifts, not culturally and culturally informed theologically based roles aka, gender roles, women s roles in the church, etcOne of the key principles used throughout the book is the distinction between Christianity and Christendom The first is faithful to Jesus and gospel the second is a creation of literally men The former is the first two to three centuries of the Church the latter is what happened when Church and Rome came together and continues to be a priority of most Christian groups and denominations today Even among those who claim separation of church and state, many look with nostalgia on the time when the public sphere had the imprimatur of the Church and vice versa, and the hierarchical structure taken from secular power reign in most formal church organizations Anabaptists are very much for Christianity, but are strongly against Christendom.The book ends with a chapter on some of the criticisms and critiques that Anabaptism has received, some of its shortcomings and dangers The book is evangelistic, but not proselytizing i.e., it seeks to spread the good news that is found in Anabaptist values And there are many There are parts of the original gospel, hidden and minimized in many forms ofmainstream Christianity, that are emphasized in Anabaptist values These can provide correctives to some skewed expressions of Christianity, and offer hope and a new vision to Christians disillusioned by what they see and don t see in current forms of popular Christianity But it does not seek to turn people into Anabaptists The room is big enough for many strands and expressions of Christianity Anabaptist values can be incorporated into existing frameworks, providing arobust andgenuine expressions of what it means to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ This review is based on ARC supplied by the publisher through NetGalley. No wonder I like this book My general Baptist background kindles in me warm affections for my Anabaptist cousins Add to that my Anabaptist studies under the tutelage of Wayne Pipkin in Z rich and my interest in the theology ethics of James William McClendon, Jr and my baptist convictions are fanned into flame On top of it all, T.B Maston s Christ centered, discipleship ethics the focus of my doctoral studies fueled my passions for a life and teachings of Jesus focus BTW Maston was one of McClendon s professors I like the fact that The Naked Anabaptist puts this third way back into the conversation because the baptist perspective has something significant to say about following after Jesus in a postmodern post Christian world It speaks to issues of personal discipleship in the company of the community of faith within the context of culture and adds a balancing corrective to an evangelicalism too often dominated by Reformed scholasticism.
Stuart Murray Williams works as a trainer and consultant under the auspices of the Anabaptist Network Based in Bristol, he travels widely in the UK and overseas and works with local churches, mission agencies, denominational leaders, conferences and individuals He has worked with at least 25 denominations in recent years His particular areas of expertise are in Church planting Emerging church Urban mission Mission in post Christendom Anabaptist history and theologyUnder the name Stuart Murray, he has written books on a number of topics, including The Challenge of the Citypublished by Sovereign World in 1994Explaining Church Disciplinepublished by Sovereign World in 1995Church Planting Laying Foundationspublished by Paternoster Press in 1998Hope from the Margins jointly with Anne Wilkinson Hayes published by Grove Books in 2000Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Traditionpublished by Pandora Press in 2000Beyond Tithingpublished by Paternoster Press in 2000Coming Home Stories of Anabaptists in Britain and Ireland jointly with Alan Kreider published by Pandora Press in 2000Church Planting Past, Present and Future jointly with George Lings published by Grove Books in 2003Post Christendom Church and Mission in a Strange New Worldpublished by Paternoster in 2004Church after Christendompublished by Paternoster in 2005Changing Mission Learning from the Newer Churchespublished by Churches Together in Britain Ireland CTBI in 2006Church Planting in the Inner City with Juliet Kilpin published by Grove books in 2007Planting Churches A Framework for Practitionerspublished by Paternoster in 2008
- 191 pages
- Naked Anabaptist
- Stuart Murray
- 01 March 2018 Stuart Murray