Mennonites and their faith


#1

My co-worker is a Mennonite and thinks his relegion is the perfect one because he claims they have the largest missionaries throughout the world that are good deeds and spreading the word or God.
I do know a little about how the Amish broke off from the Mennonites. We have a very large Amish and Mennonite community 20 miles from my home town…But does anyone in this forum know how their relegion compares to any other protestant based one?


#2

Mennonites, like other Anabaptists (Amish, Hutterites, etc.) have several unique beliefs that distinguish them from Protestants and Catholics. (They are not, and should not be considered Protestant, by the way… major historical distinctions…)

They believe in a “believer’s baptism,” that is, adult baptism only, following confession of sins, repentence, and a public recognition by their church that they are ready to be baptized.

They are pacifists–no violence, and no war is justifiable. Neither is military service.

They believe in complete separation of church and state. Nearly all refuse to vote or participate in government.

To differing degrees ,(the Amish more severely) , they believe in excommunication of members who decide not to follow the teachings of their church any more. For the Amish, this entails “shunning”–completely cutting off that person socially and practically until they repent.

While this is not a theological tenet, many Anabaptists, especially the Mennonites, are extremely social-minded, and participate in or organize massive relief efforts and programs worldwide.


#3

You said they have the “largest missionary”. If that means numbers of missionaries - I disagree.:tiphat:


#4

My best friend is a Mennonite and I spend a lot of time with them. They are a bit more lax on the no military service aspect as well as the voting aspect. Other than that, they believe like any normal evangelical denomination ( of course they all differ on many beliefs but they are the closest to evangelical) They do work hard for overseas missionary work and I have worked on some projects with them a few times myself. Very nice, loving people, only misled.


#5

[quote=maendem]Mennonites, like other Anabaptists (Amish, Hutterites, etc.) have several unique beliefs that distinguish them from Protestants and Catholics. (They are not, and should not be considered Protestant, by the way… major historical distinctions…)

[/quote]

maendem–On what basis do you say that Mennonites and other Anabaptists “are not and should not be considered Protestant”. My understanding is that historically, they trace their history back to the fall out of the Reformation in Switzerland and Germany. How are they not Protestants? They may have their differences but they very much come from the same historical and theological disputes of the 16th century.


#6

You are right to say that Anabaptism sprang out of the Reformation–that is, the general sociopolitical reaction to abuse in the Church and a re-evaluation of Church teaching and practices. In this climate, several prominent voices, Luther the most vehement, perhaps, articulated their concerns. Jacob Hutter (Hutterites) and Menno Simons (Mennonites) were more or less contemporaries of Luther.

Although they certainly disagreed with the Church, and in this way might be considered “protestant,” they had no interest in reforming the Church as did Luther (originally) but envisioned a return to what they imagined the Early Christian Church must have been like. In fact, they were enormously dissatisfied with the proposed “reforms” of Protestantism.

Their beliefs alienated both Catholics and Protestants alike. Most notably, they dismissed the idea of infant baptism, which both Catholics and Protestants held dear. Neither were they comfortable with Luther’s insistence on “faith alone,” believing as they did that good works were necessary for a Christian life. Simultaneously, they rejected Catholic belief in the sacraments. In their emphasis on Scripture, Anabaptists rejected both the Catholic belief that Scripture was to be understood through the direction of the magisterium and the Lutheran belief that the individual alone could interpret it. Rather, they insisted that Scripture was best understood through membership in a church composed of other believers.

Because it rejected Catholicism and the Protestant reformation alike, Anabaptism quickly became the target of both, each of which denounced Anabaptism as a threat to society and the state. Anabaptists were renounced as heretics in an imperial edict in 1529 that was supported by both Catholics and Protestants. (Significant to the contention that “anabaptists are protestant”)

Thousands of Anabaptists were tortured, drowned or burned at the stake by both groups; many estimates have a much higher number of Anabaptists martyred at the hands of Lutherans. Because they espoused non-violence, and rejected any connection between Church and state (that connection was crucial for both Catholicism and the Reformation at the time) Anabaptists were almost completely wiped out in many areas.


#7

Maendem’s assessment of the anabaptist movement and history is correct. I was born and raised in a conservative anabaptist church and was a member for quite some time before converting to the Catholic Church. Anabaptists are separatists in that we/they have little to no ecumenical vision with protestants, Catholics or even among themselves. The anabaptist church I was raised in split several times throughout its existence over issues ranging from whether we should speak German in church to whether men were allowed to grow facial hair. Once those splits occurred, members shunned one another and were no longer considered brothers and sister in Christ. The anabaptist church I was raised in is doctrinally similar to the Amish and more conservative Mennonites, yet we never would have considered the other to be “sincere Christians” or “truly converted.”

Fiat


#8

It seems to me that in order to make your arguments that Mennonites are not Protestants, you have to have a pretty narrow definition of Protestant. So that means Baptists are not Protestants? Hmmmm. My understanding is that Protestant refers to non-Catholic Christians (mainline denominations, non-mainline denominations, and non-denominational).

My dictionary defines Protestant as any Christian sect that descends from sects that broke away from the “Church of Rome” at the time of the Reformation. By that definition, it would seem that the Mennonites either broke from the Catholic Church or from another one of the Protestant Churches. So therefore Mennonites would be Protestant as would most of the other non-Catholic Christian churches in the US.


#9

Sounds like your co-worker might have a pride problem. Ironic, since the spirit of the Anabaptists is one of humility.

My father was raised Mennonite (electricity & auto, but no TV, no camera, no whitewall tires, etc.), and chose not to join the church when he was a teenager. My grandparents were disappointed but respected his decision, as did the rest of the family and friends.

I am non-denominational, and although I disagree with a few of their beliefs, the Mennonites are an inspiration to me.


#10

La Chiara: You’re right, I’m using a precise definition of Protestantism as opposed to the common one, but at the risk of nit-picking, I"m doing so because the common term is loaded with misconceptions.

The origin of the term “protestant” came from the group of imperial cities and their leaders in Speyer in 1529 who “protested” the Edict of Worms, (not the Catholic Church per se, although they were certainly doing that ), which forbade Lutheran teaching in the empire. In European Germanic countries, the word “protestant” for the most part retains its early meaning, and is associated only with Lutheran churches, as opposed to other churches deemed “Protestant” by the Catholic Church and mainstream society.

Generally it is the Catholic Church who would consider all sects opposing it or breaking away from it at the time of the Reformation “protestant.” But as I tried to demonstrate, there are enormous differences between these sects, and both Anabaptists and Protestants would not consider Anabaptists to be Protestant at all. In fact, Anabaptists were first persecuted by Protestants.

In addition: The Baptist Church has nothing to do with Anabaptism, other than the fact the neither is Catholic. Anabaptists did refer to themselves as “baptists” when they started, but they are not at all the same sect or faith; only the name is in common. The Baptist religion started as an offshoot of congregationalism and Puritanism, mainly in English speaking countries.

Don’t know if that helps. My main point is that Anabaptists and Protestants would be very hesitant to identify Anabaptists as Protestants…(the same way they would be hesitant to identify Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses as protestants) But that’s a can of worms. Yikes!


#11

maendem–Mennonites are much more appropriately included as “Protestants” than are Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. I don’t understand this trend among non-Catholic Christian sects to emphasize that they are NOT Protestant. It seems that the rest of the argument is “we are NOT Protestant, but are the TRUE Christians”. Nice try. But it doesn’t hold water for me. The only true Christians in my book are Catholic Christians who are the ONLY Christians who can trace their lineage directly through the apostles and the Bible to Christ.


#12

This is really a good thread. I am learning so much. While I would agree with La Chara on Anabaptists are Protestants, because of the argument they had to break away from either the Catholic Church or another Protestant church. My understanding is at the time of the Early Church, there were the Jews, the Pagans and Christians. So for the Anabaptists to exist, they had to be of the Early Catholic Church. At there time, there would be no reason to “go back to the ways of the early church” since it was the days of the early church.

Does that make any sense?


#13

[quote=maendem]La Chiara: You’re right, I’m using a precise definition of Protestantism as opposed to the common one, but at the risk of nit-picking, I"m doing so because the common term is loaded with misconceptions.

The origin of the term “protestant” came from the group of imperial cities and their leaders in Speyer in 1529 who “protested” the Edict of Worms, (not the Catholic Church per se, although they were certainly doing that ), which forbade Lutheran teaching in the empire. In European Germanic countries, the word “protestant” for the most part retains its early meaning, and is associated only with Lutheran churches, as opposed to other churches deemed “Protestant” by the Catholic Church and mainstream society.

Generally it is the Catholic Church who would consider all sects opposing it or breaking away from it at the time of the Reformation “protestant.” But as I tried to demonstrate, there are enormous differences between these sects, and both Anabaptists and Protestants would not consider Anabaptists to be Protestant at all. In fact, Anabaptists were first persecuted by Protestants.

In addition: The Baptist Church has nothing to do with Anabaptism, other than the fact the neither is Catholic. Anabaptists did refer to themselves as “baptists” when they started, but they are not at all the same sect or faith; only the name is in common. The Baptist religion started as an offshoot of congregationalism and Puritanism, mainly in English speaking countries.

Don’t know if that helps. My main point is that Anabaptists and Protestants would be very hesitant to identify Anabaptists as Protestants…(the same way they would be hesitant to identify Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses as protestants) But that’s a can of worms. Yikes!
[/quote]

Maendem–I think you are coming up with your own definition for Protestant–a definition which does not agree with the dictionary definition or with a generally accepted definition. Furthermore, which “Protestants” get to decide who is and is not “Protestant”? Indeed, this is more commonly an issue with “Christians” deciding who is and is not “Christian”. And that often degenerates into absurdity–with certain “Christians” declaring Catholics NOT to be Christian. I will agree with you that Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and Unitarians are NOT Christian–because they do not believe in the Trinity and do not have valid Christian Baptisms (in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) Because they are not Christian, I would not call them Protestant either. Do Mennonites believe in the Trinity and is their baptism recognized by the Catholic Church as a “valid Christian baptism”?


#14

I admit it-- throwing Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses into the mix was a bad idea, and poor similie. (They do have a valid, Trinitarian baptism). Sorry.

The rest of my “evidence” holds, however, and I"ll rest my case, having nothing more to add. My aim was to point out the historical and etymological (sp?) aspects of the term “protestant,” and demonstrate specifically for Catholics on this forum why Anabaptists do not consider themselves Protestant, and why they never have, historically. It’s helpful for we Catholics, especially in ecumenical efforts, to expand our understanding of our separated brothers and sisters–their history and their values (even if we don’t agree)

I won’t comment on the modern tendency of many Protestants to eschew the label entirely, as this trend is quite new, and doesn’t seem relevant.

That said, anyone who continues to refer to every non-Catholic Christian as “Protestant” is in the clear majority and would of course be understood.

Peace–


#15

[quote=maendem]My aim was to point out the historical and etymological (sp?) aspects of the term “protestant,” and demonstrate specifically for Catholics on this forum why Anabaptists do not consider themselves Protestant, and why they never have, historically. It’s helpful for we Catholics, especially in ecumenical efforts, to expand our understanding of our separated brothers and sisters–their history and their values (even if we don’t agree)

I won’t comment on the modern tendency of many Protestants to eschew the label entirely, as this trend is quite new, and doesn’t seem relevant.

That said, anyone who continues to refer to every non-Catholic Christian as “Protestant” is in the clear majority and would of course be understood.

Peace–
[/quote]

I appreciate your last few points–especially acknowledgement of the tendency of many Protestants to eschew the label of Protestant entirely. Actually, my perspective on this issue comes from a recent outing of a women’s group to “Amish” country (Lancaster PA). Among the women were the wives of “Christian” (aka Protestant) ministers. I was glancing at a book about the history of the Amish and Mennonites, and asked one of the ministers wives if she considered the Amish to be Christian and she emphatically stated that they weren’t! I explained that indeed they were and a little about their history. But I am sure this same woman would not consider Catholics to be Christian either! The ignorance that “educated” Christians have towards other Christian faiths astounds me!


#16

[quote=maendem]I admit it-- throwing Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses into the mix was a bad idea, and poor similie. (They do have a valid, Trinitarian baptism). Sorry.

maendem–BTW, when you say “They do have a valid, Trinitarian baptism”, I assume you are referring to Mennonites and NOT to Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, right?
[/quote]


#17

[quote=maendem]I admit it-- throwing Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses into the mix was a bad idea, and poor similie. (They do have a valid, Trinitarian baptism). Sorry.
[/quote]

maendem–BTW, when you say “They do have a valid, Trinitarian baptism”, I assume you are referring to Mennonites and NOT to Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, right?


#18

Yes, of course.


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