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Walter Klaassen

May 11, 2006

The piece by Walter Klaassen in The Mennonite this week is heartening. His perspective resonates with my own journey of connecting the Anabaptist tradition with the Church catholic. What does it mean for us if we recognize that “our 16th-century forebears were not out to separate from the Catholic church of their day but to reform it.”

My journey has been guided by the same perspective that Klaassen expresses in this piece and is summed up in the conclusion:

“If we are going to be faithful to the Anabaptist vision, then we will renounce all separatism and ethnic pride and participate in the incomplete, ongoing reform of the whole church to the glory of God and his Son Jesus, who prayed that we all be one.”

Will we be able to renew our sense of the Anabaptist vision so on the one hand we see ourselves as vitally connected to the Church catholic? Or will we continue on the schismatic trajectory, often tending toward the autonomous individualism–characteristic of many Protestant Evangelical groups who are attempting to keep the church Pure? In the Believers’ Church tradition, there is a theology, a sense (pride?) in the fact that our Church is a pure church (versus the mixed-body of the infant baptizing Catholics). But I wonder sometimes, are we really THAT much better…less sinful…less influenced by our culture than those whom we look down on.

Or maybe the winds of change are blowing and the movement of the Spirit is guiding us back together–the Protestants, the Catholics, the Post-Protestants, and those who think they are beyond all these labels and are just Christians.

McClendon says that Christians are never just Christians. They are Methodists, Mennonites, non-denominational types, Missouri Synod Lutherans, Baptists, Anglican…

I tend to agree.

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