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 are more likely 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 signification 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.
The Naked Anabaptist (Paperback)
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Click here to read the introduction to The Naked Anabaptist.
In churches and kitchens and neighborhood centers across the world, communities of Jesus-followers are crafting a vision of radical service, simple living, and commitment to peace. Many are finding a home in a Christian tradition almost five centuries old: Anabaptism.
Who are the Anabaptists? What do they believe? Where did they come from? What makes them different from other Christians? And can you become an Anabaptist without leaving your own church?
Follow Stuart Murray as he peels back the layers to reveal the core convictions of Anabaptist Christianity, a way of following Jesus that challenges, disturbs, and inspires. Glimpse an alternative to nationalistic, materialistic, individualistic Christian faith. If you are seeking a community of authentic discipleship, heartfelt worship, sacrificial service, and radical peacemaking, consider this your invitation.
This new edition features:
- Voices and stories from North America and the global church.
- Updated and expanded definition and discussion of Christendom.
- Updated resource section.
Free downloadable study guide available here.
Herald Press (VA)
|Number of Pages|
Author Stuart Murray
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.50 Inches
The Naked Anabaptist i...
The Naked Anabaptist is indeed a great book that lifts the veil of modern day perceptions about the Anabaptist tradition and see what the Anabaptists truly believe. It allows its reader to look past the Amish family riding a horse-drawn carriage in Pennsylvania and see why they live the way they do based on Biblical principles. The same can be said for the Mennonites and Hutterites too. In principle, the Anabaptist tradition is in my view perhaps the closest thing we have to true Biblical and Kingdom Christianity; and the closest thing to the teachings of Christ. I don't agree with all of the Anabaptist tradition and theology for some of the reasons the author addresses in the last chapter of this book. However, in most part the Anabaptist tradition is what Christ taught and something I want to be a part of. Although this book is addressed to anyone interested in learning more about the allusive Anabaptist traditions, it is clearly written primarily to those in Great Britain and Ireland. As an American I would have loved it if the author addressed some issues relating to contemporary Anabaptist traditions and communities in America besides the Amish communities of Pennsylvania. It seems our only choices are the Amish and the Mennonites. If only there are more progressive and contemporary versions of Anabaptist thought in America. It saddens me that the author takes liberty in joining the Emerging Church with Anabaptist tradition even though they are diametrically opposed on major theological issues. The Emerging Church certainly has a lot to offer to Christianity, especially in light of the dismantling of institutional Christendom. But, the Emerging Church also has a lot of red flags that need to be weeded through before Christians truly embrace it. When all is said and done, The Naked Anabaptist is a wonderful book that offers a lot of great insight into Anabaptist traditions and beliefs both in the past, present, and what it may look like in the future. Great book that I recommend to anyone who sees what Anabaptist thinking can offer to a failing Christendom.
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