Recent comments

  • Come to prayer, come to well-being   4 years 25 weeks ago

    What a great idea! I'm inspired to try something like this now.

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 26 weeks ago

    Hello Char,

    As a young Bible believing Christian who happens to have the Mennonite label, I was very interested in your comment.

    I take it that you view the Bible as a “believe it or leave it” perspective. From what you said, rejecting the inspiration of the Bible and reinterpreting certain passages of the Bible is logically inconsistent. If we reject what the Bible says on creation, homosexuality, or other issues, then what is wrong with rejecting the virgin birth, resurrection, the Sermon on the Mount, or even rejecting God himself? It is a slippery slide that can lead logically to where you are at, atheism.

    You are not the only person who has gone through unbelief in the Bible that led to atheism. Charles Templeton was a famous evangelist in the 1940’s along with Billy Graham. He attended the liberal Princeton Theological Seminary, and started to doubt whether the Bible is true, especially Genesis. He rejected his faith and became an atheist. He became the editor of MacLean’s magazine. Later in life he wrote a book called “Farewell to God”.

    As an atheist, what is the foundation for morality? How do you decide what is right and wrong, and is it right to impose those beliefs of right and wrong on others (can you impose your belief that murder is wrong on someone that wants to kill you)? What is the purpose in life if we are the product of meaningless random chance and when we die, we are dead and that is it?

    I, too, view the Bible as “believe it or leave it”, but this view has caused me to trust the accuracy of the Bible from the very first verse. Christianity must have answers for the tough questions that the world throws at it.

    I believe that the Bible is the inerrant and inspired word of God, starting at the very first verse. You are probably wondering what I believe about Genesis and creation. I, along with Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler, believe that God created the world about 6,000 years ago. You are probably laughing, but this is what the Bible teaches, and if you view the world this way, there is plenty of evidence. For example, Noah’s flood would have created most of the geological formations and fossil deposits we see today. Fossils can form very rapidly as this article shows: http://creation.com/petrified-flour

    A well known atheist, Richard Dawkins, clearly says evolution is incompatible with Christianity, and that theologians that try to mix them are ‘deluded’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJM8EdYZpls

    In your comment, you say that the Bible has no evidence of historical accuracy. I wonder if you could give me an example, as there is much evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible. Two quick examples: Nineveh was mentioned in many parts of the Bible, the prophet Nahum prophesied its quick fall and desolation. It has been proven that Nineveh once existed, fell quickly as Nahum predicted, and the very kings of Nineveh that the Bible talks about really existed.

    The two books of the Bible that Luke wrote (Luke and Acts) contain many intricate historical details such as the different titles of rulers. For example Luke 3:1 says “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene”. What is amazing is each of these men not only reigned, but their titles (such as Herod was not a king, rather a tetrarch) were accurate.

    In your comment you listed many terrible things that you think that the Bible advocates, I don’t have space to refute them all, but an understanding of what the Bible actually says would clear up some of your confusion. Romans 1:20 says “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”. God is our creator. He created a perfect world but then Adam sinned and thus the creation was cursed and we live in a fallen world. We are all sinners that deserve to die, but God sent his only son into the world to save us from our sin. Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, as was predicted by the old covenant, who died on the cross and rose again. If we repent and accept Jesus as our savior, he will give us salvation. We will not create heaven on earth by our own good works but instead Jesus will come back and those that believe on him will go to heaven, while those that reject his message of salvation will go to hell as a result of their rejection of Christ’s sacrifice for their sin.

    I could go on and on, but I pray that you will see that the Bible is the truth, and your need for Jesus Christ as your personal saviour.

    Levi

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 28 weeks ago

    First I want to say how much I appreciate this post! It is true that Mennonites—and religion in general—are far too eager to overlook their own faults and weaknesses. And it’s only by examining them, as you’ve done so eloquently here, that it may be possible to make change for the better.

    That being said, however, I would like to affirm one rather unpopular observation above. As a recovering Mennonite and newborn Atheist, I found the comments which relate to homosexuality to be very representative of some of the questions that I asked in my youth and that ultimately led to my decision to abandon my faith. Perhaps I can present it a bit more clearly…

    Mennonites—and of course all Christian faiths—believe that ultimately the Bible is the inspired word of God. After all, if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t be worthy of basing a religion on, would it? However, it is also widely accepted by most “rational” believers that the Bible can’t possibly be taken literally. There are far too many historical inaccuracies (no evidence of any historical accuracy, actually), inconsistencies and contradictions within its pages for anyone to believe that every passage is a pearl of wisdom that we are meant to live our lives by.

    However, if we are saying that the Bible is open to interpretation…if you choose to believe, for example, that the Bible’s passages that relate to women, homosexuality, divorce, slavery, and even pork, are outdated and must be read and interpreted through our own moral filter then I must ask….WHERE does this pre-existing moral filter come from? From our own evolutionary sense of right and wrong? If so, then why do we need a Holy Book or a god at all? Perhaps our moral filter came from God himself? If so…then why do we need a “Holy Book” at all? And why are there so many different interpretations of the same words?

    I have come to believe that the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon….take your pick… Any and all of these “Holy books” are merely a handy tool for various sects to validate their own narrow view of the world and all too often to justify their own views, which too often involve the exclusion and ultimately the persecution of various groups.

    I came to believe that if the Bible IS the inspired Word of a God we should NOT need our own moral filter to sort out the Bible’s advocacy for misogyny, slavery, human sacrifice and genocide. Every word should, indeed, be a golden morsel of wisdom by which each of us can live our lives in peace and harmony. But it isn’t. Far from it. Therefore, for me…this logical process was just one of the final nails in the coffin of my belief in any superior being.
    I am curious what your thoughts are on this.

    Char

  • Advocating for the orphan   4 years 30 weeks ago

    This is very encouraging! Giving an orphan or orphans a homehas also always been a desire in my heart. Financially it has not been a possibility yet for our family but keeping faith that God will provide if this is His will in our life!

  • Advocating for the orphan   4 years 30 weeks ago

    Yah! So thrilled to see this article and that more people are being made aware! So proud of you Jared and Chantel!

  • Opening thoughts with Miriam Toews   4 years 32 weeks ago

    As a Mennonite by choice of faith rather than ethnicity I deeply enjoyed reading Toews. To me, her critiqueis based upon the inconsistencies of a faith which is lacking in love and therefore not a true faith at all. Are there flaws and hypocrisy in the Mennonite world? Yes! Is there also truly loving and real faith? Yes! Let's celebrate people who are courageous enough to point them out so that we can grow toward a deeper authenticity.

  • Challenging the Icon of Mary   4 years 34 weeks ago

    What a moving piece: keep this coming, as the Spirit provides!

    There is an ardent need for women in the position you once were in to be introduced to the beauty of holy imagination and God's living people--not relics of tired stories or anthropomorphized metaphors of theological principles.

    Rock on.

    -CD

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 38 weeks ago

    Scott, that was well said and refreshing. "Anonymous" poster from above- as a church seeking peace and right relationships, it is not only inaccurate, but also harmful to state that Mennonites had no part in displacing Aboriginal people. Being complicit to another's actions (ie: the Canadian government- whom I assume you are attributing blame to for the displacement), also makes you responsible. As a church, we have a responsibility to acknowledge this as part of our history and to take part in making these relationships right again.
    -Keri H. (Saskatoon)

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 38 weeks ago

    Re:

    1."I'm not saying you have to believe Paul, but if you're going to a church that claims to do so, it's rather hypocritical to whine about the church actually following through with its beliefs."

    &

    2."The same can be said for homosexuality. Whether or not Paul is correct in his epistles is irrelevant; If you say you believe what he says is true, it would be hypocritical to act otherwise.I'm not saying "hate gay people" or even that I am on that side of the issue. What I am saying is that you can't expect people who believe the entire NT to be the literal truth to take a stance against it because you think it's right to do so."

    -

    1. It seems to me that responding (anonymously) to someone's post by saying they are whining is a bad way to do discourse. Not so classy.

    2. And I really don't think that contemporary Mennonites do or should believe that the NT is the literal truth.

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 38 weeks ago

    Well said Scott. Thank you for writing this!

    Mark

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 38 weeks ago

    Mennonites displaced Prussian aboriginals? And any time someone moves somewhere, they are likely to take the place of previous owners. The Mennonites have never (at least collectively) forced someone away from their homes; they generally moved to these places long after any displacement had occurred.

    The reason Mennonite churches tend to view leadership as a men-only position is they believe Paul's epistles to be the literal word of God, and he makes clear that leadership at home and in the church is the responsibility of males. I'm not saying you have to believe Paul, but if you're going to a church that claims to do so, it's rather hypocritical to whine about the church actually following through with its beliefs.

    The same can be said for homosexuality. Whether or not Paul is correct in his epistles is irrelevant; If you say you believe what he says is true, it would be hypocritical to act otherwise. I'm not saying "hate gay people" or even that I am on that side of the issue. What I am saying is that you can't expect people who believe the entire NT to be the literal truth to take a stance against it because you think it's right to do so.

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 38 weeks ago

    Honesty is painful but essential medicine. Good for you, Scott.

  • Fighting against ourselves   4 years 38 weeks ago

    Hey Scott. Well done! I always value your voice when it comes to matters in the church.

    -Ben

  • Mennonite Metaphysics   4 years 43 weeks ago

    The suspicion of metaphysics is a particular discourse, as is metaphysics. If you come to a particular expression trying to understand its 'metaphysical orientation' you will find one (or construct one). So for me again it is another way into the conversation.
    And reading over your question again I wonder about the phrase 'strictly theoretical discipline'. Thought and theory is work. It might at times be bad work or somewhat useless work (like any other work) but it is work none the less. So I would probably not start with the same distinction that you are using here.
    But yes, metaphysics is not politics or discipleship. It should, however, remain accountable to them.

    - David

  • Marching to Zion   4 years 44 weeks ago

    Dear Vanessa,

    I re-read "Marching to Zion" after a friend sent me a note telling me how much she had enjoyed your articles on the ME in Canadian Mennonite; and that she sensed your eyes had been "opened" in some way during your visit there, given that you began to see your trip as a "pilgrimage" towards the end of your time there.

    Somehow, that reminded me of a theme we used to highlight when we led MCC retreats years ago--namely, that often, like Moses, we see God's leading/presence in our lives on looking back rather than when we're in the midst of the journey.

    So, I'm glad that you already began to see your ME trip as a pilgrimage while still in Jerusalem. And even better, that you took the time to share your thoughts/experiences with others by writing this beautiful reflection, filled with sensory & thought-provoking images so that CM readers could join you on this pilgrimage without even leaving their livingrooms!

    And that I think is one of the deep joys both writing & reading.

    Love, Gogo

  • Getting over my Mennonite stereotypes   4 years 45 weeks ago

    u r the best in the world
    :)

  • Mennonite Metaphysics   4 years 46 weeks ago

    Max and David. I wonder if we shouldn't be a little more suspicious of metaphysics. Given that form and content are inextricably bound together, and that metaphysics is a strictly theoretical discipline, the danger of metaphysical reflection is - as Kierkegaard makes plain vis-a-vis Hegel - that one gets lost inside one's own mind and fails to complete the movement back to existence. Can there be a "metaphysics of discipleship" or is discipleship a radically other form of metaphysics? Where do you see the connection? Appreciate your thoughts...

    - Kerby

  • Mennonite and Catholic communion   4 years 47 weeks ago

    As a participant in Bridgefolk, I believe that one of its greatest strengths is that we take our common participation seriously, even when we are pained by the commonality not yet being as complete as we wish it to be. We take our own and each other's practices seriously, and rejoice in the ones we share. Because we are deeply committed to our churches and their communions, we know that it would be no "quick fix" to simply defy them. We are also deeply committed to overcoming our divisions, which we can't do by pretending they don't exist.

    I don't see it as a matter of people in power imposing arbitrary rules on us, but of divergent understandings arising from deep historical wounds in and between our communities that need to be healed. We know this can't happen instantaneously, and especially not through actions that could be seen as disrespectful and cause further ruptures within our own churches. Rather, we are committed to the healing process for the long haul, without knowing exactly where we will end up or when or how, but trusting that the same Spirit that has led this whole fractured Body through the ages will not abandon us.

  • Mennonite and Catholic communion   4 years 47 weeks ago

    This reminds me of the several rare but exquisitely moving occasions in my life when I too have participated in an ecumenical eucharist. In each case, - I am reminded by your own remarkable story, Michael, - that when the moment of communion by sharing the one bread and the one cup arrived, I simply could not in conscience refuse to participate. I was compelled to take and eat. The overwhelming sense of community in those assemblies of deep Christian spirituality and faith had caused me to realize at that moment that if I then refused or refrained from taking the bread and receiving it from these particular sisters and brothers in the room, it would constitute a monstrous form of rejection and sacrilege against what unity in spirit we had already experienced by our singing and praying together as Christians, singing and praying to the One God whom we have come to know in Jesus the Christ, our crucified and risen Lord.
    I am also a resigned, married Catholic priest, living in Toronto Canada with my wife and two adult children. Forced into mandatory retirement from the sacramental ministry and now at age 71, from regular employment in the workforce except on occasion in rather menial or mundane occupations, I nevertheless pursue a passion for justice and peace with Pax Christi Toronto.
    Some day we shall overcome the obstacles which the institutions and bureaucracies have thrown up around us and embrace our common humanity and realize our calling to act with justice, to love tenderly, to serve one another and to walk humbly with God. That is enough for anyone and for all of us together.

  • Mennonite and Catholic communion   4 years 47 weeks ago

    Michael - having a double Eucharist is almost contradictory in itself - self-defeating and playing the game. It is like having a eucharist separately for men and women, or whites and blacks (that has been done), or Greeks and Romans?? Is there not some passage that leaps to mind??? (think Gal 3:28)

    So when you play these games, you give in to the master custodians of the sacraments who guard these treasures as private property rather than as gifts to be shared, and in sharing they never run out.

    I would think the Mennonite potluck - where probably bread is included - is eucharistic in itself - believers are gathered and nourished, not just in the tummy.

    Think of Grandma's birthday party - you sing Happy Birthday in English and share part of one cake with the English speaking guests, and then you sing Zum Geburtstag viel Glück and share another cake with those who speak German. The English look at the German cake and wonder why it looks better and the Germans look at the English cake and wonder how it tasted. The importance of one cake that symbolizes Grandma's life and sharing is all lost with two cakes - divisions are highlighted where there ought not to be division if the reason is to be there to share this moment with one person - Grandma.

    This nonsense will end when Christians of whatever denominations just gather and do it - celebrating with one bread in the memory of the preacher from Nazareth whom they all pretend to follow. Accentuating differences and divisions is not the way of Jesus.

    (fyi - I am a retired, married Catholic priest, living on Vancouver Island. Hugs to you and Alicia!)

  • Vision of an Icy River   4 years 47 weeks ago

    I've heard it said that God comforts the uncomfortable and brings unsettling change to the comfortable.

    I think the effects of His constant love are beautiful. Very much like a river, His love is ever moving and flowing; bringing healing, life-giving water to those who need it.

    Thanks for the reminder that God is sovereign in every -EVERY- circumstance.

    Nathan T.

  • Marching to Zion   4 years 47 weeks ago

    That last comment was from me, Carol Penner, at The First Mennonite church.

  • Marching to Zion   4 years 47 weeks ago

    Thanks Vanessa for your thoughtful article and putting into words what I also felt, Jerusalem with a voice!

  • On "coupledom" and singleness   4 years 48 weeks ago

    I posted that.
    --Michael Turman

  • On "coupledom" and singleness   4 years 48 weeks ago

    Thanks for your reflections, Susie. I can think of many celibate or single Christians who have been good models of faith for me. Do you see or have you seen any venues where singleness is affirmed in the Mennonite Church?

    Does anyone reading this have ideas for how we might affirm faithful, celibate lives?