Zingcreed Is pleased to bring you this document from one of the few UK churches I can genuinely say I respect; and, yes, I have been to their services in both their London churches. A friendlier, more welcoming set of people it would be hard to find. Anabaptists, who are more or less equivalent to Mennonites, have a long history of radicalism. While not overtly socialist, I think they can still be categorized as ‘red’ in a loose sense, because of the following radical elements in their list of core convictions:-
(i) they reject standard Christian assumptions to pursue alternative ways of thinking and behaving
(ii) they put the poor, powerless and persecuted at the heart of their concerns
(iii) they find it inappropriate to associate with status, wealth and force
(iv) they accept that economic injustice is rife
(v) they are committed to non-violence
From a book by Stuart Murray, the title of which includes the word ‘radical’, (i) I also learned that:-
(a) they are trying to apply the insights of the Anabaptist tradition to contemporary issues
(b) they are a network with no membership criteria, a diffuse and diverse community
(c) they are wary of creeds – it’s behaviour that counts, not just beliefs
(d) the core list is provisional and aspirational in nature
That sounds pretty radical to me and that’s why I think their ‘Seven Core Convictions’ definitely qualify as a ‘Red Christian Document.’ It was written by Anabaptists from Britain and Ireland in 2006.
THE SEVEN CORE ANABAPTIST CONVICTIONS
- Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord. He is the source of our life, the central reference point for our faith and lifestyle, for our understanding of church, and our engagement with society. We are committed to following Jesus as well as worshipping him.
- Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation. We are committed to a Jesus-centred approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which we read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.
- Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era when church and state jointly presided over a society in which almost all were assumed to be Christian. Whatever its positive contributions on values and institutions, Christendom seriously distorted the gospel, marginalised Jesus, and has left the churches ill-equipped for mission in a post-Christendom culture. As we reflect on this, we are committed to learning from the experience and perspectives of movements such as Anabaptism that rejected standard Christendom assumptions and pursued alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
- The frequent association of the church with status, wealth and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness. We are committed to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted, aware that such discipleship may attract opposition, resulting in suffering and sometimes ultimately martyrdom.
- Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability, and multi-voiced worship. As we eat together, sharing bread and wine, we sustain hope as we seek God’s kingdom together. We are committed to nurturing and developing such churches, in which young and old are valued, leadership is consultative, roles are related to gifts rather than gender and baptism is for believers.
- Spirituality and economics are interconnected. In an individualist and consumerist culture and in a world where economic injustice is rife, we are committed to finding ways of living simply, sharing generously, caring for creation, and working for justice.
- Peace is at the heart of the gospel. As followers of Jesus in a divided and violent world, we are committed to finding non-violent alternatives and to learning how to make peace between individuals, within and among churches, in society and between nations.
(i) Murray, Stuart “The naked Anabaptist. The bare essentials of a radical faith” Paternoster (2011) p.24
(ii) http://www.anabaptistnetwork.com/coreconvictions (This has an accompanying study guide)
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