Posts Tagged Protestant Reformation

Jon Zens: Institutional Vs. Organic Church – Part 3

Posted by on Thursday, 24 May, 2012

Jon Zens and Kenny Russell discuss some of the ways that the institutional church has gone astray…

[Part 3 of a 14-part series]

Show: Gottalife Radio
Full Podcast: Capture The Moment – A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile with Jon Zens
Date: 3/9/09
Host: Kenny Russell
Guest: Jon Zens

 

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Jon Zens


Notes:
 Unfortunately Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and the Reformers basically maintained and continued the clergy/laity distinction–they broke with overt Catholicism, but they did not break with the basic problem of the clergy being elevated above the laity, so that Protestantism never really was reformed fully in terms of liberating the body of Christ; In terms of the priesthood of all believers really becoming a functioning thing in the reformed Reformation churches never really happened, because they just pushed the sacramental table out, and put the pulpit in its place… and so now instead of having the centrality of the mass, you now had the centrality of the preacher, and so the sermon became the climax of the Protestant meeting; Unfortunately the laity is just sitting there passively… the gifts of all the brethren are basically just lying dormant and not really doing anything, because there’s no opportunity given; The bottom line is the New Testament has a much bigger vision

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 7

Posted by on Monday, 5 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called “The Anabaptist Vision“…

[Part 7 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Chris Marshall and John Hirt

 

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Transcript:

Gary Bryson: At the core of all this is the idea of discipleship then, isn’t it, what you might call the hermeneutics of obedience, the belief that knowing the truth of scripture is contingent upon obedience to Jesus’ call to discipleship?

Chris Marshall: Well, what the Protestant Reformation rediscovered in particular was the role of faith. Luther’s personal conversion really, was a discovery of the fact that we are justified by faith, and that’s fine, there’s no problem with that. But the feature that I think the Anabaptists made more central was not faith or grace or the sacraments – I mean all of which they accepted – but what they saw as central was discipleship, was the image in the gospels of following Jesus, and not just following Jesus in terms of beliefs about Jesus, but actually following him in terms of an emulation of his lifestyle, his values, or his commitments. And so discipleship has always I think been more important in the Anabaptist tradition than theology really, than belief. Not that beliefs aren’t important, but the key issue is; is one committed to obey Jesus when he talks about these very hard things like violence. An understanding I think captured in a saying by one of the early Anabaptist leaders which was that no-one can claim to know Christ unless he follows him in life, that the knowledge of Christ really is dependent on a commitment to follow him. It’s only as one obeys the teaching of Jesus and as one is committed to obeying the teaching of Jesus does one truly understand the teaching of Jesus.

Now in our own day I think in the kind of world that we live in today, that understanding, that knowledge is not something that we acquire in a purely abstract, reflective, rationalistic way, but it is actually influenced by what we do. That’s something that we are far more comfortable with in the world. I think the Anabaptists saw it 500 years ago.

Gary Bryson: Another development of the time was what we today might call radical congregationalism, based on the authority of the gathered church, and the rejection of hierarchy. This was a distinctive feature of early Anabaptism, and remains so today.

Chris Marshall: The Catholic church was centred around the Majesterium which is the hierarchy of the church, its theologians, its bishops, its Pope and so on. The Protestant churches to some extent broke from that, but the role of the minister or the scholar leader was still pretty important. In the Anabaptist communities it really was the gathered community of believers who saw themselves as brothers and sisters and who didn’t accept a kind of clerical limitation on ministry. This is not unique to the Anabaptists, there have been many congregational movements that have sprung up since the Reformation. But this was a novelty at the time.

John Hirt: It’s problematic really. I mean you could just have the pooling of ignorance. It could be, ‘what I think is right at the time’. You end up with what people call the plain reading of the text, and at the worst, the Anabaptists’ interpretation via the gathered community could be a very literalist interpretation, and because they were a scattered as well as a gathered community – they literally were forced to live in Täuferhöhlen, ‘teufel’ in the German means devil, but they had to live in caves, and if you go in and around Zürich , you can actually go to these cave places where they were forced to live. They were pretty much peasant people who for the main were uneducated, and so, often, without wanting to aggrandise or adorn them too much, they could come up with pretty mad interpretations of the text, and they always needed, if you will, to come back to their scholars. And when their scholars were burned and drowned and murdered in the most dreadful ways, they really missed out a lot. But through it all, it has to be said that the wisdom of God and the commitment to discipleship shone through even where they weren’t in the presence of sound theologians. The gathered community was visited, if you will, with the wisdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 6

Posted by on Sunday, 4 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called “The Anabaptist Vision“…

[Part 6 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Mark Hurst, John Hirt, and Chris Marshall

 

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Transcript:

Mark Hurst: For many of the churches in the reform tradition, orthodoxy would be the important thing. For those in the Anabaptist tradition, orthopraxy is important, right practice, rather than right belief. The Anabaptists would have agreed with the reformers on many doctrines and many beliefs, but for the reformers, the main question was how do we get saved? And the Anabaptists agreed with most of those answers, but then they went on to say What do we do now that we are saved? What are we saved for? So that was part of what made them different than some of the other Reformation churches and Christians at that time, stressing that yes, now that we’re saved, we’re saved for a life of good works, and that means getting involved with the poor, that means getting involved with those who are marginalised, and that means living in a world without power, and joining in with those marginalised giving up that power.

Gary Bryson: Mark Hurst. For Anabaptists, following Christ has practical consequences. John Hirt.

John Hirt: One of the most misused books in the world is the Bible. You can make the Bible justify just about anything, but if you take the proclamatory, the charismatic heart of scripture, if you come to the interpretive key of the New Testament, you’re unable to do that. Let me illustrate. Without a doubt, the interpretive key, the hermeneutical key of the New Testament out of the Apostolic Confession is how does what you intend to do or what you say you are doing, how does it match the mind and the heart of the crucified and risen one? So how could you be a homophobe, if you are matching your life and your view of others to the mind and the heart of the crucified one? How can you declare war on people? How can you not care for the environment and for the whole world in which we live? How could you be a racist? How could you be differentiated against the poor, how could you not be in sympathy and in solidarity with our Aboriginal people because of their just cause? If your interpretive key is the same as Jesus, if you follow the way in the path of the crucified one, then life is viewed totally differently and to the Anabaptists, we owe that as a great debt.

Chris Marshall: All Christian traditions are Christocentric in the sense that all Christian traditions focus on the person of Jesus Christ as being essential to what Christianity is on about. It’s Jesus that makes Christianity not Judaism if you like. That Christocentrism has often worked itself out at a kind of doctrinal level or a more abstract level that Christ is central because he achieved salvation through his death and resurrection. Or Christ is central because he’s the sort of lynchpin in God’s overall covenantal dealing with the human race. It’s been often expressed at a more abstract level. For the Anabaptists, it was expressed at a strongly ethical level which is to say that Christ is central because he shows us how we are to live, and we must seek to imitate his way of living. In fact in many Christian traditions, there’s been a real ambivalence about this idea of the imitation of Christ because people fear that it brings Christ down to the level of being merely an example, a very good human being. But in the Anabaptist tradition it’s very central, that Christ demonstrates by his own life and articulates in his own teaching, the way we too, if we follow him, should live.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 5

Posted by on Saturday, 3 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called The Anabaptist Vision

[Part 5 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Mark Hurst and Chris Marshall

 

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Transcript:

Gary Bryson: The early Anabaptists were often forced to live in caves and in the wilds of mountains and forests. Many thousands died in the persecution that followed the turmoil of the Reformation.

Mark Hurst: This movement very quickly became a missionary movement, and spread across Europe, and at that time where you had State churches, you didn’t need to have evangelism because everybody was a Christian, and if you had these people coming around saying ‘No, you need to convert to this’, they also then became a problem for the State authorities.

Gary Bryson: The Reverend Mark Hurst is a Mennonite missionary based in Sydney. He and his wife Mary have for many years been the pastoral workers for the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand.

An important figure in the development of Anabaptism was Menno Simons, the man who gave his name to the Mennonites.

Mark Hurst: Menno Simons was a Catholic priest in the 1500s, and in his local area there was the Peasant Rebellion going on, and he observed that, and even in his writings he was saying that he spent most of his time drinking and playing cards and his faith hadn’t really been internalised, but when he saw people dying for their faith in the Peasant Rebellion, it caused him to look again at what he believed, and he had a conversion experience and he actually joined these Anabaptists.

And then he had very pastoral gifts, and he quickly became one of the leaders in the Anabaptist movement at that time. They labelled Anabaptists as Mennoists, or Mennonites, as followers of Menno, but it was really a derogatory name given to them, just like you would have Calvinists or Lutherans, the Anabaptists that were part of the movement that Menno was involved with became called Mennonites. But Menno spent the last 25 years of his life in hiding and on the run, he had a price on his head. So he travelled around meeting with Anabaptist groups but always having to do that hiding and moving from house to house.

Gary Bryson: Persecuted in Europe, many Anabaptists fled to the New World, where its various branches make up what is known today as the historic peace churches. These include Mennonites, Hutterites and the Amish, along with the Quakers, who developed their tradition separately from the Anabaptists.

So how can we understand the distinctive theological features that make up Anabaptism? Well, like all Christian traditions, the Anabaptists are said to be Christocentric – focused on following the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ. For the Anabaptists though, this has both an ethical and discipleship dimension.

Chris Marshall is St John’s Associate Professor in Christian Theology at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Chris Marshall: As well as the kind of ethical Christocentrism, a feeling that Jesus teaches us how to live, and we must take literally what he says, also there is the kind of hermeneutical Christocentrism which is that when we read the Bible, and we try to work out what in the Bible is still God’s word for today, because the Bible’s a very diverse document and has lots of violent bits in it, how do we decide how the Bible is relevant for today, that one of the key tests is it must be consistent with the way of Christ. So what we read in Scripture that is not consistent with the way of Christ, no longer has authority for today. What we read in any part of Scripture that is consistent with the way of Christ, continues to be God’s word for today.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 3

Posted by on Thursday, 1 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called The Anabaptist Vision

[Part 3 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Thorwald Lorenzen and John Hirt

 

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Transcript:

Thorwald Lorenzen: While the reformers needed the state in order to succeed with the reformation, they would not have succeeded if they would have denied infant baptism, and would have denied the institution of war. And at this point, the Anabaptists – the word ‘Anabaptist’ means re-baptises, and it was given to them by their enemies, so the emphasis is not baptism, the emphasis is to take faith in Christ seriously, what they called ‘following Jesus’, what we may call discipleship today. And living this discipleship in an intentional community. But both discipleship and intentional community has to be a decision, and this decision was celebrated in baptism. And since the New Testament does not support infant baptism, but speaks about believer’s baptism, so they took this over to celebrate their faith in Christ.

Some of the magisterial churches say infant baptism is very important because it is a symbolic representation that we are saved by grace alone. And actually, it is, you know, that’s a beautiful symbol. But the Anabaptists said grace is not just thrown at people, grace is the invitation to follow Jesus. Faith is holistic, it needs to be lived with our whole body, with our whole life.

Gary Bryson: From the very beginning then, Anabaptist ideas set them irrevocably against the power of the state. They put the authority of Jesus over the authority of kings, opposed the church hierarchy or priesthood, and refused to swear oaths or fight wars.

In the mood of the times, their interpretation of scripture was thus deeply political and highly suspect in the eyes of the authorities, both Catholic and Protestant.

John Hirt: The Anabaptists, in saying We will not acknowledge the power of the state, were really quite remarkable champions of democracy and freedom of religion. When they were dragged before the magistrates, they would stand in court and their response to the charge of being disloyal to the state and disloyal to the church – the church and state being one and the same, no separation – in their crude Swiss-German, they would say two words: nicht Vorsteher, which literally means ‘no master’. My only master is Christ and I will die before I will believe that the world is made of two kingdoms, the kingdom of this world and then the kingdom of God. There is only one kingdom and that is the kingdom of Christ. And so they therefore became, if you like, insurgents within the society, they were viewed as dangerous, dangerous people who would create all sorts of societal instability.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 2

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called The Anabaptist Vision

[Part 2 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Thorwald Lorenzen and John Hirt

 

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Transcript:

Thorwald Lorenzen: Up to the fourth century, the church and Christians were pacifists. In the 4th century, with the victory of Constantine on the Milvian Bridge, just before his military victory, Constantine had a vision of Christ, and in this vision, he was asked to fight the battle under the banner of the cross, and he did this and he won. And this military victory has become a major influence of the Christian church. Under Constantine, the church began to have privileges, the clergy began to have privileges, the church was used to unify the Emperor, and ever since this marriage between church and state has determined the history of the church. In the Reformation, in theory, this history was finished, but it is still living on in the state churches in many countries today.

Gary Bryson: Thorwald Lorenzen. It was a commitment to pacifism that first set the Swiss Anabaptists up against the mainstream Reformation. In Switzerland the Reformers were led by Huldrych Zwingli, one of the major Reformation figures alongside Luther and Calvin. The issue had quickly divided the country, canton against canton. But the Anabaptists resisted Zwingli’s call to arms against the Catholics. John Hirt.

John Hirt: Zwingli as a Protestant reformer in the Canton of Zürich was keen to raise an army to fight against the Catholic Cantons; tragically in the history of Christianity, here’s the church at war, fighting among itself, and it was slaughter and slaughter and slaughter all over the place. Zwingli therefore, wanted to get everybody he could into his army, to fight the Catholic Cantons. He happened to have two best friends, two of his best Biblical scholars, one a Greek scholar, the other a Hebrew scholar, one was Conrad Grebel, and the other guy called Felix Manz. They were both ardent Christians, who like a lot of people at the time said that there’s something more to what Jesus says than us being behoven to the state, or to be given to killing and to that whole process of what the world expects of us. They of course were seen by Zwingli as being betrayers, and when he began to raise an army, these two allies of his, two of his best scholar friends, said to him, ‘We cannot fight because it is not lawful for us to fight. We are followers of Jesus.’ And they chastised Zwingli – he didn’t take that kindly.

Then, to cut to the chase, the argument became about well, who belongs to the state and who doesn’t belong to the state? And at that point, Zwingli said, ‘If you’re baptised as an infant, you belong to the state’, and at that point the Anabaptists started to say, ‘Wait a minute, if that’s what infant baptism is about, me being behoven to the state, that’s a problem.’ And so that’s when the whole discussion really picked up.

Frank Viola And Organic Church – Part 8

Posted by on Tuesday, 13 December, 2011

Frank Viola discusses the institutional church vs. organic church

[Part 8 of an 8-Part series]

Show: Nomad Podcast
Full Podcast: Nomad 8: Frank Viola and Organic Church
Date: 9/10/09
Guest:
Frank Viola
Notes: 
The future of the church in the next 10-30 years; The organic expression of the church… Christians that meet in homes, do not have a clergy, do not have a modern pastoral role, where every member is functioning, where every member is taking leadership, where people are making decisions together as the church, where there is a holding strong to God’s eternal purpose, a true understanding of that and expressing it as community… will be far more widely accepted than it is today; What’s happening is what happened in the first Reformation; The first Reformation under Luther, Calvin, etc. did not change the institutional church–all it did was it created a new way of meeting and a new theology that was different from the accepted church of the day; The Catholic church didn’t go away with Reformation, it’s still as strong as ever; In 30 years, the organic expression of the church will be just as accepted as the Catholic and Protestant church

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