Anabaptist Nation? “True Evangelical Faith”

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A former student suggested “Anabaptist Nation” as the name of my blog.  There are various reasons I’m fine with that name.  However, I begin this blog with the most famous quote from Menno Simons, the sixteenth-century Anabaptist whose name was adopted by one of the groups that has carried on the Anabaptist heritage.  I follow this brief excerpt with the full paragraph from which the excerpt is drawn, thus appropriately complexifying the excerpt, beginning to locate the brief quote in a larger theological context.  The whole paragraph is a wonderful set of challenges to live with.  The excerpt and the paragraph from which it is taken begin, in various ways, to name some of my central passions today. 

Menno:

“For true evangelical faith is of such nature that it cannot lie dormant, but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love . . . it clothes the naked; it feeds the hungry; it comforts the sorrowful; it shelters the destitute; it aids and consoles the sad; it returns good for evil; it serves those that harm it; it prays for those that persecute it; teaches, admonishes. . . it binds up that which is wounded; it heals that which is diseased and it saves that which is sound; it has become all things to all people.  The persecution, suffering, and anguish which befall it for the sake of the truth of the Lord is to it a glorious joy and consolation.”

The full quote:

“Behold, beloved reader, in this way true faith or true knowledge begets love, and love begets obedience to the commandments of God.  Therefore Christ Jesus says, he that believes on him is not condemned.  Again at another place, Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)  For true evangelical faith is of such nature that it cannot lie dormant, but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love; it dies unto the flesh and blood; it destroys all forbidden lusts and desires; it seeks and serves and fears God; it clothes the naked; it feeds the hungry; it comforts the sorrowful; it shelters the destitute; it aids and consoles the sad; it returns good for evil; it serves those that harm it; it prays for those that persecute it; teaches, admonishes, and reproves with the Word of the Lord; it seeks that which is lost; it binds up that which is wounded; it heals that which is diseased and it saves that which is sound; it has become all things to all people.  The persecution, suffering, and anguish which befall it for the sake of the truth of the Lord are to it a glorious joy and consolation.”

–Menno Simons, 1539, “Why I Do Not Cease Teaching and Writing,” The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, trans.  Leonard Verduin, ed. J. C. Wenger (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1956),  307.

The opinions expressed by the the author of this blog and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Eastern Mennonite University or any employee thereof. Eastern Mennonite University is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied within this blog.

2 Responses to “Anabaptist Nation? “True Evangelical Faith””

  1. Ryan Newson

    Looking forward to following this blog! It’s linked through my humble little blog… so be sure to keep the updates coming!

  2. Eugene K. Souder

    Mark, that quote from Menno is powerful. I’m new to your blog but look forward to more.—Eugene K. Souder