Is the Emerging Church anabaptist?

Is the Emerging Church anabaptist?

LM posted asked the question: “Is the emerging church Anabapist?”  I think the honest answer is no but there are some startling simularities.  Both trend towards the peace and non-violent resistance.  There are some similar thoughts on how the church should function.

I think the most fascinating similarities are found in the context of each movement. The printing press fueled Luther’s reformation and it made the bible accessible to the common person. Combine this with a church in spiritual decline and you’ve created a recipe for radicals to emerge and challenge the establishment. This sometimes resulted in tragic consquences. Today the church is decline and the Internet has facilitated self-organizing decentralized groups that have risen up to challenge the establishment.  Just as the word anabaptist was used to refer to any rag tag group of radicals in the 16th century “Emerging” or “Emergent” is applied to similarly diverse group of people.  Much like the anabaptists the EC is now being broadly labeled and condemned by the actions of a few more radical folk and even they are often misrepresented.  

Just like anabaptism the shallower streams in the Emerging flood plain will dry up.  I’m biased but I think the financial and demographic realities of the next 20 years will kill many churches “emerging” or not that requires a lot of resources to function.  There will be some streams that survive and I placing my bets on the organic/simple church part of the spectrum.  I think the coffee/candles set are doomed.  I think a lot of the “emerging” churches that exist on old assumptions and financial models will slowly get choked out.  There aren’t enough leaders out there willing to fail.  There isn’t the same drive for a life of discipleship.  We want spirituality but we don’t want to give our lives and follow Jesus.  We are still too interested in the prestige of ministry success.

I hope that through all that there will be people in subsets of the broader movement that will be remembered as heroes of the faith 400 years from now. 

  1. #1 by Frank on August 23, 2005 - 8:37 am

    Congrats and blessing on your marraige. What do you mean by coffee/candles set? Also what would you envision as a life of discipleship?

    Correct me if I’m right…. but didn’t Anabaptists start simple and organic? If they did what happened…. Did they turn into Mennonite churches…. who in my estimation aren’t very simple or organic…… Which leads me to believe that this current version of simple/organic church will eventually be magically turned into a more traditional church…. there must be a Menno Simons out there just eager to do that…. Which brings me to another point “why weren’t they called the Simonites….. This has a point…. how in the world could you name a church after a man……. a movement that started out as a company of brothers and sisters, simple and organic… priesthood of all believers… let someone become so prominent that they were willing to name their church after him…. I think there is a lesson in all of this…

  2. #2 by graham on August 26, 2005 - 11:24 am

    Good thoughts, Leighton.

    Frank, I don’t think I’d see the early anabaptist movement in quite the way that you’ve described it. The anabaptists developed into a whole host of different movements. Maybe the EC will do the same.

    Historically, it’s now popular to reject the idea that there was 1 anabaptist movement (though that will change next year and again the year after!). Perhaps we need to be honest enough to make the same evaluation of the EC?

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