July 1972 · Vol. 1 No. 3 · p. 73 


Delbert L. Wiens

The early Christians lived in a pagan culture that could not accept a world created good. The body was thought to be evil, a prison-house of the soul. Thus influenced, many early Christians came to deny that Jesus could have had a genuinely human body. Again and again the fathers of the Church had to fight this “spiritualizing” heresy.

The Church has always been tempted to debase the doctrine of the Fall into a doctrine of the evilness of our bodies and of this world. We too tend toward this heresy when we stress soul over against body, faith over against works, eternity over against time, and salvation over against history.

In this issue of Direction a number of writers are helping us to see that the physical and the spiritual continue to be as closely interrelated as was the humanity and divinity of our Lord. Ultimately, soul and body are not separable. Both these aspects of a deeper unity emerge only when that which is deeper is seen from different points of view.

When the “spirit” changes, the “body” must also change. The reverse is also true. The article by Vernon Ratzlaff assesses possible effects on our churches of the technological revolution and of the counter-revolution to it.

Katie Wiebe discusses the necessity of woman’s freedom in and for the churches; the “Preaching Lab” focuses on a text which reminds us of our primary commitment to God in the shifting of our times; book reviews focus on significant literature for our time and its questions. Even the article by Paul Wohlgemuth, which is a chapter in a forthcoming book and was not written specifically to reflect the theme of this issue, can be taken as a demonstration that song also arises from that place in time and space where “soul” and “body” meet.

The lead article by Alan Peters is adapted from an address to the 1971 meeting of the M.B. Historical Society of the Pacific Coast. He demonstrates that even renewal and evangelism cannot be separated from the homeliest of concerns. Mennonite family studies are almost nonexistent. The author urgently requests further family data which would be evidence for or against his hypotheses.

The editors also wish responses and rebuttals. Send them to Direction, 1717 South Chestnut, Fresno, California 93702.