April 1983 · Vol. 12 No. 2 · p. 2 

In This Issue: Pluralism

Allen R. Guenther

From its very inception the church of Jesus Christ has been multicultural, embracing Jews and Greeks, slave and free, male and female. These categories transcend color of skin, status, rank or sex. They also reflect ways of thinking and relating, societal and personal values, traditions and ideals. In this issue of Direction we raise the question of how the church faces a pluralistic society today, a task which has the agenda of applying the dictum: the church is in the world and yet not of the world. The North American Mennonite Brethren Church becomes the point of our analysis and application.

Eric Mierau and Leslie Mark examine the validity and implications of identifying oneself with an ethnic tradition. Does a conscious ethnicity have a place in the church? Both writers have extensive cross cultural experience. On the face of it, their articles reflect similar viewpoints but there are also a number of stimulating variations in their approaches and responses.

Marvin Warkentin probes the meaning of church discipline in a setting in which social pressures no longer carry clout as a restraining or shaping force. What, then, is the nature and function of church discipline in our society?

Two further articles explore separate expressions of pluralism and their implications for the life of God’s people. Ronald Neufeldt forces us to come to terms with the variety of religious traditions within our society; Judith Dick raises questions about how religious and moral values are taught within the public school system.

These writers press on us the need to rethink the meaning, message, ministry and body life of the church of Jesus Christ in a world made enormously variegated and rich by its complexity and increased interrelationships.

The next issue of Direction will focus on studies in the Pauline Epistles.