Spring 1985 · Vol. 14 No. 1 · pp. 2–3 

From the Editors: The Waters That Divide

Delbert L. Wiens and Allen R. Guenther

On what (baptismal) terms may Mennonite Brethren churches accept and ordain leaders coming from other churches? On what terms is it appropriate for Mennonite Brethren to become (political) leaders in the larger community?

Three articles address the energetic but inconclusive debate at the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches held last October. Is rebaptism to be required of would-be pastors if their previous believer’s baptism was by another mode than immersion? Devon Wiens explains the symbolic significance of immersion in the New Testament. Abe Konrad argues that other modes also symbolize key biblical themes and that it is, in any case, contradictory and wrong to require such rebaptism. Delbert Wiens hypothesizes that the basic issues underlying the debate are not doctrinal. What is involved, he argues, is nothing less than a Mennonite Brethren “identity crisis.”

To the second question, Richard Kyle, who guided the birthing of these articles on politics, outlines several typical Protestant answers to the relation of the Christian to the state. He argues (and Mennonite Brethren statements illustrate) that Mennonite Brethren have shifted their position on this question in recent decades.

John Redekop warns that there are many ways that active participation in secular politics can compromise a Christian’s integrity. From several years of experience in South Dakota state politics, Harvey Wollman testifies to both opportunities and occasional frustrations, but he denies that he needed to compromise his moral ideals or Christian commitment.

Biblical and theological reflection on these issues is needed, however there are few explicit New Testament texts from which answers can be derived. Harold Dyck shows that even Romans 13:1-7 does not address the specific questions we are asking.

We are also warned, in a contribution by John Fast, that political organizations which claim to speak to and for Christians—even those with a conservative ideology—may not be as orthodox as they seem. {3}


We offer our apologies for the irregular appearance of Direction in 1984. The April edition combined issues 1 and 2; the July issue was not a full double issue; the October issue is missing completely. We will adjust the expiration date of your subscription by advancing it one quarter.

Beginning in 1985 we are publishing two (expanded) issues per year in April and October. This will reduce the burden on our all-volunteer editorial and typing staff. We project a minimum of sixty and a maximum of eighty pages per issue. Each issue will treat a number of themes but will concentrate on live concerns within the Church at large and the Mennonite Brethren church in particular.

We welcome Herbert Swartz to the Managing Editor’s role and welcome back Delbert Wiens who is again applying his skills and insights to the task of copy editing.

The format redesign is part of our new look. Behind the scenes lies a move of the Managing Editor’s functions to Fresno and computerization of the typing and typesetting process.

Again, our sincere apologies for the disruption of services in 1984. Thank you for your faithful support. We welcome your written responses to the redesign of Direction as well as to the substance of this issue. A Reader Response section is available for your dialogue.