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Fall 1987 · Vol. 16 No. 2 · pp. 71–72 

Book Review

Witnesses of a Third Way: A Fresh Look at Evangelism

Henry J. Schmidt. Elgin, IL: Brethren, 1986. 145 pages.

Reviewed by Roland Reimer

I write with a bias. I attended Alive ’85 in Denver, Colorado, an Anabaptist Evangelism Consultation. While reading the thirteen presentations from that conference represented in this book, I recalled and regained something of the challenge, stimulation, instruction, and joy shared by the 1,500 who were present at this mountain-top experience.

Regrettably, many of the presentations from the twelve plenary sessions and 85 workshops could not be included. The editor is to be commended for the breadth, comprehensiveness, and diversity he captured in these representative chapters. The essence and spirit of the occasion again came alive for me, and it is good that Alive ’85 has been given a permanent record.

The book is helpfully organized into two sections which cover the content and context of the “Third Way,” a term used to describe the alternative which Anabaptism represents. Although the term “Third Way” is not defined with clarity, it is described amply in the introduction as the historic Anabaptist demand for commitment to Jesus Christ in radical biblicism and discipleship.

According to most church historians, the people of God known as the Anabaptists were originally effective and dynamic communicators of the gospel as they went about calling people to commitment to the Lord and to His church as communities of believers. It is most appropriate that we unitedly give time, energy, and attention to this theme in an era when we apparently suffer from a dearth of radical discipleship within our tradition.

Since the material is written by representatives of the seven Anabaptist denominations and one Baptist (a fraternal guest), it is understandable that diversity in style, content, and approach would appear.

Hence the book represents a chapter-to-chapter resource rather than a composite which brings together any conclusion or summary. Without question, however, the conference’s theme and message is carried out in the presentations. {72}

The Mennonite Brethren will be pleased to note that they are represented in each of the two sections. David Ewert gives a timeless biblical statement based upon a textual treatment of a Pauline letter. Henry Schmidt calls us to accountability in the urban scene in a very practical way with keen insight based on current data. Then the book concludes with an illustration of churches who are experiencing the blessing of church growth and God’s favor. The last one listed is a Mennonite Brethren church, namely Laurel Glen Bible Church of Bakersfield, California, which Ed Boschman pastors.

Readers should be aware that some of the content of the presentations has been lost because of space limitations. Despite active involvement by a number of women, the paucity of major presentations by women is reflected in the fact that only one of the thirteen chapters is written by a woman. I also note that the book is dominantly geared to North American Anabaptists by North American Anabaptists. Only Donald Jacobs’ “Peace Evangelism and Social Justice In The Third Way” projects a more global view and anthropological perspective of the gospel.

In addition to the stated purposes, this compilation of concise, unapologetic, and nondefensive presentations can explain to the uninformed who evangelical Anabaptists are and what they believe about evangelism. I wholeheartedly commend it to readers. It is well-suited for study in Sunday Schools (there are thirteen chapters) and small groups. The study guides and bibliography both stimulate discussions and guide readers to other resources.

Roland Reimer
Senior Pastor
First Mennonite Brethren Church
Wichita, Kansas

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