Spring 1991 · Vol. 20 No. 1 · p. 2 

From the Editors: Mennonite Brethren and Evangelicalism

Elmer A. Martens

A denomination, like an individual, is known by the company it keeps. This issue of Direction explores the affinities which the Mennonite Brethren denomination has, or does not have, with Evangelicalism. The scholars who guide us into this exploration are historians, theologians, philosophers, and archivists. These guides, in highlighting a variety of facets, pull and tug the reader, but not always in a uniform direction.

No small discussion emerges around the profile of an Evangelical. Theologian Walter Unger paints a lucid picture of Evangelicalism’s self-understanding. Historian Paul Toews profiles the variety within evangelicalism. Sociologist and historian Richard Kyle describes how Mennonite Brethren have related and how they would do well to relate to Evangelicalism. Philosopher-poet Delbert Wiens goes a different way. For Mennonite Brethren to move into a cozy association with Evangelicals, he argues, is too much like selling one’s birthright for a mess of pottage, or, to use his figure of speech, for “brittle wineskins.” Gerry Ediger offers a rejoinder: “Not so!” Further grist for the debating mill is served up by Kevin Enns-Rempel’s annotated bibliography.

More sure footing is provided by hard data about evangelicals as supplied, sometimes by nationals and sometimes by expatriots, from selected countries on several continents: Germany, Zaire, Colombia, India and Japan. The inclusion of this material signals this periodical’s commitment to highlight the globalization of the church.

Alongside the theme articles, Greg Camp reopens the ever-tantalizing issue of biblical interpretation, and Bible instructor John Vooys brings to bear directives about leadership from the Apostle Paul on the current leadership agenda. The second and final installation of Heinrich Epp’s account of the founding of the Einlage Church in Russia is an oversized but important historical endnote.

The Fall 1991 edition will carry the papers from the denomination’s major conference on church growth.