Previous | Next

Fall 1993 · Vol. 22 No. 2 · pp. 96–102 

Current Research

Elmer A. Martens


Friesen, J. Stanley. Missionary Responses To Tribal Religions at Edinburgh 1910. University of Iowa (Doctor of Philosophy in Religion, 1992).Chief Mentor/Advisor: Professor James C. Spalding.

Current Position. Pastor, College Community Church Mennonite Brethren, Clovis, CA

Missionaries of the imperialist era (1880-1920) have not been adequately heard or represented with respect to their understandings and evaluations of religion in tribal societies in the post-colonial era. This dissertation is a study of missionaries who contributed to the report on “Animistic Religions” for Commision IV of the World Missionary Conference held at Edinburgh in 1910.

The project utilizes the published works of these missionaries and the unpublished responses to the Questionnaire circulated by the Commision IV in preparation for the conference.

The findings of this study indicate that the paternalistic mood, structure and design of the conference did not encourage dialogue with the younger churches of Asia and Africa in their development of theology and religious practice. However, missionaries with anthropological interests, such as Henry Callaway and Henri Junod of African religions, contributed significant initiatives to the study of African religions. They conceived of the relationship of Christianity to African religions in complementary ways, using the concepts of fulfillment and transformation.

The study develops five models of how missionaries conceptualized from their theological and ethical positions, the relationship of Christianity to tribal religions:

  1. The radical displacement model of W. D. Armstrong of the interdenominational Regions Beyond Missionary Union;
  2. The two level displacement model of Johannes Warneck and German Lutheran pietists, which held in tension the corporate levels of religions in tribal societies with the missionaries own personal and individual understanding of Christianity;
  3. The moral reconstruction model of Donald Fraser and others from British and American Protestantism;
  4. Robert Nassau’s continuity/rejection model from American Protestantism; {97}
  5. The fulfillment/affirmation model of Godfrey Callaway and the Anglican high church tradition.

These models, except that of W. D. Armstrong, have the capacity to discriminate between elements of tribal religion that can be accepted, incorporated, transformed, or fulfilled and those incompatible with the Christian faith. The broad judgement that missionaries at Edinburgh regarded African religions as demonic and to be uprooted is not supported by this study.

Ediger, Gerald C. “Deutch and Religion: Ethnicity, Religion and Canadian Mennonite Brethren; 1940-1970.” Toronto School of Theology, Emmanuel College of Victoria University and the University of Toronto (Doctor of Theology, 1993). Advisor: Dr. John Moir.

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Historical Theology, Concord College, Winnipeg, AB.

This analysis grows out of the dynamic interrelationship of religion, ethnicity and language. The religious and institutional experience of Canadian Mennonite Brethren in the middle decades of the twentieth century demonstrates how language can become a vital symbol in the inevitable process of adjustment and assimilation forced upon an immigrant denomination in modern society. Pursuing a better understanding of the factors and developments associated with the process by which Mennonite Brethren exchanged German for English has demonstrated that the history of this denomination must take language controversy into account as one fundamental element of Mennonite Brethren religious experience between 1940 and 1970.

This language controversy has been traced in the institutional documents of the denomination’s Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches up to the mid-1960s, and in case studies of language transition in three local congregations in Manitoba. Both levels of analysis demonstrate that within a generation Mennonite Brethren religious experience underwent a basic reorientation. Formerly, religion and language—Mennonite Brethren faith and German—were assumed to be an insoluble unity, but the monopoly of the German language in the sphere of religion was broken by the 1970s, and a determined crusade to salvage a privileged status for the German language had failed and amid painful controversy and division. While elements of bilingualism remained, English became the official language of Mennonite Brethren work and faith, and the {98} assumption of linguistic solidarity was exchanged for a pragmatic diversity of languages.

A range of factors involved in this process are documented. Youth and education, mission and outreach, and the role and influence of leaders tended to act as factors promoting the process of language transition. Immigration, a deep-seated concern to safeguard the integrity and social separation of Mennonite faith and life, and a tendency to imbue the German language with intrinsic sacred significance all help to account for the passion and pain that accompanied the transition process. While these factors and their analysis are not, in themselves, definitive for the question of Mennonite Brethren identity as an ethno-religious group, they can contribute to an understanding of the enduring potency of forces such as language, religion and ethnicity in human affairs.

Klassen, Roy L. “The Influences of Mennonite College Choral Curricula upon Music Practices in American Mennonite Churches.” Arizona State University (Doctor of Musical Arts DMA, 1990). Advisor: Dr. David Stocker

Current Position: Professor of Music, Fresno Pacific College, Fresno, CA

The purpose of the study was to investigate music curricula and related experiences available for church choral directors in selected Mennonite colleges throughout the United States. The churches in the study were those with memberships of more than 200 parishioners. Inquiry was also directed at the choral directors of the six Mennonite colleges in the United States to ascertain their perceptions of the college preparation of church musicians.

Data used to describe preparation in church music were collected through: (a) questionnaires to Mennonite church choral directors; and (b) questionnaires to Mennonite college choral professors.

Findings of the study included: (a) in Mennonite churches where there were no paid choral leaders, it was quite commonplace to note that the most important musical leaders within the congregation were the song or hymn directors reflecting positively upon the historical tradition of importance placed upon congregational singing within the larger Mennonite community: (b) courses perceived to be most helpful in the preparation of church choral leadership were choral ensemble, conducting, and private instruction (voice); (c) there are not enough full-time church choral music leadership positions available within the Mennonite church to warrant the addition of specific courses in church music; (d) financial remuneration tends to encourage young music graduates to pursue careers in public {99} school music teaching rather than church music; (e) college sponsored workshops and seminars in choral music are important to the growth and public relations of each of the colleges; (f) Mennonite churches who financially support their young people specifically to the Mennonite college choral music program will b e more likely to see those students return to their churches as choral leaders; and (g) colleges would see a greater retention of students in the area of church music leadership if internship programs were included as a mandatory addition to the music curriculum.

Esau, Heinrich. “Grassroots Approach To Growth and Mission.” Fuller Theological Seminary School of Theology (Doctor of Ministry, Church Growth, 1993). Mentor: Dr. Ray S. Anderson.

Current Position: Pastor in Sao Paulo, Brazil

“Grassroots Approach to Church Growth and Mission” emphasizes the involvement and mobilization of the laity of the church in mission. The focus is upon empowering the members of the church as the body of Christ to carry out Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. Unless Christians connect what they do day to day with what they believe God wants them to do, they will not find ultimate meaning in their work and in their relationship with God and others. World Christians must be freed from budget- and building- bound ministries and entrust themselves into a new creative way of doing things, at all times, as for the Lord. Christians must move as a mighty army of God in all the world using their strength, resources, professions, gifts and abilities to build the Kingdom of God. When a church rediscovers its identity as being the body of Jesus Christ and submits itself to His Lordship, it ceases to be a pastor’s church and the Holy Spirit can assume His rightful place. The pastor’s and elder’s role is not that of controlling others but of being controlled by the Holy Spirit and make disciples.

The dissertation is divided into three parts. The first part presents a personal testimony as an illustration of what it means to be actively involved as a church member in Christ’s ministry. The second part, divided into two chapters, presents theological perspectives. One chapter focuses on Christopraxis theology, Lordship of Christ, the Holy Spirit in church growth and mission, the scripture as a manual for the church growth and mission, the priesthood of all believers, the servant leader and disciple-maker, the equality of men and women in service, the Gospel’s mission mandate, and love. Another chapter presents the Lord’s Prayer as basic for a practical theology of church growth and mission. The chapter is an overview of a theology of ministry and mission, based upon biblical {100} exegesis and using a variety of primary sources. The third part, divided into two chapters, discusses practical issues related to church growth and mission. Chapter four focuses on ministries that happen in and around the church’s meeting place, such as worship, community life, prayer, disciplemaking leadership, and a Christlike philosophy of economics. Chapter five focuses on outreach ministries that happen outside of the meeting place and are intended to help in the proclamation of the gospel among the non-converted. The emphasis is on integrating jobs, professions and leisure with faith and mission.


Fast, David. “The Male Experience of Gender, Emotional, Relational, and Sexual Insecurity: Realities, Roots, and Remedies”

Gavrilov, Michael. “In Search of Identity: The Problem of Assimilation Facing the Church of Recent Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union to the United States of America”

Isaak, Mary Anne. “A Description of the Theology Expressed in Song of the Mennonite Brethren Church of Zaire”

Martinez, Juan. “Ministry Among United States Hispanics by an Ethno-Religious Ministry: A Mennonite Brethren Case Study” (School of World Mission, Fuller Seminary. Th.M., 1988).

Neufeld, Tim. “Pastoral Care of Adolescents from Divorced Families”

Pauls, Gerald. “The Imprecations of the Psalmists: A Form-Critical Study” {101}


Bergen, Cal. “Church Leadership at Ephesus: A Sketch”

Crabbe, Richard. “Positive Confession: Faith in Faith or Faith in God?”

Deines, Ed. “When Prayer Doesn’t Bring Peace . . . Philippians 4:6-7”

Enns-Rempel, Connie. “Toward Mutuality, Empathy and Care: Paul’s Body Metaphor (1 Corinthians 12: 12-27) and the Stone Center Model”

Isaac, Mark. “The Pastor as Public Figure: Beyond Servicing Religious Consumers”

Klassen, Darlene D. “The Role of “Command” in Education From Deuteronomy 6”

Klassen, George A. “Community Hermeneutic: Building the Church”

Koontz, Margaret. “In the Discipline and Admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6: 4”

Laird, R. Steven. “The Problem of Suffering: A Pastoral Perspective”

Martens, Dorothy. “Sin and Suffering”

Martens, Joan. “The Necessary Losses of Discipleship: A Psychological Application of Luke 9: 57-62”

Neufeld, Gordon. “Honesty with Self, Others, and God as a Means to Wholeness”

Pankratz, Bob. “Motivated by Mercy or Sacrifice? Matthew 9: 9-13”

Prieb, Steven W. “Discipleship: The Key to Effective Christianity”

Pries, Brent. “Identity Crises”

Rieger, Nathan. “Good News for Post-Modern Man: Christus Victor in the Lucan Kerygma”

Sinclair-Peters, David. "The Mission of the Church to the Poor {102}

Untalon, Pete. “Getting Rid of Bitterness”

Wiens, Harry. “Towards One Baptism”

Woodrell, Michael. “Mennonites, Membership and the Ecclesiastical Revolution”

* Theses (100-120 pp) and Senior Seminar Essays (30-35 pp), unless otherwise noted, were completed to meet M.A. and M.Div. requirements respectively at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (1993), and are catalogued in Hiebert Library.

Previous | Next