From the Editors: The Mennonite Brethren Ethos
In Recognition and Appreciation of Dr. Clarence Hiebert, Professor of Biblical/Religious Studies and History.
The publication of the long-awaited book about the Mennonite Brethren by a patriarch of the denomination, J. B. Toews, is a strong stimulus to examine the denomination’s history and ethos. Note the two book reviews.
Several recurring questions thread their way through the following articles. Harry Loewen asks whether the tap root for the denomination was singularly Anabaptist-Mennonite, or whether Baptist and Pietist influences were determining in shaping an ethos. Paul Toews examines two major histories of the denomination, each from a different viewpoint, and so presses the question of identity further. Steven Brandt’s survey of denominational teaching in the colleges and Marvin Hein’s sketch on denominational networking both illumine the question.
A second recurring strand is that of inclusion and integration. Mennonite Brethren are no longer monolithically Dutch/Russian/ German. Four essays treat the shape of the assimilating groups as diverse as: African-American, Latinos, French, and German immigrants leaving Russia (Aussiedler). A denomination has maturity when it can deal constructively with criticism.
The trade-mark ministries of relief to the needy, assistance in overseas development projects, and more recently attention to issues of justice coalese in the towering Mennonite ecumenical agency which is soon to celebrate its 75th anniversary: the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Ron Mathies and John Redekop offer vigorous, though differing assessments of the agency.
Throughout are posed issues that will surely engender lively debate. Even the interpretation of Romans 13 by Matthew Neufeld falls into the category of controversy. Professor Paul Toews helpfully assisted in planning this issue of Direction.
Clarence Hiebert, an emeritus professor at Tabor College with thirty years of service, and now its interim president, has throughout his career contributed toward the clarification of Mennonite Brethren identity. To him this edition of Direction is respectfully and gratefully dedicated.
Regrettably, due to extenuating circumstances, the spring 1994 issue had a disproportionate number of typographical errors. We sincerely apologize to writers and readers.
The spring 1995 issue will be devoted to the subject of teaching and appropriating the Bible.