Spring 1997 · Vol. 26 No. 1 · pp. 2–3 

From the Editor: Looking Back Toward the Future

Douglas B. Miller

With this issue we celebrate twenty-five years of Direction by taking a look back, and also by turning our gaze forward. It has been fascinating to comb through issues of the journal published over the past two and a half decades. In Elmer Martens’ contribution to this issue, he chronicles some of that journey and helps us to better understand and appreciate the process. By his assessment, one positive result of Direction has been increased collegiality among Mennonite Brethren educational institutions.

Delbert Wiens, in his reprint article, shows us both the motivations and the concerns that gave Direction its birth. This challenges us to ponder what it is today we find to be of consequence. Both of these essays give insight into the objectives and priorities of those who have guided and crafted this journal’s ministry to the church.

Looking across the ocean, both backward and forward, John B. Toews revisits a Mennonite Brethren community in Kazakhstan and finds his anticipations of a requiem to be premature. Likewise, Herb and Maureen Klassen enable us to explore the intersection of Mennonitism and Russian Orthodoxy through the life of Alexander Men.

On this side of the water, Paul Toews gives an overview, highlights, and a challenge from the recently completed four-volume “Mennonite Experience in America” project. Then Richard Kyle helps us to divine the future as he examines millennialism through two thousand years of Western Church history. Looking back on his personal journey, David Ewert offers us wisdom from his considerable study and reflection upon the Scriptures.

Part of our look forward this issue comes with the installation of a new General Editor. The journal has a new look about its cover, as well as change in its interior layout. There is a new department, Ministry Compass, which will especially devote itself to practical ministry concerns and interests. It is inaugurated by Gaylord Goertzen, who investigates the value of pastoral journals.

We continue to include current research from faculty of the supporting institutions and books recommended in regard to the present theme. While we intend to retain a thematic focus for each issue, we are also open to unsolicited writing and hope in each issue to include quality work on other topics as well.

The Editorial Council has also looked forward, not only to the perennial question of upcoming themes and authors, but also to additional possibilities for the journal’s ministry. In the past, attempts to motivate letters to the editor or other written responses to Direction’s contents produced little results. Perhaps an electronic bulletin board {3} would help us better hear from one another. (For the present, note the editors’ e-mail addresses on the inside cover.) Should the journal itself be made available on the World Wide Web?

More fundamentally, how do those among Direction’s constituency understand its purpose? It professes to provide a “forum,” hence the new subtitle on the cover. Is it important for us to converse with one another on matters biblical, theological, educational, and ecclesiological—in the broadest senses of those terms? If it is important, how might we best do this both within the denomination and beyond?

Should Direction strive to provide “a vehicle for Mennonite Brethren schools to speak with a united voice to the churches and to point the way theologically” as Professor Martens describes? Does the concept of a forum suggest something less unified, a place where diversity can be identified, respected—dare we say celebrated—as a means to better discern the mind of Christ and the Spirit?

I have been reminded recently of the concerns expressed in Eph 4:13-15. There it is indicated that “grow[ing] up in all aspects into him who is the head, Christ,” “building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith,” and “no longer be[ing] children” will involve “speaking the truth (al?theu?) in love.” This interesting Greek verb suggests not only speech but perhaps also a life consistent with what is rightly spoken.

Possibly it is time to call the diversity among us and around us into more vital and earnest conversation, to prod our willingness to listen and learn. With what do we agree? With what take exception? About what should we caution and warn?

When we communicate out of love for one another, the very activity may strengthen not only ourselves but also our witness that Christ is among us (John 13:35). To that end, looking back with gratitude, we dedicate Direction journal to the days ahead.

Douglas Miller, General Editor

Note: We regret the inadvertent omission of John B. Toews’ name in the Spring 1996 issue. Although mentioned in the editorial, he should have been more clearly credited (in the table of contents and on p. 55) for the introduction and translation of the Heinrich Huebert letters.

We note with sadness the passing of Wes Prieb whose contributions to the Mennonite Brethren and to Tabor College are a source of gratitude. His final article for Direction appears in the book review section of this issue.