Spring 1998 · Vol. 27 No. 1 · pp. 2–3 

From the Editor: Confessing the Faith

Douglas B. Miller

The Old Testament scholar Gerhard von Rad has drawn our attention to the importance of faith confessions in Israel’s history. In texts such as Exodus 15:1-18, Deuteronomy 26:5-9 and Joshua 24:2-13, the people of Abraham celebrated what the Lord had done for them. In addition, numerous of the Psalms similarly repeat such acts of God (e.g., Ps. 136) as well as exhort the faithful to “proclaim the Lord’s goodness” on their behalf (Pss. 40:9-10; 89:1-2; 96:1-10; 145:1-7).

Confessing (homologe?) and confession (homologia) are mentioned frequently in the New Testament. Confessing one’s faith is something done collectively (2 Cor. 9:13), but it is also required of each disciple to confess Jesus before others (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10). It is something to be done boldly, yet it may be costly (John 9:22; 12:42). Confessing is done with the mouth but must be demonstrated by action (Titus 1:16). One must “hold onto” one’s confession to avoid falling away from the faith in the midst of hardship (Heb. 3:1, 12-13; 4:14; 10:23).

In the New Testament we also find possible examples of early Christian creeds (1 Cor. 8:6; Phil. 2:6-11; 1 Tim. 3:16). If we need any further rationale for faith confessions, it may be found in their time-honored tradition throughout the history of the Christian church.

Writers in the present issue of the journal help us to think through several dimensions of this topic. They show us why it is important in each new generation for any body of Christian believers to ask themselves, and one another, What is it that we believe? What unites us in our thinking, in our being, and in our doing as people of Christian faith? They also caution us regarding the ways in which we would carry out such a process.

Recognizing the importance of these questions and of the task, the Board of Faith and Life (BFL) has undertaken the responsibility of coordinating a revision of the Mennonite Brethren Confession. As this issue goes to press, the Board has presented a proposal for thirteen newly written articles (July 1997), has in turn received counsel from individuals and congregations, and has come forth with a fresh draft (April 1998). It is especially important to recognize that the authors of the present essays were responding to the July 1997 version and not that of April 1998 (see full text of the latter in this issue, and final version on the Web at

As Lynn Jost points out in his “Reflection,” one of the primary values of revising a confession is the communication and sharpening which comes from the process itself. Delbert Wiens presents a shortened version of the critique he offered earlier to the BFL. Kazuhiro Enomoto responds to Article 13 out of his Japanese context. Abraham {3} Friesen challenges us to consider the significance of what we might be omitting from our new confession if we fail to pay attention to previous MB statements. J. Denny Weaver urges us to ponder the importance of Christology and of atonement models in particular. The distinction between a propositional approach and a more narrative one is offered by Harry Huebner. Summary and comments on the process of confession making are given by Helmut Harder (the MC/GC experience) and Lynn Jost (the current MB revision), both of whom chaired revision committees.

Also in this issue find Jacob A. Loewen’s tribute to his professor P. E. Schellenberg, a challenge to rethink our priority as congregations from Rodney Anderson (Ministry Compass), five book reviews, and a report of publishing activity among us in Current Research.

Douglas Miller, General Editor