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Spring 2005 · Vol. 34 No. 1 · pp. 15–28 

A Sketch of Early Mennonite Brethren Spirituality

Gerald Ediger

Mennonites, and with them Mennonite Brethren, are joining the growing discourse around Christian spirituality. C. Arnold Snyder’s new book, Following in the Footsteps of Christ: The Anabaptist Tradition, 1 is recent evidence of this. Spiritual formation is also finding renewed interest in seminary curricula. Mennonite pastors are discussing contemplative prayer and seeking training as spiritual directors. The first issue of Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology, 2 jointly sponsored by institutions of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA, was dedicated to the theme of spirituality.

Early Mennonite Brethren spirituality could be characterized as evangelical, ascetic, and ordinantial.

Such activity is part of a much more widespread renaissance of interest in Christian spirituality that stretches back for more than a generation. Notable in this movement is the fact that the historic practices and theologizing of Orthodox and Catholic Christians in the spheres of mystical, or spiritual, theology are finding increasing relevance to Protestants.

With this has come a need for believers outside Catholic and Orthodox circles to reflect on the nature of their own spiritual heritage as refracted through this longer tradition. Thus, Frank S. Senn has edited a collection of essays under the title Protestant Spiritual Traditions in which the spirituality of Protestants—ranging from Lutherans to Anglicans and including Anabaptists—is characterized. 3 Joseph D. Driskill wrote Protestant Spiritual Exercises: Theory, History and Practice to create a bridge between the historic deposit of Christian spiritual disciplines and Protestant spirituality. 4 Other writers, by creating typologies, have sought to make the wisdom of the historic spiritual tradition intelligible to an enlarged circle of contemporary Christians. These typologies describe a variety of spiritual commitments and practices that can be discerned in the literary heritage of the church. The present essay will make use of this latter approach.


It would appear that no attempt has yet been made to venture a systematic description of Mennonite Brethren spirituality. This essay proposes to take a first step to that end. Without being either definitive or prescriptive, the intent here is to sketch an outline of early Mennonite Brethren spirituality that can begin to orient contemporary Mennonite Brethren believers in their process of appropriation and in their enlarging self-understanding as they explore the wider historic and contemporary array of Christian spiritual commitments and practices. While it might be argued that contemporary Mennonite Brethren faith and life is too diverse to retain much of a coherent integrity with an historic Mennonite Brethren tradition, it remains true that at a practical and institutional level Mennonite Brethren believers stand in a stream of mission, leadership formation, and confessional commitment that is rooted in almost one hundred and fifty years of common experience. To create an outline of the early form of this common heritage in categories associated with contemporary discourse about Christian spirituality may be helpful.

Those who engage in such discourse frequently feel constrained to confront the initial definitional problem, at least to some extent. What is meant by “Christian spirituality”? For the purposes of this essay, “Christian spirituality” denotes commitments and practices that enable and animate the mutual engagement of individuals and their communities with God as this engagement is manifested in God’s presence and action in their daily experience. Such commitments and practices are the grace-filled means by which humans lend their consent and cooperation to God’s presence and action within and among themselves and in the world. These commitments and practices are grounded in and shaped by the example of Jesus, the testimony of the Christian Scriptures, and the wisdom of the greater Church. The end of such mutual engagement is the formation of persons and communities in the likeness of Christ and the fulfillment of God’s purposes in the world and in creation.


It has already been suggested that a language to convey an impression of Mennonite Brethren spirituality might be appropriated from among the taxonomies of Christian spirituality that have been proposed. One such proposal is put forward by Urban T. Holmes in A History of Christian Spirituality: An Analytical Introduction. 5 For Holmes, prayer is at the center of spirituality, and he offers a schematic phenomenology of prayer, oriented according to two intersecting axes. The vertical axis or scale joins two poles that designate alternate modes of apprehending the divine: the cognitive or speculative, and the emotional or affective. The horizontal axis extends between two approaches to meditation, the apophatic (an emptying approach) and the kataphatic (an imaginative approach).

The interaction of these two axes produces four patterns of spiritu-ality. The interplay of speculative and kataphatic tendencies yields a rationalist spirituality. Kataphatic and affective orientations lead in the direction of pietist spirituality. Affective and apophatic produce a quietist pattern of spirituality, and apophatic and speculative inclinations together tend toward encratic spirituality. 6 One does not need to clarify the highly specialized language employed by Holmes to grasp his main contention that Christian spirituality is amenable to classification into four linked but distinguishable patterns. Corrine Ware builds upon Holmes’ work to offer a manual for discerning where individuals and congregations would tend to find themselves among these four patterns. 7

Much more accessible is Richard Foster’s approach in the book, Streams of Living Water. 8 Foster discerns six dimensions to the historic tradition of Christian spirituality: contemplative or the prayer-filled life, holiness or the virtuous life, charismatic or the spirit empowered life, social justice or the compassionate life, evangelical or the word-centered life, and incarnational or the sacramental life. While individuals and communities may, indeed, probably will, find themselves gravitating more toward some of these streams than others, Foster does not intend these streams to be mutually exclusive. Rather, these dimensions in their interaction and mutual reinforcement represent a healthful and balanced spirituality. Foster’s profiling of the tradition of Christian spirituality has received wide dissemination and appreciation through the work of Renovaré, Foster’s ministry of church renewal and spiritual formation. 9


For the purposes of this essay, a third classification that is less complicated, but also more compact, will serve as a schema to survey early Mennonite Brethren spirituality. Ben Campbell Johnson, in Pastoral Spirituality: A Focus for Ministry, 10 posits a number of spiritual types: evangelical, charismatic, sacramental, activist, academic, and ascetic. 11 Those oriented toward an evangelical spirituality (or piety, to use Johnson’s word) encounter God through the Bible. The Scriptures impart to the believer God’s authoritative Word, enabling the Christian to discern and to do God’s will. Such evangelical spirituality is significantly centered in personal witness and evangelism and in adherence to clear and specific biblical norms that govern daily life. Disciplines and practices that undergird such spirituality revolve around regular and frequent reading of and meditating on Scripture, fasting, and much prayer.

For Campbell Johnson, charismatic and evangelical spiritualities are closely allied in a common emphasis on the authority of the Bible and the necessity of regular and personal engagement in Bible study, prayer, and evangelism. Distinguishing charismatic spirituality is the expectation that the presence, activity, and gifts, including the extraordinary gifts, of the Holy Spirit, will be frequently manifest in daily life. God is experienced as being present and active by the Spirit in the personal and corporate life of the believer in the manner of the primitive church of Acts and the epistles and as evident in the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels. Enthusiasm, freedom, and spontaneity tend to mark their expressions of worship and ministry.

Sacramental spirituality tends to be grounded in the corporate worship of the church. The presence and grace of God is mediated to the worshiping community in and through the sacraments and in the liturgy. Christians and the church are reminded of and connected with the unfolding history of God’s activity in biblical and postbiblical times. There is a strong sense of solidarity with the historic church through the remembrance of the saints. Solidarity with the contemporary global church is fostered through a common emphasis on liturgy and Bible reading guided by the lectionary. It is the practices of the common life of the church at worship that animate and demonstrate sacramental spirituality.

Activist spirituality stands in significant contrast to the spiritual types already discussed. God is, first of all, sought and encountered in the public arena of social and political action where God is already providentially present, transforming and redeeming history. Such spirituality is less grounded in the church or in religious practices. Rather, activists tend to be issue-oriented, adopting and espousing causes associated with peace, feminism, and ecology, to cite three examples. Such spirituality is energized by actions such as “serving on a task force, challenging the establishment, [and] protesting the status quo.” 12 Campbell Johnson sees academic spirituality as being the polar opposite of activist spirituality. For academicians the encounter with God is mediated through rational thought and analysis. Their relationship with God is expressed more through reason than through emotion or direct action in the world. In this type, Christians “love God with their whole mind” in a lifestyle of study, careful analysis of issues, reflection, and teaching. 13

Finally, for Campbell Johnson, ascetic spirituality is characterized by a life of contemplation and self-denial embraced as an expression of radical devotion to God. Campbell Johnson finds such spirituality especially among priests, monks, and nuns in religious orders, and for Protestants, in “world-denying holiness movements.” 14 Campbell Johnson also acknowledges lay ascetics, organized as third orders of monastic movements, as part of this type. For the ascetic, God is encountered in daily, private and corporate, disciplines of retreat, contemplative prayer, and meditation, and spiritual reading embedded in a lifestyle of simplicity and self-denial.


Taxonomic representations are, of necessity, fraught with oversimplification and distortion. The three classifications highlighted here are no exception. One’s own tradition and commitments could suggest a variety of qualifications that might be introduced into the brief outlines of Johnson’s types that have been presented. Despite such limitations, Campbell Johnson’s categories can be useful in discerning some features of early Mennonite Brethren spirituality.

The issue in broaching such a project is the selection of a data set to inform the analysis. Ideally, a description of Mennonite Brethren spirituality should be grounded in primary sources such as journals, sermons, devotional diaries, and autobiographies. This initial assay of the field, however, is based on a reading of parts one and two of J. B. Toews’ A Pilgrimage of Faith: The Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia and North America 1860-1990. 15 Writing toward the end of more than half a century of ministry and leadership in the Mennonite Brethren Church worldwide, Toews offers an analysis of the Mennonite Brethren historical pilgrimage that is indeed grounded in historical research, but also, significantly, in pastoral reflection.

His analysis proceeds from a profound and dynamic engagement with his people which is critical and loving at the same time. Toews understands the Mennonite Brethren pilgrimage to be a quest for “spiritual integrity in matters of faith, polity, and lifestyle.” 16 It is a pilgrimage of the spirit, of geography, and of culture. 17 Without suggesting at all that Toews was writing against a background that included the understanding of spirituality introduced above, it remains the case that he uses “spiritual” continually as a deliberate category in his analysis.

At the very outset, Toews frames his analysis of the Mennonite Brethren “theological and spiritual pilgrimage” as a phenomenon of renewal rooted in a clearly defined heritage:

Mennonite Brethren belong to a dynamic Anabaptist movement that emphasized the Bible as the Word of God for faith and life, the experiential reality of a New Testament conversion, the church as an interdependent fellowship, a life of rigorous discipleship, and the church as a witnessing community in evangelism and mission. Our forebears demonstrated their faith by translating biblical teachings into life and relationships, not by apologetics or creedal dogmatism. Being “born again” meant there was a recognizable difference between the “old” and the “new.” A holy lifestyle of self-denial and a sacrificial ministry for others were hallmarks of discipleship, for Jesus had said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). 18

In his characterization of the Anabaptist heritage which he presents as foundational to the Mennonite Brethren renewal, Toews anticipates several features of faith and life that he will later underscore as being paradigmatic of the Mennonite Brethren Church: the primacy of the Bible, the existential reality of conversion, a church grounded in primary relationships, a high view of discipleship, evangelism and mission, a faith defined more by application in life than by formal or systematic theologizing, a clear distinction between the converted and the unconverted, and—receiving, perhaps, the most emphasis—a lifestyle of self-denial, sacrifice, and crossbearing.


Against this backdrop Toews sees the rise of the Mennonite Brethren as a renewal of spiritual life set in motion by reaction against what he refers to as the “stagnation” of “intellectual and spiritual life” and seriously declining ethical practices in the Russian Mennonite Commonwealth. 19 The immediate factors of spiritual renewal that are cited include the creation of small group Bible studies consisting of lay people and a recovery of a practical emphasis on personal conversion, evangelism, and mission. Such activities led to a deepening of personal piety and ethical rigor and strong commitment to a renewal of corporate spirituality by means of reforming the ordinances of baptism and communion.

The 1860 document of secession entrenched these concerns by limiting baptism to those who could witness to a prior crisis conversion experience leading to a publicly evident change of life, and renewing the practice of church discipline to “guard the purity of the church.” 20 It was the purified church that was entitled to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Along with the refurbishment of baptism and communion, the fledgling movement also saw itself as recovering the practice of foot washing, a sign of mutual submission and fellowship.

Such are the constructive elements of spiritual renewal articulated by Toews. Conversely, he strongly affirms the repudiation of manifestations of emotional enthusiasm as unbiblical excesses and aberrations. Thus, in a discussion of the consolidation of the Mennonite Brethren renewal ca. 1865, Toews approvingly cites a series of six Mennonite Brethren hallmarks that are articulated as foundational correctives of such errors:

  1. The need for systematic Bible teaching. An overemphasis on the personal experiential dimension of salvation—free grace and joy in redemption—breeds an emotional imbalance that is inconsistent with true discipleship.
  2. The importance of mutual admonition to test the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 4:1).
  3. The need for leadership with knowledge and commitment to Scripture.
  4. The importance of a firm church polity to give direction in questions of faith and life.
  5. The centrality of ethics in the expression of a scriptural faith.
  6. A form of meaningful worship, consistent with the character of God. 21

These six elements Toews selects from twelve features Abraham H. Unruh describes as lessons the Mennonite Brethren learned from the period of “excessive emotionalism” 22 that manifested itself at the birth of the Mennonite Brethren Church. Toews presents these as a reiteration of the centrality of the Bible in the face of the “failures” of the formative years. These lessons signified a resolve on the part of the Mennonite Brethren Church to “order their future according to Scripture.” This resolution was motivated by “deep repentance and shame over the failures of the past.” 23 J. A. Toews describes this past that was repudiated by the Mennonite Brethren in 1865 as “bear[ing] some resemblance to the modern charismatic movement.” 24


Emerging from this depiction of the primitive Mennonite Brethren as a phenomenon of spiritual renewal, Toews articulates a series of features that he believes delineate the Mennonite Brethren Church in the period up to 1915. A number of illuminating emphases can be highlighted from this extended discussion. Toews gives first place to an insistence that Mennonite Brethren believers are “a people of bibliocentric faith.” 25 Central to his analysis is the repeated assertion that the biblicism of the Mennonite Brethren was not grounded in formal theological dogma but in the habitual personal and corporate practice of laity and leadership alike.

Thus, Toews asserts that “to claim to believe the Bible as the Word of God meant to study it individually and communally and apply it to life,” and “biblical truth for Mennonite Brethren was existential and governed all aspects of faith and life.” 26 The application of biblical truth to daily life was a matter of discernment by the community as a whole, and Toews is careful to document what he sees as the central importance of daily personal devotions, a daily family altar centered on direct engagement with the Bible, small group lay Bible study, and intensive congregational wrestling with the biblical text in the form of Bible study conferences. For Toews, such engagement with the Bible was “at the heart of the Mennonite Brethren fellowship.” 27

In second place, and in vital connection to the bibliocentric root of Mennonite Brethren spirituality, Toews places salvation and baptism. Salvation is grounded in a radical, existential experience: “A central concern in the Mennonite Brethren movement was the salvation of the individual in a personal experience of repentance, conversion, and new birth.” 28 This three-fold delineation is not incidental. This “repentance was essential for regeneration and a pious life, and could only originate in the Word of the Lord, rightly taught and rightly understood and received in the heart by faith through the Holy Ghost.” 29 A precondition for the authenticity of such repentance was the manifestation of a deep, personal, consciousness of sin. The essential evidence of one’s conversion lay not in verbal testimony but in the community’s observation of a changed and reformed behavior in daily life.

Toews maintains that evidence of such personal reformation was absolutely necessary prior to baptism. 30 It was the insistence on such spiritual regeneration, energized by the Holy Spirit, grounded in biblical understanding, attested by the community and sealed by baptism that led in turn to the reform of the Lord’s Table. The central place of baptism as the summative sign of such personal renewal demanded a form alternate to the mode of baptism of the Mennonite Church. It is in this need that Toews finds the grounds for the Mennonite Brethren commitment to immersion as the mode of baptism, exclusive of all other modes. 31

Two more dimensions of early Mennonite Brethren faith and life can be recovered from Toews’ analysis to round out this selective profile of Mennonite Brethren commitments and practices associated with Christian spirituality. Toews maintains that the Mennonite Brethren lived out of a two-kingdom understanding of the relationship between the church and the world. He quotes Menno with approval: “The entire evangelical Scriptures teach us that the church of Christ was and is in doctrine, life, and worship, a people separate from the world.” 32 Drawing on the work of Henry W. Lohrenz, Toews enumerates a holy and sanctified life, the church as a body of interrelated believers unencumbered by considerations of hierarchy or democracy, and refusal to participate in war as being among the marks of a separated people.

Such separation, however, should not lead to physical or social disassociation of Mennonite Brethren communities from their surrounding culture. It was a separation of lifestyle and primary commitments, not of isolation or noninvolvement. Indeed, Toews insisted, Mennonite Brethren were in the world for a purpose. Being “in the world but not of the world” led to two key commitments: a “high sense of purpose fir[ing] them with enthusiasm for winning the unredeemed and mak[ing] them a missionary movement,” and secondly, “heighten[ing] their fear of carnal influences result[ing] in the strict discipline of erring members.” 33

In terms of day-to-day life, separation from the world demanded a spirituality of self-denial: “Life in the Spirit demanded self-crucifixion in response to Christ’s sacrifice.” 34 A lifestyle of moderation and circumspection in matters of eating, drinking, recreation, and pleasure was the norm. “Pleasure simply for the sake of pleasure represented selfishness and was contrary to the life of self-denial,” 35 Toews insists. He amplifies this assertion with a lengthy declamation addressing issues such as materialism, life insurance, amusements, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco, and the remarriage of divorced persons. It is in relation to this feature of Mennonite Brethren spirituality that the pilgrim-like character of the Mennonite Brethren is emphasized.

Among the signs that, for Toews, validate the Mennonite Brethren claim that it was the legitimate and authentic heir to the Anabaptist movement is missionary activism. Toews sees this heritage expressed in the call to fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28 as a necessary component of Christian discipleship incumbent upon all members of the Mennonite movement. All believers were commissioned to evangelism and mission, “not just preachers and designated missionaries.” 36 Witness and mission were first of all focused on verbally sharing the gospel and inviting others to “accept Christ as their Savior.” 37

The passion and dynamism of the widespread Mennonite Brethren lay commitment to witness, evangelism, and mission, Toews says, were motivated by two factors: the absolute certainty and confidence with which individuals were convinced of their own salvation in Christ as a result of being profoundly converted, and their equally strong certainty that all those not “genuinely saved” were destined to hell. 38 It was this passion for a lost world that maintained the tension in their relation to their surrounding culture. They insisted that they were not of the world, but they were, nevertheless, driven into the world by the necessity of mission.


If the foregoing analysis is a valid representation of Mennonite Brethren spirituality as refracted through J. B. Toews’ presentation of early Mennonite Brethren faith and life to 1915, what does it suggest in terms of the general character of early Mennonite Brethren spirituality? Placing this sketch alongside the types of Christian spirituality proposed by Campbell Johnson can lead one to several conclusions. Overwhelmingly, it appears, early Mennonite Brethren spirituality was of the evangelical type.

The absolutely central commitment to the Bible as the ground of faith and life and numerous and varied practices that express and validate that commitment seems to support such a conclusion. The certainty that the Bible could be understood and applied to life, in community, so that clear and unambiguous norms for daily practice could be projected on to private and corporate life also supports this claim. The necessity laid upon all Mennonite Brethren believers, leaders and laity, women and men, to be active in witness, evangelism, and mission corroborates the evangelical tenor of early Mennonite Brethren spirituality.

Alongside this, the Mennonite Brethren practice of separation from the world, standing in some tension with the missionary character of the movement, suggests a certain affinity with ascetic spirituality. Campbell Johnson’s depiction of ascetic spirituality is strongly flavored by a monastic perspective, but the Mennonite Brethren emphasis on self-denial, rigorous personal ethics and discipline, strongly enforced boundaries to the community in terms of personal ethics and mores all point to the possibility that early Mennonite Brethren spirituality was expressed in attitudes, commitments and practices that were ascetic in nature.

While to speak of a sacramental dimension to early Mennonite Brethren would invite immediate contradiction, the religious life of Mennonite Brethren was undeniably grounded in at least two of the ordinances, baptism and communion. These serve as the absolute boundary markers for the believing community. The celebration of these symbols, while not functioning as means of grace in the classic sense, was a continual personal and corporate participation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This participation in Christ served as the primary vehicle by which spiritual commitments were recalled and renewed. And so, three clear dimensions of early Mennonite Brethren spirituality might be proposed in terms of Campbell Johnson’s typology: evangelical, ascetic, and, if not sacramental, then ordinantial.

Equally explicit in Toews’ representation is the clear and unequivocal repudiation of charismatic spirituality. The emotional exuberance, that for some individuals and in some congregations accompanied the course of Mennonite Brethren spiritual renewal, awakened among the leaders and the majority of the movement a fear and a suspicion of what has historically been termed enthusiasm. Other positive commitments of the movement were brought to bear against the charismatics. They were unbiblical, not in keeping with the character of God, vulnerable to moral lapses, disorderly and resistant to authority.

The two other of Campbell Johnson’s features of Christian spirituality that figure in this analysis seem to be less relevant to early Mennonite Brethren experience. Mennonite Brethren were avid students of the Bible but for the greater majority this was in no way a scholarly or academic preoccupation. While rationality of course played a part in such study, the understanding and application of the Bible to life was much more a matter of community discernment guided in prayerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit and validated in obedient practice, not in systematic theological formulation structured in rational argument. Academic spirituality, then, appears not to be a strongly distinguishing feature of early Mennonite Brethren spirituality.

Activist spirituality in Campbell Johnson’s terms, that is, a desire to seek God at work in the public arenas of the world by direct and substantial engagement with social concerns, also does not seem to accord with early Mennonite Brethren spirituality. Mennonite Brethren believers were activist, indeed, but in the clear sense of mission that sought to enable people to be ready for the next world by entering an alternate society in the present. Early Mennonite Brethren were averse to participation in the political process, and energy dedicated to the immediate pursuit of a purely social agenda would have been regarded as a dangerous confusion of priorities and a failure of faithfulness.


This sketch of early Mennonite Brethren spirituality could, of course, be amplified by outlining how the impressions gained from Toews’ analysis would compare with Foster’s six streams or Holmes’ intersecting tendencies of preference. The purpose of this essay has been to propose an initial orientation for discerning the outline of Mennonite Brethren spirituality. Its findings must be considered tentative and incomplete. No opinion, for example, is being offered here as to the persistence of this characterization of Mennonite Brethren spirituality beyond 1915. Employment of alternate data sets and authorities will, no doubt, qualify or even significantly revise the suggestions made here. As a first step, it is sufficient to propose an agenda for further discussion and discernment.


  1. C. Arnold Snyder, Following in the Footsteps of Christ: The Anabaptist Tradition (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004).
  2. Spirituality, Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology 1 (fall 2000).
  3. Frank C. Senn, ed., Protestant Spiritual Traditions (New York: Paulist, 1986).
  4. Joseph D. Driskill, Protestant Spiritual Exercises: Theory, History and Practice (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1999).
  5. Urban T. Holmes III, A History of Christian Spirituality: An Analytical Introduction (New York: Harper & Row, 1980).
  6. Ibid., 2-5.
  7. Corrine Ware, Discover Your Spiritual Type: A Guide to Individual and Congregational Growth (New York: Alban Institute, 1995).
  8. Richard J. Foster, Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1998).
  9. An introduction to the work of Renovaré can be found at its Web site,
  10. Ben Campbell Johnson, Pastoral Spirituality: A Focus for Ministry (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1988), 68ff.
  11. Ibid., 73. Johnson also includes a seventh type, eastern, to acknowledge the growing influence of Buddhism specifically, and briefly assesses it from within a Christian frame of reference. The present discussion will restrict itself to Johnson’s first six types.
  12. Ibid., 71.
  13. Ibid., 72.
  14. Ibid., 73.
  15. J. B. Toews, A Pilgrimage of Faith: The Mennonite Brethren Church in Russia and North America 1860-1990 (Winnipeg, MB, and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1993).
  16. Ibid., iii.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid., 2-3.
  19. Ibid., 5-6.
  20. Ibid., 13.
  21. Ibid., 15, citing A. H. Unruh, Die Geschichte der Mennoniten-Bruedergemeinde 1860-1954 (Hillsboro, KS: The General Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church of North America, 1955), 130-34.
  22. J. A. Toews, A History of the Mennonite Brethren Church: Pilgrims and Pioneers, ed. A. J. Klassen (Fresno, CA: Board of Christian Literature, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 1975), 58. “Excessive emotionalism” is how J. A. Toews characterizes the froeliche Richtung or what Unruh calls the “ueberfroelichen Periode” (Unruh, Geschichte, 130).
  23. Toews, Pilgrimage, 15
  24. Toews, History, 58.
  25. Toews, Pilgrimage, 17ff.
  26. Ibid., 18-19.
  27. Ibid., 27.
  28. Ibid., 29.
  29. Ibid., 32.
  30. Ibid., 35.
  31. Ibid., 37.
  32. Ibid., 69.
  33. Ibid., 73-74.
  34. Ibid., 75.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Ibid., 82.
  37. Ibid., 85.
  38. Ibid., 86.
Gerald Ediger is Associate Professor of Christian History at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba and also teaches in the area of Christian spirituality.

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