July 1975 · Vol. 4 No. 3 · p. 325 

In This Issue

Delbert L. Wiens

The three essays in this issue focus on the nature of the Church. The authors are from very different backgrounds and treat the subject in very different ways.

One is a Bible teacher who did not grow up as a Mennonite. He analyzes the meaning of church in the New Testament. The second is a life-long Mennonite with a record of service for and in the Mennonite Brethren Church. He looks at our traditional theology of the Church and compares our theory with our practice. The third writer is a young graduate student from a large M.B. community. His method is to set up a series of models (pure types) and to show how these types have been worked out in history.

And yet all three are in substantial agreement. All assume that there is something basically wrong with “church” as we know it. All three try to alter, and deepen, our understanding of the nature of the Christian community. All of them recognize that our attitudes and our structures must be changed. All of them hold out the hope that the present structures can be reformed in harmony with scriptural and theological principles.

No one should be content that these brief essays say all that needs to be said. Hopefully, some will argue for or against what they have said. But even if they are essentially right in their analysis, it is the judgment of this editor that the hope they hold out that Mennonite Brethren will become “true church” has a “forced,” “tacked on,” ring. If so, the underlying pessimism is not the fault of the authors. Pessimism is the mood of many thoughtful observers of our brotherhood.