Posted by: thebylog | February 13, 2005

He Sounds (sorta) Like a Mennonite

Last weekend, when I was in Seattle visiting friend BK, I went to his church, Mars Hill. Radically different, in many respects, to the church environment I’ve grown up in, it was nevertheless a spiritually uplifting experience.

This is a large church, made up of many different types of people. Instead of retreating into (or continuing in) a sort of Christian subculture, as so many churches have, a goal of this church from its genesis was to actively engage the culture. This results in a somewhat different atmosphere than you’d find in most evangelical circles, one that embraces art and “culture”, yet one that stands uncompromising in core Christian doctrine and obedience to Scripture as they see it.

They have a periodic magazine/newsletter called Vox Pop (you can download a copy from their website–please do). A couple of articles caught my eye, one in particular that I want us to think about (if you’ve read the article in the issue of Vox Pop by now because you’ve downloaded it, that’d be good).

Now, googling “Donald Miller morality” leads to more than one review of his book, Searching For God Knows What, and also a fascinating article from the Oregonian of all newspapers. In this article he is implicitly identified with the Christian left, but don’t let that scare you (or maybe you should).

In that Oregonian article, he has pretty harsh words for Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones III, and James Dobson, casting them in a pharisaical light. In his “Morality” article (download it!), he argues that trying to declare a “war” on the evil in our culture is harmful to the Gospel and antithetical to Christ’s teachings. Jesus preached love, not war, and a morality that results from the Gospel, not morality alone.

Perhaps he articulates, in his article (download it!), why I can’t shut up about this idea of Christianity, the conservative right, and how so many Mennonites seem to buy unquestioningly anything that is presented in the form of conservative political dogma.

At the very least, it (the article–download it!) presents a strong case for a different sort of strategy than that employed by many evangelicals and implicitly applauded by many Mennonites.

Not to say that there aren’t possibly strong arguments for a Moral Majority sort of mission, but … not so much. I think Mennonites (theoretically at least) have it right: forget about politics, focus on transforming the world with the Gospel. Miller makes the point in the Oregonian article that if you’re going to “not fight back”, as was Christ’s example, you’re not going to get to the top. Christ didn’t. Him and most of his disciples died (praise God only his disciples – not Him – “ended up” dead!).

Trying to make the world moral, it just seems like misplaced effort.



  1. I don’t know By. I have my own theories as to why you’re obsessed with political liberalism.

    Anyway, I couldn’t find the link on their site. The way it’s set up you can’t deep link into it, but can you give more instructions as to where to find it on their site?

    Maybe I’m just blind.

  2. I agree with you By. While what conservatives say may be right, the means of getting there often doesn’t line up with what Christ teaches. The world will be changed for the better only when Christians are willing to really follow Christ in their own lives. Completely. Not still looking back into Egypt for their happiness. Ouch thats hard!

  3. Another thing, if you look at the track record of American Christians, where can the world turn for help?

  4. I would rather hear how this author views other topics as well as this one on the ratification of the political right by the Christian ‘right’. How does he address other topics such as divorce and remarrisge, personal responsibility to the scriptural commandments of holiness, or loyality to Christ’s spiritual body, the Church. I agree that war is wrong for the Christian to engage in, however, the political entity of government doesn’t have this proscription. If we don’t vote there is not a problem; if we do vote then there is some deep searching and praying to do. Does this author espouse doctrines, other than Christ’s condemnation of war or retaliation, that don’t line up with Christ’s other teachings? The package is total for us all to embrace. I am of the conviction that we Christians ought not comment on the business of government in any direction it takes and tend to Kingdom work. May God lead us to the truth.

  5. Ok, I got the article by Steve Duin and it answered a few questions. I see that Mr. Miller is on the right track because he sees the lack of spirituality in the mainstream’ Christian religion’. He sees the true Church in the job of Kingdom building for God, as Miller said, we are not to attempt to build a utopia on earth. So far Miller sounds (sorta) like a Mennonite! I may try to get a copy of his book for further study. I was also struck by Miller’s comment that ‘No Christian organization is chaining itself to the doors over the issue of divorce etc.’ This is one sin that has done more damage to the church and society in general and led to all the other sins we deal with today. And he is right about all the war rhetoric in the evangelical groups. Good review by Duin. May God lead us, take care.

  6. Good thoughts. So, what’s our first step of action?

  7. Shelley, I think the first step of action would be always to pray. Without guidance from God we can not even start. Second, it seems to me that we all have to be faithful to the Word of God in its total message. We are ‘reborn’ people as the children of God; as transformed people we should live within that frame work that God expects of us. No one person will do all that needs to be done, however, as each one is dedicated to the work of the kingdom and reliant on the Holy Spirit we can start change. I guess what I am saying is, we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Do we support the political kingdom or the kingdom of God in this world? I have struggled in my walk with this choice and have come to the decision that Christ wants me to leave it all to Him and to focus my attention on bringing Christ to the fields ‘white to harvest’ that I have around me daily. Does this make sense? While we can not feed everyone or house or cloth them, we do try to help those we can, but let us not forget to show them God by bringing them to Christ. Are we salt and light or do we, in our shelfishness, contribute to the pain and suffering in the world? I hope this ‘comment’ is helpful, may God lead us and may we be found faithful.

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