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What does a naked Anabaptist look like?
Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing Network joint release
WATERLOO, Ont. and SCOTTDALE, Pa. – What does a naked Anabaptist look like? That’s what Stuart Murray wanted to know.
“Anabaptism has been around for almost 500 years, and for much of that time it has been clothed in Mennonite, Hutterite and Amish traditions and culture,” says Murray, who helps direct the Anabaptist Network in Great Britain and Ireland.
“But what does Anabaptism look like without that clothing? And do people have to become Mennonite to be an Anabaptist?”
His quest for answers to those and other questions led him to write The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith (Herald Press). Herald Press is the book imprint of Mennonite Publishing Network, a joint ministry of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.
“More and more people in Great Britain are seeing Anabaptism as an exciting way to live out their faith,” he says. “They want to know: ‘Where did Anabaptism come from? What are its core convictions?’ And, ‘Do I have to give up my own church tradition to become one?’ The Naked Anabaptist is my effort to provide some answers.”
For Murray, there are seven bare essentials, or core convictions, that make up Anabaptism.
“The first and foremost conviction is about following Jesus,” he says. “He is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord.”
Other core convictions include seeing Jesus as the focal point of God’s revelation; belief in the separation of church and state; being committed to finding ways to be “good news to the poor, powerless and persecuted”; a commitment to discipleship and mission; and seeking to live more simply.
Seeing peace as central to the gospel is also a bare essential, he says, but it is not “the center of the gospel—Jesus is the center. As followers of Jesus, we are committed to finding non-violent alternatives to violence in our world.”
Although the book was written for people in Great Britain who are interested in Anabaptism, Murray hopes it will inspire people in North America, too—including Mennonites.
“It seems to be those of us who didn’t grow up as Mennonites who are far more excited about the Anabaptist tradition than traditional Mennonites,” he observes, noting that he has been “amazed by the lack of interest in Anabaptism that I find among many North American Mennonites today. Maybe this book can help change that a bit.”
In the end, though, his goal is not to “promote Anabaptism for its own sake. My interest is in promoting a way of living that helps people to become more faithful followers of Jesus . . . I am interested in the Anabaptist tradition only as a means to an end, and that end is to point us to Jesus as the one we are to follow and worship.”
The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, is available from Mennonite Publishing Network at www.mpn.net/nakedanabaptist or by calling 1-800-631-6535 (Canada), 1-800-245-7892 (U.S.). Price: $13.99 USD/$16.09 CAD.