This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Brave heretics

Blessings to Chester and Sara Jane Wenger (“Lancaster Conference Terminates Retired Pastor’s Credentials,” Nov. 24) for their courageous acts of love and devotion to making the world a bit better. They follow in the footsteps of courageous Mennonites of yesteryear. Two examples: In The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant pointed to the Jewish philosopher Spinoza, excommunicated by a Jewish synagogue, who decided, in the words of Durant, “there are few places in this world where it is safe to be a philosopher, [and thus] he went to live in a quiet attic room. . . . His host and hostess were Christians of the Mennonite sect, and could in some measure understand a heretic.” In History of Knowledge, Charles Van Doren wrote that “the earliest protest against slavery in the American colonies dates to 1688, when a Mennonite meeting in Germantown, Pa., penned a memorandum stating its profound opposition to Negro slavery.” These were the heretics and simple libertarians of yesteryear. The Wengers show we have not lost our courage to be heretical and visionary.

Carl S. Keener
State College, Pa.

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