This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Is this ‘Mennonite’?

I was shocked and saddened to read the advertisement, “Declaration of the Marginal Mennonite Society” (in the Jan. 16 print edition). I have questions for those in the society and for the MWR editor.

To those in the society: You have a right to believe what you wish, but why refer to it as related to the Mennonite church? What is your definition of Mennonite, and what is it based on?

Throughout our history, the Mennonite church has been defined by doctrinal beliefs, which were the basis of internal and external life. In the early Anabaptist era, it was the Schleitheim Confession. Today, for many North Americans, it is the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective. So in what sense are you a Mennonite society? The least you could do would be to put quotation marks around “Mennonite,” as you did for “beliefs.”

To the editor: I assume you have guidelines identifying material you will and will not publish. What guidelines were you following when you decided to include this ad?

John R. Martin
Harrisonburg, Va.

Editor Paul Schrag responds: MWR welcomes diverse views about Christian faith and life, especially from those who consider themselves Mennonite or Anabaptist. Published opinions do not necessarily conform to any Mennonite denomination’s Confession of Faith. Submissions must meet our standards of constructive dialogue, refraining from attacking or disrespecting individuals or groups. In accepting the Marginal Mennonite Society ad, we considered that readers might be interested to know the views of the society, whose Facebook page has more than 9,100 “likes.” Acceptance of the ad does not imply endorsement of the society’s statement.

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