All posts by Dwight Gingrich

On scanning Mennonite confessions of faith

I’m scanning some Mennonite confessions of faith and booklets of instruction for new Christians, researching where we got the idea of 7 ordinances. It’s pretty frustrating. One moment you’re reading wonderful summaries of biblical truths, and the next moment you’re left wondering whether you are reading the same Bible.

Example: After quoting Rom. 12:2, we’re told “nonconformity to the world in the above passage refers primarily to the way we dress.” Hello? Did you forget to give Paul that memo? He never mentions dress in that passage… Then we get: “The church has the responsibility to design patterns of simple dress for her people, in harmony with Biblical principles. You will find this code written in the standards of the church. You ought to become acquainted with these standards and obey them willingly.” [Military salute. “Yes, SIR!!”] For some reason there is no Scripture reference given for this last paragraph. ??

Or, in another booklet, after a generally good paragraph on what “the Word teaches” about clothing, a move away from “the Word” to simply what “we believe”: “We believe that the principles of nonconformity, modesty and simplicity can best be maintained by uniformity [no evidence given, from “the Word” or otherwise], therefore, we believe uniform plain attire in the congregation is necessary” (a move from “best” to “necessary”).

Or this: “In this chapter we are going to study about the seven ordinances of the church [Pardon me? What seven ordinances? Which Bible passage lists these seven?] The word “ordinance” could mean any commandment or law [pretty close to the Bible’s use of the word, I believe], but in this chapter we will use it in a different [non-biblical?] sense.”

I’m starting to feel like I have when I’ve scanned Roman Catholic catechism books…

[Affirmation: I love my Mennonite brothers and sisters!]

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“Ran… embraced… kissed”

(Old Facebook Post–Revised)

Compare Luke 15:20 with Genesis 33:4. The father in the Prodigal Son parable “ran… embraced… kissed” his younger son; in Genesis the older son Esau “ran… embraced… kissed” the younger son Jacob.

Perhaps Jesus is saying prodigals and sinners (see Luke 15:1) are the typological fulfillment of Jacob–and are therefore the true Israel! The Pharisees and scribes (Luke 15:2), on the other hand, aren’t even as good as foolish, non-elect Esau (or the scoundrel Laban; see Genesis 29:13), who had the decency to welcome his younger brother.

Note: These are the only Bible verses where all these key words occur.

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Wisdom versus revelation – James 1:5

(Old Facebook Post)

Wisdom is the God-given ability to make decisions when faced with complex situations. Revelation is a voice from heaven–God speaking his wisdom directly to me.

So when I am faced with a complex decision and pray for wisdom, in response to James 1:5 (“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God…”), why am I often waiting, not for wisdom, but for revelation?

And by the way, wisdom comes by persevering faithfully through trials (cf. James 1:2-4), which means it might not come instantly.

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