Unpacking the Core Convictions (5)

by Stuart Murray Williams

On the inside back cover of Anabaptism Today are seven “core convictions” that summarise the values, principles, commitments and concerns of many who are part of the Anabaptist Network. They represent an Anabaptist way of understanding what it means to follow Jesus at the start of the 21st century. In a series of short articles we are unpacking these convictions, exploring their implications for faith, mission and discipleship.

The fifth conviction reads:

Article VI. We have been united as follows concerning the sword

We have been united as follows concerning the sword. The sword is an ordering of God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and kills the wicked and guards and protects the good. In the law the sword is established over the wicked for punishment and for death and the secular rulers are established to wield the same.

But within the perfection of Christ only the ban is used for the admonition and exclusion of the one who has sinned, without the death of the flesh, simply the warning and the command to sin no more.

Article V. We have been united as follows concerning shepherds in the church of God

We have been united as follows concerning shepherds in the church of God. The shepherd in the church shall be a person according to the rule of Paul, fully and completely, who has a good report of those who are outside the faith.

Article IV. We have been united concerning the separation that shall take place ...

We have been united concerning the separation that shall take place from the evil and the wickedness which the devil has planted in the world, simply in this; that we have no fellowship with them, and do not run with them in the confusion of their abominations. So it is; since all who have not entered into the obedience of faith and have not united themselves with God so that they will to do His will, are a great abomination before God, therefore nothing else can or really will grow or spring forth from them than abominable things.

Cover Letter (opening)

May joy, peace, mercy from our Father, through the atonement of the blood of Christ Jesus, together with the gifts of one Spirit - who is sent by the Father to all believers to [give] strength and consolation and constance in all tribulation until the end, Amen, be with all who love God and all children of light, who are scattered everywhere, wherever they might have been placed by God our Father, wherever they might be gathered in unity of spirit in one God and Father of us all; grace and peace of heart be with you all. Amen.

Regional Groups

The Network sponsors regional groups (previously known as study groups) in various parts of the country, which offer opportunities every couple of months for members of the Network to meet together informally and locally to explore Anabaptist themes and their contemporary significance. Some groups have met for two or three years before disbanding, feeling that they have achieved their aims; others have continued to meet over several years. Each has developed its own identity and flavour.

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