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July 1981 · Vol. 10 No. 3 · pp. 7–19 

Seeking a Faith to Live By: Some External Religious and Theological Influences

Herbert Giesbrecht

It has been observed that the Mennonite Brethren (MB) community has been particularly susceptible to diverse religious and theological influences from without. The purpose which has motivated and guided my research for this paper is that of setting forth a survey of some obvious influences which (whether coming to us via specific individuals, published works, institutions, or movements) have modified the MB Church’s experience since its beginnings in Russia in 1860.

I have attempted to briefly identify the sources of such influences and to suggest how they affect MB experience and practice of specific tenets of faith. At times a specific influence was recognized, and rejected as an unwholesome element which threatened the doctrinal orthodoxy and balance of the Church as a whole. At other times, the influencing idea of a movement was absorbed into the religious and intellectual experience of the MB community. Then again, some external influences were received with much eagerness at first, only to be differently assessed later.

I begin my survey with a consideration of two religious influences which surfaced during the very earliest decades of MB experience. These specific influences bear directly on the matter of how our Brethren approached and interpreted the Bible. That they did believe themselves to be in agreement with the position and practice of Menno Simons (and other leading Anabaptist forebearers), on the matter of approaching and interpreting the Scriptures for themselves, seems clear enough. 1 And their published Confessions of Faith reflects an essential biblicism throughout.

In respect to their biblicistic stance, one might argue that the early Brethren were among the authentic “sons of Pietism.” If, as Dale W. {8} Brown asserts, the essential thrust of original Pietism was “that Holy Scripture alone is the rule of faith and must be understood out of itself and not from the interpretations of the church, the fathers, councils, or teachers,” 2 the early MB were following in its train. This is not to deny the fact that they could be rather too literalistic or wooden in their interpretation of given texts, and rather dogmatic or intolerant with regard to the interpretation of others on given texts.

A very early instance, in MB experience, of what must be considered a serious departure from a biblicistic orientation is of course the so-called “Froehliche Richtung,” which afflicted the young Church during the years between ca. 1862 and 1864. This lapse from an otherwise sound biblicism involved an excessive emphasis upon one truth of the Christian faith: the joyous experience and assurance of personal salvation. Several MB historians 3 have traced the antecedents of this movement in sufficient detail to show that a causal connection between the somewhat one-sided preaching of Eduard Wuest, dwelling largely upon the sheer grace and mercy of God, and this “exuberant” phase in MB Church experience did exist.

We need to remember, however, that Pfarrer Wuest had only recently extricated himself from a doctrinaire and spiritually enfeebled Lutheranism and that his ministry among the Evangelical Separatists in South Russia was a natural outlet for and continuing expression of this liberating experience. On the other hand, it might also be argued that Wuest should have given greater heed to the wholesome biblicism and sound hermeneutic which are so clearly reflected in the sermons of a Pietistic preacher like Ludwig Hofacker—sermons which were widely known and appreciated among Mennonites at the time.

The inclination to isolate one or two tenets of faith and to allow a strong emphasis upon them to overshadow the importance or proper weight of other tenets is a very human one. This is exemplified in the MB experience by the early association of some early MB’s with the so-called Templar (“Friends of Jerusalem”) movement.

The tangled tale of the gradual emergence of this movement has been told by several writers and need not detain us here. 4 What must concern us, however, is the fact that what were basically rationalistic notions concerning the nature of man and of his potential capacity for religious growth and fulfilment (towards a literal Kingdom of Christ on earth) through educational and social betterment, held considerable attraction for some of the MB community during those earlier years.

Both P.M. Friesen and A.H. Unruh acknowledge freely that members of the MB Church (in several places) drifted into the Templar {9} movement all too readily. Friesen admits, somewhat ruefully, that the younger “intellectuals” in the Kuban MB churches became increasingly sympathetic towards the Templars, who, he adds, “had forsaken the Christian confession of faith as we comprehend it.” 5 Abraham H. Unruh, in an attempt to understand this temporary and partial capitulation to rationalistic influence (particularly in the Kuban Colony) noted the religious and cultural rigidity of many in the MB Church, a rigidity which, accompanied by a lack of spiritual discernment on the part of certain leaders, only served to further polarize the two religious communities. 6

Both Friesen and Unruh concede that the sharp rupture between the MB and Templar adherents was, in some respects, an unfortunate one, and ask whether it could have been prevented. Yet they agree that the Templar movement was clearly dominated and nourished by rationalistic notions about the possibilities of spiritual change and progress in the life of the individual and in the life and growth of the church. They are notions which are incompatible with the confessional statements of the MB concerning the nature of man and the nature of the church, and derive from an hermeneutical approach to the Scriptures that clearly runs counter to the approach inherent in the acknowledged biblicism of the Brethren.

If we look next for specific ideas or movements which, in their intersection with MB experience, have held special significance for our understanding of the doctrine concerning the “nature of man and sin,” we come upon little which greatly disturbs us. Whatever impact Pietistic and Baptist influences may have exerted upon MB in respect to other aspects of their faith and practice, they seem not to have modified their understanding of this basic tenet in any serious way. The cumulative and overall impact of Pietistic influence, upon the MB Church was so soundly evangelical that little opportunity or inducement for deviation appears to have offered itself with respect to this article of faith.

The one conspicuous exception to this observation is of course Templar influence upon the MB’s. Templar teaching was destined, in the very nature of the case, to culminate in a humanistic conception of the nature of man and of sin although it did not arrive there in the case of all Templar adherents. If the religious writings of Hoffmann, and of his most intimate compatriots are closely examined, particularly their utopian expectations concerning man’s steady moral improvement within the context of an earthly “kingdom of God” and their reinterpretation (even reduction) of the teachings of Jesus in order to render them consonant with such utopian expectations, the conclusion seems inevitable that basically humanistic, not evangelical, conceptions of man and sin lie at their root. {10}

Individuals within the larger MB community have, as we all know, yielded to the attraction of various liberal views on the “nature of man and sin,” often in the context, and under the influence of university studies or else of studies in liberal-oriented seminaries. In such cases they have, as a rule, quietly withdrawn from membership in MB churches or have kept their altered beliefs a very private matter! Of the infiltration of theological liberalism into the teaching programs of our MB “schools of higher education,” with respect to the doctrine concerning the “nature of man and sin,” no clear evidence has as yet emerged. Up to this point in time, whenever even the appearance of this kind of theological or ethnical “liberalism” has emerged—as, for example, in the case of Tabor College, during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s 7 the General or Canadian or U.S. Conference, as the case may be, has been quick to react in some disciplinary sense.

My survey of modifying influences upon the theology of the MB Church turns, now, to a consideration of the doctrines concerning “man’s salvation” and the “Christian life.” The significant and generally positive impact of evangelical Pietism—particularly by way of Wuest’s revivalistic preaching—upon MB experience and appreciation of personal salvation, has been so often acknowledged, by both MB and non-MB historians, that it needs no further defence here. 8

The distinct contributions, to MB experience and understanding, of such widely disseminated Pietistic literature, that is, as Ludwig Hofacker’s sermons, Johann Arndt’s Wahres Christentum, and the writings of Count von Zinzendorf, have also been duly recognized, especially by P.M. Friesen 9 and Wilhelm Kahle. 10

That both the experience and understanding of personal salvation, and the life with Christ, were sometimes beclouded by an unpleasant spirit of rigidity, narrowness of view, or dogmatism, need not surprise us. B. B. Janz, in a most interesting paper prepared for the first official MB Study Conference in America admits with candor that diverse and often unpleasant cross-currents of experience and outlook characterized the MB’s during the first several decades of their religious pilgrimage in Russia.

In a paper prepared (upon request) for the same Study Conference (1956), A.H. Unruh elaborated the MB understanding of “salvation and the Christian life” with considerable fulness. He concedes that traditional MB conceptions of “salvation and the Christian life” have at times suffered modification under the influences of viewpoints or models which were not really integral to them. Sometimes MB’s represented {11} the experience of personal salvation (conversion) in unduly narrow or rigid terms and have even insisted on a crisis experience. which necessarily manifests certain psychological features for all who would enter the kingdom of heaven! Isaac W. Redekopp has suggested that this kind of personal salvation experience, among the early MB’s owed much to the influence of the Kleine Gemeinde and the revivalistic preaching of Pfarrer Wuest. 11 But one cannot overlook the fact that some of the earlier MB preachers—men like Benjamin Becker, Heinrich Huebert, and Jacob Jantz—themselves fostered this kind of understanding of “conversion experience” among the Brethren.

The truth of the matter seems to be that more stereotyped conceptions of the shape which “personal salvation” experiences must take have surfaced repeatedly among MB’s—often, as here in America during more recent decades, in dramatic response to the strongly emotional appeals associated with preaching and testimonials in certain fundamentalistic and/or charismatic circles and traditions. The so-called “Saskatoon revival movement” of the early 1970’s, which in one way or another, affected a goodly number of MB congregations in the Prairie provinces and beyond, is only one (recent) example of such ready, and sometimes undiscriminating, response to revivalism in the fundamentalistic and Pentecostal-charismatic traditions. 12

A similar concern, on the other hand, about the very reality (authenticity) of many “third generation” conversions among the youth of our churches, is also becoming evident among MB’s in our time. The newly-published book on Conversion, edited by Henry J. Schmidt, was prepared at the request of MB leaders in the hope that it might speak helpfully to a strongly-felt need within our larger MB community. And a recent issue (October, 1980) of Direction is devoted, almost entirely, to the same subject.

But I must not fail to make reference also to the influence of revivalistic hymn traditions which find their roots in the Moody-Sankey revival movement.

Rudolf Donat in Das Wachsende Werk, notes the impact of American and English revivalistic hymn traditions upon both Baptist (mainly) and Mennonite churches. He reminds us that it was Ernst Gebhardt and K.H. Rappard, two prolific contributors (as translators) to the new hymn books introduced to Pietistic circles in nineteenth century Germany, who were most notably influenced by the revivalism of Moody and Sankey and, to a lesser extent, also by Robert Pearsall Smith. 13 If we ask which hymnals were most used and appreciated by the MB, first in Russia and then also in America (until about 1940), we find that they were precisely the hymnals which had borrowed most {12} freely, via German translations, from Moody and Sankey’s compilation, Gospel Hymns.

The inherent shortcomings of a hymn book like the Evangeliumlieder, with its large preponderance of hymns which focus on personal salvation, were not sufficiently recognized among the Brethren until the early 1940’s. In 1945 the Committee of Reference and Counsel finally brought the need for a less derivate and more (doctrinally) adequate hymnal to the attention of the Canadian Conference. 14

Why MB’s, during the first eighty years of their existence, have not appealed more to indigenous talent and have not manifested more concern to compiled collections of hymns which would reflect the full scope, and distinctive emphases, of their confessions of faith, remains an intriguing question. That a few attempts were made, however, by several MB conductors of choirs—should not be forgotten. 15

A survey such as this one cannot omit consideration of the ways in which the MB understanding of the church has been subjected to influential ideas and forces from without. It is clear that the early Brethren, partly in response to the revivalistic preaching of Wuest, appropriated a very idealistic and somewhat restrictive conception of the church. According to Wuest’s own emphasis, the Christian church was to be a “pure” church in the sense that it admitted, and retained as members only the truly converted: 16 such a conception of the nature of the church the early Brethren generally accepted as being in consonance with the teachings of the New Testament as they understood them.

Bernhard J. Harder refers to this conception of the church, as adhered to by the MB’s, as “das Ideal der reinen Gemeinde,” 17 and attributes the strong urge towards separation mainly to the possession of this rather “unrealistic” ideal! Both B.B. Janz and A.H. Unruh agree that such an idealistic conception of the church did in fact prevail among the Brethren, and both attempt to suggest plausible reasons.

It is possible that it was this more restrictive and purist mentality, especially as nourished under the influence of certain MB churches in the Chortitza Colony, 18 which hardened the convictions of the many early MB on the question concerning the proper mode of baptism. Among such MB folk, any deviation from immersion, as the acceptable mode of baptism, was viewed with some suspicion, even ill will. B.B. Janz states the matter bluntly: “Man beschloss unter diesen Einfluss, die Tauchtaufe zum Schlagbaum gegen andere Glaeubige zu machen.” 19 One need not recapitulate the evidence, in this connection, for a strong and lingering influence upon the Brethren of German Baptist literature and teaching concerning the importance of immersion. {13}

But other religious and doctrinal forces were also at work among the MB’s in Russia and these served to counter this strong proclivity towards a more narrowly-conceived understanding of the church. These forces, once again, issued from Pietistic sources.

Jacob Kroeker, founder of the missionary society “Licht im Osten” ascribed his own transformed understanding of the church directly to the influence of F.W. Baedeker whom he had first encountered in St. Petersburg. Dr. Baedeker (Plymouth Brethren preacher from England) exerted Pietistic influence of a very positive and appealing kind among many evangelical churches in Russia but not the least among these were the congregations of the MB Church. 20 And MB periodicals reported and commented upon the preaching visits of Dr. Baedeker and other Pietistic speakers from abroad—speakers such as Ernst Stroeter, George von Viebahn, von Ruschewitz, G. Campbell Morgan, Mascher, Jakob Vetter, and Fritz Oetzbach with obvious excitement and approval. The preaching ministries of these visiting speakers tended towards, and indeed sometimes deliberately fostered, a more truly ecumenical (“Allianz”) view of the church and of its mission to the world, among MB people, in the Chortitza, Molotschna, and Kuban colonies especially.

The “Allianz Bibelschule,” which Dr. Baedeker himself had helped to establish in Berlin-Steglitz (1905)—later renamed the Wiedenest Bibelschule (1919)—was only one of several Bible Schools in Europe which continued to move MB who studied at them towards a greater appreciation for other denominations and towards a broader conception of the church as such (whatever its denominational tag). Other schools which fostered a similar understanding and outlook among their students were the following: Pilgermissionsschule in St. Chrischona, the Baptist Seminary in Hamburg (where Jakob Kroeker, the theologian and missionary stateman, and several of our earlier MB missionaries had studied), the Prediger Seminar der Methodisten in Frankfurt-am-Main, the Bruederhaus in Preussischen-Bahnau, and of course Jakob Kroeker and Walter Jack’s own short-term Bible school in Wernigerodeam-Harz (Wuerttemburg).

The solid impact of the Bible study program offered in Wernigerode-am-Harz (intended particularly for such as hoped to minister as missionaries, preachers, or teachers in Russia), and of Jakob Kroeker’s own writing (in the periodical Dein Reich Komme as in his published books) has never been adequately acknowledged by and among MB. 21 This seems unfortunate for Kroeker’s impact, as theologian and missionary spokesman, might well have become a “wellspring of renewal,” to use Donald Bloesch’s term, for MB in Russia and perhaps also in America. For it was Kroeker’s unusual breadth of {14} understanding, his remarkable capacity to integrate sound exegesis of Scripture with pertinent application to situations of life, and his beautiful blending of pastoral (nurture) and mission outreach emphases, which enabled him to exert such a liberating and invigorating influence upon many evangelicals in Russia and also in Germany, and in other countries to the west of Germany. 22

This fine theological balance, and largeness of spirit, Kroeker inevitably brought along with him to the Blankenburg Conferences in Thueringia—Conferences which he regularly attended, 23 and at which he sometimes also lectured.

Nevertheless, it is clear that not everything that issued from Blankenburg was pronounced acceptable and good by the Brethren. B.B. Janz is bold enough, in the paper which has been quoted from repeatedly, to speak of several elements of Pietistic influence which he considered to be negative in character and effect. This openness to new understandings and eagerness to modify MB theology also brought with it an inclination to minimize, for one thing, the Mennonite tenet of nonresistance—on the part of Jakob Reimer and several others (Jacob Friesen and Cornelius Klassen, for example) who soon found themselves consenting to Reimer’s view, notably during the “Selbstschutz” crisis of 1919. 24 Janz also speaks of an unduly tolerant attitude in respect to certain ethical and congregational questions, as another kind of unhappy consequence of Blankenburg influence. 25

One cannot help but be reminded, by these rather pointed comments and concerns of B.B. Janz, of more recent developments within the MB community (here in Canada as also in the U.S.) which reflect gradually changing conceptions of the church, of its congregational polity and practice, and of the nature of its leadership as well. The widespread adoption by many MB congregations, of “contemporary models of a church as an ecclesiastical democracy with individualistic independence in the local church,” 26 is a developing trend which undoubtedly owed something to the influence of certain seminaries (not in the Anabaptist or free church tradition) upon those various leaders in our churches who have studied there during the middle decades of this century. 27

Similar observations and concerns might be registered with respect to current attitudes, among many MB, towards the ethic of nonresistance, especially as it pertains to the support of militarism and participation in war. If the evidence suggested by the 1974 survey of Mennonite groups reported on in Anabaptism Four Centuries Later carries any weight at all, MB do not reflect a high degree of faithfulness to the ideals enshrined in their confessions of faith—on this issue. 28 {15}

It is only fitting that a final section in my survey take account of influences which have modified MB teaching on the subject of eschatology. We must come to speak, after all, about “last things” if we are to reach the end of this journey!

That our earliest MB confessions, and other statements concerning their faith, do not reveal any strong or significant preoccupation with eschatology as such, appears to be pretty well established. 29 Apart from the notorious Claus Epp venture, which did in fact succeed in attracting a small number of members from the MB Church, strictly millenarian interests and influences appear not to have pulled MB eschatology in their direction.

Distinctly dispensational views which derive their inspiration directly from the teachings of John N. Darby, were however transmitted to the MB Church in Russia, via several MB preachers (notably Jakob W. Reimer) who themselves occasionally attended the Blankenburg Conferences, certainly read the literature which issued from them, and (whenever possible) also invited Blankenburg speakers to minister to MB congregations in Russia. 30 In any case, it seems a well-established fact that Jakob Reimer did more than possibly any other preacher in the MB Church to render Darbystic dispensationalism acceptable to the common people, although such acceptance, as Abe Dueck has suggested, “probably happened without much awareness of the implications or a thorough understanding of the alternatives.” 31

That MB’s have differed a good deal with one another, and that they have not been nearly as widely united, on questions of eschatology, as Henry H. Janzen’s article in the Mennonite Encylopedia 32 would suggest, needs emphatic assertion in our time. Even during the days of Jakob Reimer’s dominating influence as a preacher on prophetic and eschatological themes, at first among the Brethren in Russia and later also in Canada, there were always those who did not allow themselves to be unduly impressed by Reimer’s dispensational orientation. Evidence for a diversity of understanding and view is reflected in many places: in debates carried on in the pages of the Mennonitische Rundschau, 33 in hints thrown out in the periodical Die Antwort (1934-35), edited by A.H. Unruh and also in recommendations or resolutions reported upon in Conference yearbooks. 34

During the earlier decades of MB experience in Canada, it would appear, the strongly Darbystic view of end-time events had been nourished by the preaching and teaching emphases of several teachers in our Bible institutes. In some cases the modifying influence of instruction received at other (non-Mennonite) institutions seems to have been at work. It would appear that, in most cases, it was the reading of {16} strongly dispensational books or direct contact with dispensationally-oriented preachers that constituted the immediate sources for this influence upon them.

Certainly in the case of Wilhelm J. Bestvater (1879-1969) it was the latter alternative which particularly applied. Bestvater’s own (widely-used) booklets, 35 and his articles in the periodical Zeugnis der Schrift, as also in the Zionsbote and Christian Leader openly acknowledge his extensive borrowings from C.I. Scofield, Arno C. Gaebelein, and other well-known dispensationalists.

Much of the course material which Bestvater together with P.E. Penner (1919-1920) offered in the evening Bible school in Winnipeg, and which was attended by MB students from across Canada, was borrowed directly from the Scofield Bible Correspondence chart (“Gottes Heilsplan”) which they used “extensively all through the years up to the present time.” 36

In later decades, a rather different orientation, among faculty members at the Mennonite Brethren Bible College, began to make itself felt in the Canadian MB constituency. This orientation moved away from the Darbystic dispensationalism which had prevailed among teachers in a number of our MB Bible institutes, towards a position which was more nearly akin to the “Heilsgeschichtliche” approach reflected in Jakob Kroeker’s writings.

It was an orientation that owed a good deal, I surmise, to the study and influence of books by George E. Ladd (Professor in New Testament Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary), who was among the first evangelicals in America (in the twentieth century) to seriously question Darbystic interpretations of eschatology.

That this newly-emerging orientation in eschatology did not “sit well” with many individuals in our Canadian Brotherhood, is hinted at in articles in the Voice, 37 the official organ of the MB Bible College at the time, and is more directly indicated in letters and articles which have appeared in the Mennonite Brethren Herald, over the years. And in 1978, the year of the MB Study Conference on Eschatology (in Fresno, CA), which was sponsored by the General Conference of MB Churches (Board of Reference and Counsel) 38 debate on questions of eschatology became more vigorous than ever, as letters in both the Mennonite Brethren Herald and Christian Leader clearly testify.

What the final (and enduring) reaction, among MB as a whole, will be to David Ewert’s very recent book, And Then Comes the End (1980), remains to be seen. The theological orientation and interpretation {17} which underlie this book are such as to undercut Darbystic dispensationalism at significant points. In many respects, however, Ewert’s book represents the culmination of developing trends in MB thinking among teachers in our several “MB schools of higher learning,” during recent decades. In my view, the book reflects a broader understanding of eschatological themes which nevertheless remains more faithful to the spirit of our earliest confessions of faith than does the Darbystic dispensationalism which has been so popular among us for a half century or so.

This has been a selective and partial survey. In offering it I have not presumed to tell the full story concerning the diverse influences which have intersected with MB experience and faith since the birth of the MB Church in 1860.

That the MB Church has responded, and continues to respond, sometimes too eagerly and too indiscriminatingly, to cultural and religious influences within its immediate (or also more remote) environment, is obvious enough. Perhaps this very vulnerability of MB to influences coming (mainly) from without testifies, as John A. Toews once suggested, 39 to a strong and wholesome impulse within the Church to capture and retain a “faith” by which it can actually live and function in society in which it has its being. But it may also be true that this susceptibility to external influence betrays an inherent weakness within the MB Church, a weakness involving its own reluctance to undergo the rigors of thoughtful self-examination and spiritual self-correction with regard to the faith which it confesses. Surely, the only faith worth confessing is the examined faith—the kind of faith, that is, which is strong and vital enough to continually invite, and benefit from the experience of honest self-examination and renewed commitment. {18}

ENDNOTES

  1. See John A. Toews, A History of the Mennonite Brethren Church, p. 36.
  2. Dale W. Brown, Understanding Pietism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), p. 66.
  3. These include Peter M. Friesen, Abraham H. Unruh, Abraham Kroeker (Pfarrer Eduard Wuest), and also John A. Toews.
  4. Both Jakob J. Hildebrand (Chronologische Zeittafel . . .) and P.M. Friesen narrate the story of the Templar movement in Russia.
  5. Peter M. Friesen, The Mennonite Brotherhood . . ., p. 506.
  6. Abraham H. Unruh, Die Geschichte der Mennoniten-Bruedergemeinde, 1860-1954, (Winnipeg Christian Press, 1954), p. 169.
  7. Abraham H. Unruh, Die Geschichte der Mennoniten-Bruedergemeinde, 1860-1954, P. 613.
  8. John A. Toews cites a number of these historians in his chapter on “Understanding Biblical Revelation,” in A History of the Mennonite Brethren Church.
  9. Peter M. Friesen, The Mennonite Brotherhood . . ., pp. 281-4.
  10. Wilhelm Kahle, Evangelische Christen in Russland and der Sovietunion.
  11. Isaac W. Redekopp, “The Development of the Concept of Conversion in the Mennonite Brethren Church” (B.D. thesis, United College, 1959), pp. 51-5.
  12. Murray Phillips, “The Revival in Ebenezer Baptist Church, Saskatoon, SK.” (Toronto: Central Baptist Seminary, 1973).
  13. Rudolf Donat, Das Wachsende Werk: Ausbreitung der Baptisten Gemeinden durch Sechzig Jahre (1849-1909) (Kassel: J.G. Oncken Verlag, 1960), p. 454 and pp. 485-6.
  14. See Frank C. Peters, compl., Resolutions and Recommendations of the Canadian Conference; 1961-1975 (Winnipeg: Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 1976), p. 118.
  15. See Wesley P. Berg’s thesis, “Choral Festivals and Choral Workshops Among the Mennonites of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 1900-1960” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, 1979).
  16. See Pfarrer Wuest’s sermons in Waldemar Gutsche’s Westliche Quellen des Russischen Stundismus, p. 33.
  17. Bernhard J. Harder, Alexandertal . . ., p. 77.
  18. Benjamin B. Janz, “Grundquege im Charakter der Glaubensstellung Unserer Vaeter,” p. 2.
  19. Ibid., p. 2.
  20. See R. S. Latimer, Ein Bote des Koenigs: Dr. F. W. Baedeker’s Leben and Wirken (Barmen: Emil Meuller’s Verlag, 1907.)
  21. Abraham H. Unruh is one of the very few exceptions; see his appreciative comments on Jakob Kroeker in his Die Geschichte der Mennoniten-Bruedergemeinde: 1860-1954, p. 822.
  22. See Dein Reich Komme, (1926, No. 2: 38-9).
  23. Jakob Kroeker refers to his own attendance at these Blankenburg Conferences in Dein Reich Komme (1926, No. 3: 75), p. 5. {19}
  24. Abraham Kroeker’s editorial in one issue of Die Friedensstimme (XVII [12 Juli 1919]: 1) constitutes a magnificent homily on the moral inconsistency and folly of these endeavors at self-defense (“Selbstschutz”) by the Mennonites in the colonies of South Russia.
  25. B.B. Janz, Ibid., p. 3.
  26. To use Klassen’s expression, in Abram J. Klassen, ed., The Seminary Story: Twenty Years of Education in Ministry, 1955-1975 (Fresno, CA: Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, 1975), p. 23.
  27. The Conference Yearbook for 1951 (General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches) cites some eleven or twelve non-Mennonite seminaries in which MB pastors had studied (according to a survey taken) prior to 1951.
  28. J. Howard Kauffman and Leland Harder, Anabaptism Four Centuries Later: A Profile of Five Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Denominations (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1975), pp. 131-6.
  29. See Abe Dueck’s article, “How Our Fathers Understood the Hope of Christ’s Coming,” in Direction V (April 1976): 20-25. Mennonite Brethren confessions of faith all treat the subject of eschatology in very general terms only.
  30. Jakob Kroeker’s periodical, Dein Reich Komme, and Abraham Kroeker’s Die Friedensstimme (less frequently so) both reported on such visits by Blankenburg speakers.
  31. Abe Dueck, “How Our Fathers Understood the Hope of Christ’s Coming,” Direction V (April 1976): 23.
  32. See article “Chiliasm as Accepted and Taught in the Mennonite Brethren Church”, in Volume 1 of the Mennonite Encyclopedia.
  33. Mennonitische Rundschau: XXIII (20 August 1902): 1-2; XXIII (24 September 1902): 1-3; XXIII (24 December 1902): 8; XXIV (25 February 1903): 1-2.
  34. See, for example, Abraham E. Janzen and Herbert Giesbrecht, comps. We Recommend: Recommendations and Resolutions of the General Conference of the MB Churches (Fresno, CA: General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 1978), pp. 31-32 (1951) and p. 289 (1975).
  35. Wilhelm J. Bestvater, Textbuechlein in Bibelkunde fuer Deutsche Bibelschulen (Herbert, SK: Issued by author, n.d.): Textbuechlein in Glaubenslehre fuer die Herbert Bilelschule (Herbert, SK: Issued by author, n.d.); and Betrachtungen ueber das Letzte Buch der Bibel (Hillsboro, KS: Mennonite Brethren Publishing House, 1919).
  36. See Anna Rose Redekopp’s biography of her father, Amazing Grace . . ., p. 23. George W. Peters has acknowledged his own use of the same chart while teaching at Pacific Bible Institute (Fresno, CA).
  37. See, for example, Frank C. Peters, “Die Eschatologie in der Predigt,” The Voice VIII (July-August 1949): 1-4; Abraham H. Unruh, “Die Richtige Innere Einstellung zu dem Letzten Buche der Bibel,” The Voice I (July-August 1952): 1-5; and Herbert Giesbrecht, “A Review of Paul Erb’s The Alpha and Omega,” The Voice V (May-June 1956): 20-23.
  38. See special insert, “Our Blessed Hope,” in the Mennonite Brethren Herald XVII (19 May 1978): 1-35, for papers presented at this Conference.
  39. See John A. Toews, “Warum so Viele Richtungen Unter den Mennoniten?” The Voice II (March-April 1953): 12-15 and “Mennonite Brethren in Inter-Mennonite Endeavors,” The Voice VII (July 1978): 3-10.
Herbert Giesbrecht is Librarian at Mennonite Brethren Bible College, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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