In This Issue: The Glue that Holds Mennonite Brethren Together
Glue, or the lack of it, is a word and an idea that is increasingly being heard when Mennonite Brethren begin to discuss our conference and its churches. “The glue—the bonding mechanism”—to unite us “has been seriously lacking,” according to a quotation from the 6 April Christian Leader (pp. 10, 11).
But how are we to begin to think intelligently about what it means to be a people of God? Frances Hiebert outlines a model which distinguishes between “centered sets” and “bounded sets.” She illustrates these two different ways to think and to be by applying them to definitions of the early Anabaptists and by showing the difference the two ways make when “Mrs. Friesen” witnesses to “Mrs. Sanchez.” She leaves to us the task of applying these insights to the question of church and conference unity.
Marvin Hein analyzes one of the processes which is a factor in our “ungluing” and pleads that only a return to the ultimate center—God—can re-cement us to each other. David Ewert then argues that ethical and doctrinal boundaries are essential aids to strengthen a unity that is threatened by diversity.
It may be that the diversity is not (not yet?) so threatening among churches in Canada as in the U.S. The quotation cited in the first paragraph is from a Christian Leader article which offers the hypothesis that strong leadership constitutes a people’s glue and that U.S. churches have not produced sufficient leadership for themselves. The tribute to the late I.W. Redekopp of Winnipeg, Manitoba, reflects on the growth and contributions of one Canadian leader. The first book review reports a recent account of the re-gluing of the MB church in Russia after it could well have been thought to have been destroyed. The forthcoming translation of that book will allow us the opportunity to rethink what it really means to be a people and to move us to rely on a God who can gather up and vivify even scattered “dry bones.”
The review of Readings in Dynamic Indigeneity draws attention to the process of theological self-definition occurring in churches of the developing nations, a process not wholly unlike that experienced at the denominational level within the Mennonite Brethren Church.