From the Editor: Reworking Our Traditions
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?” . . . [Jesus] answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” Matthew 15:2a, 3 (NRSV)
We all have traditions in various aspects of our lives and this includes our faith. Traditions bring strength, stability, and confidence. Who can forget Tevya’s exuberant celebration of “Tradition!” in Fiddler on the Roof? Yet we realize, also with Tevya, that our traditions need examination; they must stay flexible; they must serve rather than hinder us or distort our relationships.
In this issue of the journal, our writers have explored different dimensions of the Christian, and especially Mennonite Brethren, heritage to encourage a healthy self-examination. In narrative style, Michelle Ferguson helps us realize that we have a liturgy and then gives suggestions for strengthening it. Gil Dueck and Doug Heidebrecht demonstrate, as Mennonites continue to engage evangelicalism, how theological stress points have become evident and opportunities for fresh insight have become available. Richard Kyle sorts through the foundational beliefs of conservative Protestants as they have impacted the political arena in the past century. Mark Baker presents a biblical and constructive alternative to the penal satisfaction theory of the atonement. Harold Jantz reflects on positive contributions from the pietism stream of Mennonite Brethren heritage. Finally, a creative piece is offered by George Akina: a dramatic presentation of the book of James which provides the opportunity for a fresh listen to that rich biblical book.
Our Ministry Compass piece is provided by Richard S. Rawls who encourages renewed energy for and broad participation in the teaching function of the local church. Recommended Reading by Richard Kyle provides an annotated list of recent and important work on evangelicalism. Nine Book Reviews and a report of Current Research complete the issue.
I recently announced my resignation as Direction’s General Editor, having completed just over ten years of service in this role. I wish to express thanks to Marilyn Hudson for her diligent and helpful work as Managing Editor (now retiring), to Carrol Ediger for her expert proofing skills, to Richard Kyle for his service as Book Review Editor (now stepping down after some twenty-plus years), to Fred Koop for typesetting each issue so well, to Marshall Janzen of Launch Design for his excellent design, digitization, and continued maintenance of Direction’s fine Web site, to the American Theological Library Association for including us in their Serials project (ATLAS), to Tabor College for providing me release time each year for this purpose, to all who have served and continue to serve on Direction’s Editorial Council for their invaluable support and suggestions, and especially to our gifted writers who have helped to make the job of editor such an intriguing and satisfying one for me. I trust and believe that the journal will continue with strong energy and fresh vision for its mission in the years ahead.