The Anabaptist Renewal Circles have published their commitments. That’s good! Their first commitment is “To be radical in our love for the Lord and compassion for our neighbors.” With the aid of a thesaurus I learned that a radical person deals with fundamental, essential, and deep-rooted issues in a manner that is basic, drastic and thorough. These commitments may lead them to a radical inquiry, a link worthy of diligent study.
Phil Waite is attempting to be a radical guide for the CMC. On May 15, 2014 Waite said the church’s problem is onion-like. It is ugly, like the outside of an onion. To get to the meat (the real questions) of the onion, discard the onion’s exterior and peel away the layers. (You may enjoy this video on onion preparation.) Waite peeled the onion of his imagination. The sermon caused the think-tank that I am a part of, to keep on dissecting the onion. (To see the preacher and hear the sermon click here. The whole service is helpful.)
The layer of the onion that annoys and frustrates the think-tank is the knowledge that a significant segment of the church chooses to ignore the findings of science. From our perspective, those who choose to ignore evidence for evolution, global warming, and sexual orientation pose a threat to the unity of the church and are an obstacle to those who want to believe the good news the church tells them.
The concerns of Anabaptist Renewal Circles must be respected. Their commitment (1) to be radical in their love for the Lord and (2) to be radical in their compassion for their neighbors makes them strong.
No doubt the Circles want to be in radical love with the Lord Jesus. They choose to love one of whom Nicodemus inquired. Jesus dined alike with Pharisees and with the people they despised. He touched lepers and told the story of the Good Samaritan to the lawyer who asked the identity of his neighbor. He allowed women to follow him, and prayed for the unity of the church. The Circles need to ask if they will allow themselves to be shaped by this radical love for the one who loved the world so radically?
The Circles need to ask themselves how they will demonstrate radical compassion for their neighbors who are LGBTQ in sexual orientation and practice? Will the Circles demonstrate radical compassion for their neighbors who choose to ignore science? And how will they demonstrate radical compassion for neighbors who are on the edge of agnosticism or atheism, yet who follow Jesus radically?
These are hard questions and the Old Fool apologizes for asking them. But the hard times described by Phil Waite demand honest answers to difficult questions.
The Anabaptist Renewal Circles can further fragment the Mennonite Church USA or it can move the church toward unity midst diversity and a more effective witness. Here is the registration form.