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4 Beliefs That Set Mennonites Apart From Other Christians

By    |   Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:35 PM

The Mennonite Church is one of the more complex and diverse Christian churches in the world. An all-encompassing Mennonite denomination does not exist.

The Mennonite Church history website reports that there are five such denominations: the Mennonite Brethren Church US Conference, the Mennonite Brethren Church Canadian Conference, the Mennonite World Conference, the Mennonite Church Canada and the Mennonite Church USA.

The Mennonites also hold a handful of key beliefs that set them apart from other Christians. Here are four key beliefs:

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1. Radical founding: The Mennonites trace their origin to a radical offshoot of the Protestant Reformation that occurred in the 1500s. The Mennonites are named after Menno Simons, a one-time Catholic priest. Simons rejected the Catholic Church's teachings and joined the Anabaptists, a new movement known for re-baptizing adult believers, according to the Mennonite history website.

Starting in the mid 1540s, Simons organized the original Mennonite church in Holland, according to Religion Facts. Today, nearly one million Mennonites fill churches in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America.

2. Pacifism: One of the trademark characteristics of Mennonites is their commitment to pacifism. Mennonite Christians believe war is never the answer to solving the world's problems. In fact, some young adult Mennonites avoid military service by serving the Mennonite Church as missionaries and volunteers via the Mennonite Central Committee or the Mennonite Mission Network, according to the church.

3. Similarities with the Amish:
Mennonite Christians can be confused with the Amish because the two groups hold many of the same beliefs and practices, according to Religion Facts. Both groups are known for religious reform and pacifism, and each believes in individual Bible study and a commitment to a sin-free life after conversion and adult baptism.

What primarily distinguishes the Amish from the Mennonites is the Amish practice of separation from the world. While the Amish create their own communities separate from the rest of society and avoid technology, Mennonite Christians believe in living in the world but not being of the world in terms of embracing worldly spiritual and moral values. The Mennonites embrace technology but warn against falling for its temptations, such as online pornography.

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4. Homosexuality: Since the Mennonite Church based in Elkhart, Ind., merged with the General Conference Mennonite Church based in Newton, Kan., to form the Mennonite Church USA 14 years ago, a number of biblically conservative churches have left the new denomination, primarily over liberal theological shifts, according to church leaders like Ted Grimsrud of the Thinking Pacifism.

One such issue that the denomination is struggling with is homosexuality, according to an article in Beliefnet. Working with the Brethren Mennonite Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests, the Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Church Canada, and the Church of the Brethren have each supported a combined 70 plus churches within their denominations that welcome practicing gay church members.

In 2014, an openly gay pastor was approved for ordination by the Mountain States Conference of the Mennonite Church USA, according to the Brethren Mennonite Council on LGBT Interests, and a handful of Mennonite pastors have performed same-sex unions.

Still, some parts of the Mennonite Church retain their dedication to biblical teaching. Some pastors have seen their churches disciplined and their ministerial credentials retracted for performing these unions or for failing to expel practicing homosexual church members, The Brethren Mennonite Council reported.

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The Mennonite Church is one of the more complex and diverse Christian churches in the world. An all-encompassing Mennonite denomination does not exist.
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Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:35 PM
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