Bible Class Curricula - Denominational Doctrines (Part 1) - Lesson #4 - The Mennonite Religion
- When did this denomination start? 1525
- Where did it start? Zurich, Switzerland
What is a Mennonite? The official statement of the Mennonite Church (USA) is:
Mennonites are a Christian faith group that began in the 16th century. Currently there are over one million members world-wide. Mennonite beliefs and practices vary widely, but following Jesus in daily life is a central value, along with peacemaking. Menno Simons was an early prominent leader and eventually the group became known as “Mennonites” because of his name.1
There are about 1.7 million Mennonites worldwide (as of 2012).2
- Who founded this religion, and where did the name “Mennonite” originate? The most widely recognized founder was a Catholic priest by the name of Menno Simons who left Catholicism and began the Mennonite religion; as stated in the above point, they officially state that the name “Mennonite” comes from Menno Simons.3
- Who is the head of the Mennonite religion? Jesus is claimed as the Head of the Mennonite church. However, there are large numbers of conferences that take place in the Mennonite church (see the next outline point).
- What is their authority? The Bible – and what is voted on at the various conferences.
- Are the Mennonite and Amish religions different branches of the same belief? Yes. Both came from the Anabaptist radical reformation in the 16th century.
- Mennonite Doctrines Examined
- Concerning salvation:
- The Mennonite Confession of Faith states, "We receive God’s salvation when we repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord."4 The Confession of Faith further states, "Our response includes yielding to God’s grace, placing full trust in God alone, repenting of sin, turning from evil, joining the fellowship of the redeemed, and showing forth the obedience of faith in word and deed."5
- The Scriptures teach that belief and repentance must be combined with confession and baptism in order to receive salvation (Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 13:3; John 8:24; Acts 2: 38). Why, according to Mennonite doctrine, are belief and repentance necessary, but confession and baptism are not?
- Concerning baptism:
- The Mennonite church proclaims, "We believe that the baptism of believers with water is a sign of their cleansing from sin. Baptism by water is a sign that a person has repented, received forgiveness, renounced evil, and died to sin, through the grace of God in Christ Jesus."6
- Jesus and His apostles taught that baptism was for the forgiveness of one’s sins and that it was performed prior to salvation (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27).
- The frequency of the Lord’s Supper is left up to each congregation’s discretion.
The Mennonite Conference statement says:
The practice of the early church was to celebrate the Lord’s Supper frequently, every Lord’s day or even daily (Acts 2:46). The Anabaptists in the sixteenth century also shared the Lord’s Supper often as a sign of their renewed covenant with God and each other. Our churches are encouraged to celebrate the Lord’s Supper frequently, so that they may participate in the rich meanings of this event for the worship and life of the church.7
- Do the Scriptures authorize our taking the Lord’s Supper daily (Acts 2:46)? No, they do not. The New Testament authorizes the Lord’s Supper to be taken only on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Exodus 20:8).
- Many Mennonite congregations practice foot washing on a congregational level.
- The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective says, "Congregations are encouraged to practice foot washing when it is a meaningful symbol of service and love for each other. "Washing the feet of the saints" (1 Timothy 5:10) is one way of representing Christ to each other in acts of hospitality, service, and love."8
- Is foot washing sinful? No. Yet, in the New Testament, it was practiced on an individual (not congregational) level as an act of humility toward one’s fellow man (John 13:1-30).
- Concerning salvation:
- Compare the origin, date, place, and founder of this denomination with the New Testament blueprint. Does this denomination’s blueprint match that of the New Testament?
- Whose name does the Mennonite church carry? Is this biblical? What passages clearly condemn the practice of naming the church after another man?
- The Mennonite Confession of Faith states that a person can be saved when he repents of sin and accepts Jesus as Lord. What passages prove this is not all you have to do to be saved?
- Mennonites believe that baptism is only a sign of one’s faith and cleansing from sin. List and discuss passages that prove this doctrine false.
- Do you find it odd that the Mennonites left the Catholic church as “rebaptizers” yet they don’t even believe baptism is essential to salvation? Isn’t there a contradiction in this thinking somewhere?
- Does the statement, "The practice of the early church was to celebrate the Lord’s Supper frequently, every Lord’s day," not tell us something about their view of Bible Authority? How can one make a statement like this and not follow through with the implications of that statement?
- What passages and principles teach the Lord’s Supper is to be observed on every first day of the week?
- Is foot washing an act of worship? If not an act of worship, what was the purpose of foot washing? What would be wrong with having foot washing in worship today?
- In the New Testament, was foot washing an individual or congregational activity?
- Online: (http://www.mennoniteusa.org/about/who-are-the-mennonites/), retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
- Online: (http://www.mwc-cmm.org/article/world-directory), retrieved Tuesday, March 25, 2014 .
- Hugo McCord, What About the Mennonite Church?, Haun Publishing Company, Pasadena, TX.
- Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995, Online: (http://www.mcusa-archives.org/library/resolutions/1995/1995-8.html).
- Mennonite Confession of Faith, Article 11.
- Online: (http://www.mcusa-archives.org/library/resolutions/1995/1995-12.html), Commentary note 4.
- Online: (http://www.mcusa-archives.org/library/resolutions/1995/1995-13.html), Commentary note 3.
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