Conformity or Persecution in the church

Christian ethics and theology with an Anabaptist perspective
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JimFoxvog
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Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby JimFoxvog » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:26 am

gcdonner wrote:It has always been a point of sadness to me, that those who were persecuted have often become persecutors themselves. I have seen this in the Mennonite circles even in our own days and in Baptist circles as well. I suspect it is not unique to these denominations, only that I have experienced it in these circles.

Since becoming a Mennonite, I have become more aware of persecution in the church of those who do not conform in many outward cultural expressions. Looking at Romans 14, I wonder how this can be defended.



When brothers and sisters make different choices as to what to eat, drink, celebrate or wear, they do it to honor the Lord. I pray that we could obey "let us no longer criticize [or pass judgement on] one another." I pray that we would no longer despise one another. I'm concerned that people may use "never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" to criticize and pass judgement on one another, hindering them and placing stumbling blocks.
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Heirbyadoption
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Heirbyadoption » Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:34 am

I, too, would be interested in hearing some perspectives on Jim's question, especially those in congregations with more defined group practices. Boot, Lester, Josh, Appleman, Robert, George, anybody?
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Josh » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:54 am

Heirbyadoption wrote:I, too, would be interested in hearing some perspectives on Jim's question, especially those in congregations with more defined group practices. Boot, Lester, Josh, Appleman, Robert, George, anybody?


In my experience many people from the outside who are already Christians end up with us because as a woman with a head covering (for example) they will simply never be accepted/tolerated in a mainstream evangelical church. The same goes for other expressions like modest attire, avoiding TV/movies, etc.
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:59 am

JimFoxvog wrote:When brothers and sisters make different choices as to what to eat, drink, celebrate or wear, they do it to honor the Lord. I pray that we could obey "let us no longer criticize [or pass judgement on] one another." I pray that we would no longer despise one another.


Amen.

And I think we have to stop being in denial about this problem. Yes, it exists. We are very selective about the sins we are willing to challenge.

That said, I think we should also be sensitive about things that could cause offense or sin. I'm thinking of a picnic we had recently with the two refugee families and about 20 people who are helping. All of the women were modestly dressed, with the exception of one young married woman who was wearing shorts that were ... way ... too ... short. None of us said anything to her, but I don't think that was thoughtful, especially when ministering to Muslim women who cover.

JimFoxvog wrote:I'm concerned that people may use "never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" to criticize and pass judgement on one another, hindering them and placing stumbling blocks.


Let's face it, some Christians are professional stumblers. In many churches, taking offense is a very powerful position. Vague accusations are a useful tool. Self-righteousness is a virtue - we really are better than those other guys, after all.

Of course, we should have an uncompromising call to righteousness. True righteousness, expressed in holiness and loving service. But we don't become more holy by putting other people down. That's a playground bully tactic. It does not belong in the Kingdom of God.
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:04 am

Josh wrote:
Heirbyadoption wrote:I, too, would be interested in hearing some perspectives on Jim's question, especially those in congregations with more defined group practices. Boot, Lester, Josh, Appleman, Robert, George, anybody?


In my experience many people from the outside who are already Christians end up with us because as a woman with a head covering (for example) they will simply never be accepted/tolerated in a mainstream evangelical church. The same goes for other expressions like modest attire, avoiding TV/movies, etc.


The church I'm in now is not Mennonite, but we have had women with head coverings. I haven't heard a lot of conversation about it, except that people often point them my way if they have a Mennonite background. But they won't get a lot of women agreeing that this is a requirement.
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Heirbyadoption
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Heirbyadoption » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:15 am

Josh wrote:
Heirbyadoption wrote:I, too, would be interested in hearing some perspectives on Jim's question, especially those in congregations with more defined group practices. Boot, Lester, Josh, Appleman, Robert, George, anybody?


In my experience many people from the outside who are already Christians end up with us because as a woman with a head covering (for example) they will simply never be accepted/tolerated in a mainstream evangelical church. The same goes for other expressions like modest attire, avoiding TV/movies, etc.
Josh, maybe I'm misunderstanding your thought, but I took Jim's question to be referring to conformity/persecution within the context of the mennonite church people come to, not where they were before...
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Heirbyadoption
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Heirbyadoption » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:19 am

Bootstrap wrote:
JimFoxvog wrote:When brothers and sisters make different choices as to what to eat, drink, celebrate or wear, they do it to honor the Lord. I pray that we could obey "let us no longer criticize [or pass judgement on] one another." I pray that we would no longer despise one another.


Amen.

And I think we have to stop being in denial about this problem. Yes, it exists. We are very selective about the sins we are willing to challenge.

That said, I think we should also be sensitive about things that could cause offense or sin. I'm thinking of a picnic we had recently with the two refugee families and about 20 people who are helping. All of the women were modestly dressed, with the exception of one young married woman who was wearing shorts that were ... way ... too ... short. None of us said anything to her, but I don't think that was thoughtful, especially when ministering to Muslim women who cover.

JimFoxvog wrote:I'm concerned that people may use "never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" to criticize and pass judgement on one another, hindering them and placing stumbling blocks.


Let's face it, some Christians are professional stumblers. In many churches, taking offense is a very powerful position. Vague accusations are a useful tool. Self-righteousness is a virtue - we really are better than those other guys, after all.

Of course, we should have an uncompromising call to righteousness. True righteousness, expressed in holiness and loving service. But we don't become more holy by putting other people down. That's a playground bully tactic. It does not belong in the Kingdom of God.
Boot, maybe Jim needs to elaborate on his question a bit more, but professional stumblers (and yes, they exist) doesn't seem to be the context of his question. Maybe the progressive aspect of your congregation doesn't allow for the sort of "conformity or persecution" situations he's asking about?

Temporal asked me to clarify what I meant by "more defined group practices." I simply mean Anabaptist churches that have specific cuts of dress or specific requirements of practice, etc, etc, (see the thread on the Easterns for some ideas) and require adherence, either through discipline or strong pressure, usually not giving a lot of time for conformity and little or no leeway for diversity of expression in various specifics...
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Wayne in Maine
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Wayne in Maine » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:46 am

Bootstrap wrote: And I think we have to stop being in denial about this problem. Yes, it exists. We are very selective about the sins we are willing to challenge.

That said, I think we should also be sensitive about things that could cause offense or sin...
I don't think that was thoughtful, especially when ministering to Muslim women who cover.

I find it interesting that many progressive Christians are ready to concede to Muslims or other religions in practices regarding modest (or even veiling), but they assert their "freedom in Christ" around conservative Christians. I experienced this first hand when I worked with Mennonite Disaster Service.
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:13 pm

Wayne in Maine wrote:
Bootstrap wrote: And I think we have to stop being in denial about this problem. Yes, it exists. We are very selective about the sins we are willing to challenge.

That said, I think we should also be sensitive about things that could cause offense or sin...
I don't think that was thoughtful, especially when ministering to Muslim women who cover.

I find it interesting that many progressive Christians are ready to concede to Muslims or other religions in practices regarding modest (or even veiling), but they assert their "freedom in Christ" around conservative Christians. I experienced this first hand when I worked with Mennonite Disaster Service.


I agree that would be a problem. In the Mennonite churches I was part of, women tended to dress modestly.

In my current church, if we organized a picnic with a plain Mennonite church, I can't imagine it being any different. I suspect most people would think plain Mennonites who cover and Muslims who cover are doing so for similar reasons, even if we do not agree on so many core aspects of our faith. And both would be seen as an unusual practice that we should be sensitive to.

I don't mean to imply that Muslims and plain Mennonites are the same in any way other than modesty. We share the same faith as plain Mennonites, we do not share the same faith as Muslims. But I think it's appropriate to be sensitive to both groups, honoring the choice to be modest.
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temporal1
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Re: Conformity or Persecution in the church

Postby temporal1 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:24 pm

Heirbyadoption, thank you for clarifying. helpful. :)
Wayne, agreed regarding lib duplicity in messages of tolerance. in my life, that began in the 60-70's. the "flower children" who "loved everyone," while harboring plenty of hate for those not of their choosing. even as a young one i could discern that much.
Josh wrote:In my experience many people from the outside who are already Christians end up with us because as a woman with a head covering (for example) they will simply never be accepted/tolerated in a mainstream evangelical church. The same goes for other expressions like modest attire, avoiding TV/movies, etc.
i have had the opposite real life experience, and, on this forum, i've never noticed anyone posting about persecution for modest dress, or personal choice to not view tv, etc.

just the opposite. the few CM female forum members describe how they are treated with more respect in all settings because of their dress .. this extends to plain/conservative dress while in public or attending other churches. some describe they might feel a bit awkward to begin, but, possibly, after answering a few questions, are welcome and continue with the rest.

as well, some who are not CM members choose modest/plain dress, they may receive some questions, like, "are you Catholic?" .. but nothing like rejection or persecution.

now, if any attended churches with an attitude of demands for respect, or insistence that all conform to their thinking, i would expect this would cause waves. but, modest dress is typically found with humility of the wearers, respect for others, so, a non-issue. the best method to receive respect is to give it.

i find this reception to be similar to non-Christian religions with distinct dress standards/practices.
(true, presently, Muslim dress has been highly politicized, but, as Robert recently quoted, "this, too, shall pass.")

i find this reception the case with flamboyant dress, provocative dress, casual dress, et al. (in churches i'm familiar with.) years ago, this would not have been accepted. today, it hardly raises an eyebrow.

i have not visited a CM or plain fellowship; on this forum, i have been told by CM's, visitors are not held to individual church standards for dress or other.

in my life, i see no persecution over modest dress. more likely, the opposite.
others have different experiences.
Last edited by temporal1 on Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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