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Christ Existing as Community

Dale W. Brown Brethren Press PDF

another way body.qxd6/8/051:17 PMPage 32Between college and seminary, hands were laid on me to serve as summer pastor among farmer and rancher families in western Nebraska. The hospitable community of Brethren gathered in Enders, a town of a few dozen souls with its picturesque, little white meetinghouse. The Wine clan and their neighbors were fortunate to have been served over forty years by brother and elder D. G. Wine. Large in stature and graced by a gentle, warm heart, this free minister without formal education became my mentor, shaping my views of ministry and beliefs of the church. He was in his eighties; I was barely twenty. Yet we discussed a great variety of issues, ending in the wee morning hours only when my eyelids began to droop. When he shared from his library of a thousand books, this neophyte sensed Wine knew more history than many college professors.I lived in a different home each week, and the stories by Brother Wine were augmented by stories about Brother Wine. My favorite one is about the church. A Baptist preacher appeared in Enders. He had been told that Enders needed a Bible-believing church and was led by God and other Baptists to accept this challenge. When he moved in with his family, the Brethren turned out to help with strong backs and favorite carry-in dishes. When the preacher posted a sign of welcome and announcements on the window of what had been an abandoned building, the Brethren showed up for the first meeting. They believed there were too few mortals in the vicinity of Enders for two congregations. They continued to appear for fellowship and worship at the preacher’s Sunday and revival meetings. It seemed that every time he turned around, there were Dunkers to help him.

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Tossed To and Fro by Winds of Doctrine

Dale W. Brown Brethren Press PDF

another way body.qxd6/8/051:17 PMPage 172We have noted how forebears of previous generations professed to be little children. Such humility did not keep members of the body from being open to the Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and knowledge. Jesus teaches that a childlike heart is needed, but this does not mean that we should cultivate immaturity. Paul and other epistle writers recognized that members were not of one mind about circumcision or customs of eating. When Christians were taught to be of one mind and maintain unity in the bond of peace, the apostolic authors were not demanding uniformity of all lifestyles and beliefs.However, they strongly emphasized that every part of the body should speak the truth in love and be equipped to promote the body’s growth in building itself up in love.Brethren generally have accepted this advice to the Ephesians by giving priority to relational commandments over doctrinal propositions without denying the importance of both. From their beginnings Brethren have shared pietist concerns in rejecting bitter polemics of their time. They agreed that the Bible was often the vessel for proof texts to defend creeds rather than a resource for faith and life. They affirmed with the Pietists that there should be reformations of doctrine that result in reformation of lives.

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Heritage of Peace

Dale W. Brown Brethren Press PDF

another way body.qxd6/8/051:17 PMPage 192the resolution resolved “to follow Jesus in seeking together an activeChristian peace witness in our congregations and districts.”In major worship services at these wartime Conferences, preachers often failed to apply our biblical heritage either to those who supported the war or to the nonconformists who defied the war in a culture that glorified it with patriotic fervor. To be fair to those who plan our large family reunions, however, our Conferences frequently include insight sessions, Bible study electives, and meals that feature speakers and discussions on peace concerns. Yet the paradox of the status of our peace witness continues to surface in our Conference experiences. Without exception throughout our history, official declarations of our pacifist heritage have been affirmed almost unanimously. At the same time, our best sociologists have gathered data indicating that a sizable majority of our members are either indifferent to or oppose our peace position. The best and most comprehensive research has been done by Carl Bowman in Brethren Society, The Cultural

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Jesus the Christ

Dale W. Brown Brethren Press PDF

another way body.qxd6/8/051:17 PMPage 61Chapter 5Jesus the ChristJesus of history and Christ of faithLet the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death. . . . Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.—Philippians 2:5-11This early Christ hymn is filled with christological statements. Christology is a word that refers to thoughts, interpretations, or convictions about Jesus.Brethren have been interpreted to be a people who keep their eyes on Jesus and center their minds on the mind of Christ (Mallott, ch. 31). Since the

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Sacraments or Ordinances

Dale W. Brown Brethren Press PDF

another way body.qxd6/8/051:17 PMPage 110noted the sacramental or spiritual nature of face-to-face relationships.However, sacred observances that others call sacraments, were called ordinances by our forebears. It may be helpful to examine these words in understanding our theology or lack of theology of sacred observances.SacramentalismSacramentalists hold high views of what they name sacraments. The sacred acts are regarded as outward signs of inward grace, the presence of God, the means of grace. The word sacrament means mystery, which believers experience to be strange, awesome, ineffable, and unfathomable. Extremely highchurch dogma regards observance of sacraments to be necessary for salvation. Luther’s influence led most Protestants to reduce the number of sacraments to two, baptism and the Lord’s Supper (eucharist). The RomanCatholic and Orthodox Churches maintain an additional five: confirmation, matrimony, penance (confession), ordination (holy orders), and extreme unction (anointing). The mass embodies holy ritual for the eucharist.

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