Sunday, April 12, 2015

"True Evangelical Faith"

Menno Simons, 1496-1561
Some 500 years ago members of the "Anabaptist" or free church movement in western Europe (founded on freedom from state control of religion) began to be referred to as "Mennists" or "Mennonites" due to the influence of one of their most loved and long-lived leaders, Menno Simons.

Menno, a former Catholic priest from Friesland, was not the group's founder, having joined the movement ten years after it began in Zurich, Switzerland in 1525, but became its leading voice and its most prolific writer.

He uses the term evangelical here as distinct from both the Catholicism of his time, which strongly emphasized the necessity of good works, and contemporary reformers, who stressed faith alone as necessary for salvation:

True evangelical faith
is of such a nature that it cannot lay dormant;
but manifests itself
in all righteousness and works of love;

It dies unto flesh and blood;
destroys all forbidden lusts and desires;
cordially seeks, serves and fears God;
clothes the naked; 

feeds the hungry;
consoles the afflicted;
shelters the miserable;
aids and consoles all the oppressed;
returns good for evil;
serves those that injure it;
prays for those that persecute it;
teaches, admonishes and reproves with the Word of the Lord;
seeks that which is lost;
binds up that which is wounded;
heals that which is diseased
and saves that which is sound.

The persecution, suffering and anxiety which befalls it
for the sake of the truth of the Lord,
is to it a glorious joy and consolation.

- Menno Simons, "Why I Do Not Cease Teaching And Writing" 1539
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