Why I left the Mennonite Church
In my studies I have come to understand that the method of Church leadership as implemented in the Mennonite church is unbiblical and not like the New Testament church at all. I do not believe in the control grid were bishops have more power or authority than local ministers. I do believe this is serious as the Bible teaches that each church is to be autonomous and self-governing. The idea that a bishop could influence or make decisions for a church when the local body feels differently is completely unbiblical. The New Testament church is to be run with elders who then take on different tasks-- “a teaching elder”—then there are to be other elders that aid him in the work of the church. Together these elders fulfill the offices of bishop, pastor, teacher etc. They all are in subjection one to another and to God’s Word. It is in the ignoring of the Biblical model for church that we create many unnecessary problems. Should the Bible or our tradition determine what we can and cannot do? If the reformers had thought like this they never would have broken from Rome. Here is a link with an article I put together on the subject with the appropriate verses. http://www.manifestedbythelight.com/manifested---a-blog/elders-bishops-and-pastors-one-office-or-three-
On the subject of church standards. People use the argument that all organizations have rules why shouldn’t the church? And to that argument I hold my Bible up and say we do have rules. Jesus Christ is clearly taught to be the head Shepard of the church and He has supplied us with rules. God has given everything we need for life and Godliness in His word. We are not to add to it. The apostle Paul says why should another man bind my conscience? The liberty I have in Christ should not be bound by somebody else’s beliefs. He goes on to say that we do not try to offend the weaker brother with our liberty. The weaker brother is the one who believes something is sin when it is not sin according to the Bible. He says that the weaker brother should never violate his conscience. In other words even if something really isn’t sin (in this case meet offered to idols) the weaker brother should not eat of it if he believes it is wrong. But believing something is wrong for ourselves does not make it wrong for others when the Bible does not say it sin. So Paul says let no man spy your liberty out and put you in bondage to manmade rules. In Colossians 2:16-23 Paul lays out the idea that Man-made rules have a shew of wisdom they seem wise but do nothing to change or keep the flesh from sinning. So, does the power to live a life free of sin lay in rules or the Cross of Jesus Christ? I have discovered in my life the Power to live free of Sin comes from believing in Faith alone! That my righteousness is not my own but Christs Righteousness imputed to me.
I have discovered that In the Mennonite Church there are many substitutes for the truth. This is a good example of such a substitute. It is the substitution of what God has designed the Christian life to be like, exchanged for a man made version of the Christian life. When a church requires things of its members that are not in the Bible under the guise that it is for your good what that church is really doing is putting moral obligations (standards) in the place of the finished work of Christ on the cross and all that that work should mean in a believers life. The word of God is powerful and sharper than a two edged sword yet church leaders do not choose to trust its work in the lives of those who claim to be saved. The word of God when faithfully and accurately preached will change and affect the lives of all who listen and heed. I have observed that you can tell which churches are teaching a true pure gospel and which ones are not by looking at the members lives in those churches. The true converts and false converts are easier to see in a church without standards. The church with standards forces all to look alike and it can be harder to tell who is a false convert. While both churches may have hypocrites because all churches do. The Church teaching a true biblical Gospel will have people that are clearly converted and living free of sin Because God’s word has truly changed their lives.
But when we look at a Mennonite church it is almost impossible to tell who is saved and is not saved. One could say well they all look like they are saved therefore they must be saved. But I would say because of the extra Biblical rules that have forced all to be moral and dress nicely on the outside you cannot tell but that some hearts may be unconverted. This is very dangerous because now a false reality exists within this church these people assume they are safe because they follow manmade rules while the true reality may be that many truly are on their way to hell. It is the Work of the Holy Spirit and of God’s word that leads me in righteousness. As a Christian I truly am not my own but Christs and I will and must strive to live without sin and no Christian needs church standards to do that. If we do then we have not truly appropriated Christ’s work to our heart. A immature Christian may need mentorship and discipleship by his parents and pastor and if a struggle exists in a certain area then he may need to stay away from certain things but this is something that is different for every Christian as he grows in Christ he will become more and more mature and strong. “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14 you cannot use the argument that the immature need the church standards it makes no sense to put the strong under bondage. Yes as a Christian I do not want to offend somebody with my freedom that simply means I do not flaunt it in people’s faces it they do not agree with me. And if I am with somebody who does not want to go into a restaurant that serves beer then I would not do that when they are with me. Their simply is no biblical support for making a list of corporate rules to keep the immature in Christ safe, how are they to grow spiritually if they remain sheltered? Read Colossians 2:16-23.
I have seen standards substituted for the power of the cross in people’s lives. I have seen forced accountability that does no good because the heart is still unconverted. I have seen people condemn those to hell who do not interpret scripture the way their church does all the while being unsaved themselves. From the mouth of many a Mennonite preacher I have heard many an unbiblical sermon denying the sufficiency of the Cross of Jesus Christ, not always in out right words but through a very fuzzy interpretation of the gospel message that should be clearly outlined. In teaching extra Biblical Standards as a necessity in one’s life one puts Jesus finished work under and in subjection to the Standards of a church. And this is important to understand because God’s word dictates who is and is not a Christian. A churches standards are not to be the guide because the Bible clearly outlines what one must do to be saved. Christ died for the sinner and when he repents he deserves to be a part of any true church without doing anything more than the Holy spirit has showed or asked of him in his Christian walk up to this time. So for the church to deny membership to a Christian because they are not wearing a dress or because the guy smokes is to deny The power of the Cross, it is to discount the saving blood of Jesus Christ in that person’s life. He is a part of the Bride of Christ and yet you will not give him or her the right hand of fellowship? Our unity is not in looking alike or even understanding all scripture the same but it is in having a biblical view of the Cross! The gospel unifies all believers. If we hold our selves aloof from others that have evidence of being Christ’s then we must ask ourselves are we truly Christ’s? The intentions are good on most people’s part but it is time for people to wake up and realize the arguments used for Church standards do not hold up to scripture.
I believe with all my heart that most Mennonite church standards are comparable to what the Pharisees had done in Jesus’ day with their religion. Control is the ultimate end of Standards an unbiblical control that you cannot support with scripture. One may point to the supposed success they think they see in churches like the Pilgrim and Eastern Conferences because of their standards, but I can tell you of many a sad story of many an unsaved person and many a confused youth. And all because those standards created a false reality that deceived people about their condition before God! The bottom line is a church can preach faith alone all it wants but if it continues to require things for membership in the local body that are not in the Bible then it tells the world and its people it doesn’t really believe what it teaches. We say we believe in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Yet we feel the need to add to what the Bible says. We are not happy that a person may be a member and be within Biblical lines--we must make them go beyond. We hold people above and beyond Scripture just like the Pharisees and I have no doubt Jesus would say the same thing to us that He did to them.
"Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him towfold more the child of hell than yourselves".
Mathew 15:9 says
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Matthew 23:13 says
"But woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in".
This is really the crux of the whole matter. The misunderstanding of salvation and justification is the reason that church standards are necessary. If one does not have the power of the Cross in their life then standards are the only way to live free of sin. The problem is that this then becomes a problem. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work”. So the answer for victory and independence from sin is the Cross, not standards, and yet we lock the cross away from people by teaching a double standard. We teach grace for salvation but practice works for church membership. How confusing. That verse says that if you try to be righteous through your works you have annulled Grace and if You have grace then the works don't count. I don't know about you but since I can't do enough of my own good works for heaven I would rather rely on grace. As that verse points out if you are in a church system with standards you start to assume inevitably and if not you, then your children will assume it is part of their salvation-- they’re “maintaining the faith”, they say. O how proud! Yes a Christian has standards from the Bible and a Christian should practice works. But that is different than requiring things for church membership that are not in the Bible. That is the wrong kind of works. If a person has a personal conviction that is not in the Bible, like the straight cut coat, the cape dress, the beard etc., he can practice it, but should never push it on others in the form of church standards. It has come to my attention that our misunderstanding of justification and the supposed need for all these rules are linked. To say that rules are necessary to keep us from sinning and so we don’t lose our salvation is a huge problem and points to a much bigger problem. And that problem is a misunderstanding of justification and sanctification. Our teaching on this subject comes from the Roman Catholic Church. I have discovered many similarities between Rome and Mennonites that should not be there. And they are alarming.
What alarms me so much about this topic is that before my very eyes I see the truth about salvation being warped and changed! We must remember every great change starts taking place in people’s minds. The idea for this change is often planted by what one reads. How we word what we write for others to read and what we think and say is very important. It has been brought to my attention that the Rod and Staff Sunday school book for the youth class makes this statement, “Beware of the teaching that Jesus Christ took our punishment for us.” While I understand Christ did not spend a eternity in hell like we deserve he did indeed take our punishment and sin upon himself in other ways! There was no explanation just that statement. It caused great confusion in the Sunday school class that a friend of mine was teaching. He came to me and we studied the truth of God’s Word. He then went back to his class and straightened it out and told them their Sunday school book was wrong.
I couple that story with that fact that our CLE book has also said similar things. Last year it denied that God really turned His face from Jesus on the Cross. It said that the words “why hast thou forsaken me” were not literal. A year before that the same book also said to beware of the teaching that Jesus “bore our sin”. They had explanations but they were all wrong. So what is happening? This is why I do not trust our commentary in our Sunday school book at all. I will teach the entire lesson without even reading the commentary. There should be no room for this kind of teaching and there should be no toleration for the Gospel message being warped. To “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” is refereeing to such a time as this. Not defending the straight coat, cape dress, etc. We spend time defending Mennonite traditions that are not in the Bible while our Sunday school books are calling into question the very tenants of the Gospel.
The story of the Eastern preacher who is told to preach more about standards and less about the cross is also quite concerning. I firmly believe there are thousands of Mennonites not saved. There are enemies of the cross and those enemies sometimes are bishops, they are ministers, they are Sunday school book writers. We could say well, they are confused… There are many things in which a Christian can be confused or even deceived about and still be saved. But the gospel message is not one of them. With sanctification we come to fully understand what we have experienced.
I can find this confusion and deception in almost every Sunday school paper we get every Sunday. It is very rampant. There is so much more I can say on this and the article below will sum it up nicely. It is very sad that we consider that more liberal churches as “losing it” while it is the more conservative churches that are drifting away from faith alone. They are losing their identity in Christ.
An article on Biblical Justification http://www.manifestedbythelight.com/manifested---a-blog/justification
In : Warnings Given
Tags: legalism standards salvation justification roman catholisism