What are the fundamental beliefs of the Mennonite Brethren?
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3. 11
The Mennonite Brethren Church is concurrently a Christian Church, Protestant, Anabaptist and Evangelical.
A Christian Church
The Mennonite Brethren belong to the apostolic and historical family of Christians whose essence is built on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The main aspects of their Confession of Faith can be enumerated as follows:
• The Bible is the Word of God, transcribed in human language. It relates Divine intervention in human history as well as God’s will for mankind.
• God is the Creator, the Lord and Saviour of humanity. God is a personal being with whom one can enter into relationship. He exists throughout eternity as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
• Man (human beings) is created in the image of God; unfortunately, he turned from his Creator choosing to live estranged from God and His ways.
• Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who came into the world to reveal God and to save humanity. He died and was resurrected in order to reconcile us to God, to grant us pardon for our sins, peace with God and eternal life.
• The Holy Spirit comforts, upholds us and accompanies us in our walk of faith. He guides us toward the Gospel, He illuminates our comprehension of the Scriptures, He transforms us into the image of Christ and He equips us for Christian service.
• The Church was established by Jesus Christ. The thrust (mission) of the Church is to worship God, to celebrate Christian rites and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
• The Kingdom of God is the expectation of faith. When God’s timing is right, Jesus Christ will return to exercise justice and to definitely establish His Kingdom.
A Protestant Church
In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, The Mennonite Brethren Church adheres to the three following principles:
• Scriptures only: the Bible is our sole authority in matters of faith and practice. It teaches us how to live before God. Everything must be evaluated in the light of the Scriptures. It carries supreme authority over human and ecclesiastical power.
• Grace only: Salvation comes completely and solely from the grace of God without human merit. Salvation cannot be earned, but can only be received as a gift from God. God extends pardon to humans, not on personal merit, but on the basis of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross.
•Faith only: The grace of God is accessible to humans through faith only in Christ without consideration of works; works are not means to receive salvation, but the result of salvation. Through their good works, believers express their gratitude to God for the gift of salvation they have received.
An Anabaptist Church
The Mennonite Brethren have been known, throughout history, to distinguish themselves from other Christian confessional groups by certain characteristics:
• Baptism upon confession of faith: The ordinance of baptism is practiced uniquely on adults who, freely and voluntarily, profess their faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that it is more logical and more biblical that baptism be administered following the confession of faith in Christ, rather than before. Baptism is an exterior symbol of our conversion, a sign that salvation has been received.
• Discipleship in response to the grace of God: Faith in Christ results in a serious transformation of life and a sincere commitment to respect all the teachings of Jesus. Faith has practical, social and ethical consequences.
• A Covenant Community: Faith implies adhesion to the life of a local Church, which is a gathering of believers who freely profess Jesus Christ through baptism. The Church is a community of believers, that is, a group of people who meet together voluntarily and share a common faith.
• A theological and ethical framework: Spiritual health and the testimony of the Church in the world are preserved by a moral framework, just but infused with grace, that encourages the believer to remain faithful to God and in communion with the Church.
• A fraternal and caring community: A true Christian community is concerned with the well-being of each of its members. The Church is a fraternal (friendly) place, a place of compassion and support for one another. Members of the community seek to invest themselves in the lives of others.
• Separation of Church and State: The Church is free and not associated with civil power. The Church claims religious liberty and resists state interference in religious matters. This does not, nevertheless, exclude dialogue and cooperation between Church and State in communal efforts to further the well-being of society.
• Lovers of Peace: Peace, love, and justice in human relationships are pivotal to the teachings of Jesus. The Church is involved in the promotion and advancement of peace at all levels, despite the demands of such an approach. Seeking peace implies the ability to look beyond the present moment and the ability to believe that God will have the last word.
An Evangelical Church
The Mennonite Brethren Churches also adhere to an Evangelical theology (in contrast to a Liberal theology). As Evangelicals (moderate in opposition to fundamentalist) we subscribe to the following characteristics:
• The Authority of the Bible: The Bible is the prime authority in matters of faith and religious practice. It is the Word of God, not a word about God. We read it in it’s context and in turn live it out in and apply it in our contemporary context.
• The distinctiveness of the work of Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ reconciles us with God through his death and resurrection. Being respectful of other belief systems, we believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; Jesus leads us to God.
• The importance of conversion: The Gospel invites humans to take stock of their relationship with God. Each individual must, personally, respond to the pardon that God extends to them through Jesus Christ. This response comes through repentance and faith. It is a fundamental and life-changing response to God even if the itineraries of conversion differ from one person to another.
• Involvement in Christian Mission: Christianity is not only a theory about life, but also a practical involvement in God’s work. We insist on the importance of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and action, being careful not to impose our beliefs on the members of the society about us. We respect every human being and life’s unique itinerary for each one.
Used with permission by © ÉGLISE CHRÉTIENNE ÉVANGÉLIQUE DE SAINT-EUSTACHE 2009