For the past several months, the U.S. Mennonite Brethren Leadership Board and staff have been prayerfully and carefully re-clarifying our conviction statements about who we are, why we exist, what we believe and what our mission for this next chapter of ministry should be.
Some months ago, we agreed with strong resolve to call our U.S. Mennonite Brethren family to a renewed “oneness.” A few weeks ago, a group of 27 leaders representing our national Leadership Board and ministry partners affirmed our vision to commit to “partnering as one family to serve one Lord on one mission, for the transformation of individuals, families and communities.”
One of the reasons we chose to put “one Lord” in the middle of our statement is because of our unswerving commitment to the centrality of Jesus Christ in our personal and corporate faith.
There can be no doubt that you’ve been hearing about attacks on the uniqueness and the adequacy of Jesus Christ as Savior. Some, both inside and outside the church, are saying that Jesus may not be the “only way.” Others are suggesting that Jesus’ death on the cross may not be adequate for our salvation. Clearly these are often personal opinions, but just as clearly they challenge us to think again about who Jesus is and how he is connected to our salvation.
In addition to the challenges, some are implying or suggesting that the institutional church in any form is a losing proposition.
It is true that everyone is free to hold and express his or her own thoughts. However, the culture in which we live has adopted some values that deserve scrutiny at the least and outright rejection when appropriate. When individualism and relativism trump biblical declaration of truth, it’s time to draw the line.Our mission statement and new logo are intended to make a statement about these issues. We want to be clear about the fact that we believe that there is only one Lord Jesus Christ and that no one comes to the Father except through him. We want to be clear that God the Father took decisive action in the sacrificial substitutionary death of his Son. Jesus took upon himself all our sin, absorbing all its consequences in our place. We want to be clear that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead anchors our faith in that one Lord.
Some of the would-be influencers of our current church and culture are associated with a big, broad and hard-to-describe movement linked with the terms emerging and/or emergent. Some current and popular writing and magazine dialogue in the Christian church community has the potential to directly impact our understanding of who Jesus is and how his life, death and resurrection relate to people finding peace with God and an intimate personal relationship with him. Some theologians connected with the emerging church movement are wondering out loud and in writing whether Jesus really is the only way.
Additionally, the introduction of a new theology claiming that nothing can be known for sure gives hints of being a full frontal assault on truth as we understand it. It is true that no one can be absolutely clear and definitive about how God views his redemption story, but the fully dependable biblical record of what Jesus demonstrated and taught does give us significant anchors for understanding and some rock-solid conclusions.Let’s face it: newness is always emerging, and it should be. As in all times of review and renewal, some ideas are good and helpful, some are questionable and some are harmful. Careful and prayerful discernment is imperative in times of change. The resulting wisdom will clarify for us what we should embrace and what we should discard.
We are committed to being unswerved by any winds of doctrine that would violate our confessional agreements. We believe that Christ is the only true Savior sent from God to reconcile us to him (Acts 4:11-12). We believe that Christ inaugurated the church and he committed to her as his bride and messenger (Matt. 16: 13-19).
These truths emerged long ago and are not up for review. Be encouraged to keep living by and sharing these truths.
This month’s Conference Call was sent to all U.S. Mennonite Brethren pastors in the form of a letter. Ed Boschman is the executive director of the U.S. Conference.
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