The Challenge of True Brotherhood

These Anabaptist Christians are less concerned with changing socie ty than seeking the lowest place.
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These Anabaptist Christians are less concerned with changing society than seeking the lowest place.

The first major presentation of the Christianity Today Institute will appear in the April 19 issue on the subject “The Christian As Citizen.” It includes the thinking of some of evangelicalism’s most insightful theologians and practitioners on a subject of critical importance to the church.

In anticipation, we are featuring two articles on the relationship of faith to public life: the first, presented here, explores a unique example of a classic Anabaptist position; the second, an article by Stephen Monsma in the next issue, deals with the direct involvement of Christians in the political process.

The year was 1933, and Germany was a country eagerly looking to the future. Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists had pushed aside the shaky Weimar Republic, and the dark days of great poverty and lost national honor that followed World War I seemed already to be fading into the past. Even the churches were swept up in the enthusiasm of a new beginning. “Our national leaders now explicitly confess their loyalty to Christianity and Church …,” rejoiced the Federation of Protestant Churches. The defeat of communism appeared decisive, and church leaders praised the rebirth of “patriotic awareness, true national community, and religious revival.” All of Germany could now look to the future with confidence and a renewed sense of divine mission.

Even as the church fanned the flames of nationalism, a small community of Christian believers living in the Rhön mountains began to raise their solitary voice against the Third Reich. On November 12, 1933, members of the Bruderhof movement, led by founder Eberhard Arnold, refused to vote yes in a ...

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