A Philosophy of Brethren Church History -- By: Albert T. Ronk

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 01:0 (NA 1968)
Article: A Philosophy of Brethren Church History
Author: Albert T. Ronk


A Philosophy of Brethren Church History

Albert T. Ronk

Friends of the writer who were interested in his recent studies in Brethren Church history asked if the research had led to any definite conclusions about this people and movement. An historian gathers data for a factual treatise of his subject, but he cannot avoid conclusions if his work is thorough and honest. This experience of concentrating on the faith of his fathers has more deeply rooted his Brethren devotion, and confirmed it in a strong philosophical conviction.

Our thought on Brethren history, as a part of general church history, is somewhat analogous to the complex of rills and rivers that carry the waters of the earth to its seas. It is obvious that each branch gathers to its embrace the character of its environmental source and flow. Tributarial detritus, solution and solid, mingles with the flux of the mainstream where all united rushes to join the ocean depths.

Human history is a mighty moving stream. It flows in the channel of space-time continuum toward the majestic sea of eternity. Every person born of woman; every incident, movement and crisis; every superstition, tradition and philosophy; every faith and religion — all move with the stream, and each contributes to the growing mass.

History is not a chain of unrelated incidents. Each unit is deeply rooted in the common setting. It is swayed by its supporting past, molded by its environmental present, and, in turn, contributes to the future then aborning.

Brethren Church history was the product of a past of compelling posture in religious circles without which it would have never come to birth. It grew out of what it considered forbidding situations into a struggling future of faith lasting

more than two hundred and sixty years. The fact that it has survived for almost three centuries gives strong evidence that it has enjoyed some measure of heaven’s blessing.

We are convinced that the founders of the Brethren movement in Germany, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, were born and nurtured for action in the unfinished work of reformation. Our consideration of parenthood cannot leave God out of the equation. We believe that every person born into this world is here for a definite purpose — that there is divine intervention in spermic and ovic selection, and in genic recession and dominancy. Was not some such truth veiled in Mordecai’s word to Queen Esther that she had “come to the Kingdom for such a time…?”

The small group that founded the Brethren cause were earnestly seeking for a field of service and fruitful witness. They believed that the conditions in the State Churches c...

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