Christian Education and The Genius of Brethrenism -- By: Frederick T. Burkey

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 02:0 (NA 1969)
Article: Christian Education and The Genius of Brethrenism
Author: Frederick T. Burkey


Christian Education and The Genius of Brethrenism

Frederick T. Burkey

This is a response to “The Genius of Brethrenism.”

From time to time it is helpful to re-examine both doctrine and distinctive practice as they relate to the church’s tradition and its contemporary mission. If The Brethren Church is to survive the vigorous challenges of this secular age, it must establish its identity and clearly perceive its mission. Therefore, studies in denominational history and thought are prerequisite to the intelligent determination of the content of the church’s message and the shape of its ministry. Because Brethren must participate in constructive discussions aimed at producing a more effective ministry in a rapidly changing world, I welcome the opportunity to respond to Dr. Albert T. Ronk’s article, “The Genius of Brethrenism.”

In his treatment of the “genius” of Brethrenism, Dr. Ronk has attempted to delineate those characteristic beliefs and practices which distinguish the Christian heritage of The Brethren Church from that of other Protestant bodies. Generally, however, these beliefs and practices correspond closely with the recognized traits of the Anabaptists and the various bodies which are identified with the Believers’ Church tradition.1 None of these “distinctives” really sets the German Baptist Brethren apart from other evangelical groups.

I. The Genius Of Brethrenism: Christian Brotherhood in Quest of Truth

Such records as we now possess indicate that the founders of the German Baptist Brethren movement were a quiet, serious, evangelical people whose religious ambition was to be completely obedient to the teachings of the New Testament. Profoundly influenced by their Bible studies and by the decadence of the state churches in Germany, they felt unable to accept either the rigid creedal statements or the ritualistic worship offered by established religious bodies.2

With the Bible as their guide, they set out to recover the faith and order of the New Testament. As they approached this task, they did so in a spirit of Christian brotherhood and love, accepting one another as new creatures in Christ while maintaining an attitude of openess to the leading of the Spirit in the interpretation of the Scriptures. It was their obedient search for new understanding in a spirit of agape such as could not be generated by human will or effort, but by God only, that made the Brethren a distinctive group in the eyes of their contemporaries. Herein is found the “genius” of Brethrenism.

II. A Critique of the Traditional View of ...
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