The results are in! This year, we turned our attention to an Anabaptist distinctive: nonresistance and separation from the political system. Nonresistance has had a profound shaping effect on Anabaptist history and culture. Yet we wonder, have the Anabaptists passed on a belief rooted in Christ or simply a cultural artifact? Are we still the separate people we claim to be?
Thank you to everyone who was involved with this year’s survey. We hope this snapshot into the Anabaptist culture stirs you to examine and strengthen your own beliefs.
The Radi-Call Team
Who are you?
We were pleased at the turnout from the younger generation! Over half of our responses were from those 30 and younger. It seems that the men have a particular interest in the issues covered, as 3 out of every 4 people we surveyed were male.
Almost all of you are Anabaptist (97%), and nearly everyone stills holds non-resistance as a personal doctrine (also 97%). 7 out of 8 in that group would say that non-resistance is an essential doctrine – for Anabaptists and for all Christians.
So, what is non-resistance? The answers fell into 3 basic groups:
- Non-resistance is non-violence (we shouldn’t retaliate or go to war).
- Non-resistance is Christ-like love (we must love others like Christ loved us).
- Non-resistance is both non-violence and Christ-like love.
We feel that the third group really covered it well. Some of our favorite responses were:
Non-resistance is following Christ by engaging evil with love rather than violence.
Nonresistance means responding in kindness and forgiveness when wronged, instead of responding with vengeance or retaliation. Nonresistance does not passively watch a fight but actively seeks to reconcile and make peace.
Allowing ourselves to be harmed if it’s between harming the evil person and them harming us.
Non-resistance is a stand against any kind of violence. This includes killing, even in wartime or in defense; fighting; violent or caustic words; and even pursuing justice at the expense of others. Non-resistance does not mean that we don’t resist. In fact, the Bible tells us to resist evil. It means that we keep away from violence. Non-resistance is not pacifism. Just because I will not fight does not mean you cannot fight. Non-resistance is a personal stand and decision to abstain from fighting and government positions that encourage or necessitate fighting.
Non-resistance is choosing not to resist evil with worldly means, but seeking to overcome evil in a Kingdom fashion: with good.
The nitty gritty
How does non-resistance affect your lives? While some of you say it doesn’t since America is not at war, others go beyond that. It affects everyday life, or at least it should – even down to how we respond when when we’re cut off in traffic.
Being willing to let go of my “rights,” even if the other person takes advantage of me.
It is a mindset, a worldview!
Most often non resistance is played out in a verbal or emotional way.
It impacts my choice of vocation, entertainment, and political involvement. Furthermore, it also impacts the nitty gritty areas of life e.g., how I treat my wife and family, how I respond when someone cuts me off in traffic, how I respond when someone verbally assaults me.
Some issues aren’t so easy to figure out, and we may end up on different pages. So what about those unclear issues? What all may a non-resistant Christian do? Here’s where you stand.
What about politics?
Should Christians be involved in the political system? The responses were more varied on this one, though 82% of you believe that they should not be involved. If we shouldn’t be involved, should we be politically minded? Most of you are of the opinion that Anabaptists are talk too much and pray too little.
I believe we are way too vocal about politics even if we don’t participate.
We should be aware enough of what is going on so we can pray appropriately.
I think we need to spend more time praying for our leaders and less time criticizing them. That starts with me!
In a very general way, they tend to be too involved in ways that don’t matter (consuming news and talking endlessly about issues) and too un-involved in ways that do matter (prayer and fasting).
On the other hand, some of you do believe Anabaptists could do more politically than they are.
I believe we have the responsibility to vote for pro-life politicians, etc. I don’t see enough Christians prayerfully voting.
I don’t see Anabaptists often getting involved in politics, so no, I don’t think we’re too involved. It’s pretty clear, though, that many of my conservative Anabaptist acquaintances are non-voting Republicans. Our sympathies are too often entwined in systems with which we have the decency to functionally avoid.
I believe that Anabaptists have tended toward silence and passivity in regards to politics. While I think there are limits to how involved we can be without violating our beliefs, I also believe there is a way to be involved, to work for positive change without sacrificing our morals.
Change the world
If we do get involved in politics, is that a good way to change the world? Here the answers were pretty clear. It is true that we can bring some change through politics, but we should not expect politics to change people’s hearts. God alone changes hearts.
Though it might be possible to change minor things, God is ultimately the “changer” of the world.
I don’t think it is the only way, and I don’t think it is necessarily the most effective way. However, I do believe it is a valid way to bring about some change. Politics are a reflection of the culture, and not the other way around. However, I think that participation can help to bring about some changes for the better.
I believe a grassroots approach to changing culture is more effective in the long run. It is the best use of our resources and corresponds with the choices of Jesus and the apostles who spent their lives bringing the gospel to one individual at a time rather than to a political system.
Change? Yes. Righteous change? No.
No. If all Christians worked together, we could possibly get abortion banned, but that would not solve the problem effectively, because mans’s unredeemed, sinful nature would still want to have abortions. The only way to truly change the world is for hearts to be transformed by Christ.