20 Great Reasons Why You’ll Want to Read A Living Alternative

A_Living_AlternativeI was disappointed that my copy of A Living Alternative arrived too late for the MennoNerds January blog tour. But when it finally arrived, my disappointment quickly turned into deep engagement.

The book’s wide range drew me in, from Old Testament scholarship to church planting to the experience of being single; from heavily researched pieces complete with footnotes and bibliography to more personal accounts of church and community; from places where I found myself nodding in agreement to others that made me squirm or ask questions or even silently argue with an author.

For a volume subtitled “Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World,” I might have hoped for more women’s voices, more voices from outside North America, but there’s a lot to like in this thought-provoking volume, and I hear that a second one is in the works, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, here are twenty of my favourite quotes, one from each article–all great reasons why you’ll want to read this book for yourself.

The first article by A. O. Green quotes C. Arnold Snyder, Following in the Footsteps of Christ: the Anabaptist Tradition (Orbis Books. 2004):

Salvation, insisted all the Anabaptists, is not by faith alone, but by a faith that obeys. – C. Arnold Snyder  (page 10)

Chris Lenshyn focuses on the Anabaptist concept of Gelassenheit (“yieldedness” or “abandonment”):

There is no greater intimacy than to know Jesus in the soul and yield to God’s will. (page 25)

Ryan Robinson on being God’s people:

To be God’s covenant people–the nation of Israel and then the Church–means to be those who will wrestle with God. (page 37)

Steve Kimes on “Becoming the Oppressed Church . . . Again”:

The Bible was written by and for those who are oppressed. (page 58)

From Christopher Gorton, a pointed, self-reflective question:

As a follower of Jesus, ask yourself, honestly, who is your highest authority? (page 68)

From Tyler M. Tully’s examination of the Hebrew Scriptures: 

A correct standpoint of contextual Scripture proves not that the Bible’s stories appeared in a historically chronological order, but that they were compiled and presented in an intentionally theological manner. (page 92)

“What Anabaptists Can Learn from St. Francis of Assisi” by Jamie Arpin-Ricci:

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching. – St. Francis (page 104)

On his hybrid Anabaptism, Donald R. Clymer cites J. Philip Newell, The New Harmony: The Spirit, the Earth, and the  Human Soul (Jossey-Bass, 2011):

We have lived the delusion of thinking we could pollute the earth and not pollute our souls – J. Philip Newell (page 124)

“Seeking the Peace of the Farm Town” by Brian R. Gumm:

. . . Anabaptists have persevered and thrived with the understanding that faithfully following Jesus Christ is a life-enveloping and community-transforming encounter that sometimes puts you in harm’s way. (page 139f.)

“The Ministry of Availability and Community Transformation” by Justin Hiebert:

All social justice issues are God issues and by extension church issues. (page 144)

“The Table as a Model for Anabaptist Spiritual Formation” by Chris Nickels:

The table is not just a place to consume food and enjoy company, but also a space where peacemaking and healing can occur. (page 158)

Even the title of William Loewen’s article makes an excellent point:

Jesus wasn’t cool (and the church shouldn’t be either) (page 167)

“Leaving Christendom to Follow Christ” by Samuel P. Wilcock:

Our only true hope is to follow Christ. (page 190)

Cultural analysis by Benjamin L. Corey:

The key factor missing in so many expressions of Christian faith in America is, ironically, Jesus himself. (page 196)

“Anablacktivism: Following Jesus the Liberator and Peacemaker in the 21st Century” by Drew Hart:

Color blind politics, though tempting, only results in strengthening a racial system that is strongest when it is veiled, and unidentifiable. (page 208)

 On hospitality and justice, Hannah Heinzekehr cites Chicana theorist, Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands: La Frontera = the new Mestiza (Aunt Lute Books, 1987):

Rigidity means death – Gloria Anzaldua (page 221)

Deborah-Ruth Ferber on singleness as a gift from God, not a consolation prize:

Marriage and celibacy are both gifts from God, and both can be used to further and increase His work and His Kingdom. (page 243)

Charismatic Anabaptism by Micael Grenholm:

It is . . .  not only natural but necessary to combine signs and wonders with peace and justice. (page 248)

“Reading Scripture in Light of the Enfleshed Word” by Joanna Harader:

An Anabaptist understanding of scripture is uniquely centered on the person of Jesus. . . .  (page 274)

Robert Martin rounds out the book with this call to a new way of life: 

. . . we are called to live a life of reconciliation. (page 282)

Each article in A Living Alternative: Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World concludes with a few study guide questions for personal reflection and/or group discussion. I hope this quick overview has stimulated your appetite for more great MennoNerds writing!

Disclosure: Although I did not contribute to this volume, I am part of the MennoNerds and received a complimentary copy of this book.

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