Tag Archives: stuart murray

Anabaptism 101 (Sermon Series)

Hello blog readers!

This past Sunday I finished preaching through an exciting 6-week sermon series entitled Anabaptism 101 at Christiansburg Mennonite Fellowship (CMF) in Virginia, where I’ve been pastoring since the first of the year.

The series focuses on the historical roots and current convictions of Anabaptism. As many of you know, I didn’t grow up within an Anabaptist tradition. And since half our congregation didn’t grow up Anabaptist, this sermon series seemed like a good place to begin as pastor.


Here is a brief outline of each message in the series:

  1. Beginning of a Movement—A general overview of key persons, events, and issues that led to the “radical” 16th century Anabaptist movement. What does “Anabaptist” mean? Where does the name “Mennonite” come from? Where is Anabaptism going today?
  2. Radical Discipleship—The Anabaptist view of discipleship in detail. What does it mean to follow Jesus? Did Jesus really expect us to follow his teachings from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)? What is so different about the Anabaptist view versus the popular evangelical view?
  3. Word Made Flesh—The Anabaptist view of the authority of Scripture, and a Christo-centric hermeneutic (interpretation) of the Old Testament. Do Anabaptists hold a high view of Scripture? What is so different about the Anabaptist view of Scripture versus the popular evangelical view?
  4. Church as Kingdom Community—The Anabaptists saw the church as a missional, counter-cultural family of Kingdom citizens. What is the meaning and purpose of baptism? What is the meaning of communion? Why live a simple life? What does it mean to embrace “the other”?
  5. The Politics of Jesus—The most controversial and oft-misunderstood aspect of Anabaptism: non-violence and the politics of Jesus. In what ways did Jesus resist empire? How far do Anabaptists take Jesus’ message of peace and reconciliation? How do Anabaptists understand church & state? How subversive is the NT?
  6. Triumph of the Lamb—Answers to the most common objections concerning the non-violence of Jesus. Didn’t Jesus come to bring a sword? Didn’t Jesus tell his disciples to buy swords? Finally, does the portrayal of Jesus in Revelation contradict the Jesus of the Gospels? How will the way of the crucified Lamb conquer evil in the end?

You can download and listen to each message by visiting our sermon archive. We will be archiving all sermons on the new church website once it is up and running. Please stay tuned for that.

There was Q&A after each message, but you can only hear it following the Triumph of the Lamb. Our small groups are going through The Naked Anabaptist for further discussion and study. If you’re looking for a good overview of Anabaptism, or Neo-Anabaptism, check out Murray’s book.

If you have questions or comments, please let me hear them here at the blog.

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


2013 in Review

Hello blog readers and subscribers!

It has been another great year here at the blog. In fact, it has been the busiest year so far with almost 80,000 views! Thank you for reading and giving your feedback along the way. You encourage me to keep blogging.

Here are the 20 most popular posts of 2013:

  1. Jesus UnCrossed
  2. Support Us or You’re a Bigot?
  3. How Worship of the American Flag Changed Everything
  4. Meeting Jesus at Abu Ghraib
  5. Is the Pledge Good for Our Kids?
  6. An Open Theism Theodicy
  7. Why I Do Not Support or Oppose Gay Marriage
  8. In Awe of the God of Science
  9. Loving God With Your Mind
  10. Anabaptist Core Convictions
  11. Really Bad Church Names
  12. Josh Garrels on Believing
  13. The Difference Between Conviction & Condemnation
  14. Finding the Naked Anabaptist
  15. On Christian Cynicism
  16. Jumping Over Jesus
  17. Heaven is Not Our Home
  18. The Twilight Zone God
  19. Is God Good?
  20. God is Not Cynical (So Why Are You?)

Other blog highlights in 2013 include the following:

Was there a post this year that you appreciated more than others? What was it and why?

Please do me the honor of reflecting back on this year’s many posts and let me know if you there was one or two that especially ministered to you. (It may be a post that’s not mentioned above.) I sincerely thank you!

You can expect one more post in 2013. There, there now. Dry your eyes. 🙂 Stay tuned for a personal Christmas post from the Flowers family.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

Q&A with Stuart Murray

Stuart Murray is the chair of the Anabaptist Network and has a PhD in Anabaptist hermeneutics from The Open University.

He is the founder of Urban Expression, a pioneering urban church-planting agency. He has spent the last fourteen years as an urban church planter in the UK. He is also an associate lecturer at the Baptist College in Bristol.

His recent publications include: Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (2004), Church after Christendom (2005), Changing Mission (2006), and The Naked Anabaptist (2010).

Last month I introduced Stuart and his book The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith. I discussed both historic and Neo-Anabaptism in Finding the Naked Anabaptist and in Anabaptist Core Convictions.

Stuart was gracious enough to answer a few questions for those interested in Anabaptism and the Neo-Anabaptist movement.


What is Anabaptism? How and why did you become an Anabaptist?

Anabaptism is a marginalized Christian tradition that arose in the early sixteenth century, survived vicious and sustained persecution and has become a global movement.

The Anabaptist tradition emphasizes the centrality of the life and teaching of Jesus as well as his death and resurrection, radical discipleship, the church as community, baptism for believers, peace at the heart of the gospel, truth-telling and a link between spirituality and economics. It is coming into its own as western societies transition into post-Christendom.

Post Christendom: “the culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story and as the institutions that have been developed to express Christian convictions decline in influence.” (Post-Christendom, p.19) 

I discovered the Anabaptist tradition as a young urban church planter in the 1980s and felt as though I had ‘come home’ to a way of understanding the Christian faith that was integrated, challenging and relevant.

What kind of feedback have you received from The Naked Anabaptist since publication?

The book has been well received, especially in North America by Mennonites, ex-Mennonites and others interested in the Anabaptist tradition. Some ex-Mennonite young adults have told me that it has revived their interest in and commitment to the tradition in which they were raised.

The Naked Anabaptist has been or is being translated into Spanish, Swedish, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, German, French and possibly Portuguese.

This level of interest has surprised me, given that the book was written for a UK readership. There have also been helpful and constructive criticisms.

What is Urban Expression? What sort of work is UE doing in North America?

Urban Expression is an urban mission agency that since 1997 has been recruiting, deploying, equipping and networking self-funding teams to incarnate the gospel and plant churches in poor urban communities.

There are teams in several British cities and in The Netherlands, with new work developing in Sweden. In North America Jeff Wright, who is based in Riverside, CA, is coaching and training church planters and starting also to deploy teams. For further information: www.urbanexpression.org

Do you think there is a resurgence of Anabaptism today? If so, where do you see things going?

I think there is a resurgence of interest in the Anabaptist tradition, although for many people this does not mean forming new churches or organizations but integrating Anabaptist perspectives into their current activities and communities. This resurgence will continue as post-Christendom advances and Anabaptist perspectives become more evidently relevant and helpful.

“The Anabaptists are beginning to make more and more sense to a world that is increasingly aware of the emptiness of materialism and the ugliness of militarism. Anabaptist logic is rooted in the wisdom of the cross of Jesus, which Scripture confounds the wisdom of this world. It seems the world is poised for a new Anabaptist movement…”  —Shane Claiborne

What would you say to those who are skeptical, even critical, of the relevancy of Anabaptism in the 21st century?

Anabaptism has weaknesses as well as strengths, as The Naked Anabaptist makes clear. We will need the insights and resources of many traditions as we grapple with the challenges we face.

Our primary commitment must be to following Jesus, not to any particular tradition, but for many of us the Anabaptist tradition has pointed us back to Jesus in helpful ways.

If different traditions have the same impact on other people, that is great.

Anabaptism has had its critics throughout the past five centuries, but many of its convictions are now widely endorsed by those whose ecclesial fore-bearers persecuted Anabaptists for just these convictions.


How do you feel about Anabaptism? Do you think a resurgence of Anabaptist ideas is due to the failure of institutional Christianity? What other historical traditions have you found helpful?

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

Jumping Over Jesus

Do you see any conflict with Yahweh as portrayed in the Old Testament with the God revealed in Jesus?

I recently shared what I believe to be a Christocentric hermeneutic that not only places Jesus at the center of the salvific story told in the Bible, but that also requires all Hebrew perceptions of God in the OT to be understood in light of Christ, the final self-revelation of God.

It’s a radical hermeneutic that the Anabaptists used, which I also believe was being used by the NT writers themselves in the first century.

Whatever happened in the OT, and however you interpret the seemingly darker sides of God at work within the history of Israel, the buck now stops with Jesus. Plain and simple. While that may not solve those areas of character conflict between Yahweh and Yeshua at this point, it does settle the matter for the sake of discipleship and obedience to Christ’s commands.

Therefore, accepting that Christ is what God is like and has always been like demands a fresh reading of Scripture.

Before folks think this is “cherry picking” to suit our fancy, it ought to be recognized that Jesus did this with much of the Hebrew Scriptures. He reinterpreted the Law and the Prophets in a way that set himself up as the promised “non-violent” and peace-making Messiah—not the Messiah they expected by any stretch of the imagination.

Jesus’ interpretations bewildered and even ticked people off, especially the gatekeepers of Judaism. We need to remember that.

Those who subscribe to my blog may remember that I did a Q&A with Greg Boyd last year. Greg is currently in the process of leading his church through a sermon series on why their church is most closely aligned with the Anabaptist tradition. (Read the Anabaptist Core Convictions.)

Woodland Hills has plans to soon affiliate with an Anabaptist denomination. Greg has been sharing this radical Christocentric hermeneutic with his fellowship. This past Sunday he continued with “The Twist.”

In the following sermon clip, Greg talks about how many believers “jump over Jesus” to support their “biblical” agenda. He says they’ve not embraced Jesus as the full manifestation of God’s good will for their lives.

What do you think about what Greg has said? Do you agree or disagree?
Do you agree that we’re often guilty of mushing the Testaments together?

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

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