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The Conservative Mennonite


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What makes a church 'Mennonite?' Is it the style of clothing? Or the fact that they contain the word 'Mennonite' in their church name or in the conference they belong to? There are many so-called 'Mennonite' churches which either contain the name 'Mennonite' in the church name, or belong to a 'Mennonite' conference. But just because one puts the word 'Mennonite' in the church name, it doesn't make them one anymore than changing their last name to Bush makes them a relative to our President. There are certain practices, distinctives if you will, that make a church Mennonite. Without these practices, no church can properly claim to be a member of the Mennonite denomination. These are people who think that they can retain the name and one or two of the trappings from whence they came, and ignore the rest. While these distintives are not a part of the Salvation process, they are what makes us who we are. To claim to be Mennonite, and not follow these practices, is to be deceitful or deceived.
What are these practices that make one Mennonite? Do all Mennonite churches follow all of these practices? The answers to these questions are provided below.

1. Water Baptism of believing adults-In scripture, when someone was baptized into the church, it always came after a confession of faith, and always by water. We never see the Baptism of an infant or child in scripture. Baptism is significant of one's willful choice to follow Christ and be identified with the Church, regardless of the consequences. Since Baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is not necessary or helpful for children to be baptized, particularly because they are safe in their innocence(Matt 19:14). Among Conservative Mennonites, one who wishes to be baptized will be observed by the congregation for a length of time to examine his salvation by his conduct. If one does not live a life consistent with that of a saved person, they are not permitted Baptism by a Conservative Mennonite congregation. Those who are Baptized, are asked a number of questions during the Baptism ceremony related to their belief in God and Christ, and then water is poured over their heads by the elders of the church. Such persons are then welcomed into the membership of the Church. Acts 8:36-38, 10:47-48, 18:8; Romans 8:9-11; I Corinthians 12:13; I Peter 3:21
2. Feet Washing-Feet Washing was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. Some would argue that this was only a cultural custom, but they are only partially correct. It was custom to wash one's feet before supper. But Christ washed the feet of His disciples AFTER He instituted communion. After washing the feet of His disciples, Christ then commanded that His disciples should wash one another's feet as He had done theirs. John 13:4-15
3. The Holy Kiss-This ordinance is spoken of five times in the New Testament. Sometimes today, one will hear a preacher in a Protestant church state that if something is said twice in scripture, that is grounds that it is to be followed, but they then claim that the Holy Kiss is a cultural custom long done away with. Men greet the men with the Holy Kiss, typically followed with "God Bless you," likewise, the women greet the women in the same manner. Some Conservative Mennonite churches practice this by a kiss on the cheek, others by a closed mouth kiss on the lips. This was followed by much of Christianity until the last century or so. In the 1700's, Charles Wesley wrote in the Hymn All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord the following lines: "The kiss of peace to each we give-/A pledge of Christian love." II Corinthians 3:12; I Peter 5:14
4. The Christian Veiling-This ordinance is applied to women. It is oftimes called the Headship Veiling, or simply the Covering. The reason it is called the Headship Veiling is because the Apostle Paul, when commanding it's use, illustrated it's need by referring to the headship of man to woman, and the headship of God to man. I Corinthians 11:2-16
5. Anointing with Oil-When one is sick in the congregation, they have the right to call for the elders of the church to anoint them with oil and pray for healing. James 5:14-16
6. Plain Dress-Mennonites typically believe in dressing in a plain manner. That is to say, in a manner not consistent with the world. Typically, neither men or women wear jewelry. Men do not wear ties with their suits. Women wear not only the covering, but wear clothing that does not reveal the form of their body.
7. Nonresistance-Mennonites are nonresistant. This is a very integral part of the Mennonite faith. No church can claim to be Mennonite, and yet allow members to belong to the military, law enforcement, or judiciary. While in the Old Testament, God commanded Israel to go to war at times, in the New Testament Christ taught us a different path. We who are members of a heavenly kingdom cannot pledge our allegiance to an earthly kingdom and fight it's wars. Nonresistance is different from pacifism in that pacifism is primarily political. The issue of nonresistance is directly related to the Mennonite stance on the responsibility to civil government. Matthew 5:38-44; Romans 12:19-21
8. Relation to civil government-Mennonites believe that since we are members of a heavenly kingdom, we cannot become wrapped up with the matters of an earthly kingdom. Many Christians become heavily involved in politics, arguing with other Christians over matters near and dear to their heart, rather than searching the scriptures and doing the work of God's kingdom. While God establishes the earthly kingdoms, it does not mean that these kingdoms are doing God's heavenly will. God raised up Pharoah and his empire during the time of Moses in order that He could show His power to be great. Believers are subject to earthly governments, so long as these governments do not interfere with the laws of God. When the law of the king violates the law of God, believers are not responsible to follow the king's law. Believers are to pray for their governments and pay taxes, but their duty does not extend beyond that. John 18:36; I Peter 2:9,11,17; Romans 13:1; I Timothy 2:1-2; Romans 13:7; Exodus 9:16; Acts 5:29

There are some other distinctives that can vary among Mennonite churches. Most Mennonite churches sing A Capalla music in their worship services. While in the Old Testament, musical instruments were permitted, those instruments are conspiciously absent in the New Testament. In the more conservative churches, men sit on one side of the auditorium, while women sit on the other. This is done so that all will have their mind focused on the sermon and on God instead of on one's husband, wife, or sweetheart sitting next to them. In other churches, men and women are allowed to sit next to eachother. These are not necessarily distinctives of Mennonites, although they many times are. These tend to be decided by what conference a given church belongs to.

Preserving the Conservative Mennonite position