I’m not the first to consider the idea that emerging church finds particular resonance with Anabaptist traditions. This has been a topic discussed and debated in the last couple of years. I’ve been checking out the archives of bloggers I read and have found a rich and interesting conversation about this. I’ll try to summarize and link to the various threads in this post, and maybe comment myself on the points raised in them at a future date.

Back in 2005, Scot McKnight (beloved emerging academic brainiac from North Park) proposed the following in the conclusion to a blog post reflecting on the Brian McLaren book A Generous Orthodoxy:

Now I wish to make a proposal that changes the title of this post: the sort of evangelicalism the EM is striving for is anabaptist. As we in the EM seek to fashion a label and a category for what is going on, perhaps the only genuine label that comes close is “anabaptist.”

Great idea, right? The blog conversation resulting from this post has been rising and falling over the last couple of years.

In May, Jerrod McKenna did some blogging about movements of radical peace witness he’s encountered, and found the phrases “emerging peace church” and “open anabaptist impulse” to be helpful describing what was going on with this spindly branch of the emergent family sapling. He names emphasis on community, an invitational character open even to enemies, elevating non-violence as an essential expression of the spirit of Jesus, and a withdrawal from political forces that employ coercion. He concludes:

In a post-Christendom setting their may be no more important stories to draw on than this ‘Open Anabaptist impulse’ and other similar traditions such as the Early Friends. A witness to the reality of the early churches “power” not being found in positions of prestige but with those in a position of need.

Part 2 tomorrow!