My family and I have been attending, in sporadic episodes, the Mennonite services here. They have exact rules—written and unwritten—that must be obeyed to the letter. Yet we have found large areas of hypocrisy within their teachings: for they say, but do not, or do otherwise than what their rules would indicate. Moreover, we have done extensive research, and was quite shocked at what we found in the early Anabaptist's own writings: "gewissen" that is conscience and "gemüth" that is intuition. . . Also, they did not take the written Word only, but the Inner Light of God.

So, with this in mind, I am first astonished by: a) their lack of teaching on the Conscience "gewissen" and Intuition "gemüth"; b) their lack of teaching about the Light of God teaching His Kinder Children; and c) lastly if one were to show them their own teachings about this it would be rejected. . . at least at the Meeting we sometimes attend.

Their own founders and all Anabaptist people taught the common goods storehouse or all things common. They did not, however, like the highly structured Bruderhof within the Hutterites. Theirs was a different sort of all things common. This is not taught or brought out in messages either. Their founders saw and taught it was not practical to have a "prescription" dress, though most just wore the peasant's dress of that time period.

How do we start to avoid the label of the group here which we attend? We do not wish to be mean to any of them, nor do we wish to be speaking ill of them behind their backs. We have just gotten fed up with the association of our appearance being confused in others eyes as being "one of them," though we appreciate some things that they uphold: non-swearing, nonresistant, nonconformity, and modesty &c.

We have a strong unction to do as did Joshua did, in Zechariah 3, to "change thy filthy garments." Now in his case it was filthy, in ours, it is in a sense filthy also: for they will so often quote James 1:27 about Pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows in their distress and to keep thyself unspotted from the world. . . Yet they don't visit one widow, which lives only 300 ft north of their meetinghouse! She never gets a visit, call, nor even an email sent to her.

So I ask myself: "Dost thou, O man, wish to appear like unto them any longer?" Is there a hat for me to wear that would cause a distinction without harm to them? Now my wife has ordered herself a different headship covering: a white cap and a grey slat bonnet, and matching one of each for our daughter. Our seamstress is Mennonite and they like petite prints, because in the past ten years only a handful have been solids.

Yet how do we come across as different from them? We wish to keep as peaceful as possible with them, but we merely wish a different appearance than they have. Why? When ye find out that there is some cruelty to animals by certain among them and they are supposedly obeying the rules of the land where those rules do not conflict with the those of God, which in such a case they'd: "Obey God rather than men." Cruelty to animals is punishable by the laws in which they are supposed to be obeying.

They are building larger and larger homes, not simple as their own rules states, but lavishly bedecked. So huge. So big. So utterly useless. So absurd. Show me the Gospel of building Mansions and where it is written and I will pay heed! They are not concerned with the poor and needy: the rich get richer and the poor just rot! We are not this way minded. We differ from them sharply at this point. So why is this? Why should we look like something we are not like at all? Why all of this? Why?? (We just wish to minus the labeling of Amish or Mennonite.)

My heart is sorely vexed. My eyes have gotten sore of the sights they've beheld. My Inner Man, Conscience, and Intuition is screaming out to me: Stop!! Yet how? Haply (Maybe) ye may have some thoughts. Haply some comfort, some advice, or encouragement? We are just saddened to the very inmost being. We have gone and gotten peace with those of whom we had ought with and we don't know of a single thing we have against them. Yet why all this? Why? Hope to here from ye. . . .

Timothy

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Replies to This Discussion

We should not be concerned about our appearance to others.  What others choose to think, they will think.  I know a Mennonite who is African American and a big issue she has is many people assume she is Muslim.  Do not be concerned about how you appear before people, only how you appear before the Lord.

I know some of the people in the Mennonite group you are writing about, and I believe that your assessment of their Christian commitment and faithfulness is not fair.

I am not making an assessment of everyone at all. I have no ought, as I have written. I still Worship and Fellowship at this Mennonite Meeting. I have only stated a few things that I have trouble with, such as the large, expensive homes. . . The widow that lives 300ft north of the meetinghouse could be called, visited, or emailed. . . I never stated I was angry, Friend William. I just have to speak the truth. I know not only some, but all of the people here. I have also stated I have Peace with them.

As for Christian commitments and faithfulness and our assessment is not fair. . . What do ye mean? A certain individual? I don't rightly know. . .

If I have offended ye, send me a message, I will make any amends. If I have offended ye, let me know what it is via email, and I will respond as promptly as I possibly can. If I have offended thee, pray, accept my pardon and forgive me. We all are kinder children looking to an Almighty God and Father. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. Yes?

Thy Friend in Christ,

Timothy

William F Rushby said:

I know some of the people in the Mennonite group you are writing about, and I believe that your assessment of their Christian commitment and faithfulness is not fair.

This is the best thing to do—pray for peace in whatever way God desires—this is what we all need to do in everything. "Pray without ceasing." Thank ye, too, for thy thoughts.

Thy Friend in Christ,

Timothy

Jenna Caruthers said:

Those more weighty will have good thoughts for thee. I reply only to say my prayers are that thee finds peace in this whatever way God desires. 

I feel led to close this discussion, as it may only seem to fuel debates and not peace. I will be more careful what I write, as words that are written here have the potential to live on for a long time. . . So I may just wrap this up by saying: I am not perfect nor am I entire lacking nothing, for I am nothing without the Lord and Father. I will see how it goes. I will pray about it more. . . It may be closed down.

Thank ye all. I request thy prayers. I am human. I make mistakes and I Seek the Lord God of all Mercy and Comfort. I need Him. I need to go to Him instead of mankind, yet everyone needs someone with whom they can confide in. I am Isolated and Sequestered, alone and cast down, yet not forsaken.

If I have offended anyone else, pray, forgive me. Let me know of my error, and I will make amends as best as I can.

Thy Friend,

Timothy

True, so true. People will and are going to think what they will think. Ye have spoken adequately in saying, be concerned about how I appear before the Lord. . .

I need to hear all of this. It will help me to be, "Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. . ."

Timothy

Caroline Gulian said:

We should not be concerned about our appearance to others.  What others choose to think, they will think.  I know a Mennonite who is African American and a big issue she has is many people assume she is Muslim.  Do not be concerned about how you appear before people, only how you appear before the Lord.

Tim:  When one gets frustrated, it is easy for one's perspective to get skewed, overemphasizing what seems wrong and not giving enough recognition for what is good.  I know this, because it happens to me rather frequently.  It's a good idea to stop and stand back a little, and to ask oneself if one's view is accurate and fair.

I have very little information about the widow who lives a short distance from the Mennonite meetinghouse, and doesn't get visited.  But my experience is that the Mennonite group we worship with will bend over backwards to minister to those who would otherwise be ignored.

When the conference discipline is read,  it becomes quite obvious that some of the rules are no longer observed or enforced.  It is difficult to keep a rule book in synch with current practice, partly because changing the rules might engender lots of opposition.  To my mind, this doesn't mean that the people in the church are "hypocrites".  They may in fact be trying to "keep the peace".

Also,  remember that, as you get to know  Friends better, you will find that they have as many or more problems than the Mennonites in your neighborhood--although the problems will probably not be the same.

Hello, William!

As I told ye, I'd reply as quickly as possible. . .

I have been reading "The Secret of the Strength," a book on the early beginnings of the Reformation and the beginning of the Anabaptist's. This book has a lot of valuable information in it. It is, I think, available online free, if my memory serves me correctly. It is in the earliest writings that I was seeing contradictions to what I see when I go to Worship there.

In zeal, righteous concern, and perhaps a bit of haste wrote I. I never in this original topic upbraid any of the people personally. I just wrote as I was inclined to. Never did I aim a dart and fire away at the people here, for why would I still fellowship and Worship there if I did? My wife's sisters and husbands go there, and we would never falsely accuse them, or anyone else for that matter, of being unjust or unfair.

In truth a discipline "Statements of Faith," or "Decree's for to Keep," rules and booklets are nearly impossible to adhere to. Why? Some push for one idea and some another, and then there are others, just as ye mentioned, that want to keep peace. Then the onlooker will think, They're disobeying their own rules. Hmm. Hypocrites? This is because some things are so slight at first that it is not noticed until later on when the issue is discovered. This has been my observance.

To step back, take a deep breath, take a walk, and pray sincerely—this has helped. It will help. The Lord Jesus Christ will help those that seek Him, He will not turn us aside or refuse to listen to us. Our perspective in life, can easily go awry. We see with our eyes. We listen with our ears. We then put bits and pieces of our learning together and think we have it all figured out, when in reality we have not.

Problems exist wherever humans are. Why? In the words of Leohard Shiemer: "We all have the Light of the God in us, but not everyone puts it to good use." He was burnt at the stake in 1527 or so. Every group of people, every fellowship, every Meeting, of probably all persuasions have their own set of problems to work out. Well worded. Thank ye for the admonishment.

Thy Friend,

Timothy

William F Rushby said:

Tim:  When one gets frustrated, it is easy for one's perspective to get skewed, overemphasizing what seems wrong and not giving enough recognition for what is good.  I know this, because it happens to me rather frequently.  It's a good idea to stop and stand back a little, and to ask oneself if one's view is accurate and fair.

I have very little information about the widow who lives a short distance from the Mennonite meetinghouse, and doesn't get visited.  But my experience is that the Mennonite group we worship with will bend over backwards to minister to those who would otherwise be ignored.

When the conference discipline is read,  it becomes quite obvious that some of the rules are no longer observed or enforced.  It is difficult to keep a rule book in synch with current practice, partly because changing the rules might engender lots of opposition.  To my mind, this doesn't mean that the people in the church are "hypocrites".  They may in fact be trying to "keep the peace".

Also,  remember that, as you get to know  Friends better, you will find that they have as many or more problems than the Mennonites in your neighborhood--although the problems will probably not be the same.

I will just state again what I've stated already: I request thy prayers. I have had an awful ordeal early this year, and I am not perfect. I don't expect everyone else to be either. So overlook my foolish ways.

As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: "Dear Lord and Father of mankind, Forgive our foolish ways; Reclothe us in our rightful mind, In purer lives Thy service find In deeper rev'rence praise." Be mindful, I am still in this decaying body, which when it wears out, I hope to enter into that Paradise with our God of Light. I am still prone to make mistakes.

Peace be to ye all.

Timothy Bruffy said:

I feel led to close this discussion, as it may only seem to fuel debates and not peace. I will be more careful what I write, as words that are written here have the potential to live on for a long time. . . So I may just wrap this up by saying: I am not perfect nor am I entire lacking nothing, for I am nothing without the Lord and Father. I will see how it goes. I will pray about it more. . . It may be closed down.

Thank ye all. I request thy prayers. I am human. I make mistakes and I Seek the Lord God of all Mercy and Comfort. I need Him. I need to go to Him instead of mankind, yet everyone needs someone with whom they can confide in. I am Isolated and Sequestered, alone and cast down, yet not forsaken.

If I have offended anyone else, pray, forgive me. Let me know of my error, and I will make amends as best as I can.

Thy Friend,

Timothy

It has been my experience that, at least as a woman, if you dress in any way Plain, you will be assumed to be Amish, or, if the asker knows the word, Mennonite. I do not dress anywhere near traditional Plain, but I have headcoverings. A hairnet or fabric snood is enough to have people asking if I'm Amish, even when wearing a t-shirt and skirt (I rarely wear dresses). 

I am not aware of any way of avoiding being confused with Amish or Mennonites (except, of course, that members of those groups won't make the mistake, as they know their own clothing).

Humble are those of us who recognize our imperfections.
 
Timothy Bruffy said:

I will just state again what I've stated already: I request thy prayers. I have had an awful ordeal early this year, and I am not perfect. I don't expect everyone else to be either. So overlook my foolish ways.

As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: "Dear Lord and Father of mankind, Forgive our foolish ways; Reclothe us in our rightful mind, In purer lives Thy service find In deeper rev'rence praise." Be mindful, I am still in this decaying body, which when it wears out, I hope to enter into that Paradise with our God of Light. I am still prone to make mistakes.

Peace be to ye all.

Timothy Bruffy said:

I feel led to close this discussion, as it may only seem to fuel debates and not peace. I will be more careful what I write, as words that are written here have the potential to live on for a long time. . . So I may just wrap this up by saying: I am not perfect nor am I entire lacking nothing, for I am nothing without the Lord and Father. I will see how it goes. I will pray about it more. . . It may be closed down.

Thank ye all. I request thy prayers. I am human. I make mistakes and I Seek the Lord God of all Mercy and Comfort. I need Him. I need to go to Him instead of mankind, yet everyone needs someone with whom they can confide in. I am Isolated and Sequestered, alone and cast down, yet not forsaken.

If I have offended anyone else, pray, forgive me. Let me know of my error, and I will make amends as best as I can.

Thy Friend,

Timothy

Hello, Mackenzie.

It is of a truth what ye write. . . It was not my initial intention to write in a deep ventilation, judgmental, or frustrating manner. What I write here, may long outlive me, the Lord God Willing. I read the book, "The Secret of the Strength," and really saw, in the early Anabaptist martyrs' own words, a completely different teaching than what I am hearing. Thus I wrote in a bit of haste and confusion. Pardon me for that.

You speak the truth. People will produce a label. I should not be so worried over that as much as where my own heart is with the Almighty Lord God our Heavenly Father. Thank you for thy reply.

Thy Friend in Christ,

Timothy

Mackenzie said:

It has been my experience that, at least as a woman, if you dress in any way Plain, you will be assumed to be Amish, or, if the asker knows the word, Mennonite. I do not dress anywhere near traditional Plain, but I have headcoverings. A hairnet or fabric snood is enough to have people asking if I'm Amish, even when wearing a t-shirt and skirt (I rarely wear dresses). 

I am not aware of any way of avoiding being confused with Amish or Mennonites (except, of course, that members of those groups won't make the mistake, as they know their own clothing).

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