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1953 Article

Church, in the English Bible is the translation of the Greek New Testament word ecclesia, which is translated in the Luther Bible as Gemeinde (not Kirche). Ecclesia is in turn the translation in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) of the Hebrew word Qahal meaning "people of God" or the Jewish religious congregation, and accordingly means in the New Testament the new "people of God." In secular Greek ecclesia was used to mean "duly summoned assembly of the people," derived from the root meaning of "calling out the citizens from their homes." The popular etymology from the Greek word, making the church a body "called out from the world," has no basis in fact, although the doctrine of separation from the world is a New Testament teaching. "Church" in the New Testament may mean either the entire body of Christian believers as the general church, or a local congregation as a particular church. In either case the New Testament concept of the church is that of a body of disciples of Christ, united by faith to Him as Saviour and Lord, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, sharing a fellowship of mutual love and brotherhood with one another, witnessing individually and corporately for Christ in the world. The church is Christ's church, founded by Him, responsible to Him. After several centuries during which it at first maintained more or less its original character and later developed into a hierarchical institute of salvation, the church entered a new phase in which it compromised with the world and became a state church. Thereby it lost most of its original New Testament character and became a great and powerful socio-religious institution. Having at first based its faith, life, and organization on the Bible, it gradually came to base itself largely on its own tradition and the teachings of the Church Fathers, thus making the Church in effect the primary authority, the Scriptures secondary. The Reformation of the 16th century broke off a large segment of the Roman Church in the West, in which the Bible was restored as the sole authority for faith and practice, and the New Testament Gospel largely revived, but the medieval concept of the mass state church retained. The Anabaptist movement broke completely with this mass state church concept, and restored the New Testament concept of the church of believers.

One of the most characteristic features of Anabaptism is its church concept. The church (Gemeinde), according to the Anabaptists, is a voluntary and exclusive fellowship of truly converted believers in Christ, committed to follow Him in full obedience as Lord; it is a brotherhood, not an institution. It is completely separated from the state, which is to have no power over the church; and the members of the church in turn do not hold office in the magistracy. There is to be complete freedom of conscience, no use of force or compulsion by state or church; faith must be free. In these principles the Anabaptists were pioneers and forerunners of modern religious liberty and the free church. This church concept was held in sharp distinction from the prevailing inclusive concept of both Catholic and Protestant state-churchism, namely, that of the mass church (Volkskirche) coterminous with the population of a state, into which all citizens are in effect born and are to be formally incorporated by universal and compulsory infant baptism and in which they remain until death.

This church concept was held by Anabaptists universally, beginning in Switzerland in 1525, when the Swiss Brethren separated from the Zwinglian Reformation, then also among the Dutch-North German group in 1530 ff., and by the various Tyrol-Austria-Moravia groups, including the Hutterites. There were some minor variations however. The Hutterian Brethren, beginning in 1528, modified this concept by establishing a communal brotherhood in which all private property is abolished, and in which the church includes and orders the total life of its members. The opposite tendency, the spiritualistic one, in which the place of the church is minimized and the chief weight is placed upon the individual and his autonomy within the brotherhood, also appeared in the early days of the Anabaptist movement, but found no permanent place in it, except in the later Dutch Mennonites. The representatives of this spirit either died early (e.g., Hans Denck, who died in 1527, expressing regret that he had baptized anyone), or withdrew (e.g., Christian Entfelder of South Germany, who was in the movement only one year, 1529-30, and Obbe Philips of Friesland, who withdrew in 1540), or never actually joined any local congregation. In fact, modern scholarship now carefully distinguishes the Spiritualists from the Anabaptists as a distinct movement, a distinction which Alfred Hegler (d. 1902) first clearly stated. Later the spiritualistic tendency exerted more influence among the Dutch Mennonites, although Menno Simons and Dirk Philips, the outstanding early leaders, were strongly of the opposite position. According to S. Hoekstra (Beginselen en leer der oude Doopsgezinden) the Dutch Anabaptists' theology is centered in the New Testament ecclesia. Some modern Dutch Mennonite scholarship does not agree with this interpretation, although according to Cornelius Krahn, it is in error in doing so. Krahn says: "Kuhler constructs the theory that the genuine Anabaptism is that of individual piety, which throughout Mennonite history struggles with the strictly supervised and disciplined ecclesia. According to Kuhler, therefore, the martyrs, the Waterlanders, and other liberal factions represent genuine Anabaptism, while the strict and conservative followers of Menno Simons have deviated from it. Thus the liberal Doopsgezinde religious beliefs of the 19th century are conjectured into the sixteenth century Anabaptism" (C. Krahn, "Historiography of the Mennonites in the Netherlands," MQR 18, 1944, 195-224). Krahn says further in the same place, "The Dutch Mennonites have been [were] most consistent in establishing a church without spot or wrinkle. They practiced the principle of nonconformity to the world more rigidly than any other Mennonite church." The only full length Anabaptist treatise on the church, that by Dirk Philips, Van die Ghemeynte Godts, hoe die van den beginne gheweest is, waer by die bekent, ende van alle Secten onderscheyden wert, Een corte Bekentenisse (published separately, then as a part of his Enchiridion in 1564, reprinted in B.R.N. X, 1914, pp. 377-414), fully supports Krahn's views. F. Pijper, the B.R.N. editor of Philips' works, says of the Enchiridion, "No second work exists, wherein the teachings of the oldest Doopsgezinden are expounded with so great clarity and many-sidedness."

Since the Anabaptist conception of the church is ultimately derivative from its concept of Christianity as discipleship, i.e., complete obedience by the individual to Christ and the living of a holy life patterned after His example and teachings, an essential idea in it is that the church must be holy, composed exclusively of practicing disciples, and kept pure. It is a church of order, in which the body determines the pattern of life for its members, and therefore has authority over the individual's behavior. It controls admission of new members, requiring evidence of repentance, the new birth, and a holy life, and maintains the purity of the church through discipline using the ban or excommunication. Adopting the program of Christ for the church (Ephesians 5:27) as their aim, the Anabaptists sincerely sought to achieve a church "not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." They cannot however rightly be charged on this account with perfectionism, for their position expressly provided for discipline for sinning church members. It must also be remembered that they took their position in opposition to the Lutheran and Zwinglian churches, who did not at first attempt any discipline except for heresy. Actually the introduction of a certain amount of discipline in the Swiss Zwinglian churches, as well as in Hessen, Strasbourg, and elsewhere, can be attributed at least in part to the direct challenge of the Anabaptist critique which was outspoken, vigorous, and continuous. Repeatedly, when Anabaptists were questioned by state church leaders either in free discussions or in court trials, as to the reason for their separation from the official church, they cited the lack of discipline. The state church could not be the true church of Christ because it tolerated in its midst all kinds of sin. Menno Simons sets forth this point clearly in a classic statement (in A Brief and Clear Confession, 1544) where he says: "Secondly, cleanse your church also. Exclude, according to the Word of God, all adulterers and fornicators, drunkards, slanderers, swearers, those who lead a shameful and inordinate life, the proud, avaricious, idolatrous, disobedient unto God, whoremongers and the like, that you may become the holy, Christian church which is without spot or blemish, which is as a city built upon a rock. In case these are truly observed and found with you, and besides, a free Christian doctrine, the true ministration of the sacraments of Christ, not according to the opinion of men or of the learned but according to the true doctrine of Christ and his apostles - again, the fear and love of God, and an unblamable life, according to God's Word, then you will ever have us as your brethren; for it is such we seek. But if you remain as you are, then I say publicly, better to die than to enter into your doctrine, sacraments, life, and church, as was said above" (Complete Works, Elkhart, 1871, 11, 345). Pilgram Marpeck (d. 1556), the outstanding leader in the South, takes an identical position. His great work, the <em>Verantwortung</em> of 1544 (edited by Loserth in 1929), deals at several places with the concept of the church, particularly on the need for the organization and operation of a visible church, willing to stand openly for the Gospel in spite of persecution, this in opposition to Schwenkfeld's doctrine of suspending the actual organization of the church until a more favorable time. "The Church of Christ, inwardly as spiritual, and outwardly as a body before the world, consists of men born of God; they bear in their cleansed flesh and blood the sonship of God in the unity of the Holy Spirit with cleansed minds and dispositions" (Verantwortung, 294).

This stress upon the holy and pure character of the church is so strong throughout the Anabaptist movement that it may well be taken as their decisive mark of the true church. Menno Simons, however, lists six marks of the true church: (1) unadulterated pure doctrine; (2) Scriptural use of baptism and the Lord's Supper; (3) obedience to the Word of God; (4) unfeigned brotherly love; (5) candid confession of God and Christ; (6) persecution and tribulation for the sake of the Word of the Lord (I, 301; II, 83). Littell (Anabaptist View of the Church, 1952) holds that the controlling idea in the Anabaptist concept of the church was the restoration of the primitive (apostolic) New Testament church. Certainly this was an important element in their doctrine; however, it is seldom directly and systematically set forth. Max Göbel (Geschichte des christlichen Lebens . . . , 1848) focuses the Anabaptist doctrine of the church somewhat differently as follows: "The essential and distinguishing characteristic of this church is its great emphasis upon the actual personal conversion and regeneration of every Christian."

The Anabaptist concept of the church, whatever may be its precise definition, was one of the most powerful ideas in the whole range of Anabaptist doctrine, and in subsequent centuries in Mennonite doctrine. Cornelius Krahn even speaks of the theology of Menno Simons as "ecclesiocentric." For Anabaptists-Mennonites the preaching of the Gospel was to issue finally in a redeemed community. Hence, in contrast to the Lutheran emphasis on the preaching of the Word and the right administration of the sacraments, the Anabaptist-Mennonite emphasis always fell on the establishment of the true church through the adherence of true believer-disciples (the term believers - Gläubige - is seldom used in the earlier Anabaptist-Mennonite literature), through its separation from the world, and through its right discipline. Admission to this church was theoretically possible only on the basis of true personal faith and conversion.

The history of the practice of the Anabaptist-Mennonite church concept reveals that although the ideal has been continuously asserted down to the present in confessions, catechisms, sermons, and doctrinal writings, actually it was often obscured or even lost in practice. The problem became most acute in the closed Mennonite settlements or colonies in East and West Prussia and Russia (but only slightly less so in all the congregations in Europe and America), where the brotherhood constituted a distinct community of families sharply separated, even culturally, from the surrounding society, and strongly under the influence of tradition. Increasingly church membership was based on family connection and catechetical instruction, and became conventional, with much of the original idea of conversion and vital personal experience lost. It became customary for all children to be baptized at a traditional age, 15-18 (in Russia more commonly 20-22, as among the Amish also). In Russia, Mennonites were commonly thought of as a "people" as well as a church, and a cultural Mennonitism developed. The extreme form of this in the early 1950s was probably found today in the Old Colony Mennonites of Manitoba, Mexico, and Paraguay, but it also existed (and still exists?) among some better educated elements who consider themselves to be Mennonites though not baptized or in any real way vitally connected with the church. In other areas in North America, particularly in the Mennonite Church (MC), the age of baptism in the 1950s became so low (numerous cases of ten years and below) that, in spite of the outward form of voluntarism and even profession of conversion, the actual practice tends toward child baptism. In Holland in the 1950s the contrary tendency raised the age of baptism (many baptized at 20 years and upward) and emphasized exclusively adult commitment. In those circles in Germany and Switzerland as well as in America where pietistic influences and religious awakenings have been strong, the dangers of traditionalism have been largely or in part overcome by the development of more vital personal experience and vigorous teaching and practice. The rise of the Mennonite Brethren group in Russia (1860 ff.) can be viewed as an attempt to restore the lost original ideal of the church of converted believers, which in turn had a wholesome effect on the total Mennonite brotherhood in that country.

Another aspect of the Anabaptist-Mennonite church view is the concept of the church as a brotherhood. On the one hand this carries an anti-hierarchical emphasis, minimizing the clerical character of the church offices (elder, preacher, deacon) and maintaining a lay ministry over against a professional and salaried ministry, or at least emphasizing lay responsibility and lay participation. On the other hand it emphasizes responsibility for mutual aid in economic life. Here again the brotherhood idea has often been obscured. In some cases hierarchical development has taken place, in which the office of elder-bishop secured great prestige and power and in effect produced a rule by bishops; in other cases a professionalism has come in, with little to distinguish the Mennonite minister from the parson of the established church and with a reduction of lay participation in the life of the church. The mutual aid idea has at times also almost vanished under the rise of wealthy classes with a typical "business" or capitalistic attitude toward their less privileged fellow members. Note, for instance, the plight of the landless in the Russian Mennonite settlements in the 19th century.

In church polity, the original Anabaptist movement was strongly congregational, although the synodal idea was not altogether absent (Schleitheim conference of 1527, meetings of elders under Menno Simons' leadership such as Wismar in 1552, the Strasbourg conferences of 1555, 1557, etc.). Later the synodal idea became much stronger with the rise of the "conferences" in the 19th century in almost all countries. In some Mennonite groups - e.g., the Mennonite Brethren and the Mennonite Church (MC) - the synodal idea conquered by the 1950s; authoritative government by conferences was the rule. The General Conference Mennonite Church retained the congregational polity. In Holland, after a period of variation in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the equivalents of conferences (Sociëteit) had much power in the various factional groups, the congregational polity was fully restored, and the autonomy of the local church is now universally practiced.

A study of the fifteen significant Mennonite confessions of faith produced before 1800 (1527, 1538, 1545, 1577, 1578, 1591, 1600, 1610, 1627, 1678, 1702, 1749, 1773, 1792), including two unprinted Hessian confessions of 1538 and 1578, and including all the historic confessions still in use in America, reveals the following material on the church. Eleven of the fifteen have an article on the church - all except 1527, 1538, 1591, 1627; thirteen have an article on church offices - all but 1538 and 1578 (the two Hessian confessions); and all fifteen have an article on church discipline (ban or shunning). All these confessions teach substantially the same doctrine on all three points. Emil Händiges, who has carefully studied the teaching of the confessions on the doctrine of the church (Chapter 5, "Die Lehre von der Gemeinde im besonderen nach den Bekenntnisschriften dargestellt," in his book, Die Lehre der Mennoniten in Geschichte und Gegenwart 1921), says, "All the confessions of the 17th century (he cites 1600, 1626, 1630, 1632) adhere closely to Menno Simons' and Dirk Philips' [views on the church]. The 1702 confession by Gerhard Roosen contains nothing unique. The first later confession to have something characteristic is the 1766 Cornelis Ris, which is more tolerant. . . . The later confessions and catechisms furnish no new points of view. The specifically Mennonite position (in addition to the general Christian description of the church) is always [to hold] as marks of the true church; the emphasis on repentance, conversion, and the new birth as prerequisites for membership; the Scriptural practice of baptism and communion; the requirement of the ban; the rejection of military service and the oath, and occasionally also the requirement of feet-washing. Also the priesthood of all believers and the autonomy of the local congregation are held as an indispensable heritage of faith from the fathers."

As to the "offices in the church," the confessions regularly, from 1577 on, call for a threefold ministry namely, bishop-elder, preacher, and deacon. Only the Dordrecht (1632) Confession also speaks of the office of deaconess. The Schleitheim (1527) Confession has a strong article on the office of shepherd (Hirt) only; apparently the threefold ministry had not yet developed. The same is true of the Peter Riedemann's Rechenschaft of 1545, although here reference is made to assistant ministers and other officials of the Hutterite Bruderhofs. The Schleitheim definition of the function of the shepherd (later bishop-elder) is characteristic: "This office shall be to read, to admonish and teach, to warn, to discipline, to ban in the church, to lead out in prayer for the advancement of all the brethren and sisters, to lift up the bread when it is broken, and in all things to see to the care of the body of Christ, in order that it may be built up and developed."

The confessions are unanimous in the requirement of discipline by the use of the ban or excommunication (shunning or avoidance, Meidung, was added in the Dutch-North German confessions) to keep the church pure of transgressors. They uniformly base this on the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-17. Conrad Grebel called for the ban on the basis of Matthew 18 as early as 1524 in his letter to Thomas Müntzer. The practice of strict discipline on this basis was generally maintained by all Mennonite groups (except Holland) until into the 19th century, and was still maintained in the 1950s by most North American groups. In Holland and Northwest Germany it has been completely abandoned, but in Russia, Southeast Germany, Switzerland, and France discipline has been maintained until the 1950s, with some variation in degree.

In spite of considerable variation in application, Mennonites round the world still unitedly hold to the concept of a believers' church and the brotherhood idea, and still emphasize the central importance of the church in Christian faith and life. The range of concrete practice is still wide, from the Hutterite communal brotherhood, to the strongly disciplined, more authoritarian standard synodal groups (Mennonite Church, Mennonite Brethren, Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, Badischer Verband) and on to the loosely associated denominational type (General Conference Mennonite, South German Conference) and the highly individualistic Dutch Mennonites, with many degrees of variation in between these major types. In some quarters the church concept itself has been obscured, and no clear line of theology or practice is maintained. The increasing tendency, particularly in the less conservative groups, has been to move from the brotherhood type to the denominational, whereas the more conservative groups as a whole succeed in perpetuating more faithfully the original brotherhood concept.

The original Anabaptist movement rejected the idea of an invisible church, which was the invention of Luther, holding that the Christian community in any particular place is as visible as the Christian man, and that its Christian character must be "in evidence." The intrusion of the concept of an invisible church into Mennonite thought is an evidence of outside influence, usually pietistic. Nor did the Anabaptists ever move in the direction of a crypto-ecclesia. For them an essential aspect of the church is its readiness to take an open stand for its Lord and suffer for Him. In fact the idea of a suffering church is a very prominent one in Anabaptist testimonies and literature. It is correlative with the idea of martyrdom and victory through suffering. As Christ, the head of the church, conquered through the cross, so shall His church. In later (19th, 20th century) developments, after persecution was past, this courageous faith and devotion was often replaced by an all too quick compromise with the world and an easy yielding to the demands of the state, particularly in such matters as military service. 

1990 Article

Scripture describes the church as the community of the people of God through whom God acts and is glorified (I Peter 2:9-10), as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16); Romans 12:5), the community of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12), as both locally and universally complete (Acts 15; John 17:21); and with love as its primary mark (1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 2; Galatians 5:22). The church is also a sociological reality, both human and divine.

The Mennonite Encyclopedia article on the "Church" by Harold S. Bender (above) is a powerful and comprehensive statement which need not be repeated here. The following paragraphs identify new developments which have occurred in understanding the nature of the church in 16th century Anabaptism and in Mennonitism since the 1950s in theory and, to some extent, in practice.

A variety of new, in part revisionist, interpretations of the origins of Anabaptism have been proposed since the 1950s. The earlier account of Zürich as the only place of origin has been superseded by studies showing the multiple roots of Anabaptism in mysticism (Packull), asceticism (Davis), monasticism (Snyder), and peasant unrest even in Switzerland (Stayer). While the Anabaptists were not the outgrowth of the Peasants' War of 1525, as many historians have thought for centuries, they were influenced by its primary ideological leader, Thomas Müntzer. They also owed a great deal to Martin Luther, in part through his former colleague Andreas Karlstadt, who has been called ". . . the Father of the [Ana]Baptist Movements" (Pater).

All of these influences helped to shape the early Anabaptist understandings of the nature of the church. These Anabaptist self-understandings are now seen in the broad social context in which they lived. The movement was quite diverse, but there was also a common core. Without intending in any way to restore the prerevisionist image of a purely peaceful movement trying to "complete the Reformation," one may note that the overwhelming evidence still is that most Anabaptists, in most places, most of the time were, in fact, peaceful, missionary, and willing to suffer, seeking to shape their life together after the New Testament church.

According to studies since the 1950s this church did not intend to separate itself from society (Klaassen, Haas, Stayer). It was expelled from church and society because of its call for a church of believers only, separate from state authority, a people who had experienced conversion to Christ and committed themselves to obedience, which came to be called discipleship.

Separation and persecution heightened discipline to achieve the pure body of Christ "without spot or wrinkle" (Menno; cf. Eph 5:27). Discipline, in turn, tended to look for perfection in the disciple rather than in Christ, leading to many schisms. Political, economic, social and, eventually, religious tolerance came first in the Lowlands in late 16th century but not until the 19th century in Switzerland. Consequently, migrations to escape persecution occurred in all directions (frontier). In new locations and cultures reliance on traditional ways of doing things and of believing often led to sterile spirituality and worship. Old forms provided needed security and protection against the new.

The proliferation of groups originally caused by historical, geographical, and theological factors in the 16th century was fostered further through migrations. The Amish schism of 1693-97 added a new separate group. Numerous confessions were written later by the 16th-century Dutch groups to promote unity, and they were helpful to that end, but they thereby also alienated others. The first major union of all national Mennonite (Doopsgezinde) bodies occurred in The Netherlands in 1811 (Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit). In the 19th century renewal movements in Russia led to further divisions,

Proliferation of Mennonite groups continued in the North American environment into late 20th century, because of historical, cultural, geographic, doctrinal, and polity factors, though there were modest unitive signs in the late 1980s. Most of these divisions were also transplanted onto mission fields globally. Considerable erosion of 16th-century Anabaptist values did occur through acculturation. The charismatic movement provided freedom to form new fellowships without serious disunity. Mennonites found it easier to work together in Mennonite Central Committee than to worship together. Mennonite World Conference illustrated clearly the preference for spiritual unity over organizational unity.

While some Mennonite groups had joined the National Association of Evangelicals in North America and two European groups had joined the World Council of Churches, most Mennonite groups joined neither of these, nor the National Council of Churches, though in 1988 the Conference of Mennonites in Canada seriously considered joining both the Canadian Council of Churches and the Evangelical Federation of Canada and later became "observers" of both.

Mennonites played an active part in facilitating a series of meetings known as the believers church conferences, of which the first was held in Louisville in 1967. The fifth of these conferences was held at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg in 1978, sponsored jointly by Baptists and Mennonites. The report of the findings committee for the 1967 conference lists numerous characteristics and problems, of believers church congregations in some detail under four general headings: (1) ". . . the most visible manifestation of the Grace of God is His calling together a believing people," (2) ". . . the particular local togetherness of the congregation is the primordial form of the church , " (3) ". . . the Word of God creates, judges, and restores the church," and (4) ". . . the mission of the church in the world is to work out her being as a covenant community in the midst of the world."

This report is followed by a "Summary of Believers' Church Affirmations," under eight categories, prepared by Donald F. Durnbaugh, secretary of the conference: (1) lordship of Christ, (2) authority of the Word, (3) restitution (restoration) of the church, (4) separation from the world (nonconformity), (5) living for the world (service), (6) covenant of believers (church membership, discipline), (7) fellowship of saints, and (8) relation to other Christians (Garrett, 322-23). Other volumes in the Believers Church Conference series, listed in the bibliography (Strege; Zeman/Klassen), provide further materials on the themes considered.

Questions about governance (polity) continued to be central agenda for Mennonites. The more hierarchical pattern of the Mennonite Church, and the congregational pattern of the General Conference Mennonite Church, both seemed to move to more common ground. The authority of bishops and regional conferences was being replaced by overseers and a General Assembly in the Mennonite Church, while General Conference Mennonites were ready for more conference authority and direction, particularly in Canada. The question of leadership and authority including the role of women (feminism), continued to engage most congregations and conferences. For some reason the nature of worship seemed to be less of an issue. A new hymnal, to be released in 1992, was being prepared jointly by several conferences. The Amish, Old Order Mennonite, and Old Colony groups continued with strong centralized leadership as before.

Dialogue about the nature of the church was also stimulated by John H. Redekop's book A People Apart: Ethnicity and the Mennonite Brethren (1987), which described ethnicity as a barrier to witness and proposed that the Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches in Canada call itself the "Canadian Conference of Evangelical Anabaptist Churches." It triggered discussion far beyond his own conference.


Bender, Harold S. "The Mennonite Conception of the Church and Its Relation to Community Building." Mennonite Quarterly Review 19 (1945): 179-214.

Bender, Harold S. These Are My People. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1962.

Burrage, C. The Church Covenant Idea. Philadelphia, 1904.

Clasen, Claus-Peter. Anabaptism: a Social History, 1525-1618. Ithaca: Cornell, 1972.

Davis, Kenneth R. Anabaptism and Asceticism. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1974.

Dillistone, F. W. The Structure of the Divine Society. Philadelphia, 1951.

Driedger, Leo. Mennonite Identity in Conflict. Queenston, 1988.

Durnbaugh, Donald F. The Believers' Church. New York; Macmillan, 1968; Scottdale, 1985.

Durnbaugh, Donald F., ed., Every Need Supplied: Mutual Aid and Christian Community in the Free Churches, 1525-1675. Philadelphia: Temple U. Press, 1974.

Dyck, Cornelius J., ed. The Lordship of Christ: Proceedings of the Seventh Mennonite World Conference. Elkhart: MWC, 1962.

Garrett, James L., ed. The Concept of the Believers' Church. Scottdale, 1969.

Haas, Martin. "Der Weg der Taufer in die Absonderung," in Umstrittenes Täufertum. 1975: 50-78.

Handiges, E. Die Lehre der Mennoniten in Geschichte und Gegenwart nach den Quellen dargestellt. Ludwigshafen, 1921.

Heimann, E. "The Hutterite Doctrines of the Church and Common Life." Mennonite Quarterly Review 26 (1952): 22-47, 142-60.

Heyer, F.  Der Kirchenbegriff der Schwarmer. Leipzig, 1939.

Hillerbrand, Hans. "Andreas Bodenstein of Carlstadt, Prodigal Reformer." Church History 35 (1966): 379-98.

Hoekstra, S. Beginselen en leer der oude Doopsgezinden. Amsterdam, 1863.

Jeschke, Marlin. Believers Baptism for Children of the Church. Scottdale, 1983.

Juhnke, James C. Dialogue with a Heritage: Cornelius H. Wedel and the Beginnings of Bethel College. North Newton: Bethel College, 1987.

Kauffman, Daniel. "The Doctrine of the Church," which is Part VI, pp. 311-439, of Doctrines of the Bible. Scottdale, 1929, contains besides a chapter on "The Christian Church," pp. 319-32, one on "The Ministry" by D. H. Bender, pp. 333-62 and one by the same author on "The Congregation,": pp. 363-77, followed by a discussion of "The Christian Ordinances" by Daniel Kauffman, pp. 378-439. This book represented the standard position of the Mennonite Church (MC) in the 1950s, and is the only extensive modern Mennonite publication in this field.

Kauffman, J. Howard and Leland Harder, eds. Anabaptists Four Centuries Later: a Profile of FIve Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Denominations. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1975.

Keller, A. Church and State on the European Continent. London, 1936.

Klaassen, Walter. "The Nature of the Anabaptist Protest." Mennonite Quarterly Review 55 (1971): 291-311.

Klaassen, Walter. "The Anabaptist Understanding of the Separation of the Church." Church History 47 (1977): 421-36.

Klaassen, Walter. Anabaptism: Neither Catholic Nor Protestant. Waterloo: Conrad Press, 1973.

Klassen, Walter, ed. Anabaptism in Outline: Selected Primary Sources. Classics of the Radical Reformation, 3. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1981.

Krahn, Cornelius. Menno Simons. Karlsruhe, 1936, especially "Mennos Gemeindebegriff im Rahmen seiner Theologies, 103-76.

Kraus, C. Norman. The Authentic Witness. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.

Kreider, Robert. "The Anabaptist Conception of the Church in the Russian Mennonite Environment 1789-1870." Mennonite Quarterly Review 25 (1951): 34-46.

Littell, F. H. The Anabaptist View of the Church. New York, 1952.

Littell, F. H. "The Anabaptist Doctrine of the Restitution of the True Church." Mennonite Quarterly Review 24 (1950): 12-24.

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Author(s) Harold S. Bender
Cornelius J. Dyck
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

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Bender, Harold S. and Cornelius J. Dyck. "Ecclesiology." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 14 Jul 2020.

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Bender, Harold S. and Cornelius J. Dyck. (1989). Ecclesiology. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 July 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 594-598; v. 5, pp. 150-152. All rights reserved.

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