The Be In Christ theological identity is most closely aligned with the historic anabaptist movement that arrived in Pennsylvania in the late 18th century and later spread to Canada. However, significant influence also came from Wesleyanism, pietism, and evangelicalism. In describing our theological tradition, someone aptly said that in the history of the BIC church anabaptism is the trunk and Wesleyanism, pietism, and evangelicalism are the branches.
Below are resources related to the areas of most theological differentiation. There are many other anabaptist resources available in the resources section of this website that are not as theological in nature. If you are aware of resources that would be a helpful addition to this site, please send them to Todd Lester for addition to this website.
Below are some curated readings and resources that will help you on your journey to better understand our theological heritage. David Augsburger wrote “A Dream” that many find to be a helpful and concise overview of the vision of the anabaptist movement.
From the beginning in 1525 through the present,
anabaptists have dreamed that it is:
Reasonable to follow Jesus Christ
daily, radically, totally in life.
Practical to obey the Sermon on the Mount,
and the whole New Testament,
Thinkable to practice the way of
in human conflicts and warfare,
Possible to confess Jesus as Lord
Feasible to build a church which is
and mutually committed to each other in Christ.
Conceivable to live simply,
following the Jesus-way
in lifestyle, in possessions,
There are some classic books below that would be a good starting point for understanding anabaptism. Please note that during his lifetime John Howard Yoder came into personal disrepute for sexual abuse charges. However, his book, The Politics of Jesus, is still considered a seminal text for its content. I have chosen to list it here as an option for you to consider.
Although the books below are not written as specifically anabaptist texts, they are well worth reading as they speak into particular aspects of Christian living and theology related to our vision of discipleship.
Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians, by international mediator John Paul Lederach serves as a guidebook for Christians seeking a scriptural view of reconciliation and practical steps for transforming conflict.
Lederach’s work in war zones on five continents, this revised and updated book tells dramatic stories of what works—and what doesn’t—in entrenched conflicts between individuals and groups. Lederach leads readers through stories of conflict and reconciliation in Scripture, using these stories as anchors for peacemaking strategies that Christians can put into practice in families and churches.
Peaceful at Heart
While there are plenty of books by men, for men, on the topic of “Christian masculinity,” these books generally fail to address men’s propensities for violence and the traditional inequity between men and women, often endorsing inequity and sanctioning aggressive behavior as an appropriate “manly” response to conflict. Peaceful at Heart offers a uniquely Anabaptist Christian perspective on masculinity. The vision of masculinity presented in this book is for a manhood that is peaceful, just, caring, and more sensitive to women and children than both traditional images of masculinity and the hyper masculine images promoted by contemporary popular culture and wider evangelical Christianity.
The study guide below is a companion to the book Peaceful at Heart by Dan Epp-Tiessen and is published in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee to facilitate conversations about masculinity, church and our Christian faith. A Kindle version of the Peaceful at Heart book is now available through Amazon. For the free PDF study guide, click on the cover below. A comprehensive list of Peaceful at Heart resources is available at Common Word bookstore.
Hunger For Justice Youth Guide
The Hunger for Justice, Learning and Reflection Guide for Youth Groups is designed for Christian youth and school groups in Canada who wish to explore how Christians are called to respond to hunger, and other injustices, in the world. Click on the image below to visit the Canadian Foodgrains website for more information.
Anabaptist Prayer Books
Anabaptist Mennonite Seminary (AMS) has produced anabaptist books for prayer and study. AMS states, “The distinctive Anabaptist flavour of this collection of daily prayers is evident in the predominance of Jesus’ voice, the space for communal reflection on scripture, and the specific choices of Bible readings.” Click on the book covers below to jump to the site to learn more about the resources.
The Anabaptist Witness is a periodical of dialogue for the worldwide global anabaptist and Mennonite church. The Witness seeks to create a forum for conversation around mission theology and practice for the broad and diverse constituency that considers itself part of the anabaptist tradition. Click on the cover below to jump to the site to read the current issue.
The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) originally started in a 5-volume book format transitioned to an online portal. It is a searchable wiki of all things anabaptist and Mennonite. This is the place to go if you want to geek out on Mennonite history and tradition. If you are unsure of where to start, begin with the article on Menno Simons. Click on the cover below to jump to the site.
Intersections is a quarterly periodical for promoting theory and practice-based examination of the wide range of issues that Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and its partners encounter in carrying out disaster relief, community development, and peacebuilding initiatives. Intersections offers a space for MCC staff and partners, along with academics and development, disaster response, and peacebuilding practitioners to reflect critically and constructively on MCC’s work. Click on the cover below to jump to the site.