What is the essence of Anabaptism?

March 30, 2017

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

New book by Palmer Becker helps explain beliefs of Mennonites and more

HARRISONBURG, Va.—What makes Anabaptism different from other Christian traditions? According to author Palmer Becker, it can be explained by three words: Jesus. Community. Reconciliation.

In the new resource Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith (Herald Press, March 2017), Becker introduces readers to the key convictions and practices of Anabaptism. Becker is also the author of the small volume, What Is an Anabaptist Christian? now published in 20 languages.

Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his Revisionist History podcast, says of Becker’s three key words, “It’s hard to explain to an outsider how seriously the Mennonites take these three things: Jesus, community, and reconciliation.”

Publishers Weekly calls it “an easy, engaging read for those who want to learn, or be reminded of, what Christianity is all about,” adding that the section on conflict “should be assigned reading for every Christian for its clear-eyed assessment of conflict and effective nonviolent strategies for engaging and transforming it.”

In Anabaptist Essentials, Becker explains the core beliefs of Anabaptism and clearly lays out the differences that define the tradition. Becker explains, “In this book I unapologetically describe ten ways in which Anabaptist Christians are uniquely different from many, or even most, Christians. Anabaptists have often downplayed differences with other believers and highlighted similarities.” While seeking common ground is a good impulse, Becker says, “this quest for unity has also muted many of the unique qualities and strengths that the Anabaptist tradition might offer to the wider church.”

Designed for study by small groups and for use as a basic resource for Christian formation and conversation, the guide includes illustrations and discussion questions. Spanish and French editions of Anabaptist Essentials are planned for release in June 2017.

Becker is a speaker, pastor, church planter, missionary, author, and educator. A graduate of Goshen College, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Regent College, and Fuller Theological Seminary, Becker most recently served as director of the Hesston College pastoral ministries program, before moving to Ontario in semi-retirement.

To schedule an interview with Palmer Becker, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

To purchase Anabaptist Essentials, check here or call 800-245-7894.

MennoMedia Staff
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Drew G. I. Hart’s first book, Trouble I’ve Seen, releases Jan. 19

TroubleIveSeenNews Release

JANUARY 6, 2016

Book on racism and the church attracting acclaim

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario— What if racial reconciliation doesn’t look like what you expected?

In a provocative new book, Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, theologian, former pastor, and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, anti-black stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. With a foreword by reconciliation scholar and author Christena Cleveland, Hart challenges Christians with an honest look at injustice while offering churches concrete practices for living faithfully in a racialized society. The book will be published by Herald Press on January 19, 2016.

The book blends stories, theology, and social analysis, and has already received a positive review by Publishers Weekly, the trade magazine of the publishing industry: “In this emotionally wrenching yet accessible book, Hart provides an overview of systemic racism in the U.S. today, as well as the responses of Bible-based Christian theology. The book is a savvy and balanced blend of topics that should serve as a useful introduction for Christians of all races.”

Englewood Review of Books has named it to the “Top 50 Books for Christian Readers to Watch for in 2016” and Publishers Weekly placed it on their list of African-American Interest Adult Titles for 2015-2016.


Drew Hart, author

In Trouble I’ve Seen, Hart looks at the high-profile killings of black men and women in recent years by police officers, and the protests and violence that have ensued. “These events have convinced many white Christians to reexamine their intuitions when it comes to race and justice,” Hart says.

Hart argues that white Christians have repeatedly gotten it wrong about race because the dominant culture has so thoroughly shaped their social intuitions and assumptions. He also challenges black Christians to not neglect the most vulnerable in their own communities. Hart offers practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice by pointing to the example of Jesus.

 “This book is a conversation with the church to help us understand race and racism better than we currently do,” says Hart. “It challenges us to respond more faithfully to our current racialized moment, considering how Jesus-shaped lives can transform us and our witness in society.”

Rachel Held Evans, bestselling author, writes of Hart’s book: “An unforgettable read, Trouble I’ve Seen deserves the church’s full attention and considered action. It certainly challenged and changed me.”

Efrem Smith, president and CEO of World Impact, finds that “Hart makes a courageous and compelling call to the church to get on the road to racial reconciliation and righteousness.”

Herald Press managing editor Valerie Weaver-Zercher says, “This prophetic, practical book is for anyone who is saddened or angered or baffled by the racialized society that shapes all of us. Drew is a compassionate and incisive guide, giving us tools for understanding our times and for aligning with God’s transformative work.”

Hart is a PhD candidate in constructive theology and ethics at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with 10 years of pastoral ministry experience. An adjunct professor at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pa., Hart regularly speaks at churches, conferences, and colleges. He writes a blog hosted by Christian Century titled, Taking Jesus Seriously and has contributed to other publications including  A Living Alternative: Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World, Sojourners, and The Mennonite.

Hart, his wife, Renee, and two young sons, Micah and Dietrich, live in Philadelphia.

Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism is available for $16.99 at www.heraldpress.com as well as local bookstores and other retail websites.

MennoMedia Staff
Hi-res photos available

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Melodie Davis