Why are Mennonites and Anabaptists neither Catholic nor Protestant?
From its beginnings, Anabaptism was a very different movement. It represented some of both the Catholic and Protestant traditions. Alternate ways of thinking expressed in the Reformation were:
- In regard to the issue of whether people are saved by faith alone or by doing good deeds or “works:” Anabaptists understand that it is by faith we are saved, but that being in right relationship with God is tied to a transformed lifestyle.
- In regard to how truth is to be understood: The Anabaptists emphasize that Scripture, rather than tradition holds final truth. The Anabaptists place the authority for understanding truth from Scriptures in the gathered disciple-community led by the Spirit, rather than in the interpretation of the scholars and magistrates.
- In a time when the government made religious decisions for the people, the Anabaptists believed in religious freedom, or free choice without government interference or mandates from religious institutions.
- The Anabaptists choose peacemaking and dialogue rather than war and inquisition as the way to settle conflicts.
Ultimately we are not so concerned with being Anabaptist, Catholic, or Protestant, but simply being faithful disciples of Jesus!
Good introductions to Anabaptist history are included in Through Fire and Water: an Overview of Mennonite History and An Introduction to Mennonite History.