Anabaptists (including Mennonites and Amish), historically as well as today, individually as well as whole congregations, vary considerably in what they believe regarding the end times, yet there are some generally held beliefs. Anabaptists are energized by the understanding that the “last days” have been realized since the First Advent (the coming of Jesus the King into this world as a baby). This then leads to the understanding that the presence of the new creation is already in our midst. Whenever anyone becomes a new Christian, there is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.
For Anabaptists, God’s new creation already affects all areas of life. Anabaptists cannot accept any view of the end times that postpones for some future millennium the living out of any parts of the teachings of the good news of Jesus. The call to follow all of Jesus’ teachings is for now. Anabaptists also cannot accept any view that suggests today’s social and political systems are improving so much that they will lead to Jesus’ second coming. No, Jesus’ return will not be by human initiative, but by the initiative of God. The call for all Christians is to always be ready because Jesus may return at any moment, yet to actively live in faithful service to Jesus as though he may not return for 1000 years.
The second coming of Christ will usher in the new heaven and the new earth. Anabaptists expect the final resurrection and judgement to bring justice to the oppressed, to vindicate and bless those who have suffered horribly at the hands of others in this earthly life, and to bring justice to the oppressors. While in this life, our mission is to align ourselves with God’s mission of restoring the world to the way he intended it to be; at the final resurrection, this will be completed.
Written by Garry Janzen, pastor, Sherbrooke Mennonite Church, Vancouver, BC
See also A Contemporary Anabaptist Theology by Thomas N. Finger, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004). Chapter 10; Triumph of the Lamb by Ted Grimsrud, (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1987); Believers Church Bible Commentary: Revelation by John R. Yeatts (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2003).