The Cost of Compromise - by Jack Thiessen

Let it be clearly and unequivocally stated that in:

Addressing the Anabaptist condition, explicitly the Hutterite Gemeinschaft in the contemporary, this statement comes by way of an informal request by the Bruderschaft, and I intend to respond by offering only partially solicited advice, and since such advice riles it is usually not ignored.

The Ways of the Lord and the Ways of the World do not intermingle and attempts to do so will be recognized by the Higher Powers that Be and will be commensurately punished.

Having so said, permit me to serve up examples of the results of attempts to reap benefits and applause from both camps, the temporal and the eternal.

We are witnessing the most breathtaking and also the most vulgar display of politicking in the history of mankind and given the proclivity of Americans to the superlative, they love every minute, make that every second, of the soul boggling spectacle.

To wit: 1). Literally tens of millions of people cannot afford the price of staples, and yet the American public is lavishly supporting their political spectacle by the hundreds of millions of dollars.

2). The inability of the American Way of Life to fulfill the Lord's command of being responsible husbands of the earth is costing the American economy a billion dollars a day.

3). Wherever the American Ideology of Entitlement and Aggression has asserted itself, dissension and conflict ensue:

To wit: When I grew up in Grünthal and environs there was relative peace and accord among the neighbours and certainly among the churches. Explicitly biblical scholars of Anabaptist conviction inform us that American influenced Bible Schools now represent the architects of dissension; meaning that if students at Providence, for instance, return to their home communities of Mennonitism, splits and schisms are not long in coming since Providence, hotbed of contemporary biblical orientation for radical off centre Mennonitism, teaches and indeed recommends militant, and certainly confrontational tactics, indeed military solutions ala George Bush (the trumpeting of the Anti-Christ is old. However, it may justifiably be claimed that the constellation of the appearance of the genuine article is now at hand. If George Bush were to convert his few remaining brain cells well hidden in the gray area of his vacuous and feeble brow into solid buds, he might well sprout horns, qualifying him as the Anti-Christ according to which model he has long conducted himself).

Permit a responsible and respected American statesman of levity to address this very issue: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently wrote, "Entrepreneurs seeking new sources of energy launched the Industrial Revolution and inaugurated the greatest era of wealth production in human history.

Today, we don't need to abolish carbon as an energy source in order to see its inefficiencies starkly, or to understand that this addiction is the principal drag on American capitalism. The evidence is before our eyes. The practice of borrowing a billion dollars each day to buy foreign oil has caused the American dollar to implode. More than a trillion dollars in annual subsidies to coal and oil production have beggared a nation that four decades ago cornered half the globe's wealth. Carbon dependence has eroded our economic power, destroyed our moral authority, diminished our international influence and prestige, endangered our national security, and damaged our health and landscapes. It is subverting everything we value." (Kennedy in "The Next President's First Task"in the May issue of Vanity Fair).

Permit me to repeat the simple fact that as long as the three predominant Anabaptist groups known to us in this land, namely the Mennonites, the Hutterites and the Amish, abided by their faith based on the Sermon on the Mount, the Bergpredigt, they fared well because the Lord himself pledged to honour such commitments. However, as soon as this foundation was deserted for the Prosperity Gospel the divine retribution was not long in coming:

To wit: Some thirty years ago the KONA-Group, based in North Kildonan, promised God's Ways of Prosperity would be visited on its clients, and Mennonites with a greedy eye on the respect, allure and power of money readily subscribed to the roving emissaries of the KONA company, mainly ministers, retired ministers and retired missionaries, collectively comprising an "army of the Lord."

The results were as fast and as inevitable as they were dreadful and only a hopeless fool would deny God's direct intervention; He literally denounced the scheme and shortly bankrupted the firm and its evangelistic emissaries. Kaput und Schluss! Hundreds of families, all gullible and all made to believe that they were instruments of the Divine Will lost literally many tens of millions of dollars in the scheme with many remaining destitute to this day.

The Hutterite investment in the speculative oil industry in the USA some twenty-five years ago, committed totally unilaterally and completely at variance with their statement of Biblical faith similarly resulted in the loss of many millions of dollars and caused family and communal splits and dissensions lasting to this day. This is not malicious gossip, nor a nasty piece of slander, nor seasoned polemics but documental fact. And what did the leader of the pack do when the chickens en masse came home to roost? He hired numerous lawyers and defended himself in the courts of the land where good money was paid to corkscrew the truth. The public came to gawk and to gloat; embarrassing to everyone except the ones immune to their own avarice and the consequences, often preached but ignored, on the home front: the fullness of bread!

I do not know of any analogous Amish transgressions but I doubt if they engaged in similar foolhardiness simply because they have retained a more sterling biblically based faith with no change of a larger order to spare.

A sad addendum to the above: the perpetrators of named scheme responded biblically enough by their reading thereof: they denounced the afflicted and destroyed the messengers of truth, and counterfeited documents that ferreted out the facts. This is what Kennedy meant by bankruptcy of moral authority

Further, the express philosophy of "prosperity based on progress" has long become part and parcel of the Protestant ethic. This certainly was not always so and yet today every child in the entire civilized world knows the results of progress: the evidence is before us all with Global Warming being only the most easily discernible of the universal and comprehensible degradation and divine retribution by the cloud of man-made disaster hovering over the very firmament.

Back to the Hutterite Station in the Contemporary Setting: It the Hutterites are intent in remaining a Communal Unit in the world and being in the world but not of the world, then permit the following deliberations to stand:

As already stated, if the Hutterites intend to abandon their tenet of being a City of Light on the Hill in preference to becoming a candle in every valley of the human community, they will lose and disintegrate. Mission work as carried out on this continent is prohibitively expensive and is generally carried out by preposterous shysters as Google readily documents when seeking out Benny Hinn, C. Dollar, Richard Roberts, B.S. Poppof, and a dozen others, all millionaires and all avaricious liars and all piglets of the same sow.

If the Hutterites will abandon their ethnic emblem of otherness, uniqueness, if you will, explicitly their German dialect and the German language of worship they will lose and disintegrate. Let all the communal enterprises which came to the New World and almost all of Germanic provenance and all of them disintegrating shortly after sacrificing the language of essence, the mettle of their ethnicity and faith; disintegration followed hard and fast on their concession to the Brave New World of Progress. Let these failures serve as a stern reminder and warning. I repeat: History proves that faith alone failed as a cohesive when push came to shove, when pull came to tug; however faith coupled with the bond of ethnicity aka Gemeinschaft did the trick over centuries. Permit me a metaphor: Dialects are the mother of all languages and have traditionally served as amulets of consciousness towards the outer world which bears the ethnic bearers of whatever persuasion no good will.

The very fact that the central and highest tenet of Glaube (faith) for the Hutterites, namely "die göttliche Gelassenheit" and "Gemeinschaft" are non-translatable should give every Hutterite Member of the Communal Faith sudden and permanent pause to stay in the world they know and which has been so richly blessed.

Also, if any Anabaptist believes the malarkey preached in the Bible Schools that God is ready to welcome each and every deviant from the faith then they are most sorely mistaken. The World is evil, dark, exploitative, conspirative and dangerous, just like the dungeon of which George W. Bush and his cohorts are the Kaisers, declaring and imposing democracy in all the world at the expense of freedom and certainly at the express expense of Christian freedom. So ist es!

Until Tolstoy authoritatively stated as recently as a hundred years ago that the Sermon on the Mount was to be taken directly and literally, just as spoken by Him who is what He is, scholars had interpreted and chiseled and exposed it to every theological trick in the Book and of the book but to no practical avail. Meaning: truth oftentimes comes in vials so deceptively simple that it is completely overlooked, not recognized and most certainly ignored.

Anabaptists recognized the truth, they were begnadet enough to recognize the genuine bill of goods, above all the Biblical. Now compare that to the ways of the world and particularly those of the already mentioned world of politics where telling the simple truth is regarded as a gaffe, a faux pas, in practical terms like blowing an odorous zephyr in church. (Now you know!) All Anabaptists were singularly blessed to steer shy of political involvement and promises of progress; failing to heed this tenet of faith has invariably led to bankruptcy in moral authority.

If voices will now ascend and present biblically based arguments insisting that these deliberations cannot be brought into alignment with the Divine Commission then I advise such show of unconvincing hands of naivité, if not downright political haymakers, that you should compare your feeble and random arbitrariness with a thorough study of the Sermon on the Mount. But not before.

The only legitimate voices of dissent are the artists but since these are of God's grace, they and I know full well that the Creator, recognizing the Creations, aka artists, will sustain them; they are his own, intimate family.

© 2008 Jack Thiessen