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A Speed Trap

by on July 5, 2013



While studying church history several years ago a curious thought came to mind.

What would you think if you were driving along in your vehicle and many other vehicles passed you at very high rates of speed while you were driving within the posted speed limit, obeying the law? You soon passed through a speed-trap set up by the police using radar. You looked at your speedometer and you were well within the posted speed limit.

To your utter amazement, the police car pulled out after you with lights flashing and siren wailing. You dutifully pulled over and found yourself in trouble with the law. You asked the officer why you are being stopped? With little response he tells you that people like you must be fined and, if you do not change your ways, will be removed from driving on the highways. “You were not cooperating with the flow of traffic.”

You are incredulous. This cannot be happening. The others violate the law. You live within the law. You are obedient. They are disobedient. You are accosted. They are not.

So many times as the Anabaptist (Mennonite and Brethren) churches went “liberal” the process was similar – they followed an unmistakable and often repeated pattern. Things changed slowly until, finally the conservative persons in the group came to be marginalized and placed on the defensive. In this process, even obvious violations of Scripture were/are ignored. Eventually the conservatives could not do anything right and the liberals could not do anything wrong and the course was set.

In the Church of the Brethren, those who wanted to maintain the historic beliefs and practices and follow the Annual Meeting decisions were the ones who were placed on the defensive. They had to go along with the liberal direction or be run-over by it. The conservatives were forced out of the church.

So, it appeared as though the conservatives “left the church” or “split the church” when, in fact, the truth was just the opposite. The conservatives “stayed” with the historic beliefs while the liberals “left” and split the church. The conservatives stayed with the Biblical beliefs and practices while the liberals changed the rules to make what they were doing appear acceptable.

If you are speeding – no problem!

If you are driving within the speed limit – you are in trouble!


(Some conservatives did stay with the church and remained faithful to their Biblical understanding. Eventually they became the tokens while their children typically adopted the modern patterns.)

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