Separated unto God – The Counsel Not Taken
Separated unto God – the counsel not taken
By 1951 the old order groups had already forged their identity and their ways of being separate from the world. They established cultures that kept their identity intact.
The mainline conferences were moving in the direction of not being separate from the world.
The newly developing groups (1950s-1990s) were trying to decide how much to be separate from the world.
Where was the counsel of Wenger? Where was the Biblical direction? Where was the Two Kinds of Obedience understanding that was the foundation of being Separated Unto God?
All three groups could have benefited from this counsel. My time as a student in a Mennonite Bible school in 1967-68 was characterized by teaching on separation from the world. I do not recall the concept of being Separated Unto God as prominent. Why not?
Granted, creating a separated culture is not bad. It is, in fact, very good. Culture is the way we impact the surrounding society. Culture is the way we pass on our understandings of life. Culture is a wonderful way to live. But, culture is an inadequate foundation for personal salvation or group integrity.
Today there are separated Anabaptist groups and there are acculturated Anabaptist groups. They are all forging their identity by their own ways of being separate from the world. Their identities separate them from each other more than from the world.
The early Anabaptist concept of choosing to live a childlike approach of obedience to the Scripture has gotten lost in our attempts to appear as separate from the world.
Today, a new generation is seeking for identity. Many options lure them. The principles of Wenger’s writing, while incomplete, set a workable paradigm for understanding and living life. Why? Why, is because it the Scriptural approach. God wants our heart devotion. God wants our undivided affection. God has placed within us a hunger and longing for Him and the principles by which He calls us to live. We need to adopt those principles that define and, at the same time, transcend culture.
One can only wonder why Wenger does not develop the role of the Holy Spirit more fully in his treatment of the subject. He does quote Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3 and so does include the necessity of the Holy Spirit to be the agent of change in the life of the believer.
It will remain for the next author to develop more completely the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in the individual and in the Church. Until then, Separate yourselves and your congregations unto God. Live by His unchanging principles in these changing times and so illustrate the love and the call of God in and on our lives.