Tuesday, December 16, 2008

MY RESPONSE TO "THE TROUBLE WITH BLOGS: HOW SHOULD MBBS RESPOND TO ANONYMOUS ATTACKS?"

USMB has posted an article addressing the topic of bloggers who anonymously "attack" the MB Conference and MBBS. Click HERE to read it. In case my response to this article is removed from their site, I have placed it here as well. It is as follows:

***********************

As a blogger, I would like to respond to this article. My blog may or may not be one of those referred to.

One of the reasons I created my blog, at www.fortheauthor.blogspot.com (just over a year ago) is that I wanted to have a record of the things I was seeing in “Christendom” in general, and the MB Conference in particular. (A broader statement of the purpose for my blog can be found on my website.) The other reason is that I wanted to have a voice in the Christian community. The MB Herald provides a space for this voice in its letters section, but only 200-300 words are allowed. This simply is not enough space to say what I want to say. I highly doubt if the Herald would welcome me as a contributing author as I am rather an unknown in the MB circles and in the literary world. I also believe that my voice would be considered unwelcome there because I am speaking out about things I see which are construed to be controversial in nature. My voice is one calling out for discernment in a day and age where false doctrine and false teachers abound. It seems there are many who are willing to sacrifice truth on the altar of unity.

Regarding anonymity, I originally chose to remain anonymous for several reasons. The primary one is that of personal privacy, because I am a woman online which makes me vulnerable to those who may wish to harm me. It is also for the protection of my husband and children. My message on my blog is evangelical in nature and one that espouses the exclusivity of the gospel message, a message which could be construed as hate in a world where truth is relative, and proselytizing an act of hatred. Those who claim to be tolerant will not tolerate those who claim the Jesus is God in the flesh and the only way to a restored relationship with God by His substitutionary and efficacious death on the cross. Some of the evangelistic blog postings and links that are found on my blog could be reason for those who espouse “political correctness” to have my blog removed from the blogosphere, which would also mean that my witness would also be lost to those who find my blog while searching for the truth. I could be legally charged for “inciting hatred” according to those who think this way. (There has already been once case where that has happened.) I have an email address on my blog by which people can contact me. This way it is at my discretion to decide whether this person is an honest enquirer or a malicious person wishing to cause me trouble. At one time, not long ago, I did reveal my last name, and it was in regard to an article for which I knew it was vitally important to be accountable. Since reading the above article, I have decided that I would take the risk and leave my full name permanently on my blog. It may lead to persecution, and I need to be willing to face it if I want to speak the truth. So be it. If anonymity is the problem to those in the MB Conference, I willingly place my full name on my blog.

I really have nothing to hide. On my blog, I state that I am capable of error and open to correction. That doesn’t mean I won’t defend the truth when I think it is being undermined. I am not going to roll over and play dead just because somebody doesn’t like what I have to say. I would hope that any person who may read and/or comment on my blog would also be open to correction; however, I will not engage in arguments with people who already have their mind made up, being convinced that I am wrong, and also that I am being malicious and hateful. Anybody who really knows me knows that I am not that kind of person.

I have spent a full two years researching two of the main topics of my blog, the spiritual formation movement and the emergent church. My blog is the fruit of that research. I really wish that what I know about these things were not true. It would sure make my life a lot less complicated. For a long time I tried to convince myself that I was wrong about these things, but I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer deny the conclusions I have come to. The purpose for my blogging is not to be malicious or slanderous. Some people think what I am saying is an “attack”, but if that is the case, what is being said in the above article is also an attack on bloggers. And now that you know my name you can even “attack” me personally. Anyone who is willing to take the time to carefully examine my blog will soon see that I have a deep love for both the Living Word and the written Word.

Very rarely do I post anything without first giving it very serious thought and careful research into the matter, especially if it is something serious in nature. It seems many would like to forget the warnings in Scripture that we are to give attendance to doctrine, to watch out for false teachers and false teaching, even to the point of naming names and warning others to stay away from such. Jude especially wrote with a sense of urgency to warn believers about such things. Are we to neglect doing this? I fear that this is what is happening. By the tone of the above article, it seems that its author believes that the MB institutions are incapable of teaching error, and do not want to deal with the possibility that some of their leaders could be in error. We must be careful not to idolize people and institutions. We are to follow Christ and Christ alone. I’m happy that the Board of Faith and Life affirms their adherence to their statement of faith. I wonder, however, what action they would take if they found out someone is teaching error, whether they care to admit it or not. I think those in leadership are too quick to accept people just because they have a few initials behind their name. And I think they have forgotten just how devious Satan is.

Most people do not want to talk to me face to face about the issues I tackle. They are afraid that it might upset their applecart. Some are even completely ignorant about the issues I am tackling. My blog is a place where I am free to express my opinion to the full extent, and where people who are afraid to tackle certain topics in a face-to-face encounter can ask questions and find information. I think that Christian bloggers have an important place in this world. It is not difficult to discern what a blogger’s intent is with a careful examination of all of the contents of their site. Don’t be so quick to judge a blogger’s intent as malicious just because they don’t agree with everything you say and do. As always, I encourage people to examine what I have to say carefully, and to use Scripture as their guide and measuring stick. God’s Word is always to be our final authority in all matters of faith and life. I want people to check out what I have written, to judge for themselves whether it is true or not. I do not claim to be the last word on anything. I am not trying to mislead people, and I tell them not to take what I say as gospel truth, although I love the truth and want it to be known. I want people to diligently seek the truth, not just take my word for it, or anybody else’s for that matter, whether they be in leadership or not. People are not perfect, but those who have a sincere love the truth know when something rings true and will vigorously defend it, especially if they love God’s Word and are knowledgeable about it. We must examine our hearts, whether we love the truth more than we love the praise of man. The human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and our minds in need of transformation. We must allow the light of God’s Word to shine on our hearts and minds, to discern our thoughts and the intents of our hearts.

As both a blogger, a Mennonite, and a Christian, by sticking my neck out and challenging people by what I write, I actually stand to lose a lot. I was a fifth generation member of my local MB church (a member for 35 years). Two of my children are sixth generation members there. My family has very strong ties to the MB denomination and to the people in our local church in particular. However, I chose to withdraw my membership from this church this April because it is an MB church. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I did not do this without a lot of very serious thought. It was a heart-wrenching experience; it did not give me any pleasure to do so. I still love this little church and still attend there. I refuse to run away from any who wish to question what I have done. I have been open and upfront in my handling of the matter. I have been under the scrutiny of our church ever since by those who still do not understand my reasons for doing so, partly because they don’t want to know the reasons for fear of the consequences. They risk the loss of family support and fellow-member’s understanding and the ensuing alienation, the same risk that I took by doing what I did. I would have preferred actually not to have withdrawn my membership, but was compelled to do so by some of the things being taught through some of the MB publications and educational institutes. Please understand this: it has given me no pleasure to do so, and it gives me no pleasure to write what I write about on my blog. I am compelled to speak out to defend the truth and to warn my fellow-believers about what I see happening because I love them and am concerned for their spiritual well-being. My blog is both my personal testimony and my voice, and I refuse to keep silent. The things that are happening with the Spiritual Formation movement and the emerging church are promoting a form of godliness that is without the power to transform lives in a positive and biblical way. I stand behind that statement 100%, and have the personal experience to prove it.

So, what to do about us “bloggers”? If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. If everything the seminary is teaching and the MB Conference is promoting is biblical, once again, you have nothing to fear. I, for one, only desire to have the truth be known. If you have the same goal, you have nothing to fear. I have basically put everything on the line by speaking out. I may suffer some dire consequences by being upfront with you in this comment I am writing. I may come under attack. I may even be charged with libel (although I don’t think I have said nothing libellous). A lot of people may not like me, they may even be told to stay away from me. Judge this matter for yourself. Do I speak the truth on my blog or not? If I do, once again, you have nothing to fear, unless of course you fear man rather than God. But then you seriously need to examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith.

For the record, I have never attended any Bible School or Seminary within the MB Conference. I do however have one year of Bible School at a non-denominational school and have taken several seminary courses at a non-denominational seminary, one of them being Spiritual Formation. I have never made any claims to the contrary. However, I have examined the MBBS syllabus on Spiritual Formation and found it to be very "contemplative" in the monastic sense of the word. The authors recommended on the syllabus are also pro-contemplative. Also for the record, regarding my "anonymity" nobody from MBBS has ever emailed me at the address listed on my blog to ask who I am. If they had done so, I would have had no problem telling them my name.

Jesus, if I have said anything here that brings you shame or is a blot on the garment of your Bride, the church, I pray that you will reveal it to me by your Spirit, and correct me as soon as possible. It is my desire to be an open book before you and my fellow-believers.

Purchased by His blood and kept by His grace,

~Bonnie

**************************

Added later:

Oh, and by the way, I am one of those who have been praying for those in positions of leadership within the MB Conference and at MBBS for several years already, and I will continue to do so, as you are asking for prayer.

So whether you consider me an enemy, a mischief-maker (as stated in the article) or just a plain nuisance, I AM a fellow-believer in Christ and a fellow-Mennonite, one who is willing to sound a voice of warning when it is unpopular to do so. Before you make a judgment about me and what I say, I will ask you to carefully check out everything I have to say for yourself. I do not believe it is my job to convince anybody about anything one way or another. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. It is only my job to speak out about what I see. What I ask is that you be willing to examine the issues carefully from both sides as I have, and then make your own decision, being led by the Holy Spirit and open to His correction where necessary.

I have never intentionally misrepresented any educational institute. I take what I do as a blogger very seriously and provide as much documentation as possible. If I have ever said anything that could be construed as libelous, I would appreciate you letting me know, as that is not my intent. I am not interested in getting involved in any legal suits with any Christian brethren. There have been times when I have even asked others to proof-read my work to make sure that I was not doing or saying anything out of a malicious spirit, or that was immoral or illegal. If there has ever been a doubt in my mind as to whether I should post an article or not, it remained as a draft only until I was sure about what I had written, and had prayed about the matter. These are safeguards I have put in place, and yet I know I am still fully capable of error. Although I am speaking out, I hope you will see that it is with discretion.

I am just one small voice in a vast sea of Mennonites. I have come to see things differently than most and I am not like most people you know. I am not the least bit concerned with other people's opinion about me, although I don't set out to deliberately offend others. I have a deep-seated reverential fear of God. I read and study all day long most days even though I am not in a formal educational institute. Although I have taken classes in a seminary, I have concluded that the best textbook is the Bible and the best teacher the Holy Spirit; that God's Word alone contains everything we need to know about life and godliness. I take offense to those who uphold the words of a "Bible scholar" above the words of the Bible itself. I am only 45 years old, and yet I am not interested in the latest and greatest craze regarding personal spiritual growth or church growth. I am interested in the knowledge God has provided in His Word about such things. I still think the proclamation of truth and the personal testimony of believers are the most powerful tools for growth that exist, and I believe these are the tools God gives us for church growth. You cannot improve on God's Word or His methods; and, we don't need to make God's Word relevant: It IS relevant, period! So many have come to the conclusion that we need to adopt the world's ways of doing things to win the world, but God calls us OUT of the world, to be separate, to make a difference between what is profane and holy.

Let it be known that I am a firm believer that those who are concerned for their character care not a whit for their reputation. Those who think they have anything to fear by me are more concerned about appearances than character, more concerned about money than about truth.

I challenge those in leadership to carefully examine their teachings before God and His Word, and continue to allow themselves to be conformed to His image. Christ's last message to the churches called for repentance. I urge you all, dear brothers and sisters, in light of His imminent return, to carefully examine yourselves in all things. May God bless you as you respond to Him with humility and obedience. I also ask for your prayers for me, that God will continue His work in and through me as I walk the narrow way. I am "looking unto Jesus the AUTHOR and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God the Father."

I am "For the Author",
~Bonnie

6 comments:

Greg A (GregA@xemaps.com) said...

Did you follow the Matthew 18 process of resolving this dispute?

As a biblical Christian, you should have gone to Mark Baker, personally and quietly first, before putting your disagreement before the world.

I respect and share your concern for not dividing the church over doctrine but, clearly, your method of doctrinal dispute is very divisive, too.

Greg

PS If you did follow the Matthew 18 process, then please forgive this comment.

If so, I respect you immensely.

Orthopraxy is usually much harder than orthodoxy!

I'm not sure where a blog would ever fit into that process but I don't rule it out. I'd be curious to hear your views about.

"Blogging and Matthew 18" would make an interesting blog entry.

BONNIE said...

Matthew 18: 15-17
15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Greg, the main issues that I deal with on my blog are the Spiritual Formation and Emerging Church movements. I may have forgotten, but have I ever written anything of any substance about Mark Baker? I believe there are other blogs which are addressing his doctrine and the books he has (co)authored. I may have mentioned him only briefly. I can go back and look through my posts, or maybe you can refresh my memory.

Regarding the Matthew 18 principal, from my understanding it is to be applied when a personal offense has occurred between two people within a local body of Christ.
Mark Baker has not committed a personal offense toward me. What those who are addressing regarding Mark Baker is his doctrine, not any personal offenses which have (hypothetically) occurred, so I don't believe Matthew 18 would apply in this instance. In any case, it would be impossible to follow through because Mark Baker and I do not belong to the same church. His church has no authority over me, and my church has no authority over him. It would be practically impossible to follow up on any interaction between the two of us (by involving witnesses, should that be necessary) because we probably live thousands of miles apart.

I affirm that the Matthew 18 principal is an important and biblical method of dealing with personal offenses, but I really don't think it applies here.

Mark Baker has authored book(s) strongly implying that the substitutionary atonement is a view to which today's culture cannot relate, and has tried to come up with "alternative views" which would be acceptable in the post-modern world. If I am correct he is casting doubt on the substitutionary punitive aspect of the atonement. I am afraid that I have only read book reviews, not his actual book, so I'm not sure I can properly comment on the details of the books he has (co)authored. Nevertheless, this is strictly a doctrinal issue, not a case in which a personal offense has occurred.

When Peter began teaching doctrinal error (the circumcision issue), Paul rebuked him publicly in the assembly before them all (see Galatians chapter 2). His method of doctrinal dispute could also be considered very divisive.
When it comes to issues of doctrine, the truth was defended vigorously and false teacher dealt with severely. It is clear that false doctrine is not something that should be treated lightly, although we must be careful that we clearly understand the issues before doing so.

I believe this situation (Paul vs. Peter) more closely parallels the situations today that arise over doctrinal issues that have been placed in the public and to which the public have access. (the authoring of a book or publishing of a blog). If someone on a blog is calling Mark Baker names (don't forget that false teachers are called dogs in the Bible and Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers), that could possibly be construed as a personal offense between two people. A more reasonable example would be one person stealing from another or destroying their property,etc. Living in the politically correct world we do, calling somebody a whitewashed tomb or a blind guide would be considered slanderous, and in our culture I do suppose if somebody wants to make an issue of it, they would receive public support for doing so. I personally do not make it a practice to call other people names or to be slanderous in my blog postings or comments on other people's blogs, however.

You are so right in commenting that orthopraxy is usually much harder than orthodoxy. Living out the doctrines of scripture involves a great deal of humility. I believe that orthodoxy is manifested in orthopraxy. If you don't have your doctrine right, how can one possibly live right. We are commanded in Scripture to give attendance to doctrine, so it must be important. I praise God for His written word which is like a double-edged sword, discerning the thought and intents of our hearts. It is profitable in renewing our sin-corrupted minds. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin and brings us to repentance and gives new life to our spirits we are able to live victoriously. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being.

I hope this has provided a satisfactory answer to the question you asked. If not, maybe you can clarify.

Greg A said...

Dear Bonnie,

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

I realize that I may have confused your posts with another blogger on the same subject.

I tried to retrace what I originally read but with no luck.

This is one of the reasons anonymous blogging is a problem and I'm glad you have chosen to blog under your name.

As to the issue: I understand your distinction but respectfully disagree.

(Again, respectfully) you are not the Apostle Paul. Mark Baker is not Peter.

You are one Christian who has a disagreement with another one.

What harm would it have done to personally approach Mark and raise your concerns with him before throwing it out to the whole world?

The harm by NOT following Jesus in Matt 18 is divisiveness in the church, which is very serious.

Greg

BONNIE said...

The disagreement is not over a personal offense, it is regarding doctrine which has been published in a book. That would make it widely accessible to the public, and open to public scrutiny in the way of book reviews, etc.

I do not take any personal offense to him having done so (publishing his book), I just disagree with the man's doctrine. I find it difficult to understand why such a thing would constitute a personal offense. There is nothing personal about me in Baker's book, and I have written nothing of offense of a personal nature about him. It is about doctrine, that is all.

It is quite possible, by the way, that you are referring to a comment I left on the 1859 Weblog (http://december1859.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/nothing-less-than-the-rejection-of-the-cross-or-our-other-professor/#comment-79).

When ever I read comments like this I sincerely wonder if the commenter has been willing to fully examine the issue being discussed. I recommend you read a critique of Baker's book, entitled "Recovering the Scandal of Liberalism: Disdaining the Cross" by Richard Nathan, M.A.(http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/scandal-cross.htm).

Regarding divisiveness in the church, I agree that it is very serious. Scripture says we are to MARK those who teach doctrine CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE that the apostles taught, and AVOID them. (See Romans 16). Without division of truth from error, those young in the faith would quickly be led astray. The truth both divides and unites. It unites those who are unswervingly committed to it, and divides those who are committed to it from those who are not. Regarding this issue, the whole of God's Word teaches that Christ died as a substitutionary sacrifice for man's sin, that God laid our iniquity on Him, for which He was bruised. (1 Peter 3:18). References to this are found throughout the New Testament.(ie."Behold, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world").

Mark Baker has elevated secular scholarship over Scripture in his doctrine of the cross. He is looking at the cross through the lenses of Higher Criticism. If you will take the time to read the critique of his book (and his doctrine) you will understand why this is issue is such a serious one, and why it is important to get the message out on public forums. Do you think that those in the past 2000 years who have publicly renounced error are doing so in disobedience to Scripture by not going to the person directly? What of the Reformers and the Puritans who have done so? Were the Puritans in error by publishing what they wrote anonymously to warn people of the corruption in the State church of England. It was only by remaining anonymous and by warning people publicly that the truth got out to those who wanted to remain true to God's Word.I have a hard time believing that this is any different.

Greg said...

Bonnie,

Thanks for the response. I appreciate your thoughtful replies to my comments.

If I understand you correctly, you think that Matt 18 only applies to personal issues but if the offense is doctrinal, then being divisive is OK (as long as you are on the side of truth, of course!).

I think church unity is the main point of Jesus' teaching and it applies to all disagreements and offenses -- not just personal ones.

As an evangelical Christian, I don't take the reformers or the Puritans as my model but put them second to scripture. From what I know of both those movements, I have problems with the way they behaved towards those who they disagreed with. Big problems, in some cases.

Anyway, I would encourage you to think more holistically about Jesus' teachings about the unity of the church. I don't believe it applies just narrowly to personal issues.

By the way, on another issue, why did you leave your church because it was MB? Do you believe there is something unacceptable about our denomination? What kind of church are you attending now?

Warm Regards,
Greg

BONNIE said...

It sounds to me that you are a true blue pacifist: peace at ANY cost? This is the logical conclusion of the absolute pacifist position. I am a pacifist, but not without qualifications. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe we should kill anybody because the refuse to convert to our faith(spiritual matters). This is outright ignorance and foolishness. But I disagree that we should always be in total agreement or concede to each and every person’s opinion/ teaching in the church universal (or denomination) without first of all trying to win them all over privately. (This is pacifism in the extreme). This is also an outright impossibility.

Further, shall we sacrifice truth on the altar of unity? Genuine unity always has its basis in the truth. In John 17:13-23, Jesus put sanctification through the truth as a basis for unity. In His final prayer to the Father before His crucifixion, he said:

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

We are not to be squabbling about things like food and special days, the color of the carpet, the length of the pews, etc. Romans 14 says that we are not to pass judgment on DISPUTABLE matters. That would be petty. We should not cause division in the church about such things. This would cause foolish, unnecessary divisions. But when it comes to defending matters of doctrine, in this case regarding the meaning and purpose of Christ’s death, matters of truth essential to salvation, this is another thing altogether. Others will say that we shouldn’t judge Mark Baker on the basis of Matthew 7:1-5, which actually talks about judging hypocritically (judging someone for the very fault we possess, but have not dealt with ourselves); but 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 says, “He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” How shall be exercise discernment without judging? Obviously there is a right and a wrong reason to judge, a right and a wrong time and reason to give a private rebuke. All situations do not have the same solution or application.

I think the time has long since passed for trying to rebuke this man (Mark Baker) privately. Those who are or were within Mark Baker’s circle of influence should have (maybe they did, who knows) done this before he published his book. By publishing a book he has placed himself in the position of public scrutiny. Please remember, I have never been in a position to rebuke (or win) this man over in any way. He is not within my personal sphere of influence. He probably isn’t interested in what I have to say anyways. I hardly think he would publish a book about such matters unless he is fully convinced of his subject matter. I see it as my place to warn those within my sphere of influence of the dangers of his doctrine, to which they may gain access through his book. Those who come across my blog are free to take it or leave it. An ordinary thinking person can judge the matter for himself whether what I have to say carries any weight and do their own investigation of his teaching. That does not mean that I should sit quietly by and say nothing (pacifism in the extreme). God doesn’t ask us to roll over and play dead, does He? I am not interested in defamation of his character in any way, I am only warning them of his doctrine.

You asked, “By the way, on another issue, why did you leave your church because it was MB? Do you believe there is something unacceptable about our denomination? What kind of church are you attending now?”

My reply to your question (I will try to give you the condensed version) ~
I believe that the MB denomination (including, and especially, in its publications and educational institutes) has been promoting mysticism as a method to gain a closer relationship with God, in particular through Spiritual Formation movement (SF is a course offered at MBBS and most other seminaries from other denominations). Kindred Press (MB Conference publishing arm) is publishing materials promoting the same. This movement flies in the face of Scripture, even though those who advocate these types of practices use Scripture as a means to promote these unbiblical spiritual practices, wrongly dividing the Word of Truth. Mysticism is the avenue which Satan is using to deceive Christians into accepting a worldwide apostate version of Christianity in which they ultimately come to the conclusion that people of all faiths belong in the kingdom of God, whether they know about Christ or not. I do not state this flippantly. I say this after a very careful examination of these practices, including the roots of the movement and the eventual outcome of those who have continued in this path. Their involvement in mystical spiritual practices leads them into the arms of eastern mystical thought. This practice runs counter to the cross in that it denigrates the work of Christ by rendering it to be without effect (making it unnecessary to a relationship with God). Many unsuspecting Christians are unwittingly being led into this movement (including some very well-educated people) by men who appeal to the scholarly type. I don’t want to explain myself here too much. If you really want to understand this movement, I suggest you take the time to read some of the other articles on my blog which I have written in the past year. My November 22, 2008 posting entitled, “A Personal Testimony: Why Christian Leaders Should Not Promote Henri Nouwen” would be a good place to start. I have taken a great deal of time to explain myself on my blog and to provide many resources to those who wish to sincerely examine the issue, so I will not do so here at any length.
The second reason is because there are professors (like Mark Baker, for instance) who are placing the opinions of scholars over and above the very Word of God and have fallen into the trap of Higher Criticism. These men have become intellectually arrogant, which is blinding them to the truth of what they are doing. I will not go into detail about this, as I am not as knowledgeable about this subject. I would recommend that you read “Pierced For Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution”, a book by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach. I have just received my copy and am now reading it. This book tackles every argument which downplays or refutes the punitive aspect of the doctrine of atonement. It is done in a very systematic way, using Scripture as its basis, to argue for the punitive nature of the cross (God pouring out His wrath upon His Son as a substitute for us). If Christ is not punished for our sins in our stead, then His death was an unnecessary and unfortunate event, and our God is not holy by nature.
Although we have withdrawn our membership from our MB church, we continue to attend there because they are not in any way involved in these things (as so many of the MB churches are, especially the mysticism – i.e. labyrinths, taize, etc.). Our church continues to remain faithful to God’s Word. The people there have a solid commitment to the plain teaching of God’s Word, therefore we continue to fellowship there. We were members of this church for 30 years and have close ties with the people there. They are still open to understanding our reasons for withdrawing our membership, although they have not yet done so completely (these things take a lot of time). We think it is prudent to exercise patience in these matters until, and unless, we are told we are no longer welcome there, which I don’t think will happen, by the way.
Thank you for your continued interest. May God bless you as you are faithful to Him and His Word.
PS: I have MB roots that go all the way back to its formation in 1859. My Great Grandfather, Abraham Cornelsen, was the man who wrote the Document of Succession which led to the formation of the Mennonite Brethren Denomination. I have nothing against what the denomination originally stood for, only against what it has BECOME as it has strayed from the truth.