Anabaptist Group Dynamics
Commands of Jesus
Difference between Anabaptists and Evangelicals
Hutterite Sermon Prefaces
Marriage (Ulrich Stadler)
Living Word (Ulrich Stadler)
Modern views of Anabaptists
Mysteries of the Kingdom of God
April 14, 05
Dec 28, 05
Apr 16, 08
Apr 23, 08
Apr 30, 08
May 07, 08
May 14, 08
June 18, 08
June 25, 08
Secret of the Strength
Sermons by Eli Hofer
The Writings of Ulrich Stadler
The Church and
the Narrow Path
To Vote or not to Vote
Way of the Lord
Dear friends, bothers and sisters in Christ,
Greetings from warm Tucson, Arizona, where the temperature has been in the 80s,
a bit above normal.
Our son Pat is back from his
week long trip to the western Canadian Hutterite colonies. Son David is
scheduled to return from his four week trip to the Far East on Saturday. Here is
a photo of mighty Yota, the son of David’s cousin, carrying a log. And
granddaughter Eryn has returned from visiting New York City with some
Our semi-weekly Bible study group met again on Friday night at Mel and Becky
Perry’s home. We studied chapter two of Philippians which includes the teaching
to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” After the Bible study,
Larry Campbell gave his testimony of what the Lord is doing in his life, which
was very powerful. He is totally blind in both eyes due to two separate
On Saturday afternoon we went to the nearby Tohono Chul Park which was described
in a National Geographic magazine as a ‘hidden treasure’. Here is our daughter
Naomi’s description of the park. “We saw flowers more than anything else! Mostly
flowering cactus plants. There were flowers there that we've never seen before -
with so many different colors! The park has put name plates in front of many of
the plants but not all and we wished they had. I brought my wheelchair along,
but that park wasn't made for wheelchairs, I had a difficult time pushing myself
so Mom and Dad sometimes had to help. Most of it was hilly too, which made it
even more difficult. Mom spotted a small lizard in one of the gardens. I brought
both of my cameras along. Neither one of them had too much film in it, they were
both running low. There weren't too many pictures to take anyway. We also saw a
lot of different kinds of cactuses - different sizes and shapes! It was a very
interesting place! But would I want to go there again? From my point of view, it
was ok, but if I had my choice,
I'd probably pick
One cactus in the park seemed to be crawling on the ground like a snake and
another was called the octopus cactus because it had arms going all over, being
held up by branches of other plants.
On Thursday, Michi and her friend Nancy Garlock went to the Tohono Chul Park for
a guided tour. Afterwards they spent the afternoon with Naomi.
Michi and Naomi visited at the home of Donna Davis and her mother on Monday. On
Tuesday morning, Ricky Scruggs came over again for a Bible study. We discussed
Hebrews chapter 11, called the ‘faith chapter’. It is interesting to note that
the teaching there considers faith to be looking forward to the Kingdom of God,
considering oneself to be an alien and stranger while living here on earth.
Ricky will be teaching on this chapter next Sunday at the Sober Church in
Tucson. It meets in the Calvary Baptist church Sunday morning prior to the
regular Baptist church meeting.
We received the most interesting birth announcement card this week from Heather
Gardikis, who as a little child used to attend our home meetings with her
parents, Paul and Dolly Laperle. Heather’s second baby, little Tori Gardikis
joined the ‘Perfect Baby Club’ at 3:33 am on 2/19/2005. Her new dad sent a press
release to the Associated Press and then called the family! The announcement
card quoted Proverbs, “May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave
birth to you rejoice.” (Proverbs 23:25)
Some of you may have heard about the Canadian Hutterite missionaries in Nigeria,
Africa, who were injured in a robbery at the Palmgrove Hutterite community near
Lagos. We received an email from Clara Wollman describing the incident. This is
the second time that Hutterite missionaries from Canada were injured in a
robbery in Nigeria. It happened on a Sunday night about 1 am. A half dozen
robbers with guns broke into their residence, shouting and screaming, demanding
money. They shot Paul Wollman and ransacked the place, taking money and what
ever valuables they could find. It was a very frightening experience but the
missionaries are determined to continue doing the Lord’s work.
We had a long talk this week with Christy Hofer of the Flat Willow Hutterite
colony in Montana. She had gone to Florida last month to attend the wedding of a
Hutterite woman, Rosanna Walter, who has left the Hutterian Brethren Church and
gone into the world. Christy is a single woman about Rosanna’s age who freely
speaks her mind and did so with Rosanna, telling her that she is heading in the
A couple people called this week and admonished us about getting involved with
what they would call worldly Christians; they are concerned that we would lose
our way on the narrow path to the Kingdom of God. During this past year we have
been to a number of non-Anabaptist churches and home Bible studies, which has
been quite an education for us.
We follow the Anabaptist understanding of Christianity rather than the common
evangelical or Protestant understanding. As a brief review of Christianity,
recall that the Protestant religion began in the 16th century as a protest
against the abuses of the Catholic religion. Luther was a reformer. However,
there were others during Luther’s time that went beyond Luther, not trying to
reform the Church but attempted to return it to its Biblical foundation. They
rejected infant baptism and war, things which Luther accepted, and tried to
restore the concept of unselfish love (agape love) in the Church as practiced in
the Book of Acts. These people, who believed in obeying all that Jesus and His
apostles taught, were called Anabaptists by their opponents (meaning they
accepted only believer’s baptism and rejected infant baptism). Thousands of the
non-resistant Anabaptists were martyred by the Catholic and Protestant
governments in the 16th century.
So you can see that there is quite a gap, quite a difference, between the
beliefs and practices of the Anabaptists and that of other Christian groups. And
for our readers who have never been to a non-Anabaptist church service, let us
give you a brief view of what they are like. They generally start with singing,
with a number of people up on the stage in front leading the singing, supported
by musicians, including guitar players and usually drummers. They use sound
systems to enhance the music. The people stand up in most churches during the
singing; the song is projected on a screen in front. Following the singing,
which generally lasts 20 – 30 minutes, someone usually preaches a bit about
giving money to the church and then a collection is taken up by the ushers who
pass a collection plate around. After that the minister preaches for about an
hour or so. Some of the churches will give an ‘altar call’ at the end of the
service, inviting people to accept Jesus as their Savior. Whether it is a
Baptist church, an independent ‘community’ church or a Pentecostal church, all
pretty much follow this same pattern for their Sunday morning service. The
people who come to these services dress like non-Christians; they watch TV and
wear jewelry and other outward adornments.
That is what their outward services are like. Their inner beliefs are well
expressed here by Virgil Stokes, pastor of the Faith Community Fellowship of
Tucson, in his email on Monday.
Virgil wrote: “I have had opportunity this week to think a lot about religion…
During this same time, I have also talked with other folks who have a religious
background – Protestant and otherwise. In these conversations I see a common
thread: religion demands that I achieve something in order to experience God’s
love and acceptance. There is some kind of outward action or symbol that marks
me as being “holy”. That misses the point terribly… Every human has some area
where he can be questioned in motives, actions, or words. The devil will take
the smallest failure or perceived failure and magnify it until it becomes a dark
cloud in the mind, obliterating the sunshine of God’s love… For this reason
alone, I have to take a stand against legalism wherever I see it. If my
salvation is contingent on my performance, then so is my healing. Grace – grace
– grace. It means I can relax and receive, stand and resist, rejoice and be
confident in hope because I never have to wonder about where God stands in
regard my healing or where I stand in regard to my God. It is really finished.”
We do believe, as does Virgil although he doesn’t mention it here, that a person
must be born again (John 3:3, 5). Unless a person is born again, they have
little interest in seeking the Kingdom of God because they have not been fully
enlightened and have not tasted the heavenly gift (Heb 6:4).
We believe that God’s grace gives us the power to be faithful children of God
whereas God’s mercy is shown to us when we sin and repent. Mercy is not the same
as grace. Grace is power, mercy has to do with forgiveness.
A common idea that many non-Anabaptist Christians seem to have is that they are
now saved and what they do, their subsequent actions and lifestyle, has no
effect on their eternal salvation. They will say that they are saved by grace
and that they don’t have to ‘earn’ their salvation, that the blood of Jesus
They believe that they are saved by grace and not by works, which is certainly
Biblical. However, they tend to misuse the teachings of the apostle Paul in this
regard. Paul taught against works as defined by the Jews of his day, such as
circumcision and ceremonial washings. He even went to the leaders in Jerusalem
for support, and as we read in Acts 15, they agreed with him that such things
were not required for salvation. It is the same today for those groups who teach
that certain actions are required for salvation, such as the group that says
that one must be baptized three times forward or another group says you must be
baptized three times backwards. These are the kind of works what Paul is
preaching against. Nowhere does he say or even hint that it is not necessary to
obey all of the commands of Jesus. Obviously a person’s actions, their
lifestyle, their ‘performance’, affects their salvation. Otherwise, all would be
saved, and there would be no need to live a holy life, as Jesus and all of His
apostles said we should.
Most Christians today tend to see Jesus as a sacrifice on the cross but not all
readily see Him as their teacher, as the one who tells them how to live. This
can be easily shown by reviewing the teachings of their pastors in regard to
fulfilling the third part of the Great Commission, the part about teaching
converts to obey all that Jesus taught (Mt 28:20). This part of the Great
Commission is largely ignored.
This is also shown by their problems with many passages in the New Testament
such as this one in I John 3:7-8 where it is written: “Little children, do not
allow anyone to deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous,
just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil.” Isn’t it a
sin to disobey the teachings of Christ and His apostles?
Most Christians readily accept Jesus as their Savior, as a sacrifice on the
cross for them but not all readily accept any of His and His apostles teaching
that would affect their daily life, their lifestyle. The idea of accepting the
teachings of Christ regarding the non-swearing of oaths, the non-resistance to
evil men, the forsaking of possessions is foreign to many of them, as is the
idea of accepting the teachings of the apostles regarding the role and dress of
Michi and Naomi are probably the only women in the Tucson area that wear a head
covering, publicly showing their obedience to the teachings of the apostles.
The Anabaptists believe, as do most Christians, that we are saved by grace, that
Jesus is our savior. However, the Anabaptists go farther and believe that a born
again person will grow in spiritual maturity, learning to obey God and conform
their life to all that Jesus and His apostles taught. They have no problems with
any of the New Testament teachings, readily accepting everything taught there as
being their rules for living, seeking to please their heavenly Father. This is
most readily observed in their understanding of love; they, the Anabaptists,
take it to mean not just loving their family members but to go beyond that to
try to love, in practical ways, their fellow members of the Body of Christ (I
John 3:16-19), just like the early church did as shown in Acts 2:44-47 and Acts
4:32-5:11. Their love for one another, not just their family members, made them
truly children of God.
The one and only test in the Bible for knowing that we are truly saved is our
love for one another. John wrote: “We know that we have passed from death to
life because we love our brothers.” (I John 3:14) Is this test taught in most
We believe that salvation is a process. The first step is to be born again, born
from above so that a person has a deep, strong desire to seek the Kingdom of God
in their lives. The next step is to repent, change their way of living from
following that of the world to following that taught by Christ and His apostles.
This is obviously an on-going process, one that may take a lifetime as we are
always being lead to a higher level of holiness as we respond to the gentle
guidance of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. As we grow in faith, we also
grow in obedience. Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who
comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him.
The apostle Peter teaches, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober
in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the
revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the
former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who
called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written,
‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY’.” (I Peter 1:13-16) Shouldn’t this be our
goal? One of our favorite songs is “From Glory to Glory He’s Changing Me.”
In summary, we do see the difference between the Anabaptist beliefs and
practices and those of other Christians. We realize that some Christians will
persecute us, perhaps only subtly, because of our beliefs, just as the Catholics
and Protestants did our 16th century spiritual ancestors. But we also realize
that we must remain true to the teachings of Christ and His apostles, always
viewing the teachings of the apostles in the light of the teachings of Christ,
for He is both our Savior and our Teacher.
Our heavenly Father loves every one of us. He knows where we are on the path of
life and He guides us gently to Him. We want to know Him, we want to follow Him.
Here are some other responses to our last newsletter.
Mark Peters in Ohio wrote: “Well spoken! We were so blessed by your email and
the contents of life with Christ, versus the world. Oh, God help us to live as
you, not as ourselves.”
Ron of Jesus Christ's Community in New York state wrote: “We agree about TV...
for those who do the time is so much better spent in prayer and in loving
service to those in need. Sometimes we can't see or hear the heart needs of
others for our selfish entanglement with things like TV or video games, anything
that distracts us from the labor of love... Bless you all and the work of your
Clarence Folsom, a retired Pentecostal preacher in Georgia wrote: “As for TV I
do believe it can rob you of your time with God and I guess I am guilty of
watching... But if a person believes it is wrong then for them to watch it
becomes sin to them for they have went against their conscience.. So let every
man judge himself in this matter.. But I am in agreement TV is a thing that has
hurt many children...”
Michael Harris in Indiana wrote: “I am so interested in this Michael Hirsch that
you mention! The name sounds a little familiar. What colony is he thinking of
joining in Montana? I wish him the very best. Is there a way that I could get in
contact with him? He is close to my age (I am 31).”
Miguel de Luis of the Canary Islands wrote about a poor barefoot, illiterate
Romanian woman who always reminded her children of her favorite Bible verse:
“Thy Word I have hid in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.” (Psalm
119:11) As she was dying, her family and Christian friends gathered at her
bedside. She said to them, "When I was hungry, you brought me food, when I was
cold, you brought me firewood, when I was sick and lonely, you visited me." And
then she closed her eyes and went to sleep.
We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding this newsletter and living
the Christian life.
We close with Psalm 103, a psalm of David:
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
But the loving kindness of the LORD is from everlasting
to everlasting on those who fear Him,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
May the joy of the Lord bless you today!
Don, Michi, Naomi and Jim Murphy
9036 N. Mexican Sage Place
Tucson, AZ 85742-4526