Canadian Mennonite
Volume 7, number 11
June 2, 2003


The fall 2002 issue of Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology caught my attention because of its theme of “confession.” I was looking for insight on the role of a “confession of faith” in the life of the church. That I got...and additional insights I hadn’t expected.

Our confession of faith, it seems, is not viewed in the same way by all in our church. Some see it as a summary description of our faith, a general guide for Anabaptist Mennonite thought and life—with the assumption that the statement will keep changing. Others see it in more prescriptive terms, as the basis for defining who’s in and who’s not.

This tension is addressed in the opening essays. For example, Karl Koop suggests that too little care for doctrine could lead to a loss of identity, hence the unifying value of confessions of faith. But they can also be an “instruments of disunity,” he notes, when they are given authority that leaves “little room for dialogue or theological diversity.”

Another essay by Mario Higueros presents a draft of a Guatemalan Mennonite confession of faith, as shaped by that particular context marked by violence and injustice. In that setting, a confession of faith helps to define the church family, which has an intensity born of necessity. At the same time, Higueros states that the confessions of faith “are not formulated to encourage a legalistic spirit or doctrinal boxing-in, but rather are starting points for ongoing reflection on the meaning of the Word of God...”

Another essay by Malinda E. Berry suggests that our church’s numerous well-crafted statements on the evils of racism are not enough when there’s still a way to go in embodying the intent of those statements. A confession or profession of faith needs to be accompanied by confession of shortcoming, suggests the writer.

Other writers elaborate on this connection between the two aspects of confession—confessing our faith and our sin. Being reminded of more than one aspect of confession became the bonus insight from my reading of this journal. The clearest articulation, in my view, came in the essay by Alan Kreider, which is reprinted by permission in our Faith&Life section (pages 6-9).

Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology is published twice a year by Canadian Mennonite University and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. See the journal website ( for more information.
Ron Rempel, editor

Ascension Day

To mark Ascension Day—40 days after Easter—we were drawn to a painting by Chad Friesen for our front
cover. And on the back cover we have published an older line drawing of the ascension, along with related scripture texts.

Chad, who now lives in Elkhart, Indiana, began painting as a child while growing up in Jerusalem and Beirut, Lebanon. Here he first encountered the “God’s eye” painted above the doorways of Muslims, symbolizing the presence and protection of God. Now the symbol of the God’s eye appears frequently in his paintings.

“I like to paint because it’s my way of keeping a diary because I cannot write,” comments Chad on his web site. With ataxia and a seizure disorder affecting his motor skills, Chad paints to express his views about life and issues. He lies on the floor to paint, steadying his left hand with his right. To see more of Chad’s work, check out the web site:

For now, turn again to the front cover, focus on the bright light surrounding the cross, and follow the bright swirl upward. And then reflect on the Ephesians passage on the back cover.

Copyright for the contents of this page belongs to the Canadian Mennonite. Please seek permission to reprint from the editor .

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