Our Purposes and Methods
By Thy Words exists as a response to the sickness at the heart of contemporary conservative Anabaptism.
Here, we examine books, articles, and periodicals from Conservative Anabaptist sources so that we can see what is being promoted in their own words.
There is a certain amount of levity involved- both to make the process more enjoyable for everyone, and to make the errors the more obvious.
Anything that is quoted here is easily sourceable, and where practical, the context is included, so that readers can see that the writer is not being misquoted, or misconstrued.
If you would like further contextualization, feel free to comment requesting it, and I will gladly provide it.
Regarding Publicizing These Issues
You may wonder, "Why not handle these issues privately? Is this something that needs to be blasted out there in public for all the world to read? Do you actually think you will change their minds? What about seekers who stumble across this site, aren't you concerned for them?"
These are all great questions, and I will answer them one at a time.
Why Not Handle These Issues Privately?
There are three reasons not to.
First, it is impractical.
What do you propose? Calling the authors individually to ask them to reevaluate their life choices? Reaching out to the publishers for a sit-down meeting about my concerns? Launching a flurry of emails and private messages sharing this information? There is no good way to privately attack a problem this pervasive.
Second, it is fruitless.
The purveyors of these ideas have been doing it for a long time, and have a long history of bullying, ostracizing, and silencing those who raise questions about the status quo. I harbor no illusions that I am someone special that will suddenly be heard.
Third, I'm not the one who made this thing public.
Conservative Mennonites hand out tracts by the thousands every day, at least judging from the descriptions in their literature. (Father can't stop at a filling station without slipping a tract into the hand of the cashier.) They aren't secretive about what they believe. It's not as though I'm revealing the secrets of the 32nd degree Masons.
No one minds publicity then. It's "boldness for the Lord."
These messages are being publicly broadcast, to the great detriment of people everywhere. I think it's only reasonable that I publicly object to what is being publicly shared.
What my detractors want is private conversations about public declarations. I refuse to abandon public discourse to these dangerous, unbiblical and patently absurd ideas without responding.
Do You Actually Think You Will Change Their Minds?
No. I really don't. And many of the ideas that I am addressing are espoused by church groups that forbid the Internet.
But the early Anabaptists didn't really think the Pope would probably get rebaptized, either.
You see, this site is not primarily for them.
This site is for those whose minds are still partially enslaved by these teachings. The goal is to help them shake off those last vestiges of bondage, and laugh boldly at the preposterous lies that once held them in thrall.
This site is about the people that grew up in these cults. (Yes, I use the c-word, when discussing groups that require unquestioning obedience from childhood through adulthood.)
This site is for those who still believe at some soul-deep level the lies they have been taught about the Bible, life, and God.
And I hold out hope that perhaps a few within the conservative churches will read this blog (with horror and fascination) and the light of truth will dawn for them.
What about seekers who stumble across this site, aren't you concerned for them?
Yes, I am very concerned about them.
That's another reason that I created this site.
Conservative Anabaptists attract lots of seekers with their emphasis on family, community, and connection, as well as a slower pace of life, in contrast to the insanity of the modern world.
I think it's only fair that they realize what they are getting into.
Let them read what Mennonites believe and teach in their own words, with some help from me in parsing through the ramifications.
If they still want to proceed, that's on them.
At least I gave them a fair chance.
Who is the author?
At this point, I’m choosing to withhold my identity.
I am not afraid of the repercussions of revealing who I am, but I refuse to let my identity be used to negate my message.
It’s easy to look at someone and say, “Oh, it’s that person! They were abused/excommunicated/shunned/had a family member murdered/ex-Amish or whatever else. These life experiences are what make them say these things. They are just bitter and have an ax to grind. We can safely ignore them.”
If what I say about these books and articles and teachings is true, then it is true.
It is true whether I am a man or a woman, an abuse survivor or an ally, a preacher or laity, old or young, Mennonite, Amish, unaffiliated, or other.
There are those who wish to know who I am, in order to shift the focus to the messenger, rather than the message. And I refuse to play that game.
If it makes you feel better, you can imagine that I am an angry middle-aged single female abuse survivor that just got excommunicated unjustly, and is full of bitterness, mostly because I cannot get anyone to marry me.
That should help you build the mental walls that you need to protect your mind from the message I am proclaiming.
Conversely, you can ask yourself: Why do I care who the author is? Does it matter? And then go from there.
Blessings to you, and may God lead you to His truth!