“You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Reference: Matthew 15:7-9 )
If there was any doubt in my mind that I had correctly determined what is meant by the theme of “Human Law” the historic Anabaptist quoted today has put that to rest. Menno Simons wrote (in part), “My dearly beloved reader, take heed to the Word of the Lord and learn to know the true God. I warn you faithfully to take it, if you please. He will not save you nor forgive your sins nor show you His mercy and grace except according to His Word; namely, if you repent and if you believe, if you are born of Him, if you do what He has commanded and walk as He walks. . . . Therefore, I tell you again that you cannot be reconciled by means of all the masses, matins, vespers, ceremonies, sacraments, councils, statutes, and commandments under the whole heavens, which the popes and their colleges have made from the beginning. For they are abominations and not reconciliations, I warn you. In vain, says Christ, do they honor me, teaching commandments of men.”
Quite a dressing down for the “popes and their colleges.” And while I agree in part with what Simons says, I think he is not 100% accurate. The words, symbols and ceremonies cannot and do not reconcile humanity to God. But it gives the worshiper a way to address and open up the holy conversation.
Anabaptists/Mennonite have realized that there has and is missing from the worship. It is the richness of language and liturgy. When the historic Anabaptist walked away from masses and matins etc, they also walked away from the rich and traditional ways to approach God. And in that void we have created Anabaptist/Mennonite liturgies – after a fashion. Once we accepted that, we began to look at other denomination’s words in addressing God.
The mistake the established church of the 1500’s made was substituting the importance of talking to God with the importance of using approved language to talk to God. They valued what they created over the Creator. What we Anabaptist/Mennonites made the mistake of was forgetting that the masses and matins first came from the hearts and spirits of people who were devoted to God and sought to worship God. When you approach God with words of tradition spoken from a contrite and seeking heart, it is not following law but following love of God.
It is my hope and prayer, beloved, that you pray and speak with/to God using words that come from your heart. For if the words are spoken from the heart, the source of the words is not that important. May you find the words beloved! Selah!