Author Archive for Martin Mittelstadt

Martin Mittelstadt
Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Evangel University

Finding Peace: A Personal and Vocational Narrative Part 3

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 by Martin Mittelstadt

Finding peace remains an ongoing search.  I continue my exegetical and practical quest concerning peace-making.    First, as a student of the Scriptures, I persist in my study of peace particularly as expressed among the earliest followers of Jesus. Pentecostals confess the paradigmatic nature of Jesus’ life (and the lives of the Apostles) for the contemporary believer.  Reading from the Gospels and Acts, Pentecostals believe the powerful witness, healings, miracles, and exorcisms performed by Jesus to be core aspects of positive mimesis.  Ironically, Jesus’ sacrificial life and death and his holistic perspective on shalom often fails to inspire the same kind of positive imitation.  The cumulative effect of more than 100 New Testament references to peace deserves greater attention as part of Pentecostal thinking.  As Christians living in the “already/not yet” kingdom of God, the prayer “thy Kingdom come” must provide not only futuristic hope but also present reality.  The present reality of the miraculous must be extended to a theology of peace.  Thus, as Zechariah sings with anticipation concerning the future ministry of the infant messiah: “to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79b), so also the angelic host sings similar praises to God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).  The gospel story provides consistent fulfillment of these oracles.  For example, Peter proclaims an inclusive ethnic message to Cornelius’ household: “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36) and Paul calls for believers to embrace a similar message: “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15). The New Testament provides a wealth of Spirit-led oracles that call for peace with expectation for present fulfillment.  Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Peace: A Personal and Vocational Narrative Part 2

Thursday, January 20th, 2011 by Martin Mittelstadt

In my previous post, I shared of my surprising journey toward pacifism. I found my way to this position due to my engagement of Mennonite theologies and communities and only later discovered the rich peacemaking heritage in the Pentecostal tradition. As I meditated further on this new discovery, I also felt immediate disappointment and betrayal.  After sitting through thousands of hours of Sunday school lessons, sermons and then classes in a Pentecostal environment, not only had I never wrestled with pacifism but I had no idea of my heritage.  From my teenage years, I remember no discussion concerning military duty.  In fact, as my angst for college funds began to emerge, I considered joining the Canadian military for the free ride through college.  No one counseled me concerning the biblical or theological pros and cons of such a decision.  To the contrary, I remember specific services championing the military life.  Ironically, and now upon further reflection, I am stunned at the number of preachers particularly American, who came to Canada, trumpeting their military experience.  I vividly recall hearing one such preacher, Dave Roever, on several occasions.  Roever’s emotional story of service in Vietnam left young respondents with little room to ponder the convergence of gospel and nationalism. Years later, I reflected with disappointment upon my 10-year pastorate in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada immediately following completion of my doctoral residency at Marquette University. As pastor of a Pentecostal church filled with many “ex-Mennonites” in Morden/Winkler, a community in southern Manitoba and in the heart of one of the largest concentrations of Mennonites in the world, I never discussed my peace position in private or public discourse. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Peace: A Personal and Vocational Narrative

Monday, January 17th, 2011 by Martin Mittelstadt

Jesus calls followers to a lifelong journey that requires constant reflection upon theology and praxis.  Honest theological reflection upon culture, the world, the church and the Scriptures results in the evolution of ideas and values.  An intentional Christian embraces such discovery, understanding and transformation of basic convictions both individually and collectively.  With new found convictions, this task requires a new orientation to life, specifically attitudes and actions, a desire to reflect new discoveries. Inevitably, certain core convictions treasured at one point in life may shift in light of reflection upon previously untapped information, thereby leading to subsequent understanding and new orientation.  Finding a theology of peace, specifically pacifism, became one such shift in my life. Read the rest of this entry »