Congratulations to Dion Gingerich, an MA student under my supervision, who recently completed his thesis “Plainly Becoming: An Examination of Early Anabaptist Simplicity in Light of Stanley Hauerwas’s Account of Virtue for Community Formation.” Dion will be leaving Manitoba to take up the role of Dean of Students at Rosedale Bible College in Ohio. Dion’s thesis will eventually be available through the William Falk Library at Providence, but if you’d like to read it let me know, as I’m sure he’d be willing to share it. Here is his abstract:
The Anabaptists of the Radical Reformation were utterly committed to the virtue of simplicity in their communities. Their communities universally held simplicity as essential to a faithful life of yieldedness to God. However, Anabaptist communities since the Radical Reformation have not been consistent in implementing simplicity and thus it is unclear if simplicity is still important to them for understanding faithful Christian living. We will explore the early Anabaptist spirituality that shaped them to hold simplicity as a virtue as well as how their view of simplicity was dependent upon their view of community. To further this investigation, we will examine Stanley Hauerwas’s work on virtue and virtue ethics to create a framework to identify how early Anabaptist simplicity formed individuals and communities. Hauerwas’s virtue ethics reveals that the early Anabaptist virtue of simplicity was accurate in its implementation and that its implementation shaped their communities correctly according to an appropriate view of God and his kingdom. Finally, this work argues that simplicity is a virtue of such importance that it should be implemented in the present church: both the broader church as well as present Anabaptist communities.