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Brethren Life & Thought

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Celebrating 60 Years

Brethren Life and ThoughtA Scholarly Journal Published in the Interest
of the Church of the Brethren

Brethren Life & Thought is a joint publication of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Brethren Journal Association (BJA). The journal solicits thoughtful interpretive essays, scholarly articles, and short creative works, including poetry, related to the faith, heritage, and practices of the Church of the Brethren and related movements.

  • Want fresh and current content of a lighter flavor but just as thoughtful?  Check out our Brethren Life & Thought blog at www.brethrenlifeandthought.org!
  • View a short video about BJA and Brethren Life & Thought, created for the 2015 Young Adult Forum.

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BJA Budget for 2015-16 -  for review by current BJA members


Current Issue:

Volume 59 No. 2 (Fall 2014)

Vol. 59.2 is a themed issue inspired by a symposium held at Bridgewater College in 2013. The symposium brought together diverse voices to consider what the denomination might look like in twenty years. The articles in this issue by Ruthann Johansen, Brian Messler, David R. Miller, Julie Mader Hostetter, and Mary Jo Flory-Steury were papers presented at that event. To those voices we added

  • an article on a multicultural vision for the church by Darla Deardorff;
  • an article on church revitalization by Leah Hileman; and
  • an article by Russell Haitch on the relationship of Christianity to culture through the lens of parenting.

This issue also features two essays that were entries in the 2013 Baker Peace Essay contest. One essay is by Kyle Riege, addressing the problem of bullying, and the other is by Aidan Ottoni-Wilhelm on the challenges experienced by high school students trying to embrace peace. In addition to all this we include the 2014 Bethany Theological Seminary Commencement address by Chris Bowman, “God Ordained a Worm," based on Jonah 4.

Upcoming Issues!

Vol. 60.1 (Spring 2015)
The spring issue will celebrate sixty years of Brethren Life & Thought by revisiting some of our popular articles from the past, offering contemporary reflections on topics such as women in ministry, the peace position, adult baptism, worship, and church leadership. Authors include: John Ballinger, Christina Bucher, Dana Cassell, Samuel Funkhouser, Scott Holland, and Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm.

Vol. 60.2 (Fall 2015)
In fall 2015, we will go Back to the Archives with an issue that will serve as a tribute to longtime Brethren Life & Thought book review editor and Church of the Brethren archivist Ken Shaffer. Articles will discuss a variety of historical topics as well as issues related to preservation of Brethren materials. There will also be several short reflections on Shaffer’s contributions among the Brethren and some of his original writing.


Past Issues:

Volume 59 No. 1 (Spring 2014)

This issue is the first issue compiled under the direction of editor Denise Kettering-Lane.
Vol. 59.1 is an eclectic issue presenting articles on a variety of topics, a ‘something for everyone’ kind of issue.  Dale Stoffer tackles the topic of Refellowshipped Brethren, focusing on two nineteenth-century Brethren groups, the Leedy Brethren and the Congregational Brethren. Diane Mason offers an overview of conscientious objection in the twentieth century, considering the different ways Brethren interpreted nonresistance and peace in the face of war. Raj Bhagat discusses the success of the Brethren mission to India.  Dennis Webb, pastor of a multicultural congregation, offers a forward looking discussion of multiculturalism from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Josh Brockway discusses spiritual gifts and the way that Brethren might discern these gifts within the life of the congregation. Stephen Thomas August exegetes John 21 in light of the notion of call and particularly highlights the difference between communal and individual call. The issue concludes with a reflection by Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, on some interesting points of continuity between the mission of Bethany Theological Seminary and the work of John Kline.

Volume 58 No. 2 (Fall 2013)

This issue includes articles on a wide variety of topics.  ‘Battle Ground’ Peaches: Dunkers on the Gettysburg Battlefield written by Steve Longenecker is the third in a series of papers presented over the five year Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Jews as a Religious Minority in America: The Challenges and Risks of Integration, the address to the BJA Annual Meeting at Annual Conference 2012 by Professor Hillel J. Kieval, brings food for thought about living out distinctive beliefs.  Other articles cover topics including: ministerial leadership and education in the Church of the Brethren, the practice of wearing the prayer covering, peacebuilding, and transformation in the church in India.  This issue was guest edited by Walt Wiltschek.

Volume 58 No. 1 (Spring 2013)

In June 2012 scholars convened at the Young Center in Elizabethtown, PA to discuss The Life and Influence of Alexander Mack Jr. This issue is a special expanded edition devoted to the publication of those papers.  Mack Jr. (1712-1803), son Alexander Mack Sr. the ‘founder’ of the Brethren, was a leader of the Brethren in our early days in America.  The fifteen articles in this issue cover such topics as: biographical information about Mack Jr., his time at Ephrata, his poetry and the hymn singing practices of his time, Mack Jr’s theological understandings of Love Feast and Baptism, Pietism of colonial Brethren, and life in the broader church of the eighteenth century.  This stand-alone issue is more a book of essays than a journal.  Vol. 58.1 is available to purchase as a single issue at: Brethren Press, Elgin, IL; The Young Center, Elizabethtown, PA; the Brethren Heritage Center, Brookville, OH; or the Brethren Life and Thought office, Richmond, IN.  This issue was guest edited by James E. Miller.

Volume 57 No. 2 (Fall 2012)

This issue presents the first full color photographs to be printed in Brethren Life and Thought.  In the past we have posted photos on our website to accompany and article.  Antietam’s Dunker Church: Beacon of Peace, by park ranger Allan Schmidt prompted this venture. His article, a photo essay, is the second in a five article series of papers presented for the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Some of the photos of Antietam are familiar, others had rarely, or had never, been published.  The remaining content of this issue is eclectic including: the Brethren Annual Meeting in 1861, marriage and gender equality, a history of Christology, reflections on Jeremiah 5:20-29, and reflections on the theopoetics of death. This is the final issue with Julie Garber as editor.

Volume 57 No. 1 (Spring 2012)

The cover of this issue has the title Pentecostals and Brethren Unlikely Partners for Peace.  The issue includes three articles devoted to this topic, with a fourth article looking a peace through the eyes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Other topics include: the Martyrs Mirror as an American Publishing event, humor in the Hebrew Scriptures, and a reprint of an article on Martin Grove Brumbaugh by Donald F. Durnbaugh.  

Vol. 56 No. 2 (Fall 2011)

Volume 56 no. 2 (Fall 2011) premieres our decision to include peer reviewed articles in each issue.  A stylized “pr” will appear in the table of contents listing of articles and the opening page of each peer reviewed article.  This volume will include a variety of articles: the 2012 Bethany commencement address by Fletcher Farrar, articles on holiness, sacred music, Anabaptist spirituality, and the first article in our Distinguished John Kline Brethren Scholars Series, an article by Jeff Bach on the topic, Brethren and slavery.

Vol. 56 No. 1  (Spring 2011):  The Scholarship of Warren F. Groff

With this issue, we celebrate the contributions of Warren F. Groff to Bethany Theological Seminary and the Church of the Brethren as theologian, scholar, and churchman.  This collection of Groff’s speeches, reflections, book excerpts, and letters of tribute from former students and fellow faculty members reveals a mind so deep intellectually that his thoughts come round finally to an exquisite simplicity.  A bibliography of Groff’s numerous writings is included in this volume.  From that list we have reprinted five representative articles from books and journals that are as timely today as they were when they were first published.

Vol. 55 No. 3 & 4

This issue features a cluster of articles on the topic of technology. Arthur Boers of Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Canada; Dan Ulrich from Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana; and Shane Hipps, now at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, share perspectives on ways technology impacts our lives. Their articles should deepen our discussions about how we use technology.  

Other articles cover a variety of topics. You will read an article about the testimonies of women martyrs as recorded in Martyrs Mirror. The printing of Martyrs Mirror was a technological feat in its day, but this article will focus instead on the power the women martyrs wielded in a society in which women had no power. Recent Bethany graduate Anna Lisa Gross writes about the dualisms that mire us in either/or thinking and offers both/and possibilities. Gross uses the Love Feast to demonstrate the richness of duality in theology. Robert McFadden writes about Deuteronomistic history. Graydon Snyder traces the Christian practice of eating a meal to commemorate the dead. Ken Gibble reminds all of us who minister, whether professional or lay, of the importance of listening. Some of Gibble’s poems are included in this issue. The Texts in Transit series continues with Frank Ramirez taking up the task of writing the historical portion following the death of Ken Shaffer. There is something for everyone in this issue.

Vol 55 No 1 & 2

Volume 55 Number 1&2, cover date Winter and Spring 2010 was mailed to subscribers April 20, 2011. This volume number is a themed issue, which is part of the reason it has been delayed. Since this issue considers the topic Human Sexuality we wanted to include as many voices as possible. A wide variety of people were invited to submit material. We waited to go to print as long as we could. The articles included represent those who responded. If is unfortunate that some voices are missing, but we assure you, more voices were invited. We hope the articles in this issue stimulate thought and discussion as we attempt to reason together on the issue of human sexuality.
This issue also includes two more installments of Texts in Transit by Graydon Snyder and Ken Shaffer.

Vol 54 No 4

Vol 54 No 4 (Fall 2009) presents four articles that stimulate thought around the Christian responses of forgiveness and forbearance. In this issue: Don Kraybill locates Amish attitudes about forgiveness in the literal interpretation of scripture, referencing some of John Howard Yoder's teachings. Flora Williams recounts an event in her life in which she suffered a terrible physical loss that might have left her bitter and resentful. Some of Flora's poems are also published in this issue. Chris Bowman, pastor of the Oakton Church of the Brethren in Virginia, reminds us that even the greatest moments in our faith history do not simply erase our sorrows of the past. This issue also includes a paper first circulated at Annual Conference in 2009, by Earle Fike, Jim Lehman, Bill Eberly, and Elaine Sollenberger which explores the use of forbearance as a uniquely Brethren process for working together and for discerning the will of God on difficult issues. (The forbearance article is of such interest that we have made it available here in its entirety - "The Recovery of Brethren Forbearance" (pdf)* - and we suggest you also read the accompanying study questions in the link following!)

Erratum: Contributing author Jim Lehman's name was mispelled on the cover of 54.4 and in the article, "The Recovery of Brethren Forbearance." Jim is an author and publisher from Elgin, Illinois, and author of The Old Brethren, published by Brethren Press.

Other Past Issues

  • Vol 54 No 3 (Summary of articles and downloadable Study Questions)
  • Vol 54 No 1 & 2 (Summary of articles and downloadable Study Questions)
  • Vol 53 No 4 (Summary of articles and downloadable Study Questions)
  • Vol 53 No 3 (Summary of articles and downloadable Study Questions)

Access Back Issues on ATLA

Member/Subscribers are now able to access articles in all back issues of Brethren Life & Thought through this website. A secure login is required, consisting of an ID and PIN. Your ID Number is your customer number, and appears with the PIN on your mailing label for your convenience. (ID numbers and PINs can also be obtained by emailing blt@bethanyseminary.edu. ) Once you have your login information, you may access ATLA here.


Authors are solely responsible for the contents of their articles. The Brethren Journal Association and Bethany Theological Seminary disclaim responsibility for statements, either of fact or opinion, made by the contributors.

*You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free download) to view pdf files. 

For more information about Brethren Life and Thought, subscription payments, and back issue requests, contact:

Karen Garrett, Managing Editor for Brethren Life & Thought
     garreka@bethanyseminary.edu      765-983-1811


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- or contact -

Brethren Life & Thought
Bethany Theological Seminary
615 National Road West
Richmond, IN  47374

For the Book Review Editor, contact:

Monica Rice
Master of Arts

MonicaWhen my vocational calling led me to consider a seminary education, I visited Bethany out of a sense of Brethren obligation. Growing up in a Brethren family and congregation, attending a Brethren college, and then participating in several years of Brethren Volunteer Service, I felt a strong commitment to Brethren institutions. However, I felt ready to experience a different faith community for graduate study. I made plans to attend an urban Chicago seminary, but chose to visit Bethany to know that I had considered it as an option.