The workings of tradition

From “distinctives” to a living tradition


  • Laura Schmidt Roberts Fresno Pacific University


Paul Ricoeur, tradition, narrative, identity, distinctives, Mennonite, Anabaptist


The multiplicity of Anabaptist faith traditions is perhaps truer now than ever, with the emergence of neo-Anabaptism as a pan-denominational movement. Such variety marks our past as well as our present, as Anabaptism exhibited multiple movements and varied views and communal practices from its inception. This reality leads us to ask how we think about and articulate shared identity in the face of multiplicity, difference, and change spanning five hundred years. I address these questions in two directions: first, by presenting a way of thinking about how tradition works (past, present, and future) and, second, by exploring the importance of narrative for thinking about shared communal identity across time. I will draw on the work of French philosopher Paul Ricoeur as I develop these ideas.

Author Biography

Laura Schmidt Roberts, Fresno Pacific University

Laura Schmidt Roberts is professor of biblical and theological studies at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, California.