Watch Therefore. By Guest Writer Sarah M. Hofer

Written by: Louie Vetter on Sunday, August 12th, 2018

‘Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching.’ Luke 12:37

We Hutterites are now living in a golden age. Never before in our history has there been such a long period where the authorities have left us alone to live and worship as we wish. The communities we live in are safe, secure and prosperous.

Around us, the world is changing at an incredibly rapid pace. The Christian worldview that has shaped societies for over two thousand years is under fire and in some places, almost obsolete. Self is worshipped in place of God and truth is considered relative. The world is at our gates, trying to win the hearts and minds of our young people. It is a time to be on our guard, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the powers of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’

That our love and zeal has grown colder in these peaceful, easy times must be acknowledged. Good times do not generally make for good Christians. Consider the words of Jesus to the Church of Ephesus: Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.’

The early Hutterites saw clearly that to follow in the footsteps of their master Jesus, a life of self-denial and loving service to their fellow man was required. They believed that community of goods was the necessary outward expression of a life truly committed to Christ and His kingdom. ‘And all that believed were together and had all things in common.’This is the vision that the Hutterite Church has tried to uphold in the long centuries since the Reformation.

From their beginnings in Austria where they witnessed to the truth with their lives, their journey with this vision led them across Eastern Europe. Many times they established flourishing communities on the estates of noblemen, but the periods of peace never lasted for long. Suffering terrible persecution and unjust treatment, they fled on to next place, refusing to deny their God and faith. Finally, to escape military conscription in Russia, they left behind the comfortable farming villages they had established and immigrated to America.

In addition to their steadfast faith, they took their language, culture, and customs with them across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World. Thanks in part to the legacy of our forefathers, the Hutterite church has managed to preserve a distinct identity and faith in modern day America; where many other cultures and religions, of greater numbers, have assimilated.

Our church has been able to take an uncompromising stand on many issues, refusing to conform to the world. From head coverings and male leadership, to divorces and gay marriages, the church has not bowed to popular opinion and trends but has kept its doctrines scriptural. ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.’

The current modern worldview is a dangerous lens through which to look as we seek to preserve our faith. Condoning the values of the world in our church makes us increasingly resistant to the guidance of the Spirit. We have a rich treasury of literature and the background of a godly heritage that help correct our vision and bring us back to the Biblical foundation of our beginnings.

The literature includes the sermons preached in our church services, written centuries ago by Spirit-filled elders with a deep faith in Jesus and a sincere love of the brethren. From their genuine spiritual and communal experience they wrote of issues that we are still dealing with today. The sermons provide commentary and profound Biblical insights, as well as serving as a safeguard against the tendency to drift away from Scriptural truths. Our community gathering at the end of every day to listen to the Word of God, to sing and pray together, strengthens our bond and acts as a constant reminder of Whom we serve.

Part of our heritage are the laws, practical arrangements, and accepted codes of behaviour maintained throughout our history to govern our communities and keep our people separate from the world. If these standards are in accordance with Biblical teachings, we should consider what we might lose if we abandon them. ‘Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good.’ But we must be careful lest we adhere only to the letter of the law without seeking after the Spirit. That path constitutes a barren and meaningless religion.

Adding strength to the structure of the church is the accountability of each individual community to all the other Hutterite communities, and the accountability between each believer to the other. Brotherly admonition keeps our vision clear and vibrant, so that none among us may be led astray by the deceiver.

Our elders have an important role in preserving the vision of our church. They are gatekeepers of the church of God, watching for our souls as they that must give account. A gatekeeper needs to be sober and vigilant, for the enemy circles the house of God, seeking whom he may devour.

‘Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day not the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.To hear the words: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant,’ when our Master returns is our sincere hope and longing.

In preserving our vision, we believe we are fulfilling our Master’s will and giving our children the best possible hope for their eternal future. Through the Church we can bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, protected from much of the harmful influence of the world and providing them with a Christian worldview and valid counter-culture. Then when the Spirit comes to these young people, the vision comes gloriously alive, its truths illuminated from within, and unites them to all true believers.

Our church provides for the widows, the sick and the elderly, it provides discipleship and accountability. Rightly lived, it is the fulfillment of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; it is the city set on a hill, whose light shines so that all men see it.

We do not know what the times will be like when the next generation finds themselves being the leaders and elders of the Hutterite Church.  The Bible prophesies terrible times before that great and notable day of the Lord comes. By the grace of God we hope to be a small part of preserving this vision for them against that day.

“Dear brothers, I plead with you to keep watch against disunity, for you can well imagine the terrible disasters that would come in its wake and what great suffering would befall widows and orphans.

Watch that you keep firmly to the fine old Church Ordnungen and follow them without moving the boundary stones.

Hold firm to Christian community, and fight with all your might against stinginess and selfishness, for covetousness is the root of all evil and destroys everything good.  Guard against innovation and starting on a new course. Take special care, my brothers, not to compete against or take advantage of one another, for that is not right.

I appeal to you before God to give fatherly care to the widows and orphans and to concern yourself faithfully with the needs of the church.

Always act in the fear of God, following truth, justice and righteousness.

Tell the elders as a last request that I urge them before God to be wholehearted in taking on the responsibility for the Lord’s Church and giving all their strength to its care. 

I commend you to the protection of the Almighty God. May He care faithfully for His people, bless you, keep you in peace, uphold and preserve you. Amen. Amen.”

Hutterite Elder Klaus Braidl. Neumuhl Community, Moravia. 1611 

Sarah M. Hofer

Showing 25 comments

Patti said:
On: 29th Oct, 2018 at 03:22

I hope someone will see this and give me an answer… I stumbled upon the video by LeBootCamp about her stay with the Hutterite community in Forest River NoDak. I have an odd question. I saw from the video that the community makes all “cosmetics” and showed a coffee facial scrub, and mentioned a vicks-like ointment you all make and some kind of soup. I’m sure you usually get questions about your faith or your living style, but I’m interested in your self-care/cosmetic/medicine recipes. I looked in your store and did not see recipes listed. Can you send recipes or send me links to the products mentioned in this video? Your method of life seems pretty logical to me. I teach Bible to high school students and I’m constantly battling the lies they learn in public school and warning them about the lure of the world. Seems nice to raise kids in an environment where they aren’t constantly inundated with abominations taught as truth in their schools.

Danny M Reed said:
On: 13th Nov, 2018 at 10:23

Thank You Sarah, Christ’s Presence is a certainty and in some ways, yes, it is a Golden Age of peace and security. I hope this finds you well. I have a question similar to the previous Comment: Do you have products or Sources of products you use at Home?

ST said:
On: 14th Dec, 2018 at 15:45

Louie Vetter: How would you respond if told that Hutterianism is merely a rehash of the ancient sect of Essenism? The Essenes were a people who separated themselves from Judiasm because of the corruption in Jewish temple worship. They practiced community of goods and regarded themselves as the only true “Israel”. However, the New Testament makes no mention of them and early Christians never adopted their philosophy. What would you say?

    Louie Vetter said:
    On: 15th Dec, 2018 at 07:46

    The Essenes practiced community of goods.
    Hutterites practice community of goods.
    Therefore Hutterianism is a rehash of the Essenes sect.
    That’s very weak indeed, and also faulty logic.

    We have a clear and detailed history that tells us how we came to the community of goods, and it was through Scripture. There is nothing to suggest that the founding Hutterites even knew that a sect called the Essenes existed. Peter Reidemann in his book Hutterite Confession of Faith never confesses the Essenes once.

    So I would say based on the evidence of the early writings and the severe persecution that went on in the early church were people were burned at the stake and drowned in rivers, its fair to say they had a faith and conviction of far stronger groundings than the vague suggestion that a group of people (not even mentioned in the Bible) once practiced community of goods.

      ST said:
      On: 18th Dec, 2018 at 14:51

      Fair answer. But despite your recorded history, you are still ignoring a lot of scripture by isolating yourselves from the world in a manner which the apostles of Christ never sought to do. We see in the New Testament that the church was founded in towns and cities, where their separation of attitude and practice could really be seen by men and therefore be a light to the world.

      When you say “early writings,” are you referring to the writings of the early church fathers of the 2nd, 3rd, and beginning of the 4th centuries, or are you speaking of the beginnings of Anabaptism?

        Louie Vetter said:
        On: 19th Dec, 2018 at 20:35

        The early Hutterite writers.

          ST said:
          On: 20th Dec, 2018 at 13:10

          Do you therefore build your faith upon the faith and conviction of these early Hutterite writers? Or does your faith and conviction come solely from the written word of God?

          Also, do you suppose these Essene men and women had no faith and conviction from scripture resulting in their isolation? (They had much more in common with the Hutterites than community of goods.)

          The early Christians of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries were also horribly persecuted – and they did not live according to Hutterite philosophy. If the early Hutterites were not persecuted for the same reason as those early Christians, that is, for the testimony of Jesus Christ, and for his word, then they were not following Christ. But we know they were.

          Louie Vetter said:
          On: 21st Dec, 2018 at 07:37

          Yes, we build our faith and conviction solely on the written word of God and the early Hutterite writers affirm that.

          And yes, I suppose the Essene people had faith and conviction to live in isolation and I would suppose that came from scripture, although we know very little about them. But we do know they didn’t have the Book of Acts to guide them.

          ST said:
          On: 23rd Dec, 2018 at 01:06

          “But we do know they didn’t have the Book of Acts to guide them.” – which is my point exactly. I realize that the book of Acts bears record that the first Christians practiced community of goods. But does the book of Acts guide the church into isolation? No it doesn’t.

          It’s logical to conclude that after the incident at Jerusalem, the church continued practicing some form of community of goods. What kind of Christian church would it be if those that were rich didn’t share their goods with the poor? But again: Do the book of Acts, and the apostles, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, guide the church into isolation from the world? No they don’t.

          The church was founded in the thick of society, as is witnessed by the scriptures, “in” but not “of” the world, to be a light to the world. If you’re isolated from the world in geological locale, then you are in effect not being a light to the world. At this the average Hutterite might well respond: “But why would someone want to subject himself to such peril and harm?!” Are you arguing against God’s original design; for building his church in the thick of society? One might well repeat these words of Christ: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”

          What kind of faith and conviction is that, if it doesn’t in all points align with scripture, nor with how the church was in the beginning?

          Louie Vetter said:
          On: 23rd Dec, 2018 at 13:37

          A typical Colony consists of mostly farmland, but maybe also a hog barn, a chicken barn, a dairy barn, and probably a feedlot. Do you think that would work in the thick of society, say a town or a city?

          And believe you me, when you look at a map of where Hutterite Colonies are located you’d be hard pressed to say they live in isolated geographical locations.

ST said:
On: 23rd Dec, 2018 at 19:25

Are you avoiding my question? We both know that the Hutterites were not an agricultural economy at their beginnings. Let’s do a historical overview:
Anabaptism began when three men: Georg Blaurock, Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz and a few others gathered at Zurich, Switzerland on January 1525 and baptized one another in defiance of infant baptism which was practiced by the state churches. That was all good, since infant baptism and state churches are unscriptural. From there Anabaptism seemed to spread even into Moravia, as more men and women became convicted that the state churches were in error. And it came to pass eventually that a group of 200 adults left Nickelsburg, Moravia and moved about 30 miles away to Austerlitz. (Why did they feel the need to leave only to create another denomination? Because of persecution? Jesus said, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.”)
On the way they pooled their few belongings on a cloak on the ground, thus beginning what became known as “Full Community of Goods” – which is definitely supported by the scriptures – and began to establish themselves in isolated communities known as “Bruderhofs”… which is not a doctrine supported by the scriptures. I believe that the first wrong move they made was – not the act of keeping all things common – but the act of overstepping God’s original design by establishing themselves in isolation from the rest of “the world”.
Why didn’t they entirely follow the example set by the Holy Spirit, through the first church at Jerusalem, by establishing community of goods in the context of towns and cities? If they had accomplished that, others would have followed suite; then maybe the outside churches today would be much better at sharing their goods than they are. But since they overstepped in this way, they failed to convince others who were following Christ, because they themselves had overstepped.
So what you have today is an unbalanced scale: On one side are the Hutterites, practicing full community of goods, whereby many colonies are functioning perfectly – at least in outward appearance – without the Holy Spirit; and on the other side you have the “outsiders”, not doing so well at community of goods, but nevertheless showing evidence of the presence of God.

    ST said:
    On: 23rd Dec, 2018 at 19:30

    Addition to: “But since they overstepped in this way, they failed to convince others who were following Christ, because they themselves had overstepped; and eventually faded into such oblivion that their nearest townspeople have no idea who they are and/or what they stand for.”

    Manuel said:
    On: 9th Dec, 2019 at 04:40

    Are there any other groups like the Hutterites?

David Tatlock said:
On: 28th Dec, 2018 at 18:25

Wonderful. Remember with reverence a short visit night at a Hutterite colony in Chester, Montana, 1993.

Thomas Hansen said:
On: 10th Jan, 2019 at 13:25

I have been to a good number of Hutterite colonies.

The common theme I found is that there was always a faction, sometimes as small as one person, that opposed me, and these said factions were able to wield enough influence to keep it from happening. This was in spite of the fact that I desire to live out the Christian life and be in gelassenheit…

It seems that with a significant number of Hutterites there is something like a dark spirit about them and they attempt to shut up the Kingdom of God unto men (and when they do thst they will not enter in themselves).

    ST said:
    On: 12th Jan, 2019 at 14:21

    Thomas Hansen, Can you please clarify that statement: “The common theme I found is that there was always a faction, sometimes as small as one person, that opposed me, and these said factions were able to wield enough influence to keep it from happening.”

    Have you ever attempted to join a Hutterite colony? I might have some helpful info for you…

      Thomas Hansen said:
      On: 13th Jan, 2019 at 13:59

      Yes, I have actually attempted to join a few Hutterite colonies…

      This might seem like a bold statement but I feel that good trees should not stay in a corrupt orchard. Therefore those Hutterites who love the truth may very well need to sever themselves from the existing leut, even if it means leaving with nothing materially. Then we can regroup with other truth-lovers, both Hutterite and non-Hutterite, and form Christian Communities that actually resemble those of old time…

        Louie Vetter said:
        On: 13th Jan, 2019 at 15:16

        Yes, that does sound like a bold statement and I don’t agree with it for a couple reasons. Firstly, to write off an orchard as corrupt that has good trees growing in it is presumptuous. Who is to say that if we dig around the weaker ones that they won’t bear good fruit?
        Don’t we all fall short of the Glory of God?
        The second reason is that I think it’s fair to say that God decided our birth time and place. Where we are is most likely were God needs us the most. If we pack up and move from church to church as soon as we think we see a tree without fruit, I fear we’ll be moving all our lives and never put down roots to actually bear fruit.

        That being said, I wish you all the best in forming a Christian community that will be to your liking.

          ST said:
          On: 14th Jan, 2019 at 16:59

          But doesn’t God call his people after their second birth? The first birth really doesn’t count in that regard. (My opinion.)

          Nevertheless, I believe I might have a solution for Thomas Hansen if he’s still interested in joining a colony. If so, Louie Vetter, can you please send him my personal email address? If he’s still interested, that is…

Wurtz said:
On: 14th Jan, 2019 at 23:20

Primitive and worn out ideologues and talking points.
“Authorities leaving us alone to serve God”. That has expired already like a week old 7-up

This group needs a vision, it’s marinating in dark age doctrinal poisons. (By virtue of the Roman Catholic church perverting God’s word) The reformation period of Martin Luther was of God though very weak, it never killed off the pagen influence that the church instituted through a thousand years of control. The Hutterites get an “E” for effort. Instead of staying put with Martin Luther’s teachings (the leader or star of that hour, they got carried away with this anti baptism tantrum. And through some doctrinal mental gymnastics fast forwarded their maturity to communal living which really is the bulls eye of Christianity. Acts 2. We are not knows by our claims. “There is a way that seems right to man but the end thereof is the ways of death”. (Bible)
By isolating yourself with your antiquated literature and creeds you not only missed God in the 20th century. You missed him when John Wesley carried the torch from justification to Sanctification (the second works of grace). Thats why the hutts drink etc. Martin Luther allegedly smoked a pipe also. It wasn’t the age for that…Wesley spearheaded that. What is God doing?. He’s bringing the church to maturity. I’m here to tell you that you are weighed in the balance and found wanting. All of these colonies will not stand the judgements of God. You are blind miserable and naked, you never really had much of a beginning. Look at the Sardis church in the book of revelation. That’s the age you came out of. Jesus told that church “you are weak and ready to die”. Nice people. The Hutts are some of the nicest people. I love my relatives and pray for them but there is a storm coming. And the colony will not be your “ark” that your false doctrine proclaims it to be. It will not stand the judgement. Flee to God. While there is yet time. You are not conscious of your condition. That’s Laodicia for you. It’s pitiful.

Lee said:
On: 6th Nov, 2019 at 11:52

“The literature includes the sermons preached in our church services, written centuries ago by Spirit-filled elders with a deep faith in Jesus and a sincere love of the brethren.”

Should you not have elders today that are “Spirit-filled with a deep faith in Jesus”? Why are you reading out of centuries’ old books, and not the bible? Why are your pastors today not providing you with sermons that they themselves were inspired to write by the Spirit?

I would truly like to know the answer to this as I have never understood.

    Louie Vetter said:
    On: 17th Nov, 2019 at 14:05

    This will probably be the easiest if we take one question at a time.

    Should you not have elders today that are “Spirit-filled with a deep faith in Jesus”?
    Yes we do.

    Why are you reading out of centuries’ old books, and not the bible?

    Firstly, being centuries old is to the credit of these sermons, the Bible itself is a centuries old book.

    Secondly, these books are strictly bible based and provide some of the earliest commentary written on the bible. Written by a persecuted people with fresh memories of fellow believers burned at the stake, not knowing who or even they would be next. Compare that with a time when we can sit and wait for the dinner bell to ring three times a day, secure in our knowledge that the laws of the land protect our freedom of religion instead of prosecuting for, therefore, these books are not to be discredited lightly.
    And we know we all need a Philip to walk beside our chariot to help us understand.

    Why are your pastors today not providing you with sermons that they themselves were inspired to write by the Spirit?

    Your third question holds a false premise.

    There are sermons that were written in the 20th century that are currently being read. And undoubtedly, more being written now.

    I hope these answers help address your concerns.

      Decker said:
      On: 20th Jan, 2020 at 22:37

      Any manna gathered and held over bred worms. The children of Israel were required to gather new manna daily except on Friday. Please don’t compare your antiquated writings to the bible by gauging the age in comparison

        Wurtz said:
        On: 19th Apr, 2020 at 19:25

        The BIBLE ENDS with a warning from Jesus “if any man add or takes away from this book his name will be taken out of the book of live”. That is a death sentence, don’t compare your books to the Bible. It’s in a class by itself.

Cliff R. said:
On: 23rd Nov, 2019 at 03:12

I have recently (approximately 2 years) begun to seriously study the bible. Back around the early 70’s I did have about 3 years on and off involvement with a group which claimed unique insight concerning the bible. Now in 2019 with internet particularly, access to information and misinformation is astounding. I do hope to visit this site regularly as it is extremely helpful in giving me what I believe to be a more Holy Spirit guided perspective. At least that is what I ask for when praying, which is something that I on!y recently have begun to do.