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Worldliness, a term not unique to Mennonites, but very common among them, used to designate attitudes, tendencies, and behavior influenced by the "world," thought of as the evil system of life and conduct opposed to Christ. "World" is used frequently in this sense in the New Testament. Paul (Galatians 1:4) described Christ's saving work as a deliverance "from this present evil world." Jesus said (John 17:16) that His disciples "are not of the world, even as I am not of the world," whence comes the expression, "in the world but not of the world." James (1:27) defines pure religion as including "to keep . . . [oneself] unspotted from the world." John (1 John 5:19) speaks of the "whole world . . . [lying] in wickedness" and promises Christians that they will overcome the world. The two most common passages used in regard to worldliness are Romans 12:2, "Be not conformed to this world," and 1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." A major difficulty has been that of identifying precisely what "world" is, and therefore what "worldliness" is. The temptation, not always avoided, has been to emphasize aspects of culture as worldly because they are easily identified, while overlooking the deeper aspects of worldliness such as materialism. Nevertheless the problem of worldliness has been and remains a major concern for all earnest Christians who endeavor to follow their Lord closely in true discipleship, and requires all the resources of grace and insight to master it. (See Nonconformity.)

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

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Bender, Harold S. "Worldiness." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 20 Apr 2021.

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Bender, Harold S. (1959). Worldiness. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 April 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 981. All rights reserved.

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