Guy F. Hershberger’s War, Peace, and Nonresistance (1944):
Background, Genesis, Message
THERON F. SCHLABACH*
Abstract: War, Peace, and Nonresistance, written by Mennonite social scientist and ethicist Guy F. Hershberger and published in 1944, was an uncommonly important work. In it, Hershberger both articulated a broad consensus among Mennonites about their nonresistant convictions in the middle decades of the twentieth century and applied those convictions to an expanding range of social questions. This essay offers a careful and analytical reading of Hershberger’s historic book, with highlights and nuances that illuminate Hershberger’s treatment of various issues that recur in Christian, pacifist and Mennonite ethics.
By 1944 Mennonites in North America were producing some genuine and mature scholarship. Half a century or more had passed since they had founded their first colleges, such as Bethel in Kansas, Bluffton in Ohio and Goshen in Indiana. By the 1940s at least some among those institutions’ faculties were well trained in American or European universities and gaining recognition among their professional peers. In 1942, for example, Harold S. Bender of Goshen served as president of the prestigious American Society of Church History, a position that lent academic respectability to the new generation of Mennonite scholarship that Bender came to embody. Less visible, though no less important to this flowering of Mennonite intellectual life at midcentury, was the work of Guy F. Hershberger, Bender’s fellow historian and close associate at Goshen College.
In 1944, the same year that saw the publication of Bender’s groundbreaking address “The Anabaptist Vision,” Hershberger published War, Peace, and Nonresistance. Arguably it was the most influential statement of Mennonite social ethics in the twentieth century. At its core and throughout, the book articulated a persistently biblical-as compared with theologically liberal-version of pacifism. Hershberger rooted his kind of pacifism, or “nonresistance,” in the Old Testament as well as in the New, and rejected the arguments from Fundamentalists and others that used the Old to justify war. He offered what he considered a biblicist’s critique of theologically liberal forms of pacifism and of Gandhian “nonviolent resistance.” Meanwhile he took Mennonite nonresistance well beyond rejection of war and military service, to offer what amounted to a self-consciously biblical social gospel. For at least a quarter-century War, Peace, and Nonresistance won wide acceptance in his own Mennonite denomination (the so-called “M.C.”); among various other Mennonites who were interested in a biblicist kind of pacifism; and here and there with others. Ethicists and commentators who dealt with pacifism, whether approvingly or not, often treated War, Peace, and Nonresistance as if it were the definitive statement of Mennonites’ pacifist thought.
Like Bender, Hershberger was a student of church history; but his deeper interest was pacifist ethics. Born in 1896 and reared in an Amish Mennonite congregation in Iowa, Hershberger became an adult during World War I, when Mennonites and other pacifist churches struggled not only with the military draft but also with widespread pro-war fervor. Thereafter, to be sure, a pacifist movement had flourished among Protestant thinkers, especially between World Wars I and II; however, the tone of that movement-resting on liberal theology and pursuing overtly political strategies-was quite different from the “nonresistance” of Hershberger’s church, which aimed to be rigorously biblical, often to the point of fundamentalism. Hershberger was in tune with his church. In 1935, in a doctoral dissertation on Quaker rule in colonial Pennsylvania, he argued that for governing a society of nonpacifists, pacifist principles could not succeed, no matter how well-intentioned. And in an article from the following year whose title asked “Is Modern Religious Liberalism a Force for Peace'” his reply was a firm “No.” The liberal, modernist clergy who widely supported World War I, he reasoned, were motivated more by humanitarian concerns than by solid religious convictions. Failing to appreciate the depth and tenacity of human sin, theological liberals were simply too optimistic to support a dependable pacifism.
War, Peace, and Nonresistance began in the foreboding climate of impending war. Already in the mid-1930s Mennonite church leaders, like many other observers, saw quite clearly that the war was coming. Articles they commissioned Hershberger to write on Mennonites’ historic peace convictions-many of them appearing in the M.C. youth paper, The Youth’s Christian Companion-suggested the outlines of his broad and systematic restatement of Mennonite pacifist ethics.
Hershberger wrote his 1944 book from the premise that Christians should be thoroughly biblical. His exegesis could sometimes sound like simplistic prooftexting; yet in War, Peace, and Nonresistance and throughout his scholarly life, he showed also that he had read widely in contemporary and historical literature. Moreover, his defense of biblical nonresistance always assumed that his mid-twentieth-century readers were serious about the implications of New Testament teachings for human affairs. Hershberger sought to apply Jesus’ teaching and example to daily life-not to invoke a theology removed from Jesus by layers of human reasoning and rationalization, or by calculations of consequence and necessity, or even by Christian tradition. He provided an ethical system that offered a clear alternative to well-established Protestant and Catholic approaches, including that of North America’s leading Protestant ethicist, Reinhold Niebuhr. Moreover, despite his dogged biblicism, his system was an alternative also to Fundamentalist and other “evangelical” interpretations that used the Bible to justify Christians’ support of and participation in war. Within his own church, Hershberger took issue with those Mennonite Fundamentalists who, while teaching that Christians should not take part in war, constructed the two-kingdom wall between God’s reign and worldly government so high that they had little to say against governments’ war policies. In so doing, he offered a version of the two-realm position that called on Christians always to be conscious that their first loyalty is to God and God’s church, not to the nation-state, and that God’s primary agent for bringing peace and salvation in human affairs is the church, not governments. At the same time, Hershberger’s approach still allowed Christians, like the Old Testament prophets, to call rulers and governments away from faith in violence and toward righteousness and human well-being.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of War, Peace, and Nonresistance was to offer a platform of biblical pacifism from which Mennonites and others could move out to broader and broader social and political witness. Already in the late 1930s, Hershberger was defining biblical nonresistance more broadly than mainly refusal to take part in war. In 1939, for example, at a Goshen College conference on labor relations, Hershberger delivered a manifesto that set forth a broad and imaginative vision for applying nonresistance to a whole range of social questions, going beyond labor relations to community life and mutual aid. Eventually he took up issues of race and much more. Throughout his life Hershberger was a consistent advocate for applying Mennonites’ traditional biblical nonresistance broadly to social issues, issues not only among Mennonites but also in American society at large.
War, Peace, and Nonresistance began from a mandate of the Mennonite Church’s Peace Problems Committee. Early in 1937 Hershberger himself had suggested to Orie O. Miller, the committee’s executive secretary, that the group should sponsor a book suitable for “our congregations” to use “in classes and study groups.” If his motive was pedagogy, it may also have been polemical, for he also reminded Miller of very evident “differences” among the so-called Historic Peace Churches (Quaker, Brethren and Mennonite), who by 1937 were cooperating to prepare for the coming of war. Hershberger was in favor of cooperation among these denominations, but he also thought Mennonites needed their own literature to set forth their own position.
Though the Peace Problems Committee envisioned something far less systematic and scholarly than what War, Peace, and Nonresistance would be, from the outset committee members thought that the book should move beyond questions of military service and also address topics such as “Social Security” and the “present-day labor movement.” Further, the group assumed that Hershberger would have the main role in preparing the book, with the assistance of several other authors. Early in 1938 Hershberger suggested an alternative model that would have another Mennonite peace writer, Edward Yoder, serve as editor and compose at least three of twelve projected chapters. Others such as Bender, chair of the committee as well as dean and a leading intellectual at Goshen College, might write five or six of the chapters, and Hershberger himself only three or four. Just when the task became his alone is not clear.
By October 1938 Hershberger reported to the Peace Problems Committee that he was behind schedule-implying that the project was now in his hands alone-though he hoped to have the book ready in the summer of 1939. As he often did throughout his career, he kept missing deadlines.  In 1939 and 1940 he became more and more preoccupied with other matters, especially as executive secretary of a new denominational group, the Committee on Industrial Relations, from which he generated ideas about Mennonite community. In 1941 and 1942, his path took a further detour when he served for nearly a year as educational director for a Civilian Public Service unit and wrote a substantial booklet on Mennonite ethics for use in educational programs of C.P.S. camps. Finally, Goshen College agreed to grant him a leave of absence from his teaching from January through August of 1943 to focus on the book. Meanwhile, as the United States and Canada moved ever deeper into war, the Peace Problems Committee, the Mennonite Publishing House and the Mennonite Central Committee (M.C.C.) filled the peace-literature gap with some lesser items, including a small book, published in 1940, made up of articles Hershberger had published in the Youth’s Christian Companion.
By March 1944 the publisher had set type for War, Peace, and Nonresistance and Hershberger was proofreading its galleys. In October, after more delays due at least partly to the wartime labor shortage, the book came out.
As with all of his scholarship, Hershberger did not assume the role of the lone intellectual pursuing his own insights and ideas without taking counsel from his group. By at least 1939 the Peace Problems Committee appointed a subcommittee to assist him; and as the book neared completion his chapters circulated among committee members and other church leaders. Also, the manuscript had to pass muster with the Mennonite Publishing House’s Publication Committee. Its chairman was the venerable Daniel Kauffman, long the editor of the Gospel Herald, guardian of M.C. orthodoxy and a formidable power in church publication. In 1943 Kauffman was near retirement; but in August of 1943 he still was enough engaged that he advised Hershberger that he did not want to see the book published with “undue haste.” And indeed, John L. Stauffer, a gentlemanly committee member and staunchly Fundamentalistic professor at Eastern Mennonite School in Virginia, did express some objections to the manuscript.
WAR IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
The major stumbling block for Stauffer and others in the church was a chapter Hershberger had written on wars in the Old Testament. Because the Bible seems to say that God commanded the children of Israel to go out and fight, the accounts of Old Testament wars have been quite a problem for pacifists who want to ground their peace convictions firmly in the Bible. After all, Christians who accept the use of violence and war have constantly turned to those accounts to bolster their case against pacifism.
During Hershberger’s formative years the most common solution among M.C. thinkers was to admit that God did sometimes approve Israel’s use of violence and then say that the New Testament has established a new covenant-and a new ethic-for followers of Jesus. Why did God command “good and holy men like Moses, Joshua, and Samuel to destroy human life” by war? asked Jacob (J. A.) Ressler, editor of Sunday-school literature who had been a pioneer missionary to India, in 1916. “[The Old Testament] was not an age of grace but of justice and judgment,” Ressler responded, then added: “The all-sufficient answer is, ‘God in His wisdom saw it best.'”
By the 1940s many Mennonites regarded the view that God actually willed war in the Old Testament as simply conventional wisdom; and the most ardent Mennonite Fundamentalists took the point as a principle to guard and defend. In 1923 Samuel (S. E.) Allgyer, a bishop in Ohio, wrote that even without “an exhaustive study” it was clear that in the Old Testament “God Himself ordered war during certain dispensations.” But Allgyer was sure that in the dispensation of the New Testament, “we must of necessity leave wars and battle fields behind.” His perspective was frequent in the M.C. literature of the day.
Although most Mennonite writers were clear that Christ had commanded Christians to stay clear of warfare, they were far less clear about whether the church should be telling governments and nations that war was contrary to God’s will. Scarcely any M.C. writers before Hershberger had set forth any developed and coherent theological views about God’s purpose for government in human society. And they certainly did not write as political scientists.
In 1929 John Horsch-well known as a scholar of Anabaptism, a staunch polemicist against theological Modernism and an ardent defender of biblical nonresistance-reasoned that while the church should not use violence, the government could hardly be nonresistant if it were to preserve social order. Horsch’s positive view of the government’s use of force for social order reappeared, implicitly, in a sixty-three-page booklet that the Mennonite Publishing House produced in 1942, during World War II. The booklet was God and War, by J. Irvin Lehman, a prominent evangelist and Bible teacher from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, who was about to become editor of a revived Sword and Trumpet, mouthpiece of a vigorous Mennonite Fundamentalism. In good dispensationalist fashion Lehman argued very firmly that in the Old Testament God willed and commanded Israel to take human life, both by capital punishment and by war; and he declared that in domestic affairs, “the more nearly the laws of civil governments conform to the civil laws given to Israel the better. . . .” Thus he seemed to endorse present-day governments’ use of capital punishment, if not war.
In the next year a long and closely reasoned article in the M.C. magazine Christian Monitor, “A Time to Kill and a Time to Heal,” also interpreted the Old Testament dispensationally. It did so with a harsher tone and even more explicit endorsement of present-day capital punishment. Its author, John M. Shank of Myerstown, Pennsylvania (a lay church worker known for his anti-Modernism), admitted that there was a strain of nonresistance in the Old Testament; but he said that the other strain-that God commanded Israel to go to war-was strong and irrefutable. Moreover, he argued that it was wrong to say, “as many affirm, [that] nonresistance was God’s highest will for Old Testament times” with Old Testament wars representing only a lesser, “permissive will” of God. Such logic, Shank reasoned, set up a “double standard.” And the double standard would undermine nonresistance, because biblicists such as Protestant Fundamentalists could easily use it to argue that Christians could fight in present-day wars. Thus Shank used dispensationalist thinking (God having a different ethics for Israel in its time than for Christians in theirs) to safeguard the church’s nonresistance.
In fact, neither Lehman nor Shank really defended modern governments’ resort to war, not even during World War II, the “good war.” In Shank’s case, all his logic pointed to that conclusion and he certainly said nothing to the contrary. Yet he simply did not make the case-either explicitly or in any clear way implicitly. Lehman explicitly said the opposite. The point was not a major one of his booklet, but he made it quite clearly, invoking dispensationalism to do it. His main statement was that nowhere in the New Testament had God commanded nations to fight wars. God had done so in Old Testament times; and, to bring final justice, God would do so again at the end of history. But, said Lehman, God did not command nations to fight wars in the present, New Testament dispensation. His clear meaning was that they should not.
Lehman and Shank fit the pattern of most M.C. dispensationalists from the 1920s to the 1940s. Those dispensationalists warned over and over against any hope of reforming the nations and ending war, often adding vigorous statements about humans’ sinful nature or references to Jesus’ words that wars and rumors thereof would continue into the last days. But instead of saying that God actually willed or appointed modern governments to go to war, Mennonite writers were vastly more likely to lament and denounce a war spirit and war preparations. They lamented that those had been causes of the First World War, and by the latter 1930s some warned that the same errors were bringing another.
At the same time, ambivalence or outright unclarity about how Mennonites should witness against war is unmistakable. Although some Mennonite authors often wrote in a general way that the church needed to give clear testimony against it, and the Peace Problems Committee sometimes gave such testimony,  few suggested that the church should warn political leaders against specific military preparations. Some, like John Shank, implied, indirectly or more forthrightly, that military action was part of God’s purpose for governments-with the further implication that nonresistant people, operating in their separate realm, should not criticize government’s going to war; and a few even called on Mennonites to cooperate with wartime government just as far as their nonresistance would allow.
Such was the immediate climate in which Hershberger wrote War, Peace, and Nonresistance: a strong biblical hermeneutic of dispensationalism that distinguished between God’s will for humanity in the Old Testament from that in the New Testament, coupled with an understanding that government and church operated in separate and sharply distinct realms. Not many Mennonite dispensationalists used those two doctrines to justify the war policies of modern government. However, they did use them as handy tools to explain how God could have approved war in the Old Testament. When they did, of course, they implied an ethical dualism: that the will of God had changed concerning the fundamental way God’s people were supposed to deal with human evil.
HERSHBERGER AND THE OLD TESTAMENT
War, Peace, and Nonresistance moderated the ethical dualism of Mennonite peace theology by assuming a distinction between the “real” and the “permissive” will of God. Even more, it rejected the belief that God had really approved Israel’s violence in the Old Testament. As it did, its author probably drew on an article Edward Yoder published in 1940. In the late 1930s and early 1940s Yoder, a keen-minded scholar, was a staff writer for the Mennonite Publishing House who wrote a very substantial quarterly peace column for the Gospel Herald. In an installment in 1940, he argued that God had indeed commanded Israel to fight wars, but ultimately (for instance in the entry into Canaan) only because Israel had rejected God’s preferred way of overcoming enemies.
Around the same time, Theodore H. Epp-a General Conference Mennonite who had attended a Baptist seminary in Texas and would eventually become the main preacher in a freelancing radio broadcast named “Back to the Bible”-published a Th.M. thesis that he had written a decade earlier addressing many of these same questions. Under the title “Should God’s People Partake in War'” Epp rebutted the view that war had been God’s will in the Old Testament. To do so he distinguished between God’s real will and God’s merely condoning Israel’s warfare because of the nation’s sin; and he insisted that God’s real will had been for Israel to put its faith in divine might and protection. Epp’s view “of the Old Testament attitude to war” might “seem unusual,” Hershberger commented in 1938, but it was “not far from right.” Indeed, he himself would use similar arguments in the “little text-book on peace” that he was preparing for the Peace Problems Committee.
Still, Hershberger knew he would have to lay down his challenge cautiously. He did so by first testing his treatment of the Old Testament as an article in The Mennonite Quarterly Review and by changing several key words to make his argument more acceptable to his dispensationalist and Fundamentalist readers.
The article, published in January 1943 with the title “Peace and War in the Old Testament,” began with a few sentences affirming strong reliance on Scripture and its author’s conviction that both testaments were “the inspired Word of God.” Hershberger recognized that “earnest Christians” often differed on what the Old Testament meant-especially regarding nonresistance-due, in part, to its “apparent difference” from the New. Then, laying down his challenge, Hershberger wrote that the difference was only apparent and based on “superficial interpretation.” Both testaments taught that “the way of peace is the way for the child of God.” Both taught “that war and bloodshed, retaliation and the spirit of revenge, have no place in the life of the Christian.”
So how did Hershberger deal with the Old Testament’s pro-war passages that so many theological conservatives thought were plain and obvious? One device was the idea of progressive revelation. He wrote specifically that God’s revelation in the Bible was “a progressive one” as seen in the “two covenants” of the Old and New Testaments: “Under the new covenant the people of God have been given more light.” But in a note of difference from many dispensationalists, Hershberger quickly added, “this does not mean that God’s will has changed from age to age.” Instead, human sin prevented God from making the divine will as clear as it would become “under the new covenant through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.” Quoting John Horsch, Hershberger argued that this was what the Anabaptists had believed.
Hershberger pursued further arguments. One was to cite Old Testament examples of nonresistance: the way Abraham settled his dispute with Lot; the Exodus command that if one met the ox or ass of an enemy going astray “‘thou shalt surely bring it back to him again'”; the enjoinder in Proverbs that “‘if thine enemy be hungry, give him bread'”; etc. “It is clear,” Hershberger insisted, “that the doctrine of love and nonresistance is found under the old covenant as well as under the new.”
Near the heart of Hershberger’s case was an idea of a “natural law of cause and effect.” Although the New Testament had set aside the civil and the ceremonial laws of the Old, Jesus had reiterated God’s “fundamental moral law” and it had continued. Moreover, “for the most part” that law worked as humans “simply [reaped] the natural consequences of [their] own conduct.” “Is the Christian an agent for the execution of God’s wrath'” Not if the actions of humans “bring their own present reward or punishment. . . . As a rule God allows the unrepentant sinner to have his way until he suffers the natural consequence of his own wrongdoing.”
The most controversial point Hershberger made was that even when God “commanded” Israel to go to war, their doing so was sin. How could that be? Because, as in the Old Testament account of Cain, the natural consequence of sin was often more sin. The principal examples of God “commanding” Israel to go to war, Hershberger argued, were the wars to possess Canaan. And those wars had occurred because Israel had disobeyed by first sending in spies. So “apparently this [was a] case where God commanded a course of action which was against His own will, after the sinful people had refused to follow His original plan.” In his article in 1940 Edward Yoder had written that “this looks very much like a plan for the peaceful penetration of the land of Canaan under God’s immediate leading and direction.” Hershberger agreed.
Hershberger also used the idea of God’s having a “permissive” will that was different from God’s real, full will. He did not explore that idea’s implications very deeply. Mostly he offered illustrations, which he found easily: “divorce, the legal oath, retaliation, blood vengeance, capital punishment, warfare, and every Old Testament practice and every element in the Mosaic civil code which Jesus set aside.” These, Hershberger argued, “had formally been permitted [in the Old Testament] only because God’s people had fallen into sin and rejected His way.” Similarly, God had not really wanted the people of God to shed blood.
To make these and other arguments, Hershberger cited Scripture profusely. He was not trained in biblical exegesis, and did not know biblical languages. As he would remember later, when he wrote War, Peace, and Nonresistance he was a “layman” “trained as a historian.” But “since we had no one properly equipped, theologically and hermeneutically, ready to do the job, I plunged ahead. . . .” Of course readers may debate whether he interpreted his texts correctly or dodged some that he left out. But clearly he dealt with some that were difficult for his case. Moreover, he interpreted texts in light of each other, not in isolation and out of context. Does his use of texts mean he was indeed a small-f fundamentalist? If treating Scripture as authority and using it very directly for belief and ethics marks one as a fundamentalist, then of course it does. And by that definition, at that time, Hershberger was accepting the label. However, it is more helpful just to say that he was a very direct biblicist.
Objections from the Right
Not surprisingly, several leading Mennonite Fundamentalists took issue with Hershberger’s way of reading the Old Testament. J. Irvin Lehman, who was on the Publication Committee that would need to approve the manuscript, quickly published an article in Sword and Trumpet that, among other points, insisted that Hershberger had substituted his own “philosophizing” for a plain reading of God’s commands. “O HORROR! O SHAME!” he warned. “GOD IS NEVER THE AUTHOR OF SIN. O God, deliver us from such rationalizing and philosophizing.” Meanwhile even before the Publication Committee became involved, John L. Stauffer (also, of course, a member of that committee) submitted a long, unpublished critique. Writing to Bender, who chaired the Peace Problems Committee, Stauffer advised that the article should be “remedied or rewritten before it is put out as a standard work on nonresistance.” Some of Stauffer’s arguments went deeper than Lehman’s: for instance, Stauffer argued that there was no moral difference between whether God carried out a judgment or delegated it to humans; that is, if Israelites sinned when they obeyed God’s command to go to war, then God would have sinned if God had wreaked vengeance directly, without human agents. On that point Hershberger could have replied with an Old and New Testament text that Mennonites often invoked to defend nonresistance-namely, God’s statement that “vengeance is mine.” Instead, he replied that Jesus had both set aside Old Testament law and fulfilled that law; but he also admitted that maybe Stauffer had raised a moral argument that was beyond his (Hershberger’s) ability to answer. His reply to Stauffer was long, complex and point-by-point. But beyond that one admission his only concession was that he might need to make himself more clear.
Stauffer had warned that Hershberger’s hermeneutic (his “philosophy of the Scriptures”) threatened “dire consequences”: “it may lead us to the acceptance of the partial inspiration theory,” “make us easy victims of modern pacifism, . . . or throw our people into reform and reconstruction movements for the abolition of war and military training.” In reply, Hershberger wrote at length about the need to treat the Old Testament without the errors of either “the modernists” or “the fundamentalists.” To that, Stauffer replied courteously, but without yielding. Hershberger, he objected, was giving himself too much liberty in the way he interpreted the Old Testament. If War, Peace, and Nonresistance treated Scripture so freely “it will bring [so much] contention within the Mennonite Church” that “we will need some pacifists to pacify the nonresistant people.”
Evidently, in his rejoinder to Stauffer Hershberger aimed to: 1) refute any Fundamentalist or other theologically conservative use of the Old Testament to undermine pacifism; 2) find a way out of the dispensationalists’ ethical dualism; 3) present a case for pacifism that was still truly biblical and, in effect, compatible with belief in plenary inspiration; and 4) invite liberal pacifists back to a determined, uncompromising biblicism. A complication was that Hershberger and Stauffer were dealing with somewhat different expressions of sin. In general, Stauffer used a more personal concept. He wanted constantly to say that David or Elijah or whoever else in the Old Testament carried out God’s command to kill surely did not commit sin by obeying. Hershberger framed the question more in terms of the sinfulness of fallen humanity: how it accounted for human behaviors and the methods God condoned for the sake of order and a semblance of justice. To be sure, Hershberger did not advocate a social rather than a personal gospel: he certainly believed that righteousness began with individual conversion, regeneration, faithfulness and holiness. But as he gave his explanation of why the God of the Bible seemed at times to condone violence, he built his case mainly on the idea that inevitably, the consequences of sin ran through the sinners’ social and political systems.
Late in life Hershberger remembered that before the Publication Committee let his Old Testament article become a chapter in War, Peace, and Nonresistance, the piece went “through the fire.”  But not all the comment was so negative. Bender made various technical suggestions, including that Hershberger “should never say that God commanded wars in the O.T. ‘against his will.'” “Always qualify,” Bender advised, “by saying ‘his basic will.'” Samuel (S.F.) Coffman of Ontario, who was Fundamentalist in doctrine but irenic in spirit, still believed that when the Israelites fought ungodly nations they did so “in accordance with the Law given to Israel.” But Coffman was inclined to let the author of War, Peace, and Nonresistance have his say; after all, he reasoned, “the work is the product of Brother Hershberger.” Meanwhile, Chester (C.K.) Lehman of Eastern Mennonite School went a step further and declared himself rather convinced.
With such support, Hershberger and the book’s editors made only a few concessions. In effect he softened the idea that God actually “commanded” sinful acts, mostly by writing more often that God “permitted” them. Following Bender’s advice he toned down some direct assertions that those who obeyed such commands had sinned, writing instead that they had violated “God’s fundamental moral law.” One can read his changes as effort to find common ground with dispensationalists. But he did not change his basic interpretations.
The Peace Problems Committee and the Publication Committee agreed that their two chairmen, Harold Bender and Paul Erb, should do the final review of the manuscript. Hershberger’s relationships with those two men were such that he could be confident of approval. When Daniel Kauffman delegated his part in the decision to Erb, the way was clear. In October 1944, War, Peace, and Nonresistance left the press.
WAR, PEACE, AND NONRESISTANCE (1944)
In a letter to Bender early in 1943, Hershberger hoped that the book could be “a sort of Mennonite charter on nonresistance.” And when the book was finished, both men clearly regarded it that way. In a “Foreword” to it, Bender was sure texpressed the certainty hat Hershberger’s conclusions would meet with “almost universal endorsement” among readers “throughout the Mennonite Church.” In his own preface, Hershberger made clear that he meant to answer “fundamentalist militarists” and their case for war. But he also intended to address others: Modernist pacifists, who made Jesus the norm but were selective about which scriptures they accepted as inspired; and Niebuhrian “neo-orthodox dualists,” who accepted that Jesus had taught nonresistance but did not consider it “binding upon the Christian today.” Both Hershberger and Bender emphasized the dual purpose of strengthening nonresistance among Mennonites and giving a witness more broadly.
Hershberger’s first chapter, “War in Human History,” was typical of his general approach, in both substance and style. It found wars to have begun with Cain, then moved through medieval and modern warfare. Finally it commented on war in current and very secular times. Along the way it easily combined moralism and a direct kind of biblicism with analyses drawn from the social sciences and a fairly thoughtful grasp of secular history. Along with sin, Hershberger used social-science concepts such as economic forces to help explain war. The first chapter’s footnotes cited scriptural texts and the works of scholars with names such as Pitrim Sorokin, Wilhelm Pauck and H. Richard Niebuhr-but, rather oddly, no Anabaptist or Mennonite text. And while Hershberger’s treatment was adequate for the quick survey he intended, he did not really apply the tools of professional biblical studies or political science. By contrast, Hershberger very quickly entered the current debates among pacifists. Already in that first chapter he sketched arguments he would later develop about liberal pacifists with an insufficient view of human sin and about the great practitioner of nonviolent resistance in India, Mohandas (or Mahatma) Gandhi. Throughout the chapter, Hershberger’s style was winsome, his message clear. He selected his materials skillfully and wrote economical but effective prose. His tone carried no rancor against others’ positions, and he made his points implicitly rather than by pounding a pulpit.
The next several chapters developed Hershberger’s understanding of war in the Old Testament, and largely repeated two other Mennonite Quarterly Review articles he published in 1943: “Peace and War in the New Testament” and “Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism.” In the chapter on the New Testament Hershberger began his case for nonresistance by grounding it in the doctrine of regeneration: the Christian is “a new creature” who “walks in newness of life.” Jesus set aside the Old Testament’s civil code and became the model for that regenerated life. Jesus also gave commands, specifically enjoining “the Christian not to resist him that is evil,” whether the evil one is a straying fellow Christian or a worldly enemy. Both Jesus and Paul set love as the standard for human relations. Hershberger built his case for nonresistance from the New Testament as a whole, not only from the Sermon on the Mount. Moreover, he offered biblical exegesis, not simple prooftexting.
Hershberger’s language and presentation were fresh; but by starting his case with the doctrine of regeneration, he effectively reinforced the traditional Mennonite two-realm view; for his premise was that if Christians indeed live holy lives, as new creatures, they will be set apart quite distinctly from the realm of fallen and sinful humanity. And without nuance or equivocation, the same two-kingdom view ran through a section named “The Christian and the State,” which dealt with what the New Testament did or did not teach about the political order.
Christians and Church Vis–vis the Political Order
“The state,” Hershberger wrote flatly, is an agency “for the administration of justice by means of force and [for the maintenance of] order . . . in an evil society.” “It is not motivated by Christian love.” By contrast, Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world. And the Sermon on the Mount is “a set of principles to govern the members” of that kingdom. It “is not a piece of legislation for a secular state in a sinful society.”
But had Paul not said that rulers were ministers of God? To answer that standard objection, Hershberger turned to the same natural-law-of-cause-and-effect argument he had used to explain “commands” in the Old Testament. In order to restrain evil in sinful society, “society has found it necessary to organize a state and appoint rulers with the power of coercion.” Rulers are ministers of God “only in the sense that they help to bring evildoers to the consequence of their own evil” and thus carry out natural cause-and-effect. And as that happens, the state often “uses one evil to check another.” Much as Hershberger had reasoned about Israel’s violence in the Old Testament, he now argued that even if God used present-day nations for divine purposes, their warfare still was sin. How should the Christian relate to the state? The Christian’s “own conduct must be righteous and not evil.” Christians must obey the laws designed to maintain order and be in subordination to the state as Paul had taught. They must “do nothing to hinder the state in its purpose.” Yet such obedience applied only to the state’s role of maintaining order in worldly society; “if the state encroaches upon the church’s sphere, at that point the Christian is no longer bound to obey.”
As for running a state on New Testament principles, Hershberger wrote flatly that “the outlook of the New Testament is entirely unpolitical. It has nothing to say about how the affairs of state should be conducted.” And as for Christians taking charge, he insisted that the New Testament did not “suggest that the Christian should play any role in the state itself. It simply recognizes the place of the state and the obligations of the Christians toward it.” Later in life he would say he would now write such sentences differently. But in 1943 and 1944 he was unequivocal on the point (a standard point in his church).
Insofar as War, Peace, and Nonresistance addressed Christians (Mennonite or other) who wished to defend taking part in war, the article and chapter on the New Testament did invite controversy. For instance, with an argument based on the Jews’ situation under Roman rule-a contextual argument from sources other than the New Testament-Hershberger rejected any idea that Jesus’ “Render unto Caesar” or Paul’s “be subject to the higher powers” could have applied to performing military service. Or in an argument based directly on the New Testament, he rejected any idea that God wanted Christians to help deliver divine retribution. Yes, he acknowledged, Jesus’ own words taught “the wrath of God.” For instance, Jesus said that those who did not respond to the needs of the hungry, cold and naked would suffer everlasting punishment. But, Hershberger argued, “nowhere in the New Testament are members of the kingdom of God given any part in the execution of God’s wrath.”
Calling the Christian Church Back to its Original Pacifism
In speaking back to anyone who would defend warfare, Hershberger stated his position in a scholarly tone, not with shrill polemics. The same was true of the following chapter, called “Peace, War, and the State in the History of the Church.” In effect, that chapter made a case against churches who would condone war-not by attacking the position, but by offering a Mennonite version of church history. Although the words “State” and “Church” appeared in the title, the chapter’s main concern was not an academic, political-science analysis of church and state; it was the faithful church. To emphasize that the early church was pacifist, Hershberger drew less on scriptural exegesis than on a book that had long been a favorite of both John Horsch and Edward Yoder, namely The Early Christian Attitude on War, by an English Quaker named C. John Cadoux. His analysis strongly emphasized the pacifism of the early church and the falling away at the time of the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century A.D., and even more “the gradual growth of moral laxness during this period.”
Near the chapter’s end, Hershberger briefly introduced his readers to the three historic peace churches. Although small, he wrote, “they have exercised an influence down through the centuries which is far out of proportion to their numbers.” In the next several chapters he elaborated that last point by focusing on Mennonite history, first European and then American. To do so he drew heavily on writings of John Horsch but also on those of the far less conservative, less anti-Modernist General Conference Mennonite historian C. Henry Smith.
Regarding Mennonites in America, Hershberger argued that before the U.S. Civil War they had grown complacent and done poorly at preparing their people, especially their youth, for wartime. But between the Civil and the First World Wars the M.C. church had enjoyed a “great awakening.” The “awakening” had stimulated church organization and publishing, and the new agencies prepared Mennonites much better for World War I than they had been for the Civil War. Hershberger believed further that when World War I had actually come, Mennonite groups had exerted “diligent efforts to assist their members in this time of trial.” (“Diligent” was a word that not all younger Mennonites who had been interned in military camps would have used.)
In telling of North American Mennonites’ experiences in World War I, Hershberger did not construct a strong argument against noncombatant service within the military. Instead, he wrote as if rejecting it was an axiom for Mennonites, to be taken simply for granted. He did criticize church leaders at some length for not doing more to develop and ask government for alternative service programs apart from the military. Then he shifted to another set of topics: the birth of Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonites’ various programs of postwar relief, especially in Europe, the Near East, the Soviet Union and elsewhere. Throughout history, he wrote, “ministering to the needs of suffering humanity” had been an activity that Mennonites had “closely associated with the principle of nonresistance.”
In his chapters on Mennonites and their pacifism in North America, Hershberger offered history more than direct argument. But gradually, he was developing a case for a biblical nonresistance that expressed itself positively through church programs of compassion and service rather than through much political activism.
Having told of Mennonites’ interwar relief efforts, Hershberger turned to their preparations for World War II-preparations that (through cooperation with other peace churches) had culminated in the alternative-service program, Civilian Public Service, or C.P.S. That story did include some political activism, beginning with a petition sent to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 against a congressional bill for universal (male) military training. For that petition, an M.C. committee had collected 20,000 signatures. Hershberger told of the formation of the Peace Problems Committee, which from 1927 onward addressed three main tasks: (1) to strengthen nonresistance among Mennonites themselves; (2) to keep government officials apprised of the M.C. church’s views and, in turn, to inform church members about legislation on certain topics; and (3) to give a peace witness beyond Mennonite circles. He continued with a brief account of peace committees among various other Mennonite groups and told of efforts by Historic Peace Church conferences and by Mennonite Central Committee to develop alternative service, efforts that ultimately led to C.P.S. Once again he coupled the account of Mennonite draft-exemption with the more positive side of Mennonite pacifism, namely work for war sufferers and other relief efforts. However, he did not address the question of Mennonite witness to government. At most he wrote vaguely that “officials should be frequently informed of the convictions of nonresistant people on war and peace.”
Running through the chapters on the history of Mennonite pacifism in North America was a connecting thread: overall, North America’s Mennonites had remained true to the nonresistant faith. Of course, some of Hershberger’s points were open to controversy. Nonetheless, with his more historical chapters in place, Hershberger turned once more to argument.
More About Nonresistance Vis–vis Politics
Hershberger offered quite a political chapter, called “Nonresistance and the State in Modern Life.” His basic definition of the state focused narrowly on its coercive character: “an organization for the maintenance of law and order by means of coercion, in a sinful society.” Even if much as some states might profess to be “Christian,” he insisted, “there never has been anything like a truly Christian state on a national scale. . . . At best we have states governing sinful society which contain individual Christians.” To him it was obvious that a “nonresistant Christian cannot wield the sword for the state.” “One cannot be the state’s hangman and obey the Sermon on the Mount” or be “nonresistant and resistant at the same time.” As usual, Hershberger used the term “nonresistant,” not “pacifist.” He accepted both as biblical, but in practice “pacifism” often included nonviolent resistance. Had Hershberger used the more inclusive word, his point would have been less self-evident.
Thinking more like a historian than a political scientist or a theologian of social ethics, Hershberger developed his political argument by referring to the Anabaptists. Anabaptists, he said, understood that with conversion they had become part of “the holy society.” As such, they “did not attempt to control the unregenerate society of the world,” which “was not capable of living a nonresistant life.” Although such remarks smacked of perfectionism, a more useful description is that he, like the Anabaptists, believed seriously in the doctrine of regeneration and wrote as if Christians should live accordingly, very practically as well as in spirit.
Despite his sharp distinction between church and state, Hershberger did not make the wall between Christians and some participation in government absolute. He briefly summarized the argument of his Ph.D. dissertation concerning Quakers’ inability to apply nonresistance to governing, when the majority of Pennsylvania’s people were not pacifist. But then he named three categories of Christians’ interaction with government, at least one of which allowed for certain kinds of participation. First, he discussed some state functions that, although “legitimate,” were off limits for the nonresistant Christian. Primarily, these were “jails, police, and a department of justice”; but by extension they also included executive or legislative roles that would put the Christian in charge of such matters. Hershberger’s test was noncoercion, not mere nonviolence. Yet by hinting that city and state governments might provide room for the nonresistant Christian to serve in “minor situations rather far removed from the use of coercive methods,” Hershberger did seem to recognize ambiguity and to leave a little space for discretion. (In his 1953 edition he would make the space a bit greater.)
Hershberger’s second category-“legitimate state functions in which the nonresistant Christian may participate”-implied even more ambiguity and need for discretion than his first. Here Hershberger’s examples included education, public health, firefighting, road building, forestry, soil conservation and scientific research. Instead of defending such activities as benevolent (rather than coercive), he observed that Christians had done many of these before the state had taken them over; so why should they not continue them, even within government? Hershberger was very clear about the need for discretion. For example, he reasoned that a nonresistant Christian could be a postal worker but not use a gun to protect the mails, and that a nonresistant Christian might teach in a state school but might need to resign if called upon to promote war. This second category clearly implied that Hershberger thought government did not just punish evildoers and “bear the sword”-it also promoted social welfare. Thus he moved somewhat beyond seeing coercion as the essence of government.
Hershberger then moved to a third category: an area where Christians operated and the state should not intrude. If Christians should render some things to Caesar, some other things belong only to God. Thus, the state has no business in “religion, conscience, and the home.” If it tries to exert control in those areas, it is “demanding what does not belong to it.” Here, too, Hershberger might have written of ambiguity: What, for instance, about state interference if parents or spouses are abusive? What if racists or thugs use religion to justify violence against other citizens? But instead of examining such cases, Hershberger pointed to “modern totalitarian states [which] attempt to dominate the whole of life.” Citing the way such states manipulate education, he warned that both the church and the individual Christian had to be “on guard [as the Anabaptists had been] against such illegitimate encroachments. . . .”
Had Hershberger looked for cases where democratic governments had encroached wrongly, he might have discovered some further ambiguity. But probing for ambiguities or other anomalies in Mennonite ethical beliefs was not his purpose. He was articulating what he understood to be essential biblical ethics. His priority was biblical faithfulness, not a philosophically perfect system.
In response to any ambiguities or anomalies, Hershberger’s preferred solution was for the church to develop strong programs of its own. He neither deplored state encroachment in various kinds of benevolence nor denounced the modern welfare state. In a statement that was politically charged in the wake of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” of the 1930s, he wrote explicitly that programs such as Social Security, unemployment insurance and loans to farmers “would seem to be legitimate functions of the state.” But he also argued that when other institutions did well at providing various benefits, they lessened “the danger that the state will encroach upon those areas where it ought not to operate.” Therefore, the church as well as the state ought to provide programs of education, health care, relief and reconstruction.
By having such programs, wrote Hershberger, the church would “be doing much to save its own life.” That statement epitomized a central strain of logic for a Mennonite Community movement, which Hershberger had increasingly promoted since 1939. Also, it was in line with one of his lifelong themes: intellectual enthusiasm for a pattern by which, since late in the nineteenth century, the M.C. church had built an array of institutions. And the statement fit the logic of “alternative” systems, as with C.P.S. Again in this section of the book, Hershberger did not probe for ambiguities or explore any of the potential ethical conundrums associated with the church’s efforts to run its own institutions and programs.
The Political and Social Relevance of Nonresistance
If Hershberger ignored ambiguities, he did look for political relevance. He believed that even as the programs he had in mind would help the church, they would also “strengthen democracy in America.” In a chapter section he titled “The Contribution of Nonresistance to Society,” Hershberger addressed the charge that biblical nonresistance implied a renunciation of social and political relevance. Was a “definite detachment from political life” really “the best policy for Christians”? Could Christians not contribute more to “clean and good government” by working inside the government? “Is the nonresistant Christian a parasite living at the expense of organized society'” Such questions, he wrote, “are fair enough and deserve an answer.”
To answer, Hershberger drew from other writers as various as Edward Yoder, the ancient church father Origen, a nonresistant preacher in nineteenth-century New England named Adin Ballou and the well-known author T. S. Eliot. But before he did, he invoked a favorite principle of his life and thought: that the Christian’s first calling is to be faithful. After all, he wrote, “while the Christian has an obligation to his fellow men, his first obligation is necessarily to God.” If political activity kept the Christian from meeting that obligation to God, “it would better be sacrificed.” Nonetheless, he then insisted that “in this case at least, that which to some may be socially least useful is actually the contrary.” He agreed with Ballou: public officials were not “to be despised”; but nonresistant people, being highly moral and religious, were likely to “‘do quite as much good to town, state, or nation . . . as an equal number'” who made it their business to “‘manipulate and manage party politics.'”
In the end Hershberger invoked the New Testament metaphors of being the earth’s salt and a light set on a hill. In so doing, he came close to advocating what later generations would tout much more emphatically as “witness to the powers.” To be effective as salt, he reasoned, Christians have to make contact. And after all, they are part of the national community. Yes, there were “certain functions of the state which would compromise [the Christian’s] position.” But as part of the nation the Christian still had “an obligation to testify to officials of state [sic] and to his fellow citizens, both by word and deed, concerning the way of love as taught by Jesus Christ.” He also alluded to “justice”; and, without citing Reinhold Niebuhr, he moved on to the idea of responsibility. “If war is sin,” he wrote, then Christian people must make known the truth that it is sin. Or in the face of “racial discrimination and other forms of social injustice,” Christians had a “privilege and duty to set forth the way of love which does justice to all men, regardless of station, color, race, or creed.” Hershberger concluded his political chapter with a 1939 quotation from Edward Yoder: “‘To stand aloof in a self-righteous manner and assert that the sins and evils of the community are not our responsibility seems just a little like the action of the Pharisee who prayed in the Temple and proudly thanked God that he was not as bad as some other people.'”
Witness, justice, responsibility. In his chapter on politics Hershberger did not cultivate and grow those seminal ideas as some later Mennonite thinkers would do. But there, in the climax of his chapter, the seeds of the ideas were all present.
(Moreover, within a half-dozen years Hershberger was admitting that his 1944 book was not the last word on Christians’ relation to politics. At an inter-Mennonite gathering in November 1950 he admitted, regretfully, that on the subjects of the Christian and citizenship “War, Peace, and Nonresistance has only scratched the surface”; and if anyone wanted to examine more options for the Christian in these matters, he would be “more than grateful.” Late in life he objected to any sweeping charge that he had taught political passivity. Mennonite founder Menno Simons had spoken “out boldly and prophetically to kings and rulers” about “righteousness, justice, and mercy,” he observed; but it was true, “I did not get this said in War, Peace, and Nonresistance.”
Nonresistance Vis–vis Other Sorts of Pacifism
Immediately following his chapter on politics Hershberger took up an extended comparison of “biblical nonresistance” and “modern pacifism.” The positioning was certainly no accident, for the book’s general view of political engagement dovetailed nicely with Mennonite doubts about much within early-twentieth-century American pacifism. Those doubts rested on theology more than on politics. Most M.C. leaders perceived Christian pacifists in the 1920s and 1930s to be theologically liberal or modernist; many of these leaders, like John Horsch, had vigorously denounced modern pacifism for its theological apostasy, even as they defended nonresistance.
Meanwhile, Hershberger had struck a somewhat softer chord. In a 1936 article whose title asked, “Is Modern Religious Liberalism a Force for Peace'”, he had answered “no.” But the basic argument behind his negative reply was more pragmatic than theological: when the World War had actually come, theologically liberal Christians had been as likely as Fundamentalists to support it.
In 1943 Hershberger published his more extended article in The Mennonite Quarterly Review on the same topic, “Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism.” He did so just as an “investigating committee” of his church’s general conference was addressing complaints that educational programs in C.P.S. camps needed to distinguish much more sharply between nonresistance and pacifism. Early in that discussion Ernest Gehman, a professor at Eastern Mennonite School in Virginia, had circulated a seven-page letter with the title “Gospel Nonresistance Versus Popular Pacifism.” And in mid-1944, just before War, Peace, and Nonresistance was off the press, John R. Mumaw, a theology teacher at the Virginia school and a denominational leader, published yet another treatise on the same topic, as a pamphlet and in the Gospel Herald. As chairman of the Peace Problems Committee, Harold Bender wrote a brief introduction to “heartily commend” Mumaw’s piece “to all.” He called it “a valuable contribution.”
Hershberger and Mumaw both contrasted a politically oriented pacifism with a biblical and spiritual nonresistance whose methods were not political. Each had a section rejecting the nonviolent resistance of India’s independence leader Gandhi, who was inspiring politically active pacifists. Broadly speaking, both wrote sectarian pieces. Yet their tones were different.
Early in his pamphlet, Mumaw conceded that both “pacifism” and “nonresistance” were words from the Bible. Moreover, he admitted that as philosophies the two shared “some common ground”: putting love at the center, looking to arbitration to settle disputes, promoting “the spirit of good will,” etc. But then Mumaw turned to the differences, and drew them ever more distinctly. His published title, Nonresistance and Pacifism, was simpler and crisper, but less nuanced, than Hershberger’s “Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism.” As his treatise approached its climax Mumaw listed characteristics of the two philosophies in side-by-side columns, with the effect of making the contrasts as terse and sharp as possible. He immediately followed those columns with a section whose title declared: “Pacifism and Nonresistance Are Incompatible.” And at the climax of that section he wrote that while nonresistant people certainly would be glad if political action achieved peace, they knew that “such a peace can come only by the mighty intervention of God and the Prince of Peace.” So their concern was “obedience to the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. This is a task quite different from setting up a world political order of peace among all nations. . . .”
On the surface, Hershberger’s position on the issue had much in common with Mumaw’s; but Hershberger’s tone was far less definite and declarative and his approach more historical. Referring to a statement on war, peace and military service that the M.C. general conference had issued in 1937, Hershberger observed that “between the lines one can read [a recognition] that a government operating in a sinful society may find it necessary to do some things not in accord with the Christian ethic. Therefore,” he continued, the 1937 statement “does not attempt to say what the government policy shall be.” He thought, however, that it “definitely challenged [government officials] to recognize the nonresistant demands of Christ upon those who would be Christians.”
Unlike Mumaw, who declared that the nonresistant Christian “does not dispute the state’s right to declare war,” Hershberger emphasized the church’s call to be a witness to God’s standard of nonresistance. And in contrast to Mumaw’s very crisp juxtaposition of philosophies, Hershberger built his case mainly by discussing the history of pacifism. He sketched some nineteenth-century American pacifist thought. He told briefly of various historic proposals for structures to maintain international peace, ranging from a French plan in the fourteenth century to the League of Nations established in the wake of World War I. He included Quaker thought, along with a discussion of “liberal Protestant pacifism” and that of the early-twentieth-century social-gospel movement. Then he contrasted those pacifisms with nonresistance as set forth in the M.C. statement of 1937.
Along the way Hershberger, like Mumaw, observed that both the terms “pacifism” and “nonresistance” were biblical. In discussing liberal Protestant pacifists, he admitted that the influential nineteenth-century Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing, for instance, “represented a new type of Christianity which drew its strength in part from the New Testament.” But he believed that Channing was “too optimistic as to the possibilities for social progress through the mere application of human intelligence.” With such comments Hershberger, of course, stayed in line with traditional Mennonite belief. Indeed, his comments were compatible with traditional Christian orthodoxy, with Fundamentalism, and with “neo-orthodox” and “Christian realist” views that the theologians Karl Barth, Reinhold Niebuhr and others had developed in the 1920s and 1930s.
Also along the way, Hershberger gradually developed two major assertions: that nonresistants could not draw much distinction between police forces and armies; and that from the perspective of biblical nonresistance, political pacifisms either were not really nonresistant or at least ended up compromising biblical principles. He conceded that “the motives of an international police force to punish an outlaw nation” were different from those of an army led by “an irresponsible conqueror.” But, he reasoned, whether the action was by an army or by an international police force “the resulting violence and bloodshed” was very similar. He was sure that “an international government” along the lines of the League of Nations “could not operate on nonresistant principles. So a nonresistant Christian could hardly take part in its administration.”
Rejecting Gandhi and Nonviolent Resistance
In a historic point that Hershberger would soften later in life, War, Peace, and Nonresistance flatly rejected nonviolent resistance and very specifically the teachings, already popular among pacifists, of India’s Mahatma Gandhi.
Once again Hershberger drew the line not at violence but at coercion. He rejected coercion even if it was nonviolent. In the case of Gandhi he emphasized that although the Indian mahatma (man of noble wisdom) had been much impressed with Jesus, he remained Hindu. At the core of the mahatma’s thought was a Hindu concept of “the power of suffering”; but that concept was different from the Christian concept that Christ “suffered a sacrificial death to expiate” human guilt. Gandhi’s “special contribution” was to apply an “idea of victorious suffering to political relationships.” So the Indian leader was not submitting in the way Jesus had taught in the phrase “‘Render . . . unto Caesar’,” or as Paul had taught in the Romans 13 passage “‘be subject . . . [to government] for conscience sake.'” Even when the Christian had to disobey government because the state was making demands that conflicted with those of God, the Christian way was to refuse “in the spirit of humility and love, and without the use of pressure methods to force the government’s hand. This is nonresistance.” Hershberger labeled Gandhi’s approach-his refusal to pay taxes, his attempts “to embarrass British rulers,” his use of various other pressures short of violence-as “quite the opposite view. . . . This is nonviolent resistance.”
The reason so many religious pacifists embraced Gandhi’s thought, Hershberger suggested, was that the social and political change they sought was elusive “without the use of force”; and since they saw strikes and boycotts “and other forms of compulsion as less objectionable than physical violence,” they turned to those means. In fairness, he acknowledged, one must admit that “the nonviolent coercionists do not go as far as the militarists do.” Strikes and boycotts were certainly less evil “than the shedding of blood with musket, sword, and bomb.” Yet they were not Christ’s way of going the second mile. Instead, they were methods “to compel the enemy to comply.” Moreover, “Gandhi also resorts to non-co-operation as a means of making the state powerless, or to end the present political system.” In contrast nonresistant Christians, even when they had to defy the state, did not do so “to destroy the power of the state.” If their actions had any influence in that direction, such an effect “would be altogether incidental to [their] positive program of obedience to God.”
Except perhaps for fasting, prayers, negotiation and arbitration, wrote Hershberger, Gandhi’s techniques “have a strange sound to Mennonite ears.” Even if Gandhi’s techniques avoided bloodshed, that avoidance did “not do away with the fact that nonviolent resistance is resistance.”
THE ISSUE OF JUSTICE
As Hershberger discussed nonviolent resistance, he realized that he must face the question of how nonresistance related to efforts for justice. What he had to say would go to the crux of his career; for if Hershberger accomplished anything in life, it was to widen the application of Mennonite nonresistance from a doctrine mainly of nonparticipation in war to an ever-expanding conscience regarding a range of political, social and economic questions. As he wrote about “justice” in War, Peace, and Nonresistance Hershberger obviously chose his language carefully. Between his 1943 article contrasting nonresistance and modern pacifism and the appearance of the book the following year, he substantially rewrote several key paragraphs on the topic of justice. “The attitude taken toward the question of social justice,” he concluded in the book, is “perhaps the crucial point of difference between Biblical nonresistance and nonviolent coercion.” Once more, coercion was his key test.
Hershberger thought that there was no reason for a Christian not to seek justice for oneself; in the New Testament, the apostle Paul had done so. But any such effort had to use “Christian means.” “From Paul’s teachings we may be sure that he used no “pressure devices to compel the authorities. . . .” Hershberger pointed also to “vigorous testimony” by the Old Testament prophets “against the social injustice of their time.” And he quoted New Testament passages in favor of justice and mercy.
Then Hershberger set forth what was to become perhaps the most famous sentence of the entire book (and in later decades, a most controversial one): “It should be noted here, however, that the emphasis in these Scriptures is on doing justice rather than on demanding justice.”
In the two or three decades before War, Peace, and Nonresistance, some Mennonite writers had been fairly sensitive to issues of social justice. Others had given them short shrift, reasoning that laws can never change hearts or that the solution to social or economic ills was spiritual change. Quite a few writers used the term “justice” only to discuss the punishment of wrongdoers. Apparently no M.C. commentator, not even the astute Edward Yoder, ever took up the question of justice, either biblical or political, as a topic to explore and explicate deeply. To be sure, in 1935, reviewing books in The Mennonite Quarterly Review about Gandhi and about liberal Christian pacifists, Yoder almost seemed to accept the challenge. Rather boldly, he warned against nonresistance of “the retiring, comparatively inactive, introverted type”-for, he wrote, it was “often tinged with defeatism” and hardly seemed like “the zealous, aggressive activity” of “the primitive Christian church.” Even more boldly, he referred to exploring “the possibilities” of solving “social, economic, and moral problems” through strategies “in the direction of aggressive love and non-violent resistance.” Such exploration was “a frontier where pioneering of the first order is urgently needed.” Yet Yoder seems never to have explored the subject of justice thoroughly or systematically. Nor, apparently, did anyone else who might have been Hershberger’s mentor for the topic. So when Hershberger made a brief but pungent analysis of what nonresistance implied for justice, he was at least opening the topic for discussion.
Hershberger’s formula-to do justice, not demand it-seems to have evolved over time. He may have taken it partly from his reading of Reinhold Niebuhr’s landmark book Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932). A passage in his master’s thesis (1925) had the basic idea, but neither there nor in his dissertation ten years later did he specifically take up the relation between nonresistance and justice. In 1936, in an article that summarized the dissertation, he remarked, in quite a Niebuhrian tone, that “ideals of social justice can seldom be fully achieved without the exercise of political power. Hence the pursuit of freedom involves a struggle for power which sacrifices the principle of love.” By 1941, Hershberger was facing the matter of justice directly. In “The Spirit of Nonresistance: Justice or Peace'” (a short piece published in a news sheet of the C.P.S. camp where he was educational director), he emphasized that war and militarism wreaked supreme injustices on people. Further, he observed that “the believer in peace and non-resistance almost instinctively takes his position on the side of justice.” And he quoted the well-known verse from the prophet Micah which asked, “‘What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God'” After that he laid down his formula. Remember, he warned, “the prophet puts the emphasis on doing justice, not seeking it. Seeking justice often leads to vengeance. . . .” That small, apparently off-the-cuff article seems to have been Hershberger’s first clear statement of his eventually famous formula. If it was, the do justice language came directly from the verse in Micah.
But why arrive at the formula in 1941? Two answers may well be C.P.S. and his strategy for labor relations. In C.P.S., pacifism took the form of service, that is, doing, not the path of challenging national policy, that is, demanding. As for labor relations, instead of encouraging the coercive demands of unions he insisted that Mennonite businesses should demonstrate model treatment of workers and that workers and managers should develop procedures so as to cooperate in harmony. Once again, he emphasized what to do, not what to demand.
Still, even in the early 1940s Hershberger had not produced any deep or extended study of the issue of justice. His camp-paper article covered less than a page. His treatment of the topic in his Mennonite Quarterly Review article and then in War, Peace, and Nonresistance covered less than three pages, or perhaps about thirteen if one includes two sections immediately following to discuss Gandhi and then “nonviolent coercion” as a way to redress racial injustice.
Nor did he address in any detail a very obvious and troublesome question, that of a “third party” victim. Even if one is nonresistant about demanding justice and rights for oneself, dare one refuse to make demands and apply pressure on behalf of others who are victims of injustice? If Hershberger took up the third-party question at all, he did so only indirectly. In his Mennonite Quarterly Review article on biblical nonresistance and modern pacifism and in the book itself, he wrote about William Lloyd Garrison, the famous pre-Civil War crusader for African-Americans’ rights and against slavery. He pointed out that while Garrison had opposed going to war, the crusader had actually contributed to the war by his manner of demanding justice. Thus Hershberger rejected Garrison’s approach. As he did, he passed over the fact that Garrison had demanded justice for (third-party) others, not for himself.
Hershberger included at least two sections in the book that explicitly addressed race relations. Speaking out on that topic was not entirely new in the Mennonite Church. Now, in War, Peace, and Nonresistance, Hershberger confessed that in “actual practice” (as compared to their “theory”), Mennonites all too often showed racism. Christians, especially nonresistant ones, he insisted, should not harbor race prejudice in either attitude or action. Instead, love should prevail “wherever nonresistant Christians and the despised people come in contact with each other.” At the level of social courtesy, white Christians should be ready to have “Negro ones” eat at their tables and “shake hands with a black brother as with one of his own race.” At an economic level, “a Christian employer” who was ready to “do justice and love mercy” would therefore be willing to hire “members of the black race” the same as those of “any other race.”
At the same time, as in his indictment of Garrison, Hershberger took his stand against exerting “nonviolent coercion, which is a form of warfare.” He admitted that certain organizations that used nonviolent tactics in race matters were resisting “very real” injustices. But their “pressure methods [were] designed to compel the opposition to submit.” As a kind of warfare, those methods were “not the way of love and nonresistance as taught in the New Testament.” In effect, Hershberger was making race relations a matter not so much of justice as of discipleship and personal holiness.
Surely Hershberger’s aphorism on doing rather than demanding justice was too easy, too formulaic. But Hershberger was never static in his thinking; and the conversation initiated in War, Peace, and Nonresistance at least opened up the question of justice for the ethics of Mennonites and all others who took his kind of biblical nonresistance seriously.
Indeed, in the decade following the first printing of the book Hershberger began cautiously to fuse the principle of justice with nonresistance. In July 1951 he presented a paper that called on Mennonites to reexamine a whole range of their social attitudes and behaviors from the perspective of social justice. Such reexamination was necessary, he insisted, in order to be consistent with opposition to war; for wars grow out of injustice. Moreover, by the end of the 1950s other Mennonites had begun to speak out and write on the topic of justice, none more probingly than J. Lawrence Burkholder, a former student of Hershberger and by then a colleague teaching religion and philosophy at Goshen. And by 1956, perhaps under Burkholder’s influence, Hershberger and a committee responsible for a series of Sunday-school studies used the title “Christian Social Justice” and began using the love-and-justice theme. Soon thereafter, Burkholder published a small treatise on the relation of love and justice, a favorite theme of Niebuhr.
Even if contemporary Mennonite ethicists may regard Hershberger’s formula on justice as inadequate, War, Peace, and Nonresistance opened the topic of justice for his church’s discussion. Although Hershberger himself did not actively shape the ensuing discussion, his work moved the conversation forward.
C.P.S. AND ITS ACCOMMODATION WITH CONSCRIPTION
In a descriptive analysis of conscientious objectors in World War II and their treatment, Hershberger gave an overview of the C.P.S. program and attitudes among its draftees.  Mennonites, he noted, composed some 40 percent of C.P.S. workers. And, mostly by quoting remarks from Mennonite units’ papers-such as “‘Service is a privilege! C.P.S. offers us an opportunity to serve our country [in a manner consistent with conscience]'”-he implied that the Mennonite draftees as well as church leaders were quite happy with the program. But he also noted several significant negatives. For instance, more than a third of Mennonite draftees had chosen to enter the armed forces, and even among those in C.P.S., the religion of too many seemed “formal” and devoid of “conviction.” He wrote even less favorably of Church of the Brethren camps and campers. His most critical remarks were reserved for Quaker camps. That was because draftees in Quaker-run camps had a special reputation for resistance, or at least vigorous protest, against the C.P.S. system, conscription itself, and in some cases any cooperation at all with the government regarding the military draft. Hershberger, of course, saw C.P.S. very differently, as a reasonable program designed precisely to respect the consciences of objectors. Yet he treated the objections seriously. At one point, for example, he commented that for those absolutists who acted from conscience against conscription itself, the only workable policy other than imprisonment would be complete exemption. If government did not grant it, then the absolutists were perfectly logical if they refused to register.
Hershberger went on to note a key editorial in Christian Century that charged the peace churches with violating their own principles when they cooperated so closely with Selective Service. The editor had argued that the arrangement violated separation of church and state, made church-appointed camp administrators a “part of the army machine,” turned them into “‘straw bosses’ for forced labor” and, in some situations, could make them “equally guilty with the state in violating conscience.” Hershberger replied that for Mennonites, “the basic issue is not conscription”; instead it was “the military service for which conscription is used.” Mennonites, he wrote, disliked conscription and saw dangers in it. But if conscripted for a kind of service “which violates no basic principle,” and if exempted from military service, they were ready to obey the law. As for administering the camps, Mennonites saw it as a way to satisfy the government and at the same time to “safeguard the religious life and convictions of their own men.” Mennonites did not believe that their camp administrators “assumed any responsibility for conscription,” nor did they see that they had entered “any unholy alliance between church and state.” Instead, they saw the arrangement as “the best solution under conscription which they could find” in line with their 400-year-old tradition of separating church and state.
Fundamentally, Hershberger based his arguments for C.P.S. on the conscience of the church rather than of the individual. And in keeping with his emphasis on holiness and discipleship, he judged by the intrinsic nature of the work that nonresistant Christians might be called to do rather than by the institutional and political context of that work. At the same time, he took a certain contextual and pragmatic approach: with conscription a reality, C.P.S. was “the best solution” the peace churches “could find.”
With this point Hershberger ended his chapters comparing biblical nonresistance to modern pacifism. He had kept the distinction clear. Any writer who wanted to speak on behalf of the M.C. church would have had to do that; but surely Hershberger did so sincerely. While he kept the distinction clear, he did not strike a tone of crusading against the heresies of other pacifists. By writing of complex varieties among pacifists and by approaching the contrast between biblical nonresistance and modern pacifism historically and descriptively rather than by sharp argument, Hershberger tended to soften the distinction.
Having explored the principles that distinguished biblical nonresistance from other forms of pacifism, Hershberger next turned to the question of how nonresistance might relate to various forms of social responsibility. A chapter titled “Nonresistance and Industrial Conflict” was essentially a revised version of the manifesto he had delivered in 1939 that set forth a good part of his social vision of the early 1940s. Then, quite logically, he followed that chapter with one titled “The Service of Nonresistance to Society.” His point was that Mennonite ethics was indeed socially responsible. He opened with quite a notable premise: that “Christian nonresistance . . . is one of the ethical teachings of the Gospel; it is not the Gospel itself.” The nonresistant Christian’s main responsibility, Hershberger admonished, was to obey the Master’s words “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . : teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Since the ethical life of the Christian must proceed from “regeneration through the atoning work of Christ . . . the first task of the nonresistant Christian is to maintain an unwavering testimony for the evangelical Christian faith, and to be on guard against any kind of pacifism or social service which has its roots in human philosophy, no matter how well it may be adorned by a veneer of Christian idealism.”
Hershberger was deeply committed to biblical nonresistance; efforts for peace were his life’s work. Yet he was not the kind of reductionist who made pacifism the sole test of discipleship and sound faith. Even as he spoke for an “evangelical Christian faith,” Hershberger insisted that Christians needed to embrace a “whole-gospel ethic.” And that ethic should set forth a full-orbed understanding of nonresistance. For instance, it should not address international conflicts but fail to speak to labor relations or other “common affairs of daily life.” Nor should pacifism settle for other halfway solutions, such as “mere improvement in international relations” or mere “substitution of nonviolent compulsion” in place of “physical force.”
To build his case that biblical nonresistants were indeed socially engaged and responsible, Hershberger replied first to fellow pacifists who charged that they were not. Nonresistant Christians were interested in “the social problems of the day,” he insisted; but they worked at those problems “with a different technique”-“through regeneration and discipleship, rather than through education and reformation.” To back that statement, he pointed to the Mennonite record of relief and other “works of mercy,” all carried out in the New Testament’s “spirit of love.”
Continuing his replies to anyone who accused biblical nonresistance of social irresponsibility, Hershberger included sections titled “Is the Nonresistant Christian a Parasite”; “Christian Nonresistance a Genuine Service to Society”; and “The Nonresistant Mennonites and Religious Freedom.” In the first he took up Reinhold Niebuhr’s views, replying especially to an assertion by Niebuhr that actually practicing nonresistance was “a form of asceticism.” Niebuhr had written further that practitioners of nonresistance were “a parasite on the sins of the rest of us, who maintain government and relative social peace and relative social justice.” To the parasite charge, Hershberger gave a simple but profound answer, one that became a theme of his writings: the Christian’s first calling is to be obedient and faithful to Christ, not to take responsibility for society. If one accepted the premise “that Christ speaks with authority from heaven, [then] only one thing remains, and that is to obey His command.” But such obedience was not in conflict with social conscience. No, “to the nonresistant Christian the evidence seems clear enough that the way of Christ is also the way which is best for human society.” So the person who is truly nonresistant “is not a parasite.” After all, Hershberger continued, “the use of force” was not “the highest service” the Christian could “render to society.” This was true even if Niebuhr was correct-which Hershberger conceded-in saying that force was “unavoidable in a sub-Christian social order.” Throughout history, Christians had made their contribution by leading humanity to greater piety and righteousness. Meanwhile, political empires had come and gone. “This is the point. The mission of nonresistant Christians is not a political one. It is rather a curative mission.” Hershberger recognized that the view he espoused would not satisfy those pacifists whose doctrine of God’s kingdom “anticipates the complete Christianization of the social order.” But Anabaptists and Mennonites had never expected that outcome.
Almost in passing, Hershberger had struck on two more themes running through his life and contribution. One was the strategy of witness rather than of political power. The other was giving a socially conscious version of Mennonites’ traditional two-realm theology.
With some grace, Hershberger ended his “Service of Nonresistance” chapter by softening his criticism of those who chose to apply pacifism directly to politics. He emphasized that “in their own way,” the nonviolent coercionists were “doing what they can for the improvement of the social order. . . . Their continuous challenge to militarism does serve a useful purpose. . . .” Even if people made the mistake of equating Gandhi’s methods with Christian ones, those methods were “less objectionable than the violence of the militarist. And who would not prefer a lesser evil to a greater one.” But after granting those concessions, Hershberger was sure that the apostles of nonviolent resistance “could do more good if they followed the nonresistant way. . . .” Only by obeying “the high and absolute standard of the New Testament itself” could one be obedient to God “and make the highest contribution to human society.”
CONCLUDING THE BOOK
The final chapter of Hershberger’s landmark book was “Keeping the Faith.” At some points it seemed rather like a kettle of leftovers: warnings to American Mennonites not to drift away from nonresistance the way European Mennonites had done; a brief segment linking nonresistance to nonconformity; an explanation of why, in Hershberger’s words and emphasis, “there is ultimately no such thing as noncombatant military service”; and exhortations to apply the principles of nonresistance to business relationships, race relations, ministry to the needy and more.
If those various points seemed rather miscellaneous, they also reiterated a distinctive theme: the need to personalize and internalize the nonresistant ethic and then to live it in relationships. Not hesitating to write of being biblical, or pious, or spiritual or evangelical, Hershberger in effect challenged nonresistant Christians to keep their ethical convictions rooted deeply in personal faith. He wrote also of the need for effective teaching: through nurture in the home, through knowledge of Mennonite history, through true Mennonite community and by deliberate peace education. Despite all his insistence on community, he still held individuals responsible. “Each individual member of the community,” he insisted, “must be led to settle the fundamental moral question of war and peace in his own mind and heart.”
Nonresistence, Hershberger reiterated at the book’s conclusion, “is a fruit, not a root. It is one of the teachings of the Gospel, not the Gospel itself.” To perpetuate their nonresistant faith, “nonresistant people [had to] give due attention to the teachings of the entire Gospel as found in the Word of God.” For his final statement, Hershberger quoted directly from the New Testament: that God’s Word would bear the “fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.”
* * * * *
War, Peace, and Nonresistance was not Hershberger’s last word; in some ways he continued to revise his thinking right up until his death in 1989. Already by its second edition, in 1953, he made some changes that, although subtle, could be significant, especially one suggesting more openness to political participation and one presenting nonresistance as integral to the Gospel itself rather than just as a fruit of the Gospel. But even if War, Peace, and Nonresistance was not Hershberger’s last word, it still was his most significant book. Especially in its first two to three decades, the volume enjoyed wide approval and currency in M.C. churches, within quite a few other branches of Mennonites and among various other readers who wanted to be both pacifist and biblical. Before the 1953 revision there was a reprint in 1946. In 1969 the publisher, Herald Press, issued a third edition, although with only a few changes in the main text, primarily to update some statistics. In 1981 Herald Press renewed the copyright; in 1980, 1984, 1991 and 1999 it issued further reprints; finally, in 2005, it let War, Peace, and Nonresistance go out of print.
For those first several decades Christian ethicists, pacifist or otherwise, tended to treat the book as if it were the definitive statement of Mennonite pacifism. And indeed, it was close to that, at least for the M.C. church. Because Hershberger was so much a churchman, and because War, Peace, and Nonresistance was a product not just of him alone but also of key denominational committees, the book articulated a mid-twentieth-century Mennonite ethical consensus. Nothing in it departed radically from basic M.C. beliefs and traditions. To a great extent, Hershberger simply stated those beliefs and traditions in new ways, setting them forth in newly coherent form. He undergirded them with broad scholarship. And he did so in a pleasing, readable and winsome style.
But even as he articulated a consensus, Hershberger used War, Peace, and Nonresistance also to move beyond the limits of most Mennonite thought about nonresistance. More than any other Mennonite writer before him, Hershberger began to apply biblical nonresistance to questions such as labor relations, community life and race. So even as he rearticulated the familiar, he also made the book an instrument of what was becoming his main life’s work: to push out the boundaries of Mennonites’ social consciousness; and beyond Mennonites, to call all Christians to a concern for social issues that was thoroughly biblical.
[*]Theron F. Schlabach is a professor of history emeritus at Goshen College, Goshen, Ind.
1. Guy Franklin Hershberger, War, Peace, and Nonresistance (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1944, rev. ed. 1953), respectively 415 pp. and 375 pp.
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. “M.C.” stands simply for “Mennonite Church” (sometimes nicknamed also the “‘old’ Mennonite Church”), which in Hershberger’s time was the largest denomination of Mennonites in North America, the one of which he was a member, and the main base of his career. Even though I wish that using the label were not necessary, in this article I use “M.C.” as the clearest way to show when a generalization or other statement does not necessarily apply to all Mennonites. (Since Hershberger’s time the M.C. branch has joined with the [“G.C.”] General Conference Mennonite Church to form two new denominations, the Mennonite Church USA and the Mennonite Church Canada).
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. In this article, I use a lowercase “f” for references to generic fundamentalism. By contrast, I use the uppercase for the specific, historic movement in Protestantism well-known as “Fundamentalism,” which began in North America in the latter decades of the nineteenth century, reached something of an apex in the 1920s, and continued with considerable vigor right to the present. Like many other denominations, Mennonites developed their own version of the historic movement. I use “Mennonite Fundamentalist” to indicate that even though certain people in Mennonite churches fit into the larger movement, they nonetheless were of the Mennonite variety, not exactly like the main advocates for the larger Protestant movement.
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. Guy F. Hershberger [hereafter sometimes referred to as GFH], “Is Modern Religious Liberalism a Force for Peace'” The Goshen College Record (Jan. 1936), 1-3; reprinted in Gospel Herald [hereafter GH] (Feb. 20, 1936), 994-995. Hershberger’s critique of theological liberalism reflected some influence from Reinhold Niebuhr, a highly influential ethicist at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Though he broke with Niebuhr on several crucial points, Niebuhrian thought provided powerful criticism of the liberal Protestant pacifism of the interwar years.-See esp. Reinhold Niebuhr, “Why the Christian Church Is Not Pacifist,” in Christianity and Power Politics (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940), 1-32.
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. GFH interviewed by Melvin Gingerich, Mar. 27 [Tape 1] and Apr. 3 [Tapes 2-4] 1975 at Glendale, Ariz., tapes and transcripts in GFH tape collection, Hist. Mss. 6-109-Tape 1, Side B; transcript p. 16. GFH to Orie O. Miller, Mar. 19, 1937; Miller to GFH, Mar. 24, 1937; both in f. 1, b. 14, of the Peace Problems Committee (PPC) collection, Orie O. Miller papers, Hist. Mss. I-3-5.3 [hereafter “AMC I-3-5.3”]. All of the above are in the Archives of the Mennonite Church USA, at 1700 S. Main St., Goshen, Ind. [hereafter cited as AMC].
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. PPC mins., Oct. 22, 1938, b. 7, AMC I-3-5.3; John L. Horst to GFH, Aug. 13, 1940, and GFH to Horst, Aug. 16, 1940, both in f. 13, b. 5; Guy F. Hershberger collection, Hist. Mss. 1-171, AMC [hereafter cited as “GFH papers”].
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. Guy F. Hershberger, Mennonites and Their Heritage, V: Christian Relationships to State and Community (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1942, 1945). Fifth booklet in a series prepared for educational programs in Civilian Public Service units. (Note: apparently the two editions were labeled “Second” and “Third,” with no first edition.)
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. Orie O. Miller to GFH, Feb. 19, 1942; GFH to Miller, two letters Feb. 28, 1942; all in f. 36, b. 1, collection of the [M.C. denominational] Committee on Economic and Social Relations (CESR; called the “Committee on Industrial Relations” [CIR] from 1939-1965; in 1965 the committee merged with the Peace Problems Committee to create the Committee on Peace and Social Concerns), Hist. Mss. I-3-7, Archives of the Mennonite Church at Goshen [hereafter cited as AMC I-3-7]. Harold S. Bender to GFH, Apr. 20, 1942; GFH to Bender; both in f. 15, b. 4, GFH papers. PPC mins., May 29, 1942, and bound with them: Harold S. Bender to GFH, Apr. 20, 1942; Bender to Ernest E. Miller, Apr. 20, 1942; Miller to Bender, Apr. 22, 1942; all in b. 7, AMC I-3-5.3. P. 861 of L[evi]. C. Hartzler, “School News: Goshen College,” GH (Dec. 31, 1942), 860-861.
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. John Horsch, The Principle of Nonresistance as Held by the Mennonite Church: A Historical Survey (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1927); Horsch, War and the Christian Conscience (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1939); Horsch, compiler, Symposium on War (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, printings 1927, 1940, 1944 and 1956), 43 pp.; regarding publication of those works, see material in boxes 14-15, AMC I-3-5.3. Edward Yoder (with Jesse W. Hoover and Harold S. Bender), Must Christians Fight: [sic] A Scriptural Inquiry (Akron, Pa.: Mennonite Central Committee, 1943, 1944). Guy F. Hershberger, Can Christians Fight? Essays on Peace and War (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1940). For some correspondence on publishing this book by Hershberger, see e.g. Orie O. Miller to A. J. Metzler, Oct. 23, 1939, f. 28, b. 5; C[layton]. F. Yake to GFH and others, Dec. 13, 1939, f. 21, b. 6; corresp. with C. B. Shoemaker, Aug. and Sept. 1940, f. 8, b. 6; all in GFH papers. Also see Orie O. Miller to H. S. Bender, Dec. 11, 1939, f. 4, b. 15, AMC I-3-5.3.
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. GFH to Alice Aeby, Mar. 7, 1944, f. “Relatives,” in box of personal papers kept by the late Clara Hooley Hershberger, spouse of GFH, now kept by their son Paul Hershberger, 1306 South Eighth Street, Goshen, Ind. Copy of GFH to A. J. Metzler, Oct. 17, 1944; copy of A. J. Metzler to GFH, Nov. 4, 1944; both in f. 3, b. 17, AMC I-3-5.3. P.S. on letter A. J. Metzler to GFH, July 17, 1944, f. 4, b. 17, GFH papers. PPC mins., Nov. 3, 1944, b. 7, AMC I-3-5.3. GFH to A. J. Metzler, Oct. 28, 1944, f. 2, b. 40, GFH papers.
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. At the outset the PPC had thought that the book might be controversial enough that it, rather than the official Mennonite Publishing House at Scottdale, Pa., would have to be its publisher. However, near the end of the process the publishing house accepted the project as its own.-Guy F. Hershberger interviewed by Leonard Gross, July 27, 1988, tape in Hist. Mss. 6-241, AMC-Side A at ca. 25-30 percent.
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. At a certain point Kauffman authorized Paul Erb, a Goshen College professor who was becoming editor of the Gospel Herald as Kauffman retired, to confer with Hershberger and put the manuscript to press whenever the two deemed it ready.-Daniel Kauffman to GFH, Aug. 25, 1943, f. 3, b. 40, GFH papers; GFH interviewed by Leonard Gross, July 27, 1988-Side A near beginning.
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. S[amuel]. E. Allgyer, “The Basis of the Christian Testimony Against War,” Christian Monitor [hereafter CM] (Mar. 1923), 72-73. For examples of the “many statements,” see J[ohn]. L. Stauffer, “Mennonites Neither Pro-Germans Nor Pacifists,” GH (Dec. 20, 1917), 698; John Horsch, “The Modernist View of Scripture,” GH (Jan. 20, 1927), 917-919; John H. Mosemann, “Bible Teachings About War,” GH (July 28, 1932), 354-355; “Before We Think,” GH (Sept. 24, 1942), 545.
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. Esp. pp. 185-187 of Edward Yoder, “Christianity and the State,” MQR 11 (July 1937), 171-195. J. Irvin Lehman, God and War (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1942), 46, 19-24; on capital punishment, 13-17, 46.
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. John Horsch, “Pacifism in the Light of the Biblical World View,” GH (Jan. 10, 1929), 850-851; (editorial) “Another World War,” CM (Oct. 1939), 297; Edward Diener, “Sunday School Lesson…: Micah’s Vision of Peace” (Micah 4:1-5, 5:2-5), GH (Apr. 11, 1940), 39.
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. E.g.: C[layton]. F. Derstine, “Comments on World News: The Nigger [sic] in the Chaco Fence,” CM (June 1934), 190; (editorial) “‘Wars and Rumours of Wars,” CM (Mar. 1938), 72; and esp., John H. Mosemann, “‘Wars and Rumours of Wars’ Continue,” GH (Apr. 4, 1935), 2.
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. The examples are far too numerous to list, but a small sample is: “Between Wars,” GH (Oct. 20, 1921), 563, 575; (editorial) Gospel Herald Mission Supplement (Oct. 1925; paginated with GH [Oct. 1, 1925]), 545-546; (editorial) “Cost of War,” GH (Apr. 27, 1933), 81; Mrs. Nathan Zimmerman [sic], “War Opposite to Christianity,” GH (Jan. 18, 1940), 906-907; (editorial) “War-Mindedness,” CM (Sept. 1940), 263; “B.” [Ezra Beachy], (editorial) Rural Evangel (Mar. 1942), 1. Although Clayton (C. F.) Derstine’s regular columns on world news in the CM from the 1920s to the 1940s were a goulash of sometimes conflicting ideas, they quite consistently warned against war spirit and preparations.
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. E.g.: (editorial) “Christ’s Peace Teaching,” YCC (June 1, 1924), 172; summary of address by Samuel (S.F.) Coffman, “Propagating the Peace Principles of the New Testament,” in “Ontario Conference [June 3-4, 1926],” GH (June 24, 1926), 285-286; Orie O. Miller, “Our Peace Policy,” MQR 3 (Jan. 1929), 26-32; C[layton]. F. Derstine, “Comments on World News: Our Testimony of Peace Amid a War-Torn World,” CM (June 1932), 187-188. As World War II approached, one can perhaps detect a shift away from giving such testimony; increasingly, the trend was to publish admonitions to stand firm in the nonresistant faith.
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. The Peace Problems Committee did so from time to time, but cautiously, knowing that strong voices in the church disapproved. For a summary, see GFH, “The Committee on Peace and Social Concerns (of the Mennonite Church) and Its Predecessors” (Dec. 1, 1966), and “Questions Raised Concerning the Committee on Peace and Social Concerns (of the Mennonite Church) and Its Predecessors” (Jan. 20, 1967), both in f. 10, b. 26, GFH papers.
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. E.g., John Horsch, “The Early Christian Attitude Toward War and the Magistry,” GH (Jan. 3, 1929), 818-819; Horsch, “Pacifism in the Light of the Biblical World View,” GH (Jan. 10, 1929), 850-851; J. M. Shank, “‘A Time to Kill and a Time to Heal,” CM (Aug. 1943), 235-236, 255-256; John R. Mumaw, Nonresistance and Pacifism (Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1944), 18; Almeta Hilty, “The Christian’s Attitude Toward War,” YCC (Sept. 1, 1940), 276, 280.
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. E.g., Bernard B. Kautz, “Nonresistance,” GH (June 6, 1940), 202; (editorial) Rural Evangel (May 1942), 1. However, in 1942 a Gospel Herald editorial that cautioned against antagonizing government also warned explicitly against saying God really willed for nations to go to war. It even went on to reject ethical dualism. For it observed that “nowhere in the New Testament do we read of God commanding nations to do what He forbids the Church to do.” (Editorial) “In Our Loyalty,” GH (Aug. 27, 1942), 465.
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. As a radio preacher Epp often espoused a Fundamentalist dispensationalism. See esp. Theodore H. Epp (comp.), Prophetic Nuggets (Lincoln, Neb.: Back to the Bible Publishers, 1952); Epp (comp.), A Brief Outline of Things to Come (Chicago: Moody Press, 1952); Epp, God’s Program for Israel (Lincoln, Neb.: Back to the Bible Publishers, n.d.); Epp, Moses. Vol. IV: Moses’ Greatest Moments (Lincoln, Neb: Back to the Bible, 1976).
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. E-mail from J. Edgar Ferrer (reference librarian at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), Jan. 14, 2003; Theodore H. Epp, Should God’s People Partake in War? ([Newton, Kan.:] “Printed by Herald Pub. Co.”; n.d.-1938?). The second argument is developed much better in Millard C. Lind, Yahweh Is a Warrior: The Theology of Warfare in Ancient Israel (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1980).
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. J. Irvin Lehman, “Teachers and Teachings: A Criticism of the Article ‘Peace and War in the Old Testament,'” The Sword and Trumpet (July 1943), 28-31; J. L. Stauffer to Harold S. Bender, June 19, 1943, f. 3, b. 40, GFH papers.
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. John L. Stauffer, “‘Is God Unrighteous Who Taketh Vengeance? God Forbid for Then How Shall God Judge the World. Rom. 3:5, 6” (5 typed ds pp.), f. 4; GFH to J. L. Stauffer, July 20, 1943, f. 3; both in b. 40, GFH papers.
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. John L. Stauffer, “‘Is God Unrighteous Who Taketh Vengeance? God Forbid for Then How Shall God Judge the World. Rom. 3:5, 6,” f. 4; GFH to J. L. Stauffer, July 20, 1943, f. 3; John L. Stauffer to H. S. Bender and GFH, July 24, 1943, f. 3; all in b. 40, GFH papers.
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. Hershberger mentioned Gandhi on his very first page. When he did, he followed the idea that what defined pacifism was noncoercion rather than nonviolence; and on that basis, he asserted that Gandhi was really employing another form of warfare. At the end of his historical sketch he lamented that recent pacifists who hoped that human progress would bring a warless world simply “did not give sufficient consideration to the sinfulness of man and his need of redemption.”
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. Edward Yoder, Edward, Pilgrimage of a Mind (1985), 163 (May 23, 1933 entry). Edward Yoder, “Peace Principles from a Scriptural Viewpoint,” GH (July 20, 1933), 350-352; (Oct. 18, 1934), 643-644. Edward Yoder, “Christianity and the State,” MQR 11 (July 1937), 184-195. War, Peace, and Nonresistance (1944), 58-61, 67.
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. Ibid., 100-102, 104, 105; for Hershberger’s strongest statement of this subject, see: Guy F. Hershberger, “Mennonites in the Civil War,” MQR 18 (July 1944), 131-144. It may be that Hershberger was judging those Mennonites too much by whether they had published peace literature; after all, on the eve of the Civil War Mennonites and Amish had taught their principles and nurtured their children through an oral culture. I have made this point at greater length in Theron F. Schlabach, Peace, Faith, Nation: Mennonites and Amish in Nineteenth-Century America, The Mennonite Experience in America vol. 2 (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1988), 175-176.
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. P. 85, Aug. 23, 1918, entry in Jacob C. Meyer, “Reflections of a Conscientious Objector in World War I,” MQR 41 (Jan. 1967), 79-96; see also pp. 89-90, Oct. 25-26, 1918, entry; p. 92, Nov. 27, 1918, entry; and p. 93, Dec. 8, 1918, entry. Although Meyer’s MQR piece has the appearance of a genuine dairy, the MQR explained that it really was a reconstruction from encrypted notes and letters that Meyer wrote at the time; moreover, the Aug. 23 entry (p. 85), shows evidence that he inserted later information. For a piece by Meyer very critical of church leadership, see: Jacob C. Myer [sic], “The Supreme Moment,” GH (Feb. 6, 1919), 804. Also Payson Miller, “A Brief History of Nonresistance,” The Christian Exponent (Mar. 28, 1924), 103-104; “The Cradle of Nonresistance,” The Christian Exponent (Apr. 25, 1924), 135-136.
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. The literature on formation of C.P.S. is extensive. See esp. Albert N. Keim and Grant M. Stoltzfus, The Politics of Conscience: The Historic Peace Churches and America at War, 1917-1955 (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1988), 56-126; and Paul Toews, Mennonites in American Society, 1930-1970: Modernity and the Persistence of Religious Community, Mennonite Experience in America vol. 4 (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1996), 107-183.
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. Ibid. (1953), 161. In 1953 he still wrote of the difficulty for any truly nonresistant person to hold a major office, but then noted that “exceptions to the rule” suggested “caution . . . against declaring it impossible.” Oddly, in both editions Hershberger totally bypassed the question of whether nonresistant people should or even could vote in civic elections.
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. Guy F. Hershberger, “The Disciple of Christ and the State,” in “Report of the M.C.C Peace Section Study Conference Held at Winona Lake, Indiana, November 9-12, 1950” (mimeographed), 53; Guy F. Hershberger, “Comments on Sawatsky’s Thesis,” 142.
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. E.g., letter obviously from John Horsch, to C. L. Graber, July 26, 1926 [sic-but has to be from 1928]; John H. Mosemann to Horsch, July 3, 1928; Mosemann to Horsch, Nov. 27, 1926; all in f. 6, b. 26, GFH papers. Also: Horsch, “The Modern Pacifist Movement Considered in the Light of the Writings of the Early Church Fathers,” GH (Oct. 28; Nov. 4; Nov. 11, 1926), 663-666, 674-675, 707; Horsch, “A Few Questions Regarding the ‘Conference of Pacifist Churches,'” GH (Oct. 20, 1927), 650-652; Horsch, “Gandhi, His Teaching and His Attitude Toward Christianity,” GH (June 4, 1931), 210-212, 221-222; Mosemann, “Shall the Mennonite Church Join the Modern Peace Movement'” GH (July 5, 1928), 274-276; etc. See also Paul Erb, “Nonresistance and Pacifism Compared,” GH (Jan. 21, 1926), 888.
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. Guy F. Hershberger, “The Mennonite Attitude and the Modern Peace Movement as Illustrated by the St. Louis Meeting of the World Alliance,” MQR 2 (Apr. 1928), 111-118, esp. 115-117; Hershberger, “Is Modern Religious Liberalism a Force for Peace'”
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. Two versions of the committee’s report, virtually identical in wording are: “Report of the Civilian Service Investigating Committee,” in Mennonite General Conference Report (Aug. 18-24, 1943), 45-49, and “Report of Civilian Service Investigating Committee” (mimeographed, 5 pp.), f. 14, box 36, Hershberger papers within Peace Problems Committee collection, AMC I-3-5.7. Some other materials on the committee are in folders 26, 62, 63, and 90 of b. 36, AMC I-3-5.7, and some in f. 12, b. 8, AMC I-3-5.3.
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. Once again, that position did not depend only on Mennonite thinking, since it was a strain both in the broader pacifist movement and in Reinhold Niebuhr’s critique of pacifism.-See Clarence Marsh Case, Non-Violent Coercion: A Study in Methods of Social Pressure (New York & London: The Century Company, 1923), and Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1932, 1960), 259.
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. Hershberger, “Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism,” 130; War, Peace, and Nonresistance (1944), 220. The article has only the last sentence, “This is nonresistance,” whereas the book adds several more lines.
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. Hershberger, “Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism,” 130-131; War, Peace, and Nonresistance (1944), 220. However, instead of “nonviolent resistance” in the quot., the article says “exactly the opposite view.” I consider the change a slight softening.
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. Hershberger, “Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism,” 132-133; War, Peace, and Nonresistance (1944), 222-223. For a very different interpretation that presents Jesus’ words about going the second mile as an injunction to engage in nonviolent resistance, see pp. 106-111 of Walter Wink, The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 224 pp.
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. E.g., (editorial) “The Tide of Lawlessness,” CM (Jan. 1923), 6-7; Andrew L. Glick, “A Few Things Most Surely Believed Among Us,” GH (Jan. 19, 1928), 926-928; “Riches and Poverty” (originally in The Alliance Weekly), GH (Jan. 26, 1933), 923-924.
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. E.g., John Horsch, “Pacifism in the Light of the Biblical World View,” GH (Feb. 7, 1929), 962; part of a longer series that appeared in GH (Jan. 10, 17, 24, 31; Feb. 7, 14, 21, 1929), 850-851; 866; 898-899; 915; 930-931; 962-963; 978-979, 988-989; John H. Mosemann, “Nonresistance,” GH (Feb. 28, 1929), 994; “Bible Meeting Topic: The Nature of God-Love and Justice . . . Topic for April 18,” GH (Apr. 8, 1937), 39.
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. Edward Yoder, reviews of Richard B. Gregg, The Power of Non-Violence (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1934), and of Walter W. Van Kirk, Religion Renounces War ([n.p.]: Willett, Clark & Co., 1934) in MQR 9 (Jan. 1935), 60-61 and 62-64, respectively.
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. I make this statement after having: surveyed Yoder’s many writings in the GH from the early 1930s until his death in 1945; looked at other more sporadic writings of his, especially in MQR; checked over titles of his published works; and read much of his diary, published as Edward Yoder, Edward, Pilgrimage of a Mind (Wadsworth, Ohio: Ida Yoder, 1985).
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. Guy Franklin Hershberger, “An Inquiry into the Origins of the Anabaptist Movement” (M.A. thesis, State University of Iowa Department of History, 1925), 65-66. Guy Franklin Hershberger, “Quaker Pacifism and the Provincial Government of Pennsylvania, 1682-1756” (Ph.D. diss., State Univ. of Iowa, 1935). Guy F. Hershberger, “The Pennsylvania Quaker Experiment in Politics, 1682-1756,” MQR 10 (Oct. 1936), 201.
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. Guy F. Hershberger, “The Spirit of Nonresistance: Justice or Peace'” in The Bluffton Peace Sentinel (Nov. 28, 1941), available in Mennonite Central Committee-Civilian Public Service field records, AMC IX-13-1.
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. In both his camp-paper piece and his 1943 MQR article the key term was seeking or to seek; in War, Peace, and Nonresistance he would change it to demanding.-Hershberger, “Biblical Nonresistance and Modern Pacifism,” 128; War, Peace, and Nonresistance (1944), 216.
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. See, e.g., (C[layton]. F. Derstine,) “Comments on World News: The Black Blotch on American Civilization,” CM (Mar. 1931), 92. A few other examples: (editorial,) “Patriotism,” GH (June 22, 1916), 209; [anon.,] “New Phases of the Fight Against Lynching,” CM (Aug. 1919), 245; [anon. (from internal evidence by one who had worked in France with the French Reconstruction Unit),] “The Lesson Study,” CM (May 1920), 537-538; “The Stranger Within Our Gates” (borrowed from S. S. World), CM (Sept. 1922), 644-645; John Umble, “Race Prejudice an Obstacle to Evangelism in the Mennonite Church,” Goshen College Record supplement (i.e., what was becoming the MQR) 27 (Sept. 1926), 29-32-reprinted, CM (Nov. 1928), 341-343; H. Richert, “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men,” The Christian Exponent (Dec. 17, 1926), 405; Ada Burkhalter, “The Race Problem,” The Christian Exponent (Aug. 29, 1924), 279-280; “India Discovers Our Caste System” (originally in The Literary Digest), GH (Feb. 5, 1931), 963-964; “H.” (surely editor J. S. Hartzler), “Editorials,” Rural Evangel (July 1936), 1; Edward Yoder, “Peace Principles from a Scriptural Viewpoint,” GH (Jan. 19, 1939), 917-920; E[rnest]. E. Miller, “Emphases to Be Maintained in Our Church School Program” (“An address delivered at General Conference… August 1939”), YCC (July 20, 1941), 647. Meanwhile, the church’s literature also included some very demeaning racial images. E.g.: “Planting the Sunday School in Africa” (a borrowed article, probably from a source other than Mennonite), CM (Feb. 1918), 442; Katie Wingard, “Our Duty to the Negro,” GH (Oct. 5, 1922), 537; “Bible Meeting Topic: The Call of the Dark Continent-Africa.-. . . Topic for September 2,” GH (Aug. 23, 1928), 439; Bertha Burkholder Bender, “Youth, Church, and State. XVII,” YCC (Apr. 26, 1931), 545-546, 550; (C[layton]. F. Derstine,) “Comments on World News: The Nigger in the Chaco Fence,” CM (June 1934), 190; John D. Leatherman, “The Mexican” (borrowed from Mission News), GH (Oct. 7, 1937), 595.
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. Guy F. Hershberger, “Re-Examining Mennonite Practices in the Application of Christian Principles in Every Day Living,” in “Report of the Study Conference on Christian Community Relations Held at Laurelville Mennonite Camp, July 24-27, 1951, Sponsored by the Committee on Industrial Relations of the Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana” (multilithed, informally bound, 86 ss pp.), 18-25, f. 14, b. 29, GFH papers; another version is Guy F. Hershberger, “Mennonite Principles: A Re-Examination” (Table of Contents has “Mennonite Principles in Everyday Living”-p. 3), The Mennonite Community 5 (Dec. 1951), 17-19, 33.
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. Remarks on paper by John A. Hostetler, “Farmers Organizations and the Nonresistant Conscience,” The Mennonite Community 6/2 (Feb. 1952), 17-19, 32. “July, August, September, 1958: Christian Social Justice” and cover letter, GFH to Paul Lederach, Sept. 14, 1956 (both purple-spirit docs.); “Meeting of Sub-Committee of the Mennonite Commission for Christian Education and the Committee on Economic and Social Relations, August 10, 1956” (multilithed doc.); all in f. 47, b. 2, AMC I-3-7. J. Lawrence Burkholder, Love and Justice in Mennonite Mutual Aid (Akron, Pa.: Association of Mennonite Aid Societies, 1960), 22 pp. booklet.
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. Ibid., 236-238; the quote is from “The Jasper-Pulaski Peace Sentinel” (paper of C.P.S. Unit #28, Medaryville, Ind.) (Feb. 12, 1943), 238. He quoted also from “Whispering Pines” (paper of C.P.S. unit #8, Marietta, Ohio) (Feb. 12, 1943), 236-237 and from “The Trailmaker” (paper of C.P.S. unit #55, Belton, Mont.) (Jan. 15, 1943), 237. These papers are available in AMC IX-13-1.
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. I have developed the material of this paragraph into what is projected to become a further chapter on War, Peace, and Nonresistance in a biography of Hershberger.
The Mennonite Quarterly Review
Hershberger’s War, Peace, and Nonresistance
MQR 80 (July 2006)