From Nonresistance to Justice: The Transformation of Mennonite Church Peace Rhetoric, 1908-2008

Overview

The more things change, the more they stay the same. From Nonresistance to Justice explores how this is true when it comes to teaching about peace for the former Mennonite Church, now part of Mennonite Church USA. Has the church changed in regard to its beliefs and practices about peace over the past 100 years? Yes. Has it remained the same? Yes. Reading this book will show that both are true.

Through the book, Ervin Stutzman, executive ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (5) from $39.99   
  • New (4) from $39.99   
  • Used (1) from $45.39   
Sending request ...

Overview

The more things change, the more they stay the same. From Nonresistance to Justice explores how this is true when it comes to teaching about peace for the former Mennonite Church, now part of Mennonite Church USA. Has the church changed in regard to its beliefs and practices about peace over the past 100 years? Yes. Has it remained the same? Yes. Reading this book will show that both are true.

Through the book, Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, shows how the church moved from an emphasis on nonresistance and nonconformity to engage in advocacy for peace and justice. At the same time, he presses for a greater emphasis on the way that God's activity must guide our work in the world, arguing for a stronger link between God's grace, justice, and peace.

"At a time when religious life is changing rapidly, we do well to step back and look at the adaptations the church has made in response to the pressures of modernism in the last century. A study of history can serve as a thoughtful guide to a faithful future."—Ervin Stutzman

For more information, or to request a review copy, contact: Patty Weaver at hp@mpn.net or 1-800-245-7894 Ext. 225. A jpeg cover image of the book is available upon request.

Herald Press is the book imprint of Mennonite Publishing Network, the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

Read More Show Less

What People Are Saying

Ervin Stutzman
At a time when religious life is changing rapidly, we do well to step back and look at the adaptations the church has made in response to the pressures of modernism in the last century. A study of history can serve as a thoughtful guide to a faithful future.--(Ervin Stutzman)
Gerald Mast
Ervin Stutzman is especially well equipped to tell this story, both because of his academic background and because of his leadership in the Mennonite church. He helps us to understand how the church responded to changing social and political settings in North America with imaginative restatements of its commitment to nonviolence and peace, and helps us see how church leaders re-envisioned the form of the church's peace witness." --(Gerald Mast, series editor, Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History )
John A. Lapp

Ervin Stutzman is interested in rhetoric both as a communication process and as a churchly process of discernment. In this fine study he examines the rhetoric of a century of peace writing; his close reading deals with dozens of official church documents as well as the massive volume of published writing. He adds to the church's self-understanding and highlights sensitive communication as essential to being the body of Christ. (John A. Lapp, former executive director, Mennonite Central Committee)

John Lapp
Ervin Stutzman is interested in rhetoric both as a communication process and as a churchly process of discernment. In this fine study he examines the rhetoric of a century of peace writing; his close reading deals with dozens of official church documents as well as the massive volume of published writing. He adds to the church's self-understanding and highlights sensitive communication as essential to being the body of Christ.--(John A. Lapp, former executive director, Mennonite Central Committee )
Ted Koontz
From Nonresistance to Justice goes beyond previous studies of Mennonite peace theology in at least four ways. First, it deals with issues that have arisen since other works were written. Second, through its focus on "rhetoric," it suggests that language matters in shaping Mennonite life. Third, while not ignoring the writings of scholars, it emphasizes 1) official statements that trace shifts in church bodies and 2) views from church periodicals, attending to a wide range of voices. Finally, it makes a powerful and much needed case for incorporating an emphasis on grace as central to an authentic peace theology. It is a book well worth reading, and pondering.--(Ted Koontz, professor of ethics and peace studies, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780836195088
  • Publisher: Herald Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2011
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ervin R. Stutzman is executive director of Mennonite Church USA. He came to this role after having served for nearly a decade as vice president for Eastern Mennonite University and dean and professor of church ministries at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

Before coming to Eastern Mennonite Seminary, he served the Mennonite Church in the roles of pastor, district overseer and conference moderator. From 2001-2003 he served as moderator for Mennonite Church USA.

Ervin received his PhD from Temple University and holds masters' degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Eastern Mennonite Seminary. His bachelor's degree was granted by Cincinnati Christian University.

Ervin was born into an Amish home as a twin in Kalona, Iowa. After his father's death a few years later, his mother moved the family to her home community in Hutchinson, Kansas. Ervin was baptized in the Center Amish Mennonite Church near Partridge, Kansas. Later, he joined the Yoder Mennonite Church, near Yoder, Kansas.

Ervin is married to Bonita Haldeman of Manheim, Pennsylvania. Together they served for five years with Rosedale Mennonite Missions in Cincinnati, Ohio, part of that time in voluntary service. While there, Ervin served as co-pastor of Mennonite Christian Assembly. In 1982, he moved with his young family to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to serve with Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions. He also served for a short time as pastor of Mount Joy Mennonite Church, before his 1984 ordination as bishop of the Landisville District. He served as moderator of Lancaster Mennonite Conference from 1991-2000, when he moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to serve in his present roles.

Ervin is a preacher, a teacher and a writer. His publications include Being God's People, a study for new believers; Creating Communities of the Kingdom (co-authored with David Shenk); Welcome!, a book encouraging the church to welcome new members; Tobias of the Amish, a story of his father's life and community; and Emma, A Widow Among the Amish, the story of his widowed mother.

Ervin enjoys doing woodworking projects in partnership with his wife Bonita. They have three adult children, Emma, Daniel, and Benjamin.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword by Gerald J. Mast
Author's Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
List of Abbreviations

1. The Legacy of a "Historic Peace Church"
2. A Place to Stand (1908-1942)
3. The Anabaptist Vision (1943-1950)
4. Walking the Line Between Church and State (1951-1955)
5. Christian Witness to the State (1956-1964)
6. Shouldering Responsibility for Social Concerns (1965-1975)
7. Striving for Peace Through Justice (1976-1989)
8. Searching for a Unique Mennonite Identity (1990-2001)
9. Forging Alternatives to the War on Terrorism (2001-2008)
10. A Critical Assessment
11. Stewards of God's Grace, Justice, and Peace

Appendices

1. Rhetorical Methodology in the Study of the Church
2. A 1908 Comparison Between MC and GC Mennonite Churches
3. MC Mennonite and MC USA Peace-Related Resolutions or Church Statements
4. GC Mennonite Peace-Related Resolutions or Church Statements
5. New Terms in the Index Headings of Gospel Herald (1908-1998) and The Mennonite (1999-2008)
6. New Terms in the Index Headings of The Mennonite (1955-1998)
7. Developing Resolutions for Mennonite Church USA

Notes
Bibliography

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

Much To Be Learned About Peace From Those "Who Have Gone Before"

Mennonite Church USA Executive Director Ervin Stutzman believes people today can learn from those who faced challenges over peace in the past, gaining perspective and humility as we study history. That's why he wrote From Nonresistance to Justice: The Transformation of Mennonite Church Peace Rhetoric, 1908-2008. In the interview below, he reflects on the changes in the way the Mennonite Church has approached the issue of peace over the past 100 years.

Why did you write this book?

I wrote this book because I care deeply about our peace witness. I believe that we have much to learn from the way that our spiritual forebears dealt with the challenges to their peace convictions. At times we are tempted to think and act as though we are the most important people who ever lived. Studying history can help us to gain perspective and a deeper sense of humility. I also wrote it as a call to faithfulness as a church.

What do you hope people will learn from it, or take away from it?

I hope that people will experience at least a few "a-ha!" moments, as I did when I was researching this history. I hope that it will inspire us to greater faithfulness in expressing our peace convictions. Most particularly, I hope readers will gain a new perspective of the relationship between grace, peace, and justice.

Why did you choose that time period?

At first I intended to study the last 50 years, and then decided to go back closer to the formation of the (Old) Mennonite Church. I settled on 1908 as the starting date for two reasons: First, it is the year that the emerging denomination started its own weekly publication; second, because the study encompasses a century of change.

What has changed about the way Mennonites in the Mennonite Church tradition have thought about, and spoken about, peace over the past 100 years?

There have been some dramatic shifts, such as the virtual abandonment of the use of nonconformity and nonresistance as the foundational biblical rationale for our peace witness. Another major shift was the pursuit of justice as an essential part of peacemaking. Still another is the wide diversity of ways that peace convictions are expressed within the church.

Why do you think the church moved from an emphasis on nonresistance and nonconformity to engage in advocacy for peace and justice?

One reason is that the church is no longer as separate from the rest of society. As we become more involved in our communities, as well as the political process, we gradually reflected the thinking of those outside our church. Sadly, we now also reflect the political divides that separate our neighbors. Another reason is that we have developed new understandings of theology and scripture; as peace movement leaders studied theology, they interpreted the scriptures in a more systematic and rational approach. They were also influenced by writers in the mainline churches who had a different understanding of the church and its responsibility in the world. All of this helped to shape an evolving peace stance.

What prompted that change or who led that change?

The forces of change came from both inside and outside the church. The church gradually changed as it modernized and took on more of the thinking patterns and habits of the surrounding society. The church also changed as greater numbers chose higher education and experienced the world more broadly. Each international conflict or war that involved the U.S. required the church to restate its peace convictions and find ways to be faithful to God's call to peace; this response looked very different, depending on the context. For example, in World War I there was a draft with no provision for conscientious objectors. This was a very different situation than the Gulf War, which had no draft and relied heavily on advanced technology.

What have been the losses and the gains from making that change?

The church has lost much of its sense of separation or nonconformity to the world. We now reflect many of the values of our American society, even those that run counter to biblical values. At the same time, we have gained a much greater sense of responsibility to engage with society and to make a difference in the world around us. People from other faith communions now look to us as examples of biblical faithfulness to the way of justice and peace.

You have said the church needs "a greater emphasis on the way that God's activity must guide our work in the world." What do you mean by that?

It means that we must be attentive to the signs of God at work among us. As a missional church, we believe that we are to look for God's activity in the world, and then follow that. We must be alert to the ways that God is at work in transforming situations of conflict among individuals, communities, and nations.

You also say there must be "a stronger link between God's grace, justice, and peace." What do you mean by that?

I am calling our church to keep our peace convictions grounded in the biblical witness and Anabaptist theology. That means we need to maintain uniquely Anabaptist Christian approaches to peacemaking, even as we join people of other Christian faiths or religions in developing a more peaceful world.

How can the experiences of the past guide Christians today in this increasingly complex and frightening world?

There is much that we can learn from the peacemaking efforts of people who have gone before us. Many of them strove to follow God's way in the midst of overwhelming challenges. We can learn from their courage.

From Nonresistance to Justice: The Transformation of Mennonite Church Peace Rhetoric, 1908-2008 is available from Mennonite Publishing Network at www.mpn.net/fromnonresistancetojustice or by calling 1-800-245-7894 x 278 (U.S.),

Author Reflection

Stewarding Christ's Charism of Peace

By Ervin Stutzman

Every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of God is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old. Jesus (Matthew 13:52)

Eternal truths will be neither true nor eternal unless they have fresh meaning for every new social situation. Franklin D. Roosevelt

As a young boy, I worked for several days alongside my grandfather, clearing up brush in a shelterbelt of trees surrounding our house. I watched enthralled as he chopped up dead branches and tossed them onto a roaring fire. As we stood back to watch the flames consume the wood, he showed me his axe. "This axe," he said with some pride, "once belonged to my grandfather. He passed it down to my father, who passed it down to me."

He rubbed the handle with pride as he continued: "It's gotten hard use. The handle had to be replaced twice. I think they replaced the head on it too. If you sharpen it often enough, it wears down to where you need a new one."

From time to time, I've reflected on my grandfather's words. "In what sense," I've asked myself, "was my grandfather's axe the same one that had once belonged to my great-great-grandfather?" Since it had a new head and a new handle, nothing from the original axe remained except perhaps the wedge.

I've also pondered many questions about identification and change since this interaction with my grandfather. I've come to understand that he served as a steward of that axe, bestowed as a gift from his ancestor. I was a beneficiary of that gift as he used it to clean up our yard. But the benefit of that axe was greater than the physical work it performed. It also evoked a rich legacy of stories and wisdom from my grandfather as he put it to work.

I've also pondered the many changes that have take place among Mennonites over the last century. I've often reflected on the ways that Christian faith, beliefs, values, and practices are passed from one generation to another, particularly in the Anabaptist tradition, which has treasured its spiritual legacy but shunned written creeds. Since denominational commitments to peace are fragile, it requires diligent stewardship to maintain them.

This stewardship of Christ's charism of peace has required many adjustments over the last hundred years. The changing face of the church and society has required careful consideration of the church's approach to peace. Church statements that had been persuasive in an earlier era no longer carry weight with a new generation. Each new era introduced a need for adaptation and change. While it may appear that the church's current peace teaching is the same as it was one hundred years ago, there are ways in which it is very different.

One difference is the virtual abandonment of the use of nonconformity and nonresistance as the foundational biblical rationale for our peace witness. Another major shift is the pursuit of justice as an essential part of peacemaking. Still another is the wide diversity of ways that peace convictions are expressed within the church.

How did these changes come about? One reason is that the church is no longer as separate from the rest of society. As we become more involved in our communities, as well as the political process, we gradually reflected the thinking of those outside our church. Another reason is that we have developed new understanding of theology and scripture.

These forces of change came from both inside and outside the church. The church gradually changed as it modernized and took on more of the thinking patterns and habits of the surrounding society. The church also changed as greater numbers chose higher education and experienced the world more broadly.

Each international conflict or war that involved the U.S. required the church to restate its peace convictions and find ways to be faithful to God's call to peace; this response looked very different, depending on the context. For example, in World War I there was a draft with no provision for conscientious objectors. This was a very different situation than the Gulf War, which had no draft and relied heavily on advanced technology.

These changes have produced negative and positive effects for the church. On the one hand, the church has lost much of its sense of separation or nonconformity to the world. On the other hand, we have gained a much greater sense of responsibility to engage with society and to make a difference in the world around us. People from other faith communions now look to us as examples of biblical faithfulness to the way of justice and peace.

What the future holds for the church, as it relates to peacemaking, nobody knows. But one thing I am certain of: We need to keep our peace convictions grounded in the biblical witness and Anabaptist theology. That means maintaining our uniquely Anabaptist Christian approaches to peacemaking, even as we join people of other Christian faiths or religions in developing a more peaceful world.

At the same time, there is much we can learn from the peacemaking efforts of people who have gone before us. Many of them strove to follow God's way in the midst of overwhelming challenges. We can learn from their courage, and apply those lessons today.

I love Mennonite Church USA and desire for her to be faithful as a steward of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a keeper of the Anabaptist legacy of peace. I hope that I can make a contribution to the pursuit of faithfulness to God's call for the denomination. And I believe that we can learn lessons from the past that will help us move more faithfully into the future.

Ervin Stutzman is the Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA and author of From Nonresistance to Justice: The Transformation of Mennonite Church Peace Rhetoric, 1908-2008, from which this article was excerpted. It is available from Mennonite Publishing Network at www.mpn.net/fromnonresistancetojustice or by calling 1-800-245-7894 x 278 (U.S.), 1-800-631-6535 (Canada). Price: $39.99 USD/$45.99 CAD.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)