Peace churches

Peace churches are Christian churches, groups or communities advocating Christian pacifism. The term historic peace churches refers specifically to three church groups: Church of the Brethren, Mennonites (including Amish), and Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).[1]

The peace churches agree that Jesus advocated nonviolence. Whether physical force can ever be justified, either in defending oneself or others, remains controversial. Many believers adhere strictly to a moral attitude of nonresistance in the face of violence. But these churches generally do concur that violence on behalf of nations and their governments is contrary to Christian morality.


[edit] History

Among all Christian denominations, there have always been groups of members who advocate nonviolence, but certain churches have consistently supported it since their foundation. Besides the three historic peace churches, they include the Amish,[2] Hutterites,[3] Old German Baptist Brethren,[4] Old Order River Brethren,[5] the Brethren in Christ,[6][7] and others in the Anabaptist tradition; Doukhobors,[8] Dunkard Brethren,[9][10] Molokans,[11] Bruderhof Communities,[12] Schwenkfelders,[13] Moravians,[14] the Shakers,[15] and even some groups within the Pentecostal movement.[16] The largest Pentecostal church, the Assemblies of God, abandoned pacifism around the time of the Second World War.[17][18] These groups have disagreed, both internally and with each other, about the propriety of avoiding non-combatant military roles, such as unarmed medical personnel, or performing non-battlefield services that assist nations in wartime, such as manufacturing munitions. One position might argue that Jesus would never object to helping people who are suffering, while another might object that doing so contributes indirectly to violence by freeing other people to engage in it.

At one time, active membership in and acceptance of the beliefs of one of the peace churches was required for obtaining conscientious objector status in the United States, and hence exemption from military conscription, or for those already in the military, honorable discharge. But after a series of court rulings, this requirement was dropped. One may claim conscientious objector status based on a personal belief system that need not be Christian, nor even based on religion.[19]

Peace churches, especially those with sufficient financial and organizational resources, have attempted to heal the ravages of war without favoritism. This has often aroused controversy, as when the Quakers sent large shipments of food and medicine to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and to U.S.-embargoed Cuba. The American Friends Service Committee and the Mennonite Central Committee are two charitable denominational agencies set up to provide such healing.

In the 1980s, the Quakers, Brethren, and Mennonites came together to create Christian Peacemaker Teams, an international organization that works to reduce violence and systematic injustice in regions of conflict.[20][21] One motive for its foundation may have been to forestall the criticism that peace churches rely on states and their military establishments for protection.

[edit] Related Christian groups

[edit] Community of Christ

Although non-credal and not explicitly pacifist, the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) has emerged as an international peace church through such ministries as the Community of Christ International Peace Award, the Daily Prayer for Peace, and campaigns to support conscientious objection to war.[22][23][24]

[edit] Churches of Christ

Once containing a relatively large nonviolence faction, Churches of Christ are now more conflicted. Contemporary Churches of Christ, especially those that hold with the teachings of David Lipscomb, tend toward pacifist views.[25][26] This means that they believe that the use of coercion and/or force may be acceptable for purposes of personal self defense but that resorting to warfare is not an option open to Christians.

[edit] Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses believe and teach that no one who follows God has any right to lay down his life on behalf of the state, and that to do so constitutes idolatry. Early Jehovah's Witnesses were expected not to shoot to kill where they were compelled to participate as combatants.[27] Whereas they had purchased Liberty Bonds for financial support to the allied cause in World War I,[28] a practice of neutrality was later assumed.[29] Their position may be summarized as neutrality rather than pacifism.[30]

[edit] Fellowship of Reconciliation

As noted above, there are peace groups within most mainstream Christian denominations. The Fellowship of Reconciliation was set up as an organization to bring together people in these groups and members of the historic peace churches. In some countries, e.g. the United States, it has broadened its scope to include members of other religions or none, and people whose position is not strictly for nonviolence. However in other countries, e.g. the United Kingdom, it remains essentially an organization of Christian nonviolence.[31]

[edit] Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long history of noncombatancy with respect to military service. Though some church members choose combat, the church stands by its official position, which dates to a resolution made in 1867.[32]

[edit] Christadelphians

Christadelphians refuse to participate in any military as they are conscientious objectors.[33][34]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Speicher, Sara and Durnbaugh, Donald F. (2003), Ecumenical Dictionary: Historic Peace Churches
  2. ^ "The Amish: Massacre at the Amish school in Nickel Mines, PA". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  3. ^ "Religion". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  4. ^ "Anabaptists Today". 2007-06-20. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  5. ^ "Old Order River Brethren". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  6. ^ Wittlinger, Carlton (1978). Quest for Piety and Obedience: The Story of the Brethren in Christ. Evangel Press. ISBN 0916035050. 
  7. ^ "Christians & War". The Brethren in Christ. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  8. ^ "Pacifism and Anastasia's Doukhobor Village". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  9. ^ "Dunkard Brethren Church". Dunkard Brethren Church. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  10. ^ Durnbaugh, Donald (1997). Fruit of the Vine: A History of the Brethren. Brethren Press. ISBN 0871780038. 
  11. ^ "Molokan and Jumper Home Page". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  12. ^ "The Religion Report: 23 March 2005 - Christians and immigration: Bruderhof". 2005-03-23. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  13. ^ "Brethern, Schwenkfelders and Other Plain People". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Essay on Shaker History - Shaker Historic Trail - National Register of Historic Places". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  16. ^ "PCPJ - Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  17. ^ Alexander, Paul (2009). Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God. Cascadia Publishing House. ISBN 1931038589. 
  18. ^ "issue-12-alexander-1". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  19. ^ "Selective Service System: Fast Facts". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  20. ^ "About CPT | Christian Peacemaker Teams". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  21. ^ "History | Christian Peacemaker Teams". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  22. ^ Communication Services of Community of Christ, Independence Mo.. "Community of Christ International Peace Award Honor Roll". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  23. ^ Communication Services of Community of Christ, Independence Mo.. "Community of Christ International Peace Award Nominations". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Civil Government". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  26. ^ "Pacifism - Christianity Knowledge Base". http://christianity.wikia.com Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  27. ^ Zion's Watch Tower, p. 231, 1 August 1898
  28. ^ The Watch Tower, p. 152, 15 May 1918
  29. ^ Awake!, p. 23, 8 December 1974
  30. ^ Reasoning From the Scriptures, p. 138, 1985
  31. ^ Stan Morris, Naomi Bolderhey, Laura Visser. "International Fellowship of Reconciliation". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  32. ^ "World church leader reaffirms Adventist Church's noncombatant position". Adventist News Network. 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  33. ^ Norris, Alfred. The Gospel and Strife. Birmingham, UK: Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association. 
  34. ^ Watkins, Peter. War and Politics: The Christian's Duty. Birmingham, UK: Christadelphian Auxiliary Lecturing Society. 

[edit] Further reading

  • Driver, Juan (1970) How Christians Made Peace With War: Early Christian Understandings of War. Scottdale PA: Herald Press. ISBN 0-8361-3461-3
(1999) Radical Faith. Scottdale PA: Herald Press. ISBN 0-9683462-8-6
  • Friesen, Duane K. (1986) Christian Peacemaking and International Conflict: A Realist Pacifist Perspective. Scottdale: Herald Press. ISBN 0836112733
  • Lederach, John Paul (1999) The Journey Toward Reconciliation. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press. ISBN 0836190823
  • Ruth-Heffelbower, Duane (1991) The Anabaptists Are Back: Making Peace in a Dangerous World. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press. ISBN 0836135520
  • Sider, Ronald (1979) Christ and Violence. Scottdale PA: Herald Press. ISBN 1579106560
  • Sampson, Cynthia (1999) "Religion and Peacebuilding." In Peacemaking in International Conflict: Methods and Techniques; edited by I. William Zartman, and J. Lewis Rasmussen. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press.
  • Trocm, Andr (1961) Jesus and the Nonviolent Revolution; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003. ISBN 1-57075-538-8
  • Wink, Walter, ed. (2000) Peace is the Way: Writings on Nonviolence from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 1-57075-315-6
  • Van Dyck, Harry R. (1990) Exercise of Conscience: A World War II Objector Remembers. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-8797-5584-9
  • McGrath, Willam (1980) Why We Are Conscientious Objectors to War. Millersburg, OH: Amish Mennonite Publications.
  • Horsch, John (1999) The Principle of Nonresistance as Held by the Mennonite Church. Ephrata, PA: Eastern Mennonite Publications.
  • Brown, Dale (1985) Biblical Pacifism: A Peace Church Perspective. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press. ISBN 0871781085

[edit] External links

Related topics in the Connexions Subject Index

Christian Socialism  –  Churches  –  Conscientious-Objection  –  Non-violence  –  Pacifism  –  Peace Movement  –  Religion & Social Justice

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