[Back in June 2006, the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary hosted a conference reflecting on the 1995 Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (a few papers from the conference that were published in Mennonite Quarterly Review, July 2007, may be read here). I prepared a proposal for a paper that was accepted by the conference. However, after writing the proposal I learned that the conference would conflict with the birth of our first grandchild so I had to withdraw from the conference. Unfortunately, I never wrote the paper, either. I just recently rediscovered the proposal and found that I still like it and still hope to write such a paper. I post it here hoping to stimulate a bit of discussion and also in order to link with posts I have put up at my ThinkingPacifism.net blog on “How Pacifists Should Read Christian Sources.”]
The Mennonite Church USA identifies itself as a peace church. In many circles, were people to be asked what is most distinctive about Mennonites, the large majority would mention pacifism as one of MC USA’s most characteristic distinctives. This paper will test this perception with a close reading of the first eight articles of the Confession from a “radical pacifist” perspective. These first eight of the 24 total articles are clearly marked off as the core, overtly theological content of the Confession.
The paper will examine several other fairly recent Protestant Confessions for comparison’s sake. None of these other Confessions are from traditions that understand themselves to be pacifist.
In what ways is the core theological content of these other confessions similar to and different from the Mennonite Confession? Do we see evidence that the pacifist commitment of the Mennonite tradition leads to different articulations of this core content? We will be testing the assumption that the difference between pacifist and non-pacifist theologies should be expected to lead to noticeably different articulations of theological basics. Continue reading