Resolution on the Question of Love and Non-Resistance (Mennonite Brethren Church, 1981)

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Resolution on the Question of Love and Non-Resistance (MB, 1981)

The Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith [1975] states:

"We believe that Christians should live by the law of love and practice the forgiveness of enemies as taught and exemplified by the Lord Jesus. The church, as the body of Christ, is a fellowship of redeemed, separated people, controlled by redemptive love. Its evangelistic responsibility is to present Christ, the Prince of Peace as the answer to human need, enmity and violence. The evil, brutal, inhuman nature of war stands in contradiction to the new nature of the Christian. The Christian seeks to practice Christ's law of love in all relationships, and in all situations, including those involving personal injustice, social upheaval and international tensions. We believe that it is not God's will that Christians take up arms in military service but that, where possible, they perform alternate service to reduce strife, alleviate suffering and bear witness to the love of Christ."

We are concerned that a goodly number of our church members (including some pastors) view our position on "love and nonresistance" as an optional doctrine. In some churches this doctrine is not taught; in some it is even opposed; and in some instances young men are even encouraged to take up arms in military service. This we consider to be a serious violation of our peace position and of the teachings of Jesus, as we have understood these in our history.

In the preface to our [1975] Confession of Faith it is stated that confessions of faith are not to be given equal status with the Bible. That is in keeping with our position that the Bible is our highest authority and that our understanding of it is never perfect, and that we must, therefore, always be open to new light.

However, when we accepted the present Confession of Faith, in 1975, that represented our church's understanding of the main doctrines of the Scripture, and such a Confession can be changed or modified only when our conference comes to a new understanding of some article in our confession through the study of the Scriptures.

We recognize that not all believers share our understanding of this biblical teaching, but we would strongly urge that when churches call pastors they make sure that they adhere to all the articles in our Confession of Faith. Those churches and boards in our provinces and districts that process the ordination of brothers for the pastoral ministry should insure that the person to be ordained shares our conference's position of "love and nonresistance." Also, pastors are encouraged to make sure that this doctrine is taught.


Yearbook, 55th session, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, August 7-11, 1981. Winnipeg, Man.: Kindred Press, 1981: 50-51.