Ask a Mennonite… (Thanks Rachel Held Evans!)

Today I’m featured as the “token Mennonite” for blogger friend, Rachel Held Evans’ summer series called “Ask a…”  If you’re a regular at the Pangea Blog, I encourage you to check out that post and ask questions over there.

If you are not a “regular” at the blog, that probably means you came across this site because of Rachel’s post.  Let me simply say, “welcome” and that I’m glad you stopped by.  In order to give you an easier time navigating, let me offer a list of posts that have been popular in the past couple of months.

Thanks again for coming by!

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  • The Postman

    What would have been the correct response to 9/11?  And don’t say, “If a Mennonite had been President, we wouldn’t have experienced 9/11.”   Thanks, Kurt!

    • Tucker M Russell

      I hope I am not stepping on Kurt’s toes here, but as an anabaptist-leaning Christian I would like to weigh in on some of the questions as well. 

      I think the question about 9/11 is a good and pertinent one (and the issues it raises can be applies to any violence/injustice), but the phrasing is incomplete.  We might get a fuller picture if we ask, “Correct for whom?”.  John Howard Yoder has probably done the best job, in the modern era, of articulating the “two Kingdoms” model.  There are kingdoms of this world (e.g.- Governmental authorities)  that God has appointed to limit violence and injustice through the use of the sword (Romans 13).  This is a pragmatic necessity in the fallen age.  However, that authority and that use of the sword is an aspect of the Fall and is passing away. 

      God has also appointed in this world a community to be the prophetic witness to, and first participants in, Christ’s coming eschatological Kingdom.  This is what we call the Church.  This Kingdom is called, in its prophetic capacity, to model the ethic of nonviolence and, whenever possible, reconciliation and forgiveness.  For those who are a part of Christ’s Kingdom, a cruciform ethic is normative; violence is to be prevented whenever possible, and when the only options are to do violence or to have violence done to you, they choose the latter.  And in that case, when we are victimized, we forgive. 

      However, the Church also stands outside the state as a witness and prophetic voice, calling the State to execute its appointed function in as just a way as possible.  Generally in keeping with Augustine’s just war principles (respect for noncombatants, proportinal response, etc.) 

      So what is the correct response to 9/11?  For the State (the kingdoms of the world) the correct response would have been targeted strikes at Al-Qaeda to bring its leaders to justice and dismantle its network, taking care to avoid civilian casualty.  (A stark contrast to “Shock and Awe”). 

      However, for the Church (the Kingdom of Christ) the correct response is nonviolence. Extending compassion and care to all victims of terrorism, an honest and sober look at the factors that contribute to our global cycles of retributive violence in an effort to reverse them (or at least stop contributing to them), recognition of the ongoing humanity of the enemy, and ultimately forgiveness. 

      • Mike Ward


        You get it all don’t you?

        You don’t have to fight, in fact God forbids you to so it isn’t even your choice.

        But it’s the “correct response” of the world to kill, and you get to reap the benefits.

        Even though you stand apart, you still enjoy the privplege of criticizing the way the powers of the world carry out that response (though it’s not clear what standard you use to decide that shock and awe is bad and “targeted” strikes are good since you do not apply the standards of the “Kingdom of Christ” to the State.

        And best of all, even though those outside the Kingdom are doing the heavy lifting on your behalf, you get to be the shining example to fallen world by your love and compassion.

        Good work if you can get it.