Today is Menno Simons Day!

Today is Menno Simons Day! January 31, 2012
Menno Simons | WikiMedia Commons

I had no idea.  What sort of Anabaptist doesn’t know about this.  Today is Menno Simons day.  To celebrate, I share with you a quote found at the Circle of Hope church’s blog:

“True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded; it has become all things to all people.

The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife. They are children of peace who have beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning forks, and know no war.

Our weapons are not weapons with which cities and countries may be destroyed, walls and gates broken down, and human blood shed in torrents like water. But they are weapons with which the spiritual kingdom of the devil is destroyed.

Christ is our fortress; patience our weapon of defense; the Word of God our sword. …Iron and metal spears and swords we leave to those who, alas, regard human blood and swine’s blood of well-nigh equal value.

We who were formerly no people at all, and who knew of no peace, are now called to be…a church…of peace. True Christians do not know vengeance. They are the children of peace. Their hearts overflow with peace. Their mouths speak peace, and they walk in the way of peace.” —  Menno Simons (1496-1561)

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  • I will give the same comment I gave when I saw this tweeted by someone else.

    I agree completely. The problem I have is when people use quotes like this along with the force of the authority of secular law to hand the church’s responsibility to live out this faith to the unfaithful government agencies of the world.

    Yes, by all means, live this evangelica faith and call others to do so. But do not expect those who do not share the faith to do our work for us…we can call them to account, but first and foremost, we must take responsibility. How hypocritical for us to use power, prestige, and the politics of money to lobby for laws and policies that we are unwilling to live out fully in our own communities.

    • I’m good with what you say, Robert, as long as you are not implying by it that the invasion of other countries, and other similar projections of force, by our nation are “our work.”  The claim is often made that “the soldier has given us the freedom to follow a faith that preaches nonviolence.”  I repudiate this claim in that

      (1) most of the work of the soldier gives us freedom…in point of fact much of what we’ve done with our military *decreases* our security as a nation by creating the anger by which others then lash out at us;

      (2) Anabaptists of all people know that our history is of practicing our faith under the severest of persecution.  That faith certainly has never depended on earthly security for its practice or spread.

      But with this caveat, we do still need to remain engaged in society…and we do *not* have any business demanding those who do not acknowledge the sovereignty of the Prince of Peace, follow his methods.  On the other hand, of course, we *do* have the responsibility to prophetically call out those who claim the Prince’s sovereignty but grossly misrepresent His way…

      • Dan, to all your points, I agree. The “work” of the church is not in military action. I am thankful for our defense forces…but our military, since at least the aftermath of WWII has not been a defense force but an offensive force.

        With your last name, you must be a decent fellow to converse with so I’m pleased to connect.

        • LOL, it is ironic, isn’t it, that our surname is owed to the god of war?

          • Marla Abe

            Okay, Martins, what do you say to people who tell you that you need to be grateful to the soldiers for your freedom?  I get this post so often, and I often want to reply, but I didn’t want you to kill or be killed for my sake.  I often answer more diplomatically…well, I am also grateful for the diplomats and the medical personnel, like Doctors without Borders and the Peace Corps and many others who have sacrificed themselves and died for peace.

          • Marla, here’s a partial response a friend of mine wrote:

            When people say “Freedom isn’t Free,” what they’re actually saying is: “Freedom isn’t free – it requires killing and dying, human sacrifice, as if to the gods of old. It is not a gift from God. Gifts are free. Grace is a gift. Freedom, on the other hand, is earned. And because freedom is earned, we deserve it. We bought it (and continue to pay for it) with our blood, fair and square. We need thank no one but ourselves. Our perseverance and superiority over others have given us a reward worthy of a great people.”

            You can see more of his thoughts at http://www.kingdomofgodflag.info/index.html

            To this I would add that as a people we’ve been too ready to accept the mythology that what our armed services are doing is, in fact, for our freedom. I believe a reasonably objective examination of our military history must conclude that only rarely was *anyone’s* freedom either our causus belli or the actual outcome. Our own freedom, even more rarely. We ought not so readily accept the premise of the question.

          • Mike Ward

            Marla,

            You say that you will say, “I am ALSO grateful for the diplomats and the medical personnel….” (emphasis added). The “also” implies that you are grateful to the soldiers. If this is true then I don’t see where the conflict lies. I’m sure the person asking the question is also grateful to the doctors so if you are grateful to the soldiers, you and he would agree on everything. What is the issue? Are you grateful to the soldier?

  • Love it Kurt.  Thanks for sharing!

  • Nice quote!

  • this is beautiful and describes how my heart understands our faith – well hey, I guess I’m a Mennonite then!! Thank you Kurt, your posts are always a blessing.

    • @facebook-516524954:disqus … thanks to you!