War Peace and Social Conscience: Guy F. Hershberger and Mennonite Ethics

Book, 2009, 724 pp
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John Howard Yoder is one of the best-known Mennonite thinkers on peace. But before Yoder there was Guy F. Hershberger, whose reflections on war, violence and peace helped Mennonites navigate perilous times in early to mid-20th century, and who also laid the foundation for what became the Alternative Service Program in the U.S. during World War II. In the 1960s, he played an important role in guiding the Mennonite church’s response to the civil rights movement—nudging them toward greater openness to Martin Luther King’s call for justice for African-Americans.

In this definitive biography, Theron F. Schlabach shows how Hershberger helped Christians live their faith in a world beset by war and injustice, at the same time pioneering creative ways to engage pressing concerns such as civil rights, economic justice and capital punishment.

Says Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School: “What Schlabach has given us is an invaluable, honest account of a life lived in the tensions of the Mennonite church as that church explored the implications of being a people committed to nonviolence. The resulting account is a crucial account not only of Hershberger’s life, but of Mennonite life—an accounting I hope non-Mennonites will find instructive because it may help them understand Mennonites, but more importantly how Mennonites help us better understand what being Christian entails.”

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