"Do Not Repay Anyone Evil for Evil": The Pacifism of the Gospel

The following article is taken for the most part from a lecture given in 1989 in the context of a debate on war and peace held by several Parisian evangelical churches. My basic position has not changed. Therefore, I am allowing this text to be reprinted even though I would no longer write it in the same way today.

In the ensuing years, I have become professor of Church History. The historical part of this article could be or even should be reinforced and qualified. For example, Alan Kreider continues to work on Early Church History in a stimulating manner, and I have not yet had the time to incorporate his work. Likewise, because of my experience in ecumenical dialogue since 1989, now I would write differently my appraisal of the medieval church. In my first work, I asked the evangelical churches - or “free churches” - to be more consistent in their “Protestant” criticism of medieval Catholicism. Even if, as a Mennonite, I remain a member of a church originating from the Reformation, I think that Protestantism has much to learn about peace from the Catholic tradition. This is not very obvious in the lines which follow, but I wanted to at least mention it in this introduction.

The bibliography refers to works by Stanley Hauerwas and John Howard Yoder. I have continued to read these two authors since the text was first written. Paying closer attention to their more recent work would do much to improve the theological aspects of my article. Hauerwas continues to call "mainstream" American churches into question about their manner of being and their presence in the world. It is necessary to have a community which is solidly anchored in the Gospel tradition in order to live the peace of Christ. Nothing is closer to the ideas of the founders of Church & Peace. John Yoder continued to develop his thinking on peace, always in a spirit of dialogue, until his death. It is my hope that continuing such dialogue will still bear fruit within Church & Peace circles.

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