"THE HISTORICAL POSITION OF THE BRETHREN CHURCH WITH RESPECT TO WAR"
"History of the Brethren” - By Brumbaugh.
"These people (Taufers, Dunkards, and Brethren) were the most ardent product of the Reformation. They carried the spirit of Protestantism to the acceptance of the maxim: No exercise of force in Religion" - Page 3.
"Let us see what this principle of non-coersion gave the Church. (And under this item 3 reads) - "War is violent interference with the rights of others. It imposes unwilling burdens upon people. It is, therefore, wrong, and the Church at the outset is logically opposed to war". Pages 3-4
"Peace as a doctrine of the Church, is fundamental. The Brethren do not go to war, and have steadfastly, and amid great persecution, refused to take up arms" - Page 558.
"Minutes of Annual Councils." Printed in 1876.
1781 -With respect to paying substitute money, this minute appears -- "We, the assembled brethren, exhort in union all brethren in all places to hold themselves guiltless, and take no part in war or blood-shedding"
1785 - "First, we do not understand at all, from the words of Peter alluded to, that we can give ourselves up to do violence, or that we should submit to the higher powers in such a manner as to make ourselves their instruments to shed men's blood, however it might be done --- But that the higher powers bear the sword of justice, punishing the evil, and protecting the good, in this we acknowledge them from the heart as the ministers of God. But the sword belongs to the kingdom of this World, and Christ says to his disciples, "I have chosen you from the world," etc. Thus we understand the beloved Peter that we are to submit ourselves in all things that are not contrary to the will or command of God, and no further".
1790 - "We believe and confess that Christ has forbidden to his followers the swearing of oaths and partaking of War".
1845 - Article 5, "In regard to our being altogether defenseless, not to withstand the evil, but overcome evil with good, the brethren considered that the nearer we follow the bright example of the Lamb of God, who willingly suffered the cross, and prayed for his enemies; who though heir of all things, has on earth nowhere to lay His head -- the more we shall fulfill our high calling and obtain grace to deny ourselves for Christ's and the gospel's sake, even to the loss of property, our liberty, and our lives."
1864 - "We exhort the brethren to steadfastness in the faith, -- and especially to our non-resistant principle, a principle dear to every subject of the Prince of Peace, and a prominent doctrine of our fraternity, and to endure whatever sufferings and to make whatever sacrifice the maintaining of the principle may require, and not to encourage in any way the practice of war. --- And lest the position we have taken upon political matters in general, and war matters in particular, should seem to make us, as a body, appear to be indifferent to our government, or in opposition thereto, in its efforts to suppress the rebellion, we hereby declare that it has our sympathies and prayers, and that it shall have our aid in any way which does not conflict with the principles of the Gospel of Christ. But since, in our Christian profession we regard these gospel principles as superior or paramount to all others, consistency requires that we so regard them in our Practices."
1865 - Article 7, "We consider that we have no right to take up arms".
From "History of the Tunkers and the Brethren Church" - Holsinger.
1882 - Page 536, "That it is the sense of this convention that, as we are the true conservators of the doctrines of the Brethren Church, and have never strayed from the Church founded by our fathers, nothing done in this meeting shall be construed as secession or departure from the original Church organized in Germany in 1708, or from the principles of the gospel as interpreted by our fathers, until the intervention of human traditions and the usurpation of authority by men in control of annual meeting. In every principle of non-conformity to the world and the practices of the gospel ordinances, we stand where we always have stood, and by the grace of God always shall stand".
1892 - "The Conference reaffirmed the former position of the Church" -- Page 546. From "Brethren Annuals" - Minutes of General Conferences
1905 "They (the Brethren) are opposed to war" -- Isa. 2:4; 2 Cor. 10:4; James 4:1-2, Page 2
1907 - Exact copy of 1905 statement -- On fourth from the last page.
1908 - Exact copy of 1905 statement -- On last page.
1914 -"We as a religious body (Brethren) assembled in annual Conference, desire to convey to the President of the United States, our heartiest commendations in his wise attitude in the Mexican disturbance, and so maintain peace between this and our nation, also his stand for neutrality in the European war, as such positions heartily accord with the historical position of the Brethren Church upon peace". Page 28
1915 - "That we reaffirm the scriptural and historic principle of the Brethren Church concerning war, and the official deeds and acts of our beloved President Wilson, in so far as they concern peace with other nations he highly commanded." Page 61
1916 - "Whereas, a large portion of the world is now deluged with blood, and the earth shakes with the clash of the European nations at war, and threatening war clouds have long hung along the horizon of our own land, and there is a popular demand for increasing dependence upon force of arms as a defense of our national existence and well-being; and, Whereas this popular idea of dependence upon force makes its appeal with increasing effect in these troublous times; be it therefore Resolved,
1. That the time-honored peace policy of our beloved Church be hereby reaffirmed.
2. That it is the sense of this conference that war is an unchristian method of settling international disputes.
3. That there is an unusual need in these times of unrest for teaching and preaching non-resistance, as taught and practiced by our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. That our dependence for safety and national well-being is to be found in getting right with God and conforming to the New Testament standard of peace.
Be it further resolved: That we commend the efforts of our President to keep our nation out of war; we deplore the havoc and devastation of peoples and property across the sea. The Brethren Church, born with the cry of peace upon her lips, has suffered in almost every generation for the constructive and God-given principle, promulgated by His Son, our Savior. Emulating Jesus Christ and the founders of our Church we pledge to our country the best Christian example and conduct possible." Pages 74-75.
1917 - "Resolved, that we as a church express our deep gratitude to the government of our country for the recognition granted to the convictions of those religious bodies - including our own -- that are opposed to the bearing of arms in warfare.
That we deprecate, and disavow all sympathy with, any efforts organized or otherwise, which have as their aim interference with the execution of the nation's, laws; and we pledge ourselves to honor and obey our government to any extent not inconsistent with the established belief of the Church.
That during this time of world conflict, in view of our historic peace principles, we realize that our obligation as a church is even greater than that of others to relieve in every possible way the distress and suffering existing in the world today". Page 87
1918 - "Resolved, that we affirm our loyalty once more to our country under whose flag we have found protection and pledge ourselves to do everything within our power to uphold her in this time of crisis, especially through prayer. That we perform every duty consistent with our principles cheerfully and whole-heartedly; and endure our share of the awful sacrifice of war". Page 15.
1919 - "Whereas, the time-honored peace policy of our beloved church has been recently put to the test of war-time demands, and
Whereas, Our government has most justly granted exemption from participation in combatant service to such as cannot shed the blood of man without doing violence to their conscience and to their loyalty to their understanding of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, be it therefore,
1. That praise and thanksgiving be rendered to Almighty God for the exemption from combatant service granted by our government to so many of our number, allowing them to loyally serve the nation without violating their religious convictions.
2. That this conference commend, as worthy of emulation, the noble example of those who bravely gave themselves to the most hazardous and painful positions of noncombatant service, and who proved their loyalty to the nation as well as their faithfulness to the peace teachings of Jesus Christ by their willingness both to suffer and die in their country's service.
3. That it is the sense of this Conference that the years of war have furnished additional proof that our dependence for safety and national well-being are to be found in getting right with God and conforming to the New Testament standard of peace".
4. That this Conference go on record as opposed to the enactment of law compelling universal military training, especially as touching compulsory training for combatant service of those who cannot take such training without doing violence to their religious convictions".Page 40.
1922 - "That, although we believe that absolute, universal and permanent peace will not come until Christ, the Prince of Peace returns, we urge that continual emphasis be given to our historic position on anti-war and that we strife to maintain as large a measure of peace as possible". Page 7.
1924 - "That this Conference holds that strict obedience to the laws of the land is a sacred Christian duty. ----That we reaffirm our loyalty to the time-honored peace position of the Brethren Church and hold war to be an unchristian method of settling international disputes". Page 6.
1925 - "That the Brethren Fraternity declare itself unequivocally against war and its consequences; that we hold it to be highly unchristian and futile method of settling national and international disputes, and that we preach it with renewed vigor the time honored peace program of our beloved people". Page 7.
1926 - "That we again reiterate our position of former years with regard to war and its attendant evils". Page 7.
1927 "That we assert our time honored position as being opposed to members of the Brethren Church going to war as combatants". Page 11.
1928 "Resolved that this conference send a telegram to the State Department at Washington, congratulating this government on its instrumentality in bringing about the Multilateral pact to outlaw war as an instrument of national policy, which pact is scheduled to be signed On Monday night, that we condemn war as an unchristian way of settling international disputes, and commend the way of justice between nations; that we go on record as a non-resistant body". Page 10.
1934 - "That we commend the address of Dr. Chas. A. Bame on "What Can We Do about War?", and that we reaffirm the historic Brethren position against Christians going to war". Page 15.
1935 - "That we reaffirm and declare our unalterable opposition to war; that we urge our people in the event of war, to refrain from participating in armed conflict; that we consider that our Churches should not lend themselves in any way to the propagandizing of war, but that we counsel our people to pray for the government and to be willing to do what they can to bind up the Nation's wounds and to promote peace". Page 9.
1936 "That we renew our historic position with relation to war; namely, that the Brethren Church from her origin has been utterly opposed to the use of violence or any physical force as a means to an end, on the part of the children of God. We regard the governments of this world system as being yet unregenerate, and their methods of violence contrary to the methods God has authorized His children in this present age to use. We reaffirm that war as a possible method for the attainment of justice, or the securing and maintenance of human liberty may at times be deemed necessary among the unregenerate of this world system, yet according to the teaching of our common Lord and Master we as His disciples do not belong to this world's system and its methods are not our own. We are in the world and not of it, as our Master taught (John 17:14), and must maintain our pilgrim character (Heb. 11:8-16). We recognize and appreciate the protection of our flag of the United States. To the nation that God has ordained (Rom. 13:1-7)to afford us protection we gladly offer our services, time, money, and life itself, if necessary, to bind up its wounds, or to heal its sorrows, by any means or methods our Lord Jesus Christ has approved for the use of those who follow him".
1937 - "That in the light of world unrest and possible war, we reaffirm the historic position of the Brethren Church in regard to war and. war propaganda". Page 13.
1939 - "That we at this time reaffirm our previous stand on war and peace as set forth in former statements set forth in our General Conference minutes.
That in the light of present world unrest and threat of war which may engulf the world, including ourselves, we reaffirm our historic position as set forth in the following communication filed with the President of the United States, Secretary of War, and. with the Department of Justice at Washington, D.C.: "Resolved that this National Conference of the Brethren Church, assembled at Winona Lake, Indiana, August. 31, 1935, declare the following statement to be the true position of our denomination on the subject of war; ... The Brethren Church from her origin has been utterly opposed to the use of violence or any physical force as a means to an end on the part of the children of God. We regard the governments of this world system as being yet unregenerate, and their methods of violence contrary to the methods God has authorized His children in this present age to use. We reaffirm that while war as a possible method for the attainment of justice, or the securing and maintenance of human liberty may at times be deemed necessary among the unregenerate of this world system, yet, according to the teachings of our common Lord and Master, we, as His disciples do not belong to this world system and its methods are not our own. We are in the world and not of it, as our Master taught (John 17:14), and must maintain our pilgrim character (Hebrews 11:8-16). We recognize and appreciate the protection of the flag of the United States. To the nation that God has ordained (Romans 13:1-7) to afford us protection we gladly offer our service, time, money, and life itself if necessary, to bind up its wounds, or to heal its sorrows, by any means or methods our Lord Jesus Christ has approved for the use of those who follow Him:" Page 19.