Communism and Anti-Communism (Mennonite Church, 1961)

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Communism and Anti-Communism (Mennonite Church, 1961)

Communism and Anti-Communism

A Statement of Position Adopted by the Mennonite General Conference, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, August 24, 1961.

In view of the advance of communism in the world at large, the current strong anticommunist agitation which the cold-war climate has brought into our nation, and the challenge presented to our nonresistant position by these developments, we the representatives of the Mennonite Church, assembled in General Conference at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, August 23, 1961, reaffirm our commitment to our Biblical and historic nonresistant faith, calling special attention to the following points of emphasis in our General Conference pronouncements of 1937 and 1951.

  1. Our love and ministry must go out to all, whether friend or foe.
  2. While rejecting any ideology which opposes the Gospel or seeks to destroy the Christian faith, we cannot take any attitude or commit any act contrary to Christian love against those who hold or promote such views, but must seek to overcome their evil and win them through the Gospel.
  3. If our country becomes involved in war, we shall endeavor to continue to live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty and avoid joining in any wartime hysteria of hatred, revenge, and retaliation.

For the present situation specifically, we take this to mean, positively:

  1. That we inform ourselves thoroughly and intelligently on the evils of all atheistic ideologies and practices and all materialistic philosophies, of whatever character.
  2. That we must be faithful and effective in our witness against these ideologies and philosophies: (a) through the truth of the Gospel and (b) through works of mercy which demonstrate the way of love which the Gospel proclaims, even the feeding of our reputed enemies.
  3. That we accept our obligation and privilege to bring in love the saving Gospel to communists everywhere, as well as to all men and to win them for Christ.
  4. That our hand of love, encouragement, and help, and our prayers, must go out to Christians in all lands, especially to those who suffer for Christ behind the Iron Curtain.
  5. That we must courageously proclaim all the implications of the Gospel in human life even at the risk, if need be, of being misunderstood and falsely accused.
  6. That we urge upon governments such a positive course of action as may help to remove the conditions which contribute to the rise of communism and which tend to make people vulnerable to communist influence.

Negatively, we understand our commitment to mean:

  1. That we recognize the incompatibility of Christianity and atheistic communism and the challenge to the cause of Christ which the latter represents.
  2. That we recognize that atheistic communism can ultimately be overcome only by the witness of Christian truth in idea and life and not by force or violence.
  3. That the nonresistant Christian witness in this matter must be clearly and unequivocally divorced from any and all advocacy of force and violence, either physical or intellectual.
  4. That we cannot equate Christianity with any particular economic or political system, or with Americanism. Accordingly, we cannot accept the view that to be anticommunist is therefore necessarily to be Christian, or that to exercise Christian love toward communist persons is therefore necessarily to be procommunist.
  5. That although we teach and warn against atheistic communism we cannot be involved in any anticommunist crusade which takes the form of a "holy war" and employs distortion of facts, unfounded charges against persons and organizations (particularly against fellow Christians), promotes blind fear, and creates an atmosphere which can lead to a very dangerous type of totalitarian philosophy.
  6. That our word of warning must go out particularly against the current use of the pulpit, radio, and the religious press, in the name of Christianity, for this purpose.

Believing that world communism today has been permitted by God as a judgment upon an unfaithful Christendom, we confess our own past failure to proclaim as we ought the whole truth of the Gospel by word and deed. We urge the brotherhood to be more concerned to live out the Gospel fully in all areas of life, and to give itself to prayer to the end that the providence of God may overrule in the affairs of nations that peace may prevail. And we pray for the direction of the Spirit that we may faithfully perform our mission as effective witnesses for Christ in a world replete with economic greed, hate, and warfare, and struggling with competing ideologies, remembering that we are pilgrims here whose citizenship is in heaven, and who are looking for the consummation of all things in the return of our ascended Lord and in His ultimate eternal kingdom.