Archives For Anabaptists


A Review of

War, Peace, and Social Conscience:
Guy F. Hershberger and Mennonite Ethics
Theron Schlabach.
Hardback: Herald Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith

As a young college student in the shadow of the first Iraq war and trying to sort out what I thought war (and peace), I picked a book off my Dad’s shelf that had been a textbook during his college days at Goshen College.  That book was Guy Hershberger’s War, Peace and Non-Resistance, and it helped to nudge me in the direction of a commitment to nonviolence and to reflect upon the logic behind the many varieties of Christian nonviolence.  I have re-read this important work several times over the intervening years, and as I mature, I find myself agreeing less with Hershberger and at the same time, having a deeper understanding of why this was such an important book.   And now, Theron Schlabach has written an authoritative work on Hershberger’s life and ethics.  Hershberger was likely the most significant Mennonite ethicist prior to John Howard Yoder, and thus Schlabach’s new book is an important contribution to Mennonite thought.  Schlabach chronicles how Hershberger rose from his humble beginnings among the Amish-Mennonites of Southeastern Iowa to become professor at Goshen College and one of the most respected Mennonite thinkers of his time.  Although little known outside Mennonite circles, one of the most significant contribution of Hershberger’s work was the distinction — introduced in his book War, Peace and Non-Resistance — between non-resistance (a literalist interpretation of Jesus’ teaching to “resist not the evil man”) and non-violent resistance.  One of the most striking facets of Schlabach’s book is that it narrates how Hershberger’s perspective evolved over the course of his life after the publication of War, Peace and Non-Resistance.  Schlabach’s description of this development is focused primarily on Hershberger’s engagements the the Civil Rights movement and particularly with Martin Luther King, Jr.  Schlabach makes a compelling case that — at least later in his life — Hershberger’s understanding of non-resistance was more complex than mere passivity.  Schlabach says:

In 1975, at age seventy-eight, Hershberger was still pondering his exact position on nonviolent resistance.  And he was taking counsel from various voices in his church.  He was not at all fickle, not quick to move away from the convictions he had long held.  He still approved deeply of King’s kind of nonviolent action, yet he did not give it simple, unqualified, blanket endorsement.  Ultimately he wanted to be a disciple of Jesus, not of King.

Yoder scholars will be interested in Schlabach’s account of how Hershberger’s work in the later years of his life was influenced greatly by Yoder’s theology, particularly Yoder’s critique of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christian ethics.  I don’t imagine that this new book on Hershberger will find a huge audience, but nonetheless it is a well-researched and graciously-written work that is a major contribution to the history of Mennonite theology.


“A Vibrant, Historic Strand
Of the Christian Faith

A Review of
The Naked Anabaptist:
The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith

by Stuart Murray.

Reviewed by Dustin Hite.

The Naked Anabaptist:
The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith

Stuart Murray.
Paperback: Herald Press, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

THE NAKED ANABAPTIST - Stuart MurrayAs one who might rightly be described as ‘Anabaptist-friendly’, I was quite intrigued when I received notice that this particular work would be released soon.  Having not grown up in a church environment linked to traditional Anabaptism, my fondness for the tradition emerged in my graduate school studies, as I learned of the commitment and dedication of the “radical reformers” (a label that has been applied, by historians, to the early Anabaptists and others) in the face of violent persecution.

Stuart Murray, who himself could rightly be described as someone immersed in Anabaptist tradition, is not so much, in his book entitled The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, addressing those similar to himself.  Instead, his aim is to address the individuals, much like myself, who may lack any formal connection to an Anabaptist religious tradition, but nonetheless have found much of value in its theology and praxis.

Continue Reading…


The excellent book

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Redeemed a Tragedy
Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, David Weaver-Zercher.
Paperback: Jossey-Bass, 2010.
Buy now: [ ]

has just been released in an affordable paperback edition.

Read our review of this book by David Neuhouser.

An excerpt from this book:


“A New Generation of Hagiography”

A Review of
The Fugitive: Menno Simons.
Myron Augsburger.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

The Fugitive: Menno Simons.
Myron Augsburger.

Paperback: Herald Press, 2008.
Buy Now: [ ]

THE FUGITIVE: MENNO SIMONS by Myron AugsburgerMenno Simons, a leader in the Dutch Anabaptist movement of the sixteenth century whose name would be borrowed to identify the Mennonite churches, is a significant figure in church history and yet one about whom little is generally known, especially outside the Mennonite tradition.  Simons, ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1524 at the age of 28, would eventually come to question and then renounce the Catholic Church, and was re-baptized in 1536, severing the last strand of his ties with Rome.  Following his resignation from the Catholic priesthood and his subsequent rebaptism, Menno consigned himself to life on the run, pursued as a traitor by the Roman Church and the church-aligned local authorities.   Around the time of his renouncing of Catholicism, he wrote in his journal:

With God’s Spirit, help, force and hand, I left my good fame, honor, and name, which I had with people… Voluntarily, I went in misery and poverty under the burden of the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, in all my weakness, fearing God, searching for real and true believers in God.

And yet Menno, unlike many of his fellow Anabaptists, eluded the pursuing authorities for a quarter century, dying of illness at the relatively old age of sixty-six.

This adventurous story of Menno’s life, his abandonment to the way of the cross and his courageous trust in God’s provision has been re-told in Myron Augsburger’s recent book The Fugitive.

Continue Reading…


John Howard Yoder

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the annual booksale of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society.  There, I found a number of books and magazines that contained rare pieces by John Howard Yoder.

I have now catalogued these items and am offering them for sale at reasonable prices.

The sale of any of these items directly supports the work of The ERB.

Peruse our 2009 John Howard Yoder catalog.


Ok, so this was supposed to come out yesterday, but a host of complications conspired against that.  Let’s just say that this first podcast has been a technological learning experience.  Things hopefully will be smoother next time around…

This is part of a new feature that we are calling multimedia Tuesdays.  One week we will post a podcast, the next week a relevant video, and then we’ll repeat this 2  week cycle.  Let us know what you think as things unfold here…



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