The Audacity of Peacemaking: Statement from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany


(Spectrumbot) #1

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany has adopted a declaration titled "The Audacity of Peacemaking" (“Mut zum Frieden”). It was first published in the February 2018 issue of the church magazine "Adventisten heute." In the statement, the leadership of the Adventist Church recommends its members not participate directly or indirectly in war.

According to APD, the Adventist Press Service in Switzerland, this declaration was approved during the annual meeting of the German Church on December 4, 2017. The 51-person committee voted 50 to 1 in favor of the statement.

The statement follows in full below:

The Audacity of Peacemaking

STATEMENT OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH IN GERMANY ON THE END OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR IN 1918

The end of a war does not mean that peace has begun. This is a lesson of the First World War. While it is true that this war demonstrated a degree of cruelty and dehumanization that horrifies to this day, it was nevertheless merely the beginning of a kind of modern warfare that would mark a path of uninhibited violence right through the entire 20th century.

In our day, the manner in which war is conducted has once again drastically changed. We now speak of cyberwar, drone strikes, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), threats of atomic/biological/chemical weapons, and worldwide terrorism. The lines of conflict and parties involved are often no longer clearly identifiable.

In commemoration of the conclusion of the First World War on November 11, 1918, and in recognition of the new threats of danger, we feel obligated to call to remembrance our Christian-Adventist position, just as in our statement “Schuld und Versagen” (“Guilt and Failure”) in 2014. The following is of particular consideration:

1. War Is Not Just.

Behind every military conflict lie open and hidden interests that are not purely driven by the pursuit of justice. It is also about resources, business, influence, dependence, and power. The fate of people in conflict zones is often a secondary consideration. Collateral damage through misguided attacks against one’s own soldiers or the civilian population are considered as to be expected. Therefore, as early as December 1983, in view of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the executive committee of the West German and South German Union Conferences of our church declared, “Today, we reject war in every form.”

2. War and Threats Foster Fear

The current threat scenarios and modern warfare, accompanied by a new spiral of armament, the ostentatious parading of military might, and limited destructive attacks via bombs and missiles, foster fear. Fear is the most effective instrument of war, and a constant threat to freedom. Furthermore, an exaggerated nationalism with aggressive isolating from other nations also fosters fear and threatens peace.

3. War as Economic Factor

The industrial production of weapons of war is a formidable economic factor worldwide and among nations. Production and distribution usually takes place under the label of security or defense. This, however, in no way changes the fact that the goal is to endanger or to end human lives.

Jesus Christ has called his followers to be peacemakers. Wherever people are living in peace with God, they are also seeking peace with other people; for peace is indivisible and pervades all areas of life. Therefore, in our 2014 statement on the commencement of the First World War 100 years ago, we declared: “We believe that disciples of Jesus are truest to the statements of the Holy Scriptures when they act as ambassadors for peace and reconciliation.”

We therefore recommend that Adventists and Adventist young people neither directly participate in war through voluntary service in the military, nor indirectly participate in war preparations through involvement in the production of weapons and supplies, as well as information technology. Since the suspension of mandatory military service in Germany in 2011, the military offers incentives for those who voluntarily enlist, such as vocational training or a degree program. Nevertheless, “the church does not encourage people to join the military for reasons that include the biblical concept of noncombatancy …” writes Ted N. C. Wilson in “Adventist Word,” August 2014, p. 9. He emphasizes that “Seventh-day Adventists have maintained their historic witness in favor of peace and noncombatancy throughout the 151 years of the church’s existence.”

Peacemaking begins within the human relationships amidst one’s own surroundings, and from there extends to the assumption of socio-political responsibility. Thus, the promotion of religious liberty, the fight against poverty through education, the preservation of health through hospitals and health education, and supporting quality of life through the work of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) as well as Adventist Community Services (Advent-Wohlfahrtswerk – AWW), can all contribute to peace.

We are of the conviction that reconciliation, forgiveness, peace and justice can only thrive on the foundation of a way of life free from violence; just as our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, exemplified through His life and death. In the same way, we desire to live out our responsibility in this world without violence. As Adventists, we believe that God’s Kingdom of Peace is coming to us with the return of Jesus. Let us already be heading towards it through our conduct today.

In the name of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany,

Werner Dullinger Chairman

Johannes Naether 2nd Chairman

This statement was accepted by the executive committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany on December 4, 2017.

This declaration, "The Audacity of Peacemaking," can be downloaded on the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany’s website.

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Non-Violence Sculpture at the United Nations headquarters, New York City, created by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8549

(Terry A. Bork) #2

I’d be interested to know whether they would sanction the use of arms to attempt to protect the victims of war, such as the six million who died in the Holocaust.


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #3

Having just seen the splendid Oscar nominated movie, THe DARKEST HOUR, with a stellar performance of Winston Churchill by British actor, Gary Oldham (up for best actor ), I have to disagree with the above statement.

It is quite clear from history, that without Churchill’s forceful stance, and declaration of war against Germany, all of Europe would now be German speaking, and there would be a SWASTIKA FLAG currently flying over Buckingham Palace!

The Third Reich was evil personified, and needed to be contested at all costs.

The current German Adventists are attempting to varnish the truth.

I agree with Judge Terry Bork : the Holocaust was the worst atrocity in human history. The Germans who knew what was going on did nothing to stop it!


(Cynthia ) #4

I am a little confused by Ted Wilson’s statement that “the church does not encourage people to join the military _for reasons that include _the biblical concept of noncombatancy__…” but later states, "Seventh-day Adventists have maintained their historic witness in favor of peace and noncombatancy throughout the 151 years of the church’s existence.” I AM one of the happy ones to see that somewhere in the Adventist World we are seemingly toe-ing the line of Peace and Noncombattancy and am grateful to the Germans for stepping out with the “Audacity of Peacemaking”.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #5

I stand with Desmond Doss.I was a medic attached to the 40th InfantryDiv on Three Assault landings. came home with 30 percent disability. I helped save countless lives. That included Three Japanese.


(DENNIS HOFER) #7

Reply deleted by Dog Tail


(efcee) #9

I took it to mean that, even joining/volunteering for the military with the intent of playing a non-combative role, is not encouraged by the church; however when drafted or forced into participation, a non-combatant role would be acceptable (biblical). I could be wrong, but I think that is what he was trying to communicate.


(Bill Cork) #10

DogTail (DENNIS HOFER) mentions the story of the German Reformed movement as if it is a new revelation. It isn’t. Certainly not in these pages.

There’s more to the story of the relationship between the Adventist Church and the German Reformed Movement than simply detailing failures of a century ago. There have been dialogues and apologies between the parties in connection with the centennial of WW1, and these have been covered in articles in Adventist Today and in Spectrum.

http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/adventist-leaders-in-germany-apologize-for-stance-in-world-war-i

https://spectrummagazine.org/print/5997

https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/04/11/seventh-day-adventist-reform-movement-president-explains-century-old-church-split

https://atoday.org/pastor-idel-suarez-jr-reform-movement-president-2/

https://atoday.org/adventists-and-world-war-i-symposium-day-one/

https://atoday.org/adventists-and-world-war-1-symposium-last-day/

https://atoday.org/reformed-adventist-movement-responds-to-german-union-conferences/

https://atoday.org/7-point-statement-of-the-seventh-day-adventist-reform-movement/


#11

What about protecting your own town, as these Kurdish women did?

Filmed during the battle of Kobanî, this report reveals the women at the heart of the fight against IS.

With stoical perseverance and the aid of American airstrikes, these women are leading the fight for freedom.

“There is this saying in Kobanî that women are no good.” Meryam, commander-in-chief of all Kurdish units, explains the prejudice that women have historically faced. “I don’t think anybody dares to say this now.”

Kurdish women have played a major military role in the battle to defend Kobanî against the so-called Islamic State, and proved themselves every bit as capable as their male counterparts.

“The women nobody had confidence in, wrote history here in Kobanî”, she tells us.

This gripping report follows a Kurdish women’s unit, providing remarkable insight into their struggle, as well as the alliance they have built with US forces. Meryem coordinates her own troops along with airstrikes provided by American F-16s, in the Kurdish fight for freedom from ISIS.


(Charles Scriven) #12

This is a very complicated matter, which I have addressed several times in writing, once on the side I later came to reject. My best effort is the chapter on “The Peacemaking Remnant” in my book The Promise of Peace. But it doesn’t answer all the questions. What can?

The key, I believe, is to recognize that disciples of Christ have a specific calling, and it is clearly a calling to nonviolence. Even when there may be convincing justifications for war (as when the Nazis were in power), the disciple is to bear witness to a better way, as the Adventist John Weidner did, and as members of the Protestant Church in Le Chambon, France, did.

So nonviolence does not mean doing nothing, any more than working with the (neutral) Red Cross means doing nothing. Our job is a form of peacemaking that testifies against the dreadful slide toward tit-for-tat bloodletting. This position is, as I say, morally complex. And it is also, as I need not say again, vulnerable to criticism.

As was Jesus himself.

Chuck


(Terry A. Bork) #14

For our German conference colleagues to simply state that they are against taking up arms, without a clear statement of what they would do to protect the innocent strikes me as deeply troubling. Would they have stood by, citing their pacifism, as their countrymen systematically murdered millions in 1939 - 45? Surely the ethical and Biblical response to mass murder includes some obligation to try to protect the innocent. Yet their statement is silent on this point.


(Charles Scriven) #15

Yes, some obligation. But if Jesus is Lord, that obligation has to be spelled out with reference to his moral vision; presumably with reference to the Sermon on the Mount.

Christians are citizens of God’s world; not, ultimately (!), of nation states like, say, Croatia or Iraq or Australia. If we confine our understanding to present convention, we’d all be ready, if called upon, to kill our fellow Christians, not to mention Muslims and Buddhists. How would that be morally revolutionary? How would that obstruct the moral deflation that everywhere accompanies utilitarianism? (You see this even in “exceptional” America, where a very substantial swath of citizens and leaders is now comfortable with some forms of torture.)

An alternative to difficult (and faithful) conversation over these issues is, of course, disavowal of our loyalty to Christ. As we know, this seems like a pretty attractive option to many in contemporary Western societies.

Chuck


(Johnny Carson) #16

And really, who can blame them? If I were not raised within the Christian family I was raised in I think I, also, would be running away from Christianity as fast as possible, at least if the Christian influence I encounter the most is/was some of the incredibly idolatrous manifestations of it we are currently seeing here in the US.


(Steve Mga) #17

John Wiedman [sp?] who lived in France during wwII, family an SDA helped 100’s of Jews to escape from France into Swiss asylum. Being a skilled person on skis, he was able to elude Nazi ski soldiers many times.
Because of his actions he was unable to attend services so he would not put others in danger. Spent Sabbaths at a park by himself.
His sister was later rounded up before the war ended, sent to concentration camp in the East and was part of those exterminated and cremated.
John did not carry a gun, but he definitely was not a pacifist.
He later was given recognition by Israel and had a tree planted in his name, along with other tangible honors.
I had the honor of hearing him present his story In Memphis, TN SDA church around 1967. And at one time had an autographed copy of his book.


(Johnny Carson) #18

oops again. second posting in the thread. :relaxed:


(Bill Cork) #19

I’m grateful to the church in Germany for reaffirming the Adventist Church’s commitment to both positive peacemaking and to noncombatant approach to military service–something which the German Adventist church failed to support during two World Wars, when it fell in step with the siren song of nationalistic patriotism, and dealt harshly with individual Adventists who sought to practice the historic position of the church.

But I wish they would have cited the official position of the church, reaffirmed in 1972, which said that while the church’s position is in favor of noncombatancy, the final decision is an individual one, and the church will support members regardless of the position they take.

See the article by Ted Wilson in Adventist World (https://archives.adventistworld.org/2014/august/the-battle.html)

“Thus, while the official church position is that of noncombatancy—conscientious objection to bearing arms—the decision as to whether or not to serve in the military and bear arms is left to the conscience of the individual. … Regardless of the decision the individual makes, the church is committed to ministering and providing pastoral care and support to all of its members, including those serving in the military, and to their families.”


#20

Bill, how is this position communicated to the young members of the church? Are they made aware that the church has an official position?


(Bill Cork) #21

It’s primarily communicated through Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, through webpage, publications (“God & Country” and “Adventist Chaplain”), through a DVD (“Reality”), and through personally dialogue members of the ACM staff have at colleges, academies, churches, etc. ACM has had a booth at GYC and will have one at The One Project. Staff are available to go where invited.

http://adventistsinuniform.org


http://nad.adventistchaplains.org


#22

90% of churchgoers have never read the whole bible which means they probably have no exposure to NEH chapter 4


(Herbert Bodenmann) #23

Thank you, Charles!
I am editor-in-chief of Adventist Press Service APD Switzerland. We have a very close cooperation with Adventist Press Service APD Germany that published the statement.
There is a book in German, published by Daniel Heinz, an Adventist researcher: “Freikirchen und Juden im »Dritten Reich«” (Free churches and Jews in the “Dritte Reich”). He describes very transparent the role of Adventists and other free churches in Nazi-Germany.