Menno answers his critics on the issue
of peace and violence
. . . they say that we are seditionists and that
we would take cities and countries if we had the power.
This prophecy is false and will ever remain so; and by the
grace of God, time and experience will prove that those who thus
prophesy according to the Word of Moses are not of God. Faithful
reader, understand what I write.
The Scriptures teach that there are two opposing princes and
two opposing kingdoms: the one is the Prince of peace; the other
the prince of strife. Each of these princes has his particular
kingdom and as the prince is so is also the kingdom. The Prince
of peace is Christ Jesus; His kingdom is the kingdom of peace,
which is His church; His messengers are the messengers of peace;
His Word is the word of peace; His body is the body of peace;
His children are the seed of peace; and His inheritance and reward
are the inheritance and reward of peace. In short, with this
King, and in His kingdom and reign, it is nothing but peace.
Everything that is seen, heard, and one is peace.
We have heard the word of peace, namely, the consoling Gospel
of peace from the mouth of His messengers of peace. We, by His
grace, have believed and accepted it in peace and have committed
ourselves to the only, eternal, and true Prince of peace, Christ
Jesus, in His kingdom of peace and under His reign, and are thus
by the gift of His Holy Spirit, by means of faith, incorporated
into His body. And henceforth we look with all the children
of His peace for the promised inheritance and reward of peace.
Such exceeding grace of God has appeared unto us poor, miserable
sinners that we who were formerly no people at all and who knew
of no peace are now called to be such a glorious people of God,
a church, kingdom, inheritance, body, and possession of peace.
Therefore we desire not to break this peace, but by His great
power by which He has called us to this peace and portion, to
walk in this grace and peace, unchangeably and unwaveringly unto
Peter was commanded to sheathe his sword. All Christians are
commanded to love their enemies; to do good unto those who abuse
and persecute them; to give the mantle when the cloak is taken,
the other cheek when one is struck. Tell me, how can a Christian
defend Scripturally retaliation, rebellion, war, striking, slaying,
torturing, stealing, robbing and plundering and burning cities,
and conquering countries?
The great Lord who has created you and us, who has placed our
hearts within us knows, and he only knows that our hearts and
hands are clear of all sedition and murderous mutiny. By His
grace we will ever remain clear. For we truly confess that all
rebellion is of the flesh and of the devil.
O beloved reader, our weapons are not swords and spears, but
patience, silence, and hope, and the Word of God. With these
we must maintain our heavy warfare and fight our battle. Paul
says, The weapons of our warfare are not carnal; but mighty through
God . . . .
True Christians do not know vengeance, no matter how they are
mistreated. In patience they posses their souls. Luke 21:18.
And they do not break their peace, even if they should be tempted
by bondage, torture, poverty, and besides, by the sword and fire.
They do not cry, Vengeance, vengeance, as does the world; but
with Christ they supplicate and pray: Father, forgive them;
for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60.
According to the declaration of the prophets they have beaten
their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree,
Christ; neither shall they learn war any more. Isa 2:4; Mic
They do not seek your money, goods, injury, nor blood, but they
seek the honor and praise of God and the salvation of your souls.
They are the children of peace; their hearts overflow with peace;
their mouths speak peace, and they walk in the way of peace;
they are full of peace. They seek, desire, and know nothing
of peace; and are prepared to forsake country, goods, life, and
all for the sake of peace. For they are the kingdom, people,
congregation, city, property, and body of peace, as has been
Beloved reader, I poor, miserable man (pardon me for writing
this), have in my weakness these seventeen years feared the Word
of the Lord and served my neighbors. I have without faltering
borne scorn and cross with much misery, anxiety, tribulation,
and peril. I trust by His grace that I will do so to the end,
to testify with a good conscience to His holy Word, will, and
ordinance with mouth, pen, life, and death as much as in me is.
Is it possible that at heart I am a stormy, rebellious, vengeful,
and bloody murderer? The Most High will save His poor servant
--"Reply to Gellius Faber," Complete Writings
of Menno Simons, pp. 554-556
Mennonite Historical Bulletin, April 1996