We are Mennonites (and fellow travelers) who reject the church’s mission activities.
We believe Christian mission, historically, goes hand-in-hand with cultural destruction. We love human diversity and seek to preserve it. Thus, we oppose evangelistic crusades and mission boards that proselytize, no matter how well-meaning they claim to be.
We reject the authenticity of the so-called “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:19-20). We simply don’t think Jesus said it. Most New Testament scholars doubt its authenticity as well, for a couple reasons. Firstly, any statements supposedly made by Jesus after his death must be called into question. Secondly, if Jesus told his followers to go out and convert the world, then the debate about the inclusion of Gentiles during Paul’s time makes little sense. To modern scholars, the “Great Commission” sounds more like the post-70-A.D. church talking than the historical Jesus.
We believe the missionary impulse contains an inherent contradiction. This is illustrated by the story of the Inuit hunter and the missionary. The Inuit asks the missionary: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” The missionary says: “No, not if you did not know.” To which the Inuit replies: “Then why did you tell me?” If we agree that God doesn’t reject those who’ve never heard the gospel, it follows that what causes unbelievers to be moved from a state of grace to a state of condemnation is the act of missionary preaching itself. Since most potential converts in the mission field reject the invitation to accept the gospel, it seems missionaries must be held responsible for more souls being lost than saved. Wouldn’t it be best to leave unbelievers alone, in their state of grace, in the first place?
We are persons who have developed friendships with folks from many paths and traditions: Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Moslem, Baha’i, Jain, Native American, Pagan, and more. We recognize the common emphases that make these paths more alike than they are different: mercy, compassion, loving-kindness, forgiveness, non-judgment, non-attachment to material things, etc. In our view, these emphases can only have one source: a divine one (regardless of whether it is acknowledged or not). We believe the Source who originally inspired the multitude of paths still approves of them today, without preference. So efforts to elevate one path over another are not only unnecessary, but should be viewed as evidence of spiritual arrogance and cultural aggression.
Therefore, we call on Mennonite mission agencies (in particular, Mennonite Mission Network, Eastern Mennonite Missions, and Rosedale Mennonite Missions) to:
1. Reevaluate their proselytizing work in light of modern understandings of the New Testament, and the realities of our multicultural post-christian world;
2. Change their mandate from converting the masses to helping preserve religious diversity around the globe; and
3. Begin sending people to foreign lands, not for the purpose of church expansion, but to investigate the truth and beauty in other cultures and bring those elements back for the edification and enlightenment of folks at home. Mennonite emissaries, not missionaries.
The Mennonite Anti-Mission Association was created in July 2012.
Visit the “Mennonite Anti-Mission Association” Facebook page, and “like” us.
Manifesto last revised: July 6, 2012
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