Pacifist churches under fire for Ahmadinejad dinner

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c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Keepers of Protestantism’s pacifist traditions will showcase just how far they’ve come from their humble roots in Europe’s persecuted peasantry when they share an intimate dinner in New York next Thursday (Sept. 25) with a world leader. It’s not just any world leader, however, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, […]

  • Corine Dawson

    I say yes and Amen. As christians are we really following Jesus when we refuse to meet with others who do not believe as we do? It does not mean that we agree with their way of thinking. How else can we win other to Christ if we refuse to have contact with them?

  • Sharon

    Would Jesus want to meet with Satan to discuss winning him over to Christianity? You must understand that some people in this world are so evil that you cannot reach them by sitting down to try to persuade them. Do you think that Hitler could have been persuaded to be more like Jesus if you had invited him to a dinner and tried to reason with him? Ahmadinejad is from the same fabric as Hitler and they both are way too close to Satan for any religious group to reach them spiritually. You have to realize that Ahmadinejad is way more that just an outcast or sinner. He represents the highest form of evil in our world. It’s really sad that you choose to even give him the time of day, let alone a dinner. How unfortunate because I as a Jew was just beginning to feel closer to the peace churches. Now I feel this is a slap in the face. I’ll pray for you.

  • Moses did not sit down with the Pharaoh after he told him…Let my People Go! Even Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace to the world, but to bring a sword. (Matthew 10:34) (Luke 12:51 uses the term “rather division”)Although I can see Corine’s point, unless these churches are meeting with Ahmadinejad to discuss his need to repent, I would tend to accept Sharon’s view. Jesus did tell his disciples that if any would not listen, to shake the dust off from their shoes.Paul states in Romans 12:18 “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” This tells us that there are some that we can not live in peace with. As a Christian, if I am proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to these people, I have to turn the other check but as a nation, Israel (as do other nations when under attack) has an obligation to defend its people. I also contend that the fact that for a small nation such as Israel to still exist while they are surrounded by nations that have vowed to destroy them (and most have not rescinded that vow) and have engaged them in several wars, it shows that GOD has not abandoned Israel and that it would behoove Ahmadinejad to read the promises made to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. The promise to Abraham was unconditional but it has not been fulfilled yet. Check Genesis chapter 15 for this covenant. The GOOD news is that Jesus said He has other sheep that He will bring into the fold and the two shall be one fold with One Shepherd. (John 10:16) so Ahmadinejad can be included as can anyone who places their trust in Jesus for full payment for their sin.

  • John

    I have read the MCC’s reasons for meeting with Ahmadinejad and I am sure they are listening to and swallowing what he says, but it is equally obvious that he doesn’t listen to them. Some dialogue.

  • MCC has outlined its motivation behind this meetings on their website.Go to for specific questions and answers go to appreciate MCC’s willingness to engage in loving dialog with our enemies even in the face of strong opposition. One of the core principles of our faith is to follow the Biblical instruction to love all people as God loves us. This is not an easy commitment but I believe it is this Christian calling that MCC is attempting to be faithful to in this situation.Thanks MCC!

  • Mohamed MALLECK

    I think that President Ahmadinejad should politely decline the invitation in view of certain statements made by the hosts, like:(1) Jesus ate with lepers and with tax collectors, and in the United States right now, Iran would be in that category;(2) The criticisms levied at Jesus were that he ate with … people of ill repute, and we’re getting similar criticisms.”

    Instead, President Ahmadinejad should invite his would-be hosts to an Iftaar gathering at the Iranian Embassy and give them an apercu of Muslim hospitality.

  • I am a Mennonite pastor and object on theological and historical grounds to MCCs political-religious action work.When MCC tries to act and work for political solutions it is DEEPLY un-Anabaptist, co-opted by Empire-like solutions (e.g. force or non-christian idols of peace. Not all peace-making is Jesus based pacifism. As such it is inherently another form of Kingdom of the World power.) The dialogues with states instead of engaging in Kingdom of God proclamation is simply playing imperial games with imperial rules.My concern: I appreciate what others are saying in defense of MCC political-religious talks, but I think my argument must be clear enough – because the nuance of being a church agency vs. a political action agency is not getting through.MCC does much good on the ground in Iran. I am saying that the political mediation peace-making approach is a case in MCC missing the point (and boat theologically). The way of Jesus was NEVER to sit down with Caesar. When the religious leaders sought him out he didn’t turn them away, but his reconciliation efforts were with the people in need. The evidence of being the Prince of Peace was that he engaged the Spiritual Powers directly and therefore indirectly the political Powers. And when it came to direct talk with the Religious-Political Powers it was in prophetic confrontation or his being at the end of their weapons — e.g. the way of the Cross!Jesus proclamation was of another Kingdom. His peace message was the in-breaking reign of God. In the case of Iran, the right way to enter this conversation would be because MCC is planting churches, helping the poor, and sharing the good news in Iran in such a way as to be brought before the modern ‘Pilates.’ Then there would be a claim of offense. But TO the powers (Spiritual and Political) not as a full on participation in them (MCCs complete co-option).It is abdicating the prophetic peace-making of Jesus for political, inside the systems of the world that Jesus came to dethrone. (again see: Boyd, Yoder, Claibourne, etc.)The present approach makes MCC looks co-opted by left (or in some cases perhaps right) politics.When MCC sits down with political leaders that is expressly NOT the ‘Jesus way’ of peace – whether it be the US or Iranian Empires.Being controversial and unpopular for anything other than direct witness to the gospel in word and deed to helpless, harassed, and people in need of conversion is the be the wrong kind of offense. The social work MCC does is a great step in the direction of the RIGHT (meaning congruent with Jesus life and teachings) offense. SO AGAIN offending someone’s political sensibilities with simply another religious-political act, as MCC has done, wins them no gospel glory or kudos -just applause from like minded or those that use such “talks” as screens for true motives.Moreover, based on MCCs actions, the enemy that MCC makes is the Israeli people and nation.If the political peace work is the goal of MCC (violating the above theology) in the Middle East then so be it. But it still needs to change its approach and meet with its political enemy — which is not (clearly) Iran. MCC however is not a state. So I don’t even understand it’s enemy speak? In what way does MCC represent the US government or American people? MCC represents MCC.We ARE called to judge actions not people. I am in no way judging the eternal condition of anyone involved – am not God. The actions of political peace-making vs. kingdom-of-god counter-intuitive service is what I am concerned with. And will point out that MCC is perceived as making enemies in the name of political peace-making and a misappropriation of Anabaptist pacifism.MCC’s Iranian political interactions “in the name of Christ” are contradicting Jesus own approach to transformation and peace-making.I hope the debate about political approaches vs Jesus-centered approaches continues. I love the Anabaptist historic peace church too much to let this slide.Thanks, Shel

  • Clair Frank

    As the son of a Mennonite Bishop from Pa. I am deeply concerned about the lack of understanding of the Israel people as taught in the Bible.Peace can only come from Jesus, so I believe it is time for GOD’S church to get on their knees’ and confess there sins, seek His direction, instead of some intectual diolog that will never achieve GOD’S will. Ahmadinejad needs Jesus to bring peace in his life & the people of Iran.Thanks,Clair

  • JW

    I’m a Brethren In Christ pastor, and would have mixed feelings about sitting down to dinner with Iran’s Ahmadinejad. The dinner is to commemorate Ramadan. If the question is why MCC would seek to host Ahmadinejad or why commemorate Ramadan, I’d be more curious. And, like other responders, I might have some negativity. But as the article states, the dinner is at Ahmadinejad’s request. What does it mean that he should invite followers of Jesus to dine with him? Actively pursuing peace may very well mean, showing up for dinner on time, graciously responding to a very unusual circumstance, praying for God to somehow use our willingness albeit very uncomfortable, speaking Truth, making the most of every opportunity God grants us to share our witness of living with/for Christ. MCC needs our prayer support, not our criticism.In Jesus,