War, Peace, and Social Conscience: A life and times biography

A third of the “Mennonite trinity” was remembered on Tuesday as Theron Schlabach released his book, “War, Peace and Social Conscience: Guy F. Hershberger and Mennonite Ethics.”

Schlabach, a 1960 Goshen College graduate, did not take classes with Hershberger, a professor at Goshen, until the late 1950s, but he worked as Hershberger’s assistant in the history department for one semester.

“He really is one of the important figures of that Goshen school age when Harold Bender—well, we used to call them the holy Mennonite trinity,” Schlabach said, explaining how Harold S. Bender’s initials earned him the nickname of “Holy Spirit,” while J. C. Wenger and Guy F. Hershberger were the “Jesus Christ” and “God the Father” of the trinity.

Schlabach said his book is “a life and times biography, but with a conscious effort to give a lot of context.”

“Guy Hershberger very much deals with the questions of war and peace, and alternative service,” he said.

“He came in at a time when there were few enough university-trained Mennonite scholars that a person such as he stood out and could be a leader —unlike now when there are so many voices—that he could be a special kind of effective.”

Schlabach began studying Hershberger in the 1970s when he wrote a biographical chapter on Hershberger commemorating his 80th birthday in 1976. Schlabach put down most of that research until after he retired as a Goshen College history professor in 1998.

John Driver, a 1950 Goshen College graduate, was one of Hershberger’s students who attended the book reception.

“I remember his idiosyncrasies,” Driver said about Hershberger, who taught his War, Peace and Nonresistance class.

“Tongue-in-cheek was not an enigmatic expression—it was real,” Driver said, while demonstrating how Hershberger would push out his cheek with his tongue after particular comments.

“War, Peace and Social Conscience: Guy F. Hershberger and Mennonite Ethics” is in stock at the Goshen College bookstore and also available at other book outlets.

Written by Marlys Weaver

Marlys E. Weaver is a senior journalism major and editor-in-chief of The Record. She grew up living and working on a Guernsey farm and has worked at Maple City Market as a sales staff member and newsletter editor, and on an organic coffee farm in Peru, giving her a well-rounded interest in food and agriculture. She has also reported for "The Farmers' Exchange," "The Elkhart Truth," "The South Bend Tribune," and collaborated on a story on msnbc.com.

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