Jonathan Marlowe has an interesting argument:
You are exactly right about this. The Articles of Religion of the ME Church and the Confession of Faith of the EUB Church are doctrinal standards, and it is a chargeable offense for anyone (lay or clergy) to disseminate any doctrines contrary thereto.
Also, remember that the Confession of Faith of the EUB states that "War and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ." This is not just a statement from the Social Principles (which can change every four years and are not binding). This is a quote from a doctrinal standard, and as such, it is binding on all UM clergy and laity.
He is referring to Article 16 in The Confession of Faith on p.71 of The Book of Discipline (2004), which reads:
We believe civil government derives its just powers from the sovereign God. As Christians we recognize the governments under whose protection we reside and believe such governments should be based on, and be responsible for, the recognition of human rights under God. We believe war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ. We believe it is the duty of Christian citizens to give moral strength and purpose to their respective governments through sober, righteous and godly living.
Emphasis added. I had never noticed that before. In the context of this entire article and The Confession of Faith as a whole, the sentence suggests that pacifism is mandatory. Unless I can find evidence that the original intent of this sentence was not to establish pacifism, then Jonathan has a strong case.
So I am now at the seminary library trying to find out the original intent of the sentence. Alas, most of Asbury Seminary's resources on the history of the UB and EUB are at the Wilmore campus. Most of what I can find are old hagiographies of EUB leaders and the EUB itself, and only two critical histories. Neither describe the creation of this article, let alone the rationale behind it. I do have in my hands a 1963 Discipline of the EUB, which contains this article verbatim, as well as a general statement that war is very bad, but that individual church members may elect to serve in the armed forces if they feel it is necessary. "God alone is the Lord of the conscience" (177). But this statement is not in the Confession, and therefore lacks its authority.
Key to this discussion is what we United Methodists define as our doctrinal standards. The Book of Discipline says:
In the Plan of Union for The United Methodist Church, the preface to the Methodist Articles of Religion and the Evangelical United Brethren Confession of Faith explains that both were accepted as doctrinal standards for the new church. Additionally, it stated that although the language of the first Restrictive Rule never has been formally defined, Wesley's Sermons and Notes were understood specifically to be included in our present existing and established standards of doctrine. It also stated that the Articles, the Confession, and the Wesleyan "standards" were "thus deemed congruent if not identical in their doctrinal perspectives and not in conflict." This declaration was accepted by subsequent rulings of the Judicial Council.
Jonathan disputes this statement, and is apparently far more well read than I on the debate over what documents form our doctrinal statements:
Heitzenrater goes back to the minutes of the 1808 General Conference (when the First Restrictive Rule was adopted); a motion was made by Francis Ward to establish the Articles of Religion, Wesley's Notes and Sermons and Fletcher's Checks against Antinomianism as the established doctrinal standards. This motion failed. Heitzenrater writes,
"The General Conference was not willing to go on record defining its standards of doctrine in terms of documents other than the Articles, not even Wesley's Sermons and Notes .... In light of those actions of the 1808 General Conference, it is by no means strange that for two successive generations no one ever seems to have raised the question as to what the 'present existing and established standards of doctrine' were. The Articles of Religion were the only standards of doctrine that had been 'established' by the Methodist Episcopal Church, that is adopted between 1785 and 1808 with provisions for enforcement as a measure of Methodist doctrine in America."
This dispute is definitely worth exploring further. Now as for the doctrinal standard issue, I've glanced at Wesley's Notes to see what he had to say about the major Bible verses used to support Just War: Mat 8:8-10 and Mark 12:13-17. Neither of them advance the proposition that Wesley supported Just War Theory. I also looked at what Wesley had to say about the primary Bible verses for pacifism: Mat 5:38-42, Luk 6:32-36, and Rom 12:17-13:7, and he gave pacifistic readings of all three.
I don't have time to look at the Notes further, nor the Sermons, but it's clear that Jonathan has a very credible argument. And as I'm a supporter of Just War Theory, that makes me rather uncomfortable.
Joel Betow also has thoughts on this subject.