In Defense of Christian Non-Violence

By Todd Lewis

Here I will be presenting a defense of the Christian concept of Non-Violence (not to be confused with Pacifism, which I will discuss in contradistinction to non-violence later). This paper will be divided into four sections: (1) Scriptural defense of non-violence, (2) a defense from Church tradition of non-violence, (3) an account of why the unanimous non-violence of the Church was changed, and (4) consideration and rebuttals of non-violence from Protestants (primarily theonomists), Roman Catholics, and Orthodox Christians.

1.1 Defining Non-Violence

There is a common misconception that non-violence is the same as pacifism. Pacifism is a political ideology that seeks by non-violent means to compel others to acquiesce to one’s will; for example, doing a sit-in to force a place of business to desegregate. Non-violence is a theological position that applies the maxim of “turn the other cheek” taught by Christ in Matthew 5:38-40. Pacifism seeks to change people by a subtle coercion; non-violence does not seek to coerce anyone. This distinction can be seen by Neiburian critique:

“One Neibuhrian rejoinder at this point may be that the nonresisting ethic of Jesus is inevitably compromised by an “pacifism” that seeks to change society for the better through immersion in social conflicts shot through with coercion.”[1]

We also see a distinction made by Gene Sharp, the ‘Machiavelli’ of non-violent resistance:

“Sharp: Yes. I had encountered the idea of nonviolent resistance, though. There was a time I called myself a pacifist, which I don’t do now for a variety of reasons.

JV: Why is that?

Sharp: A pacifist, historically, is basically a position of doctrinal rejection of the military on moral or political grounds or whatever—primarily a personal position. It’s simply, “No, I will not do that.” It doesn’t contribute to what could be done instead. And so I identify more as someone who’s concentrating on trying to refine and develop the potential of what you can do instead, and that isn’t pacifism as a doctrine at all. And especially since this—what you can do instead—can be done by people who are not pacifists, but by people who would normally, perhaps, use violence.

So at one point I was somewhat torn between certain pacifist ideas and the need that the country should be defended. And I think I only, as best I remember, became, as I was at one point, a conscientious objector after I had in my head: “Well, yes. One could defend the country in other ways.” Those were very simplistic and crude kinds of ideas, which were around at that time, but they were there and that was really important to me.”[2]

Yes, Sharp calls pacifism what I call non-violence and he calls non-violence what I call pacifism; but semantics aside, and for the sake of consistency, I will stick to my terms of use. The important question that Sharp raises is whether peace is a means to an end (politics) or an end in itself (morality and theology). Sharp sides with the former and associates Christian non-violence with the latter.

1.2 Old Testament

It might seem odd that a defense of Christian non-violence would start in the Old Testament (OT) since it is drenched with blood. The OT, being full of types and shadows of the future, unsurprisingly contains types of the future age of peace. The question of continuity and consistency between OT and NT will be discussed later.

There are four passages that speak directly to the age of peace inaugurated by the Messiah: Isaiah 2:1-4, Micah 4:1-3, Hosea 2:18, and Zechariah 9:10. We shall look at each in turn.

Isaiah 2:1-4:

“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Micah 4:1-3:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter daysThat the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, Andrebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.”

What we clearly see from these two passages is that the Messianic Law of Peace is joined with the inclusion of the gentiles in the commonwealth of Israel. When Christ taught at the Sermon on the Mt, he taught the Gospel of Peace (beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks), and at the same time ushered the gentiles into the Church. Given that all Christians accept the latter claim, they must of necessity accept the former claim as well. If they deny the fulfilment in the Church of Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-3, then they in fact must deny that the gentiles have entered into the commonwealth of Israel, which, if true, would require them to be circumcised in order to be members of the covenant people of God.

We see more types and shadows of the future in Hosea 2:18 and Zechariah 9:10. We see that in one verse prior to Zechariah 9:10, we have Zechariah 9:9 which prophesies Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, which is fulfilled in Matthew 21:5. So the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem is also tied to his teaching of peace. So if one denies the non-violence message of Christ, one must deny His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the inclusion of gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel, two claims that most Christians would be loathe to make.

1.3 New Testament

The NT and the birth, life, and death of Christ are the fulfilment of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament. The clearest and most obvious command to peace is found in Matthew 5:38-40:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.”

There has been much ink spilled in trying to say that Jesus did not teach what He clearly and plainly teaches in fulfillment of Isaiah 2:1-4, Micah 4:1-3, and Zechariah 9:10, and some of those objections will be dealt with later. This passage is clearly not dealing with a private or personal ethic for at least two reasons: (1) a Lockean bifurcation of public and private did not exist in 1st century Israel and (2) Jesus is directly challenging the Law of Moses.

It should be clear to all who study the 1st century that the radical division between private and public that dominates the 21st century was totally foreign to the ancient world. Religion was not a private, but a public matter. The Lex Talionis, or “law of retribution,” is laid down by Moses in the Pentateuch in Exodus 21:24 , Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21. Clearly any Jewish audience to Jesus would have understood the term “a tooth for a tooth” as a civil penalty for a crime. What Jesus is demonstrating is the radical notion that the people of God will not demand or execute the law of retribution against their enemies. Instead, we are to bless those who curse us (Matthew 5:44). A far more and exacting discussion of Christ and the Lex Talionis can be found in James Davis’ excellent monograph, Lex Talionis in Early Judaism and the Exhortation of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-42 (The Library of New Testament Studies). Davis argues that long before Christ the harshness of the Lex Talionis was mitigated by Rabbinical casuistry, until its abolition by Christ. He then goes on to show that this reading of Matthew 5:38-42 and its implications toward the Lex Talionis were confirmed in the earliest teachings of the Church.

We see with the Sermon on the Mt. (Matthew 5:1-48), and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-49) that Christ is teaching us not to resist evil people, not to demand what is stolen from us, to bless those who persecute us, and to turn the entire notion of power relations on its head.

2.1 Ante-Nicean Witness

I have shown the scriptural evidence for Christian non-violence, but what did the earliest Christians believe? According to Ronald Sider:

“First, up until the time of Constantine, there is not a single Christian writer known to use who says that it is legitimate for Christians to kill or join the military.”[3]

As I will show below, it is a clear and incontrovertible fact that for the first three centuries of the Christian era prior to Constantine’s conversion in 313 that Christians foresworn all manslaughter of any kind. Due to an invincible, incorrigible stupidity, and sloth of all too many Christians I will, because they would not seek it out if otherwise cited, list a very long series of quotations of Early Church fathers[4] from all over the Roman world and throughout those centuries, all in uniform agreement on this matter.

Non-resistance:

They comfort their oppressors and make them their friends. They do good to their enemies. Aristides, 9.276, [QN1]

We will not ask you to punish our accusers. Their present wickedness is sufficient punishment. Justin Martyr, 1.165, [QN2]

We have learned not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us. Not only that, but to those who strike us on the one side of the face, we have learned to offer theother side also.

Athenagoras, 2.129 [QN3]

He commanded (His followers) … not only not to strike others, but even, when they themselves are struck, to present the other cheek … (He commanded them) not only not to injure their neighbors, nor to do them any evil, but also, when they are dealt with wickedly, to be long-suffering. Irenaeus, 1.408, [QN4]

Thephilosopherswillthenwithproprietybetakenupinafriendly exposure, … but not in the manner of avenging ourselves on our detractors. Rather, it will be for the purpose of their conversion. For vengeance is far from being the case with those persons who have learned to bless those who curse. Clement of Alexandria, 2.347, [QN5]

Thespiritualmannevercherishesresentmentorharborsagrudge against anyone – even though deserving of hatred for his conduct. Clement of Alexandria, 2.540, [QN6]

Christians are not allowed to use violence to correct the delinquencies of sins. Clement of Alexandria, 2.581, [QN7]

Hippias (a pagan) is put to death for laying plots against the state. No Christian ever attempted such a thing on behalf of his brethren,evenwhenpersecutionwasscatteringthemabroadwith every atrocity. Tertullian, 3.51, [QN8]

If dragged to trial, he does not resist.

Tertullian, 3.110, [QN9]

The practice of the old law was to avenge itself by the vengeance of the sword. It was to pluck out ”eye for eye”, and to inflict retaliatory revenge for injury. However, the practice of the new law points to clemency. Tertullian, 3.154, [QN10]

Men of old were used to requiring ”eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” and to repay evil for evil, with usury! … But after Christ hassupervened and has united the grace of faith with patience, now it is no longer lawful to attack others even with words, nor to merely say ”fool,” without danger of the judgment. … Christ says, ”Love your enemies and bless your cursers, and pray for your persecutors.” Tertullian, 3.711, [QN11]

If someone attempts to provoke you by physical violence, the admonition of the Lord is at hand. He says, ”To Him who strikes you on the face, turn the other cheek also.” Let outrageousness be worn out by your patience. Whatever that blow may be, joined with pain and scorn, it will receive a heavier one from the Lord. Tertullian, 3.712, [QN12]

For what difference is there between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, but the latter did evil afterwards. Each one stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man. For God both prohibits and condemns every wickedness. In evil doing, there is no account taken of the order … The commandment is absolute: evil is not to be repaid with evil. Tertullian, 3.713, [QN13]

Christ plainly teaches a new kind of long-suffering, when He actually prohibits the reprisals that the Creator permitted in requiring “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Tertullian, 3.370, [QN14]

TheLordwillsavetheminthatday–evenHispeople–likesheep … No one gives the name of “sheep” to those who fall in battle with arms in hand, or those who are killed when repelling force with force. Rather, it is given only to those who are slain, yielding themselves up in their own place of duty and with patience rather than fighting in self-defense. Tertullian, 3.415, [QN15]

Moreover, the command about the right cheek being struck is most (literally) impossible, since everyone who strikes (unless he happens to have some bodily irregularity) strikes the left cheek with his right hand. Origen, 4.367, [QN16]

(Celsus, a pagan critic) says, ”They also have a teaching to this effect: that we should not avenge ourselves on one who injures us.” Or, as Christ expresses it: ”Whoever will strike you on the one cheek, turn the other to Him also.” Origen, 4.634, [QN17]

We revile no one, for we believe that “revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.” And we read, “Bless them that curse you; bless, and curse not.” Also, “Being reviled, we bless.” Origen, 4.654, [QN18]

Do not willingly use force and do not return force when it is used against you. Commondianus, 4.212, [QN19]

Wemaynothate. AndwepleaseGodmorebyrenderingnoreturn for wrong. Therefore, we exhort you to make satisfaction to God. Do this while you have the power, while there yet remains in you something of life … We do not envy your comforts, nor do we conceal the divine benefits. We repay kindness for your hatred. In return for the torments and penalties that are inflicted on us, we point out to you the ways of salvation. Cyprian, 5.465, [QN20]

The Christian has departed from rage and carnal contention as if from the hurricanes of the sea. He has already begun to be tranquil and meek in the harbor of Christ. Therefore, he should allow neither anger nor discord within his breath. For he must neither return evil for evil, nor bear hatred. Cyprian, 5.488, [QN21]

Even our enemies are to be loved.

Cyprian, 5.546, [QN22]

Do no one any injury at any time; provoke no one to anger. If an injury is done to you, look to Jesus Christ. And even as you desire Him to forgive your transgressions, also forgive others theirs. Theonas of Alexandria, 6.161, [QN23]

Religion is to be defended – not by putting to death – but by dying. Notbycruelty,butbypatientendurance. Notbyguilt,butbygood faith. For the former belongs to evil, but the latter to the good… For if you wish to defend religion by bloodshed, tortures, and guilt, it will no longer be defended. Rather, it will be polluted and profaned … And, therefore, when we suffer such impious things, we do not resist even in word. Rather, we leave vengeance to God. Wedonotactasthosepersonswhowouldhaveitappearthatthey are defenders of their gods, who rage without restraint against those who do not worship them. Lactantius, 7.157, [QN24]

IfweallderiveouroriginfromonemanwhomGodcreated,weare clearly of one blood. Therefore, it must be considered the greatest wickedness to hate a man – even if he is guilty. On this account, God has forbidden us to ever contract enmities. Rather, they are to be eliminated, so that we soothe those who are our enemies by reminding them of their relationship. For, if we are all inspired and quickened by one God, what else are we except brothers? … Therefore, they are to be considered as savage beasts who injure man, who – in opposition to every law and right of human nature plunder, torture, slay, and banish. On account of this relationship of brotherhood, God teaches us never to do evil, but always good. Lactantius, 7.172, [QN25]

When we suffer such ungodly things, we do not resist even in word. Rather, we leave vengeance to God. Lactantius, 7.158, [QN26]

The Christian does injury to no one. He does not desire the property of others. In fact, he does not even defend his own property if it is taken from Him by violence. For he knows how to patiently bear an injury inflicted upon Him.Lactantius, 7.160, [QN27]

If anyone should be so shameless as to inflict injury on a good and just man, such a man must bear it with calmness and moderation. HewillnottakeuponHimselfhisrevenge. Rather, hewillreserve it for the judgment of God. He must maintain innocence at all times and in all places. And this commandment is not limited to merely his not (being the first to) inflict injury on another. Rather, he should not even avenge it when injury is inflicted on Him. For there sits on the judgment-seat a very great and impartial Judge.Lactantius, 7.183, [QN28]

“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” That is the expression of justice. However, His injunction that a man who is struck onthe one cheek should offer the other also – that is the expression of goodness. Now, are justice and goodness opposed to each other? Farfromit! Rather,therehasonlybeenadvancementfromsimple justice to positive goodness. Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.216, [QN29]

For this reason it is that none of us, when he is apprehended, makes resistance, nor avenges Himself against your unrighteous violence, although our people are numerous and plentiful. Cyprian, 5.462, [QN30]

We do not resist those who injure us, for we must yield to them. Lactantius, 7.182, [QN31]

War:

And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are to come to pass, He speaks in this way: ”For out of Zion shall goforththelaw,andthewordoftheLordfromJerusalem. AndHe shalljudgeamongthenations,andshallrebukemanypeople; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ. Justin Martyr, 1.175, [QW1]

…and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and everywickedness, haveeachthroughthewholeearthchangedour warlike weapons – our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage – and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified Justin Martyr, 1.254, [QW2]

I do not wish to be a king. I am not anxious to be rich. I decline military command. Tatian, 2.69, [QW3]

We have learned not to return blow for blow, not to go to law with those who plunder and rob us. Instead, even to those who strike us on one side of the face, we offer the other side also. Athenagoras, 2.129, [QW4]

The new covenant that brings back peace and the law that gives life have gone forth over the whole earth, as the prophets said: “ForoutofZionwillgoforththelaw,andthewordoftheLordfrom Jerusalem; and he will rebuke many people; and they will break down their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and they will no longer learn to fight.” … These people (Christians) formed their swords and war-lances into plowshares, … that is, into instruments used for peaceful purposes. So now, they are unaccustomed to fighting. When they are struck, they offer also the other cheek. Irenaeus, 1.512, [QW5]

It is not war, but in peace, that we are trained. Clement of Alexandria, 2.234, [QW6]

The Scythians, the Celts, the Iberians, and the Thracians are all warlike races. They are also greatly addicted to intoxication and think that drunkenness is an honorable, happy pursuit to engage in. But we, the people of peace, feast for lawful enjoyment, not to wantonness. We drink sober cups of friendship. Clement of Alexandria, 2.246, [QW7]

The one instrument of peace is what we employ: the Word alone, by whom we honor God. We no longer use the ancient psaltery, trumpet, timbrel, and flute. For those who are expert in war and are scorners of the fear of God were accustomed to make use of them. Clement of Alexandria, 2.249, [QW8]

Let our seals be either a dove, a fish, or a ship scudding before the wind … If there is anyone fishing, he will remember the apostle, and the children drawn out of the water. We are not to draw an outline of … a sword or a bow, since we follow peace. Nor should we draw an outline of … drinking cups, since we are temperate. Clement of Alexandria, 2.286, [QW9]

He bids us to “love our enemies, bless them who curse us, and pray for those who despitefully use us.” And He says: “If anyone strikes you on the one cheek, turn to Him the other also; and if anyone takes away your coat, do not hinder Him from taking your cloak also.” Clement of Alexandria, 2.293, [QW10]

Anenemymustbeaided,sothathemaynotcontinueasanenemy. For by help, good feeling is compacted and enmity dissolved. Clement of Alexandria, 2.370, [QW11]

We do not train our women like Amazons to manliness in war, for we wish even the men to be peaceable. Clement of Alexandria, 2.420, [QW12]

If, then, we are commanded to love our enemies (as I remarked above), whom have we to hate? If injured, we are forbidden to retaliate, lest we become just as bad ourselves. Who can suffer injury at our hands? Tertullian, 3.45, [QW13]

How often you inflict gross cruelties on Christians. You do this, partly because it is your own inclination, and partly in obedience to the laws… Yet, banded together as we are, ever so ready to sacrifice our lives, what single case of revenge for injury are you able to point to? However, if it were held to be right for us to repay evil by evil, a single night with a torch or two could achieve an ample vengeance. But away with the idea of a divine sect avenging itself by human fires! Tertullian, 3.45, [QW14]

We willingly yield to the sword. So what wars would we not be both fit and eager to participate in (even against unequal forces), if in our religion it were not counted better to be slain than to slay? Tertullian, 3.45, [QW15]

The Christian does no harm even to his enemy. Tertullian, 3.51, [QW16]

God puts His prohibition on every sort of man-killing by that one inclusive commandment: “You shall not kill.” Tertullian, 3.80, [QW17]

“Nation will not take up sword against nation, and they will no more learn to fight.” Who else, therefore, does this prophecy apply to, other than us? For we are fully taught by the new law, and therefore observe these practices. … The teaching of the new law points to clemency. It changes the primitive ferocity of the primitiveexecution of war uponthe rivals andenemies ofthe Law into the peaceful actions of plowing and cultivating the land. Tertullian, 3.154, [QW18]

Now inquiry is made about the point of whether a believer may enter into military service. The question is also asked whether those in the military may be admitted into the faith – even the rank and file (or any inferior grade), who are not required to take part in sacrifices or capital punishments … A man cannot give his allegiance to two masters – God and Caesar. … How will a Christian man participate in war? In fact, how will he serve even in peace without a sword? For the Lord has taken the sword away. It is also true that soldiers came to John the Baptist and received the instructions for their conduct. It is true also that a centurion believed. Nevertheless, the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier. Tertullian, 3.73, [QW19]

“And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” In other words, they will change the dispositions of injurious minds, hostile tongues, blasphemy, and all kinds of evil into pursuits of moderation and peace. “Nation will not lift up sword against nations.” That is, they will not stir up conflict. “Neitherwilltheylearnwaranymore”–thatis,theprovocationof hostilities. So you should learn from this that Christ is promised not as powerful in war, but pursuing peace. Now, you must deny either that these things were foretold (although they are plainly seen) or that they have been fulfilled (although you read of them). Tertullian, 3.339, [QW20]

I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians. What point is there in discussing the merely incidental, whenthatonwhichitrestsistobecondemned? Dowebelieve it is lawful for a human oath to be added to one that is divine? Is it lawful for a man to come to be pledged to another master after Christ has become his Master? Is it lawful to renounce father, mother, and all nearest kinsfolk, whom even the Law has commanded us to honor and love next to God Himself? … Is it lawful tomakeanoccupationofthesword, whentheLordproclaimsthathe who uses the sword will perish by the sword? Will the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become Him even to sueatlaw? Willhewhoisnottheavengerevenofhisownwrongs, apply the chain, the prison, the torture, and the punishment? Tertullian, 3.100, [QW21]

Is the (military) laurel of triumph made of leaves, or of corpses? Is it adorned with ribbons, or with tombs? Is it wet with ointments, orwithtearsofwivesandmothers? Itmaybemadeofsome(dead) Christians too. For Christ is also believed among the barbarians. Tertullian, 3.101, [QW22]

Our religion commands us to love even our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us. Tertullian, 3.105, [QW23]

The existence of many kingdoms would have been a hindrance to the spread of the doctrine of Jesus throughout the entire world … This was because of the need for men everywhere to engage in war and fight on behalf of their native country – which was the case before the times of Augustus … How, then, was it possible for the Gospel doctrine of peace to prevail throughout the world? For it does not permit men to take vengeance even upon their enemies. It was only possible because, at the coming of Jesus, a milder spirit had been everywhere introduced into the conduct of things. Origen, 4.444, [QW24]

The statement (of Celsus, a pagan critic) is false ”that in the days of Jesus, others who were Jews rebelled against the Jewish state and became His followers.” For neither Celsus, nor those who think like Him, are able to point out any act on the part of Christians that hints of rebellion. In fact, if a revolt had led to the formation of the Christian commonwealth, the Christian lawgiver would not have altogether forbidden the putting of men to death. So it could not have derived it existence in such a way fromtheJews. Fortheywerepermittedtotakeuparmsindefense of the members of their families and to slay their enemies. Yet, Christ nowhere teaches us that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to anyone, no matter how wicked. For He did not consider it to be in accord with His laws to allow the killing of any individual whomever. For His laws were derived from a divine source. Indeed, if the Christians truly owed their origin toa rebellion, they would not have adopted laws of so exceedingly mildacharacter. Fortheirlawsdonotallowthemonanyoccasion to resist their persecutors, even when it was their fate to be slain as sheep. Origen, 4.467, [QW25]

Christians were taught not to avenge themselves upon their enemies … They would not have made war (although capable) even if they had received authority to do so. For they have obtained this reward from God: that He has always warred on their behalf. On certain occasions, he has restrained those who rose up against them and desired to destroy them … On special occasions, some have endured death for the sake of Christianity, and those individuals can be easily numbered. However, God has not permitted the whole nation (of Christians) to be exterminated. Origen, 4.467, 468, [QW26]

Perhaps the so-called wars among the bees convey instructions as to the manner in which wars should be waged in a just and orderly way among men – if ever there arise a necessity for them. Origen, 4.533, [QW27]

To those who inquire of us from where we come, or who is our founder, we reply that we have come agreeably to the counsels of Jesus. We have cut down our hostile, insolent, and wearisome swords into plowshares. We have converted into pruning hooks the spears that were formerly used in war. For we no longer take up “sword against nation,” nor do we “learn war anymore.” That is because we have become children of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our Leader. Origen, 4.558, [QW28]

Celsus (a pagan critic) adds … “How could God command the IsraelitesthroughMosestogatherwealth,toextendtheirdominion, to fill the earth, to put their enemies of every age to the sword, and to destroy them utterly? … For, on the other hand, His Son, the man of Nazareth, promulgated laws quite opposed to these. He declared that no one can come to the Father who loves power, riches, or glory. Jesus said that to anyone who has given them one blow, they should offer to receive another. So is it Moses or Jesus who taught falsely? When the Father sent Jesus, did He forget the commands that He had given to Moses? Or did He change his mind, condemn His own laws, and send forth a Messenger withopposite instructions?” …

(Origen’s reply) We would observe that it must be impossible for the legislation of Moses, taken literally, to harmonize with calling of the Gentiles and with their subjection to the Roman government. On the other hand, it would be impossible for the Jewstopreservetheircivileconomyunchangediftheyweretoembrace the gospel. For Christians could not slay their enemies. Nor could they condemn those who had broken the law to be burned or stoned, as Moses commands. … In the case of the ancient Jews, who had a land and a form of government of their own, to take from them the right of making war upon their enemies, of fighting for their country, of putting to death or otherwise punishing adulterers, murderers, or others who were guilty of similar crimes, would have been to subject them to sudden and utter destruction whenever the enemy fell upon them. For, in that case, their very laws would restrain them and prevent them from resisting the enemy. Yet, that same providence that of old gave the Law, and has now given the gospel of Jesus Christ, has destroyed their city and their temple, not wishing the Jewish state to continue any longer … However, this providence has extended the Christian religion day by day, so that it is now preached everywhere with boldness. And this is in spite of the numerous obstacles that oppose the spread of Christ’s teaching in the world. However, since it was the purpose of God that the nations should receive the benefits of Christ’s teaching, all the devices of men against Christians have been brought to nothing. For the more that kings, rulers, and peoples have persecuted them everywhere, the more Christians have increased in number and grown in strength. Origen, 4.617, 618, 621, [QW29]

(Celsus) You surely do not say that if (in compliance with your wish) the Romans were to neglect their customary duties to gods and men, and were to worship the Most High, … that He would come down and fight for them, so that they would not need any otherhelpthanHis. ForthissameGod… promisedofoldthisand much more to those who served Him. Yet, see in what way He has helped the Jews and you! Instead of being masters of the whole world, the Jews are left with not so much as a patch of ground or a home?

(Origen’s reply) What would happen if, instead of only a relatively few persons believing (as at the present), the entire empire of Rome believed? They would pray to the Word, who of old saidto the Hebrews, when they were pursued by the Egyptians: “The Lord will fight for you, and you will hold your peace.” And if all the Romans united in prayer with one accord, they would be able to put to flight far more enemies than those who were defeated by the prayer of Moses … However, He had made the fulfillment of His promises dependent on certain conditions – namely, that they would observe and live according to His Law … But if all the Romans embraced the Christian faith (according to the supposition of Celsus), they would overcome their enemies when they prayed. Or rather, they would not war at all. For they promised to save five entire cities for the sake of fifty righteous persons. Men of God are assuredly the salt of the earth. They preserve the order of the world. And society is held together as long as the salt is uncorrupted … When God gives to the Tempter permission to persecute us, then we suffer persecution. And when God wishes us to be free from suffering – even in the middle of a world that hates us – we enjoy a wonderful peace, trusting in the protection ofHimwhosaid,“Beofgoodcheer,forIhaveovercometheworld.” Origen, 4.666, [QW30]

In the next place, Celsus urges us “to help the king with all our might, and to labor with Him in the maintenance of justice, to fight for Him; and if he requires it, to fight under Him, or lead an army along with Him.” To this our answer is, that we do, when occasion requires, give help to kings, and that, so to say, a divine help, “putting on the whole armour of God.” And this we do in obedience to the injunction of the apostle, “I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority;”andthemoreanyoneexcelsinpiety,themoreeffective help does he render to kings, even more than is given by soldiers, who go forth to fight and slay as many of the enemy as they can. And to those enemies of our faith who require us to bear arms for the commonwealth, and to slay men, we can reply: “Do not those who are priests at certain shrines, and those who attend on certain gods, as you account them, keep their hands free from blood, that they may with hands unstained and free from human blood offer the appointed sacrifices to your gods; and even when war is upon you, you never enlist the priests in the army. If that, then, is a laudable custom, how much more so, that while others are engaged in battle, these too should engage as the priests and ministers of God, keeping their hands pure, and wrestling in prayers to God on behalf of those who are fighting in a righteous cause, and for the king who reigns righteously, that whatever isopposed to those who act righteously may be destroyed!”

And as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, andleadtotheviolationofoaths,anddisturbthepeace,weinthis wayaremuchmorehelpfultothekingsthanthosewhogointothe field to fight for them. And we do take our part in public affairs, when along with righteous prayers we join self-denying exercises and meditations, which teach us to despise pleasures, and not to be led away by them. And none fight better for the king than we do. We do not indeed fight under Him, although he require it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army – an army of piety – by offering our prayers to God. And if Celsus would have us to lead armies in defense of our country, let Him know that we do this too, and that not for the purpose of being seen by men, or of vainglory. For“insecret,”andinourownhearts,thereareprayers which ascend as from priests in behalf of our fellow-citizens. And Christians are benefactors of their country more than others. For they train up citizens, and inculcate piety to the Supreme Being; and they promote those whose lives in the smallest cities have been good and worthy, to a divine and heavenly city, to whom it may be said, “Thou hast been faithful in the smallest city, come intoagreatone,”where“Godstandethintheassemblyofthegods, and judgeth the gods in the midst;” and “He reckons thee among them, if thou no more “die as a man, or fall as one of the princes.” Origen, 4.667, 668, [QW31]

Wars are scattered all over the earth with the bloody horror of camps. The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder – which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual – is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless – but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale! Cyprian, 5.277, [QW32]

Christians do not attack their assailants in return, for it is not lawful for the innocent to kill even the guilty. Cyprian, 5.351, [QW33]

Thehandmustnotbespottedwiththeswordandblood-notafter the Eucharist is carried in it. Cyprian, 5.488, [QW34]

WhentheworshipofGodwastakenaway,menlosttheknowledge of good and evil … They then began to fight with one another,to plot, and to achieve glory for themselves from the shedding of human blood. Lactantius, 7.141 [QW35]

If only God were worshipped, there would not be dissensions and wars. For men would know that they are the sons of one God. Lactantius, 7.143, [QW36]

Why would (the just man) carry on war and mix Himself with the passions of others when his mind is engaged in perpetual peace with men? Would he be delighted with foreign merchandise or with human blood – he who does not know how to seek gain? For the Christian is satisfied with his standard of living. He considered it unlawful not only to commit slaughter Himself, but also to be present with those who do it. Lactantius, 7.153, [QW37]

If desire is restrained, no one will use violence by land or sea. No one will lead an army to carry off and lay waste the property of others. … For what are the interests of our country but the detriments of another state or nation? To extend the boundaries that are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state, to improve the revenues – all of these things are not virtues. Rather, they are the overthrowing of virtues. Lactantius, 7.169, [QW38]

How can a man be just who hates, who despoils, who puts to death? Yet, those who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things … When they speak of the “duties” relating to warfare, their speech pertains neither to justice nor to true virtue. Lactantius, 7.169, [QW39]

Therefore, it is not befitting that those who strive to keep to the path of justice should be companions and sharers in this public homicide. For when God forbids us to kill, He prohibits more than the open violence that is even not allowed by the public laws. He also warns us against doing those things that are considered lawful among men. For that reason, it will not be lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself. Nor is it lawful for Him to accuse anyone of a capital charge. For it makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or by the sword instead. That is because it is the act of putting to death itself that is prohibited. Therefore, with regard to thiscommandment of God, there should be no exception at all. Rather, it is always unlawful to put a man to death, whom God willed to be a sacred creature. Lactantius, 7.187, [QW40]

It is not right that a worshipper of God should be injured by another worshipper of God. Lactantius, 7.271, [QW41]

You allege that those wars of which you speak were sparked becauseofhatredofourreligion. However,itwouldnotbedifficult to prove that (after the name of Christ was heard in the world), wars were not increased. In fact, they actually diminished in great measure by the restraining of furious passions. A numerous band of men as we are, we have learned from His teaching and His laws that evil should not be repaid with evil. Rather, it is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it. We would rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another. As a result, an ungrateful world is now enjoying – and for a long period has enjoyed – a benefit from Christ. For by His means, the rage of savage ferocity has been softened and has begun to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow creature. In fact, if all men without exception … would lend an ear for a while to His salutary and peaceful rules, … the whole world would be living in the most peaceful tranquility. The world would have turned the use of steel into more peaceful uses and would unite together in blessed harmony, maintaining inviolate the sanctity of treaties. Arnobius, 6.415, [QW42]

Those soldiers were filled with wonder and admiration at the grandeur of the man’s piety and generosity and were struck with amazement. Theyfelttheforceofthisexampleofpity. Asaresult, very many of them were added to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and threw off the belt of military service. Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.179, [QW43]

A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate who wears the purple must resign or be rejected. If an applicant or a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God. Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition 16, [QW44]

Of course if faith comes later (after someone was already enrolled in the military) and finds someone already occupied with military service, their case is different. For example, there is the instance of those whom John (the Baptist) received for baptism, and of those most faithful centurions. I mean the centurion whom Christ approved, and the centurion whom Peter instructed (i.e. Cornelius). Yet, at the same time, when a man has become a believer and faith has been sealed, there must be either an immediate abandonment of the military office, which has been the course of many – or else all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God. And such quibbling is not allowed even outside of military service. Tertullian, 3.100, [QW45]

 

Separation:

This world and the next are two enemies … We cannot therefore be the friends of both. Second Clement, 7.518, [QS1]

You know that you who are the servants of God dwell in a strange land. For your city is far away from this one. If, then, you know yourcityinwhichyouaretodwell, whydoyouhereprovidelands, and make expensive preparations, and accumulate dwellings and useless buildings? He who makes such preparations for this city cannot return again to his own … Do you not understand that all these things belong to another, and are under the power of another? … Take note, therefore. As one living in a foreign land, make no further preparations for yourself than what is merely sufficient. And be ready to leave this city, when the master of this city will come to cast you out for disobeying his law. Hermas, 2.31, [QS2]

And refrain from much business, and you will never sin, for those who are occupied with much business commit also many sins. For they are distracted about their affairs, and they are not serving their Lord at all.Hermas, 2.33, [QS3]

Andyour(pagan) public assembliesIhavecometohate. Forthere areexcessivebanqueting, subtleflutesthatprovokepeopletolustful movements, useless and luxurious anointings, and crownings with garlands. Justin Martyr, 1.272, [QS4]

I do not wish to be a king. I am not anxious to be rich. I decline military command. I detest fornication. I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea. I do not contend for chaplets. I am free from a mad thirst for fame. I despise death. I am superior to every kind of disease. Grief does not consume my soul. If I am a slave, I endure servitude. If I am free, I do not boast about my good birth … Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it! Live to God! Tatian, 2.69, [QS5]

If you are superior to the passions, you will scorn all worldly things. Tatian, 2.73, [QS6]

Now, He has not merely related to us a story respecting a poor man and a rich one; but He has taught us, in the first place, that no one shouldleadaluxuriouslife,nor,livinginworldlypleasures andperpetualfeastings,shouldbetheslaveofhislusts,andforget God. Irenaeus, 1.464, [QS7]

Wherefore we have no country on earth that we may disdain earthly possessions. Clement of Alexandria, 2.281, [QS8]

If you would loose, withdraw, and separate your soul from the delight and pleasure that is in this life (for this is what the cross means), you will possess it. It will be found resting in the lookedfor hope. Clement of Alexandria, 2.371, [QS9]

“God stood in the congregation of the gods; he judges in the midst of the gods.” Who are these “gods”? They are those who are superior to pleasure, who rise above the passions … It is those who are greater than the world. Clement of Alexandria, 2.374, [QS10]

Why on the day of gladness (i.e., a pagan festival), why do we neither cover our door-posts with laurels, nor intrude upon the day with lamps? Is it a proper thing, at the call of public festivity, to dress your house up like some new brothel? … We do not celebrate along with you the holidays of the Caesars in a manner forbidden alike by modesty, decency, and purity. Tertullian, 3.44, [QS11]

But as those in whom all ardour in the pursuit of glory and honour is dead, we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings; nor is there aught more entirely foreign to us than affairs of state. We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth – the world. We renounce all your spectacles, as strongly as we renounce the matters originating them, which we know were conceived of superstition, when we give up the very things which are the basis of their representations. Among us nothing is ever said, or seen, or heard, which has anything in common with the madness of the circus, the immodesty of the theatre, the atrocities of the arena, the useless exercises of the wrestling-ground. Whydoyoutakeoffenceatusbecausewediffer from you in regard to your pleasures? Tertullian, 3.45, 46, [QS12]

Let us compare the life of the world and of the prison – and see if the spirit does not gain more in the prison than the flesh loses … (In prison,) you have no occasion to look on strange gods; you do not bump into their images. You have no part in pagan holidays, even by mere bodily mingling in them. You are not annoyed by the foul fumes of idolatrous solemnities. You are not pained by the noise of the public shows, nor by the atrocity, madness, or immodesty of their celebrants … The prison does the same service for the Christian that the desert did for the prophet. Tertullian, 3.694, [QS13]

Moreover, what causes have you for appearing in public in excessive grandeur? After all, you are removed from the occasions that call for such exhibitions. For you neither make the circuit oftemples, nor demand to be present at public shows. Furthermore, you have no acquaintance with the festivals of the Gentiles. Now, it is for the sake of all these public gatherings – and of much seeing and being seen – that all ceremonies are exhibited before the public eye … You, however, have no cause for appearing in public, except such as is serious. Either some brother who is sick is visited, or else the sacrifice is offered, or else the Word of God is dispensed. Tertullian, 4.24, [QS14]

So long as you deem yourself a Christian, you are a different man from a pagan. Give Him back his own views of things, since, he does not Himself learn from your views. Why lean upon a blind guide, if you have eyes of your own? Why be clothed by one who is naked, if you have put on Christ? Tertullian, 3.547, [QS15]

But as for you, you are a foreigner in this world, a citizen of Jerusalem, the city above? Our citizenship, the apostle says, is in heaven. You have your own registrars, your own calendar. You have nothing to do with the joys of this world. In fact, you are called to the very opposite – for “the world will rejoice, but you will mourn.” Tertullian, 3.101, [QS16]

The one peaceful and trustworthy tranquility, the one solid, firm, and constant security is this: for a man to withdraw from this whirlpool of a distracting world and to lift his eyes from earth to heaven, anchored on the ground of the harbor of salvation … He who is actually greater than the world can crave nothing or desire nothing from the world. How stable, how free from all shocks is that safeguard. How heavenly … to be loosed from the snares of this entangling world and to be purged from earthly dregs and be fitted for the light of eternal immortality. Cyprian, 5.279, [QS17]

Whatever things are earthly and have been received in this world (and will remain here with the world) should be scorned, even as the world itself is scorned. For we have already renounced its ceremonies and delights when we came to God through a blessed passage (i.e. baptism). John stimulates and exhorts us … He says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” Cyprian, 5.432, [QS18]

Weshouldeverandanonreflectthatwehaverenouncedtheworld and are in the meantime living here as guests and strangers. Cyprian, 5.475, [QS19]

He who has attained to trust, having put off the former man, should reflect on only heavenly and spiritual things. He should give no heed to the world that he has already renounced. Cyprian, 5.535, [QS20]

Of this same thing, it is written in Matthew: … “He who does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.” … “The time is limited. It remains, therefore, that those who have wives be as though they do not have them.” … Of this very matter, he wrote to the Galatians: “But be it far from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me.” … Of the same thing in the Epistle of Peter: “As strangers and pilgrims, abstain from carnal lusts, which war against the soul.” … Of the same thing in the Epistle of John: … “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” Cyprian, 5.536, [QS21]

Public Office:

Yes, and the Caesars too would have believed on Christ, if either the Caesars had not been necessary for the world, or if Christians could have been Caesars. Tertullian, 3.35, [QP1]

But as those in whom all ardor in the pursuit of glory and honor is dead. So we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings. Nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than affairs of state. Tertullian, 3.45, [QP2]

But what shall believing servants or children do? Officials likewise, when attending on their lords, or patrons, or superiors, when sacrificing? Well, if any one shall have handed the wine to a sacrificer, nay, if by any single word necessary or belonging to a sacrifice he shall have aided Him, he will be held to be a minister of idolatry. Mindful of this rule, we can render serviceeven “to magistrates and powers,” after the example of the patriarchs and the other forefathers, who obeyed idolatrous kings up to the confine of idolatry. Hence arose, very lately, a dispute whether a servant of God should take the administration of any dignity or power, if he be able, whether by some special grace, or by adroitness, to keep Himself intact from every species of idolatry; after the example that both Joseph and Daniel, clean from idolatry, administered both dignity and power in the livery and purple of the prefecture of entire Egypt or Babylonia. And so let us grant that it is possible for any one to succeed in moving, in whatsoever office, under the mere name of the office, neither sacrificing nor lending his authority to sacrifices; not farming out victims; not assigning to others the care of temples; not looking after their tributes; not giving spectacles at his own or the public charge, or presiding over the giving them; making proclamation or edict for no solemnity; not even taking oaths: moreover (what comes under the head of power), neither sitting in judgment on any ones life or character, for you might bear with his judging about money; neither condemning nor fore-condemning; binding no one, imprisoning or torturing no one – if it is credible that all this is possible. Tertullian, 3.72, [QP3]

To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians. What sense is there in discussing the merely accidental, when that on which it rests is to be condemned? Do we believe it lawful for a human oath to be superadded to one divine, for a man to come under promise to another master after Christ, and to abjure father, mother, and all nearest kinsfolk, whom even the law has commanded us to honour and love next to God Himself, to whom the gospel, too, holding them only of less account than Christ, has in like manner rendered honour? Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become Him even to sue at law? And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs? Tertullian, 3.99, [QP4]

Celsus (a pagan) also urges us to “take office in the government of the country, if that is necessary for the maintenance of the laws and the support of religion.” However, we recognize in eachstate the existence of another national organization that was founded by the Word of God. And we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over churches … It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices. Rather, it is so they may reserve themselves for a more divine and necessary service in the church of God – for the salvation of men. Origen, 4.668, [QP5]

Valerian had sent a rescript to the Senate, to the effect that bishops and presbyters and deacons should immediately be punished; but that senators, and men of importance, and Roman knights, should lose their dignity, and moreover be deprived of their property. Cyprian, 5.408, [QP6]

It is impossible for Him who has surrounded Himself with royal pomp … to enter upon or to persevere in these difficulties. Lactantius, 7.165, [QP7]

He (Satan) causes others to swell with ambitious desires. These are they who direct the whole occupation and care of their life to the holding of magistracies, that they may set a mark upon the annals, and give a name to the years. The desire of others mounts higher, not that they may rule provinces with the temporal sword, but with boundless and perpetual power may wish to be called lords of the whole human race. Lactantius, 7.166, [QP8]

Thus also, says He, “Those who wish to behold Me, and lay hold of My kingdom, must through tribulation and suffering obtain Me.” Barnabas, ANF 1.142

Andyouknow,brethren,thatthesojournofthisfleshinthisworld is mean and for a short time, but the promise of Christ is great and marvelous, even the rest of the kingdom that shall be and of life eternal. What then can we do to obtain them, but walk in holiness and righteousness, and consider these worldly things as alien to us, and not desire them? For when we desire to obtain these things we fall away from the righteous path. Second Clement ANF 9.252

But the Lord said, No servant can serve two masters. If we desire to serve both God and mammon, it is unprofitable for us: For what advantage is it, if a man gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Now this age and the future are two enemies. The one speaks of adultery and defilement and avarice and deceit, but the other bids farewell to these. We cannot therefore be friends of the two, but must bid farewell to the one and hold companionship with the other. Let us consider that it is better to hate the things which are here, because they are mean and for a short time and perishable, and to love the things which are there, for they are good and imperishable. For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments. Second Clement, ANF 9.252

But while (The Christians) dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvelous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. Letter to Diognetus, ANF 1.26

He said to me; “You know that you, who are the servants of God, are dwelling in a foreign land; for your city is far from this city. If thenyouknowyourcity,inwhichyoushalldwell,whydoyouhere prepare fields and expensive displays and buildings and dwellingchambers which are superfluous? He, therefore, that prepares these things for this city does not purpose to return to his own city. O foolish and double-minded and miserable man, do you not perceivethatallthesethingsareforeign,andareunderthepower of another? For the lord of this city shall say, “I do not wish you to dwell in my city; go forth from this city, for you dost not conform to my laws.” You, therefore who have fields and dwellings and many other possessions, when you are cast out by him, what will you do with your field and your house and all the other things that you prepared for yourself? For the lord of this country said to you justly, “Either conform to my laws, or depart from my country.” What then shall you do, who are under law in your own city? For the sake of your fields and the rest of your possessions will you altogether repudiate your law, and walk according to the law ofthis city? Take heed, lest it be inexpedient to repudiate the law; for if you should desire to return again to your city, you shall surely not be received [because you didst repudiate the law of the city], and shall be shut out from it. Takeheedtherefore;asdwellinginastrangelandpreparenothing moreforyourselfbutacompetencywhichissufficientforyou,and make ready that, whensoever’s the master of this city may desire to cast you out for your opposition to his law, you may go forth from his city and depart into your own city and use your own law joyfully, free from all insult. Hermas, ANF 2.30

And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid. Justin Martyr, ANF 1.166

Celsus (a pagan) also urges us to “take office in the government of the country, if that is necessary for the maintenance of the laws and the support of religion.” However, we recognize in each state the existence of another national organization that was founded by the Word of God. And we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over churches … It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices. Rather, it is so they may reserve themselves for a more divine and necessary service in the church of God – for the salvation of men. Origen, ANF 4.668

Wherefore we have no country on earth that we may disdain earthly possessions. Clement of Alexandria, ANF 2.281

But as those in whom all ardour in the pursuit of glory and honour is dead, we have no pressing inducement to take partin your public meetings; nor is there aught more entirely foreign to us than affairs of state. We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth – the world. We renounce all your spectacles, as strongly as we renounce the matters originating them, which we know were conceived of superstition, when we give up the very things which are the basis of their representations. Among us nothing is ever said, or seen, or heard, which has anything in common with the madness of the circus, the immodesty of the theatre, the atrocities of the arena, the useless exercises of the wrestling-ground. Whydoyoutakeoffenceatusbecausewediffer from you in regard to your pleasures?

Tertullian, ANF 3.45, 46

But as for you, you are a foreigner in this world, a citizen of Jerusalem, the city above. Our citizenship, the apostle says, is in heaven. You have your own registrars, your own calendar. You have nothing to do with the joys of this world. In fact, you are called to the very opposite – for ”the world will rejoice, but you will mourn.” Tertullian, ANF 3.101

Weshouldeverandanonreflectthatwehave renounced theworld and are in the meantime living here as guests and strangers. Cyprian, ANF 5.475

As I have shown, the uniform witness of the Church was a rejection of all kinds of manslaughter. The interpretation I put on Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-3 is derived from the works of Justin the Martyr[5], Irenaeus[6], Tertullian[7], Origen[8], and Cyprian[9].  It is manifestly clear that the first advent of Christ inaugurated the first fruits of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of peace it would bring.

2.2 Constantinian Shift

 The obvious question to ask is: since the Early Church, with one voice, rejected all forms of manslaughter, why do almost no Christians today believe it? The answer is a complex series of historical events, personal choices, and cultural factors, but can, for the sake of simplicity, be reduced to a question of eschatology. An in-depth discussion of the different forms of eschatology would be outside of the scope of this paper, but a brief discussion is necessary. Prior to Constantine’s conversion, pre-millennialism was the dominant eschatological view of the church. Pre-millennialism is the belief that the millennial rule of Christ will be inaugurated by his Second Coming with his rule centered in Jerusalem. Christ must come before the millennium in order to set it up. There were a few a-millennialists in the antenicean era, namely Caius and Dionysius of Alexandria, but theirs was a minority position. Justin the Martyr hints of unnamed adherents of a-millennialism in his Dialogue with Trypho (Chapter 80). A new and pernicious view of the millennium, post-millennialism, would arise with the conversion of Constantine. Before I go further, let me define what a, pre, and post millennialism are. A-millennialism argues that the millennial rule of Christ is a symbol for the church age and not a literal period of time; for an a-millenninalist, the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment happen at the same time. Pre-millennialism argues that at Christ’s Second Coming he will set up a temporal kingdom and rule with the saints in glory over those who reject His rule, then at the end of the thousand years a rebellion led by Satan will be crushed and the Last Judgment will take place. The post-millennial position, like the a-millennial position, argues that the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment happen at the same time (at the end of history), but that a literal millennial rule of the saints will occur as a culmination of the work of the Church in history. Post-millennialism argues that those passages where the Bible speaks of the saints ruling with Christ and Christ ruling with a rod of iron is not some future event inaugurated by his Second Coming, but by the Church empowered by God.

Post-millennialism makes nonsense of the Sermon on the Mt. and the prophesies of Christ in Isaiah 2:1-4, Micah 4:1-3, and Zechariah 9:10. As long as Christians believed in the actual teaching of the Gospel, post-millennialism would have made no sense, but with Constantine offering the church the “third temptation of Christ in the wilderness,” a new eschatology had to be constructed in order to allow those men who answered the siren call of power to reject the clear and plain teachings of Christ.

The arguments made by those men at the time of Eusebius, Ambrose, Augustine, and Orusius would create an imperial theology that argued that they were literally living in the millennium.

Eusebius:

“. . . and for this reason [God] is pleased to honor the author and cause of their obedience through a lengthened period of time; and, far from limiting his reign to three decennial circles of years, he extends it to the remotest period, even to far distant eternity.”

The Oration in Prise of Constantine 6.2

“In the same manner is the universal reign of our victorious emperor distinguished by the giver of all good, and now enters on a new sphere of blessing, accomplishing, at present, this tricennalian festival, but reaching forward beyond this to far more distant intervals of time, . . .”

The Oration in Prise of Constantine 6:18

“And surely this must appear a wondrous fact to those who will examine the question in the love of truth, and desire not to cavil at these blessings. The falsehood of demon superstition was convicted: the inveterate strife and mutual hatred of the nations was removed: at the same time One God, and the knowledge of that God, were proclaimed to all: one universal empire prevailed; and the whole human race, subdued by the controlling power of peace and concord, received one another as brethren, and responded to the feelings of their common nature. Hence, as children of one God and Father, and owning true religion as their common mother, they saluted and welcomed each other with words of peace. Thus the whole world appeared like one well-ordered and united family: each one might journey unhindered as far as and wherever he pleased: men might securely travel from West to East, and from East to West, as to their own native country: in short, the ancient oracles and predictions of the prophets were fulfilled, more numerous than we can at present cite, and those especially which speak as follows concerning the saving Word. “He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” And again, “In his days shall righteousness spring up; and abundance of peace.” “And they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into sickles: and nation shall not take up sword against nation, neither shall they learn to war any more.”

Oration in Praise of Constantine 16.7

“The nations of the East and the West are instructed at the same moment in his precepts: the people of the Northern and Southern regions unite with one accord, under the influence of the same principles and laws, in the pursuit of a godly life, in praising the one Supreme God, in acknowledging his only begotten Son their Saviour as the source of every blessing, and our emperor as the one ruler on the earth, together with his pious sons.”

The Oration in Praise of Constantine 10.6

“At the same time one universal power, the Roman empire, arose and flourished, while the enduring and implacable hatred of nation against nation was now removed: and as the knowledge of one God, and one way of religion and salvation, even the doctrine of Christ, was made known to all mankind; so at the self-same period, the entire dominion of the Roman empire being vested in a single sovereign, profound peace reigned throughout the world. And thus, by the express appointment of the same God, two roots of blessing, the Roman empire, and the doctrine of Christian piety, sprang up together for the benefit of men.”

The Oration in Praise of Constantine 16.4

“Our Saviour’s mighty power destroyed at once the many governments and the many gods of the powers of darkness, and proclaimed to all men, both rude and civilized, to the extremities of the earth, the sole sovereignty of God Himself. Meantime the Roman empire, the causes of multiplied governments being thus removed, effected an easy conquest of those which yet remained; its object being to unite all nations in one harmonious whole; an object in great measure already secured, and destined to be still more perfectly attained, even to the final conquest of the ends of the habitable world, by means of the salutary doctrine, and through the aid of that Divine power which facilitates and smooths its way.”

The Oration in Praise of Constantine 16.6

“Meanwhile God himself, the great Sovereign, extends the right handofhispowerfromaboveforhisprotection,givinghimvictory overeveryfoe, andestablishinghisempirebyalengthenedperiod of years: . . .”

The Oration in Praise of Constantine 10.7

“Thus speedily, according to the counsel of the mighty God, and through our emperor’s agency, was every enemy, whether visible or unseen, utterly removed: and henceforward peace, the happy nurse of youth, extended her reign throughout the world. Wars were no more, for the gods were not: no more did warfare in countryortown,nomoredidtheeffusionofhumanblood, distress mankind, as heretofore, when demon-worship and the madness of idolatry prevailed.”

The Oration in Praise of Constantine 8.9

We also see an argument that Constantine and his Empire was a fulfilment of prophesy:

Eusebius:

[H]e desires to extend his imperial authority by calling still more of his kindred to partake his power; and, by the appointment of theCaesars,fulfillsthepredictionsoftheholyprophets,according towhattheyutteredagesbefore: “AndthesaintsoftheMostHigh shall take the kingdom.” [See Dan. 7:18] The Oration in Praise of Constantine 3.2

Ambrose:

  1. For Ezekiel, in those far-off days, already prophesied the minishing of our people, and the Gothic wars, saying: “Prophesy,therefore,SonofMan,andsay: OGog,thussaiththeLord–Shalt thou not, in that day when My people Israel shall be established to dwell in peace, rise up and come forth from thy place, from the far north, and many nations with thee, all riders upon horses, a great and mighty gathering, and the valour of many hosts? Yea, go up against my people Israel, as clouds to cover the land, in the last days.” [Ezek. 38:14 ff.]
  2. That Gog is the Goth, whose coming forth we have already seen, and over whom victory in days to come is promised, according to the word of the Lord: “And they shall spoil them, who had been their despoilers, and plunder them, who had carried off their goods for a prey, saith the Lord. And it shall be in that day, that I will give to Gog “– that is, to the Goths –” a place that is famous, for Israel an high-heaped tomb of many men, of men who have made their way to the sea, and it shall reach round about, and close the mouth of the valley, and there [the house of Israel shall] overthrow Gog and all his multitude, and it shall be called the valley of the multitude of Gog: and the house of Israel shall overwhelm them, that the land may be cleansed.” [Ezek. 39:10 ff.]

Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book II Chapter 16.137-138

Augustine:

“The patriarchs and prophets, then, have a kingdom in this world, to show that these kingdoms, too, are given and taken away by God: the apostles and martyrs had no kingdom here, to show the superior desirableness of the kingdom of heaven. The prophets, however, could even in those times die for the truth, as the Lord Himself says, ”From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharia; (Matthew23:35)andinthesedays,sincethecommencementofthe fulfillment of what is prophesied in the psalm of Christ, under the figure of Solomon, which means the peacemaker, as Christ is our peace, (Ephesians 2:14) “All kings of the earth shall bow to Him, all nations shall serve Him,” we have seen Christian emperors, who have put all their confidence in Christ, gaining splendid victories over ungodly enemies, whose hope was in the rites ofidolatry and devil-worship. There are public and undeniable proofs of the fact, that on one side the prognostications of devils were found to be fallacious, and on the other, the predictions of saints were a means of support; and we have now writings in which those facts are recorded.”

Contra Faustum, 22.76

“19. But as to the argument of those men who are unwilling that their impious deeds should be checked by the enactment of righteous laws, when they say that the apostles never sought such measures from the kings of the earth, they do not consider the different character of that age, and that everything comes in its own season. For what emperor had as yet believed in Christ, so as to serve Him in the cause of piety by enacting laws against impiety,whenasyetthedeclarationoftheprophetwasonlyinthe courseof itsfulfillment, ”Whydo theheathen rage, and thepeople imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and their rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed;” and there was as yet no sign of that which is spoken a little later in the same psalm: ”Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps. 2:1, 2, 10, 11) How then are kings to serve the Lord with fear, except by preventing and chastising with religious severity all those acts which are done in opposition to the commandments of the Lord? For a man serves Godinonewayinthatheisman,inanotherwayinthatheisalso king. In that he is man, he serves Him by living faithfully; but in that he is also king, he serves Him by enforcing with suitable rigor such laws as ordain what is righteous, and punish what is the reverse. . . .

  1. Seeing, then, that the kings of the earth were not yet serving the Lord in the time of the apostles, but were still imagining vain things against the Lord and against His Anointed, that all might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, it must be granted that at that time acts of impiety could not possibly be prevented by the laws, but were rather performed under their sanction. . . . But so soon as the fulfillment began of what is written in a later psalm, “All kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him,” (Ps. 72:11) what sober-minded man could say to the kings, “Let not any thought trouble you within your kingdom as to who restrains or attacks the Church of your Lord; deem it not a matter in which you should be concerned, which of your subjects may choose to be religious or sacrilegious,” seeing that you cannot say to them, “Deem it no concern of yours which of your subjects may choose to be chaste, or which unchaste?”

Letter to Boniface (Letter 185) 5.19, 20

But as to the argument of those men who are unwilling that their impious deeds should be checked by the enactment of righteous laws, when they say that the apostles never sought such measures from the kings of the earth, they do not consider the different character of that age, and that everything comes in its own season.  For what emperor had as yet believed in Christ, so as to serve Him in the cause of piety by enacting laws against impiety, when as yet the declaration of the prophet was only in the course of its fulfillment, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and their rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed;” and there was as yet no sign of that which is spoken a little later in the same psalm:  “Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” How then are kings to serve the Lord with fear, except by preventing and chastising with religious severity all those acts which are done in opposition to the commandments of the Lord?  For a man serves God in one way in that he is man, in another way in that he is also king.  In that he is man, he serves Him by living faithfully; but in that he is also king, he serves Him by enforcing with suitable rigor such laws as ordain what is righteous, and punish what is the reverse.  Even as Hezekiah served Him, by destroying the groves and the temples of the idols, and the high places which had been built in violation of the commandments of God; or even as Josiah served Him, by doing the same things in his turn;\ or as the king of the Ninevites served Him, by compelling all the men of his city to make satisfaction to the Lord; or as Darius served Him, by giving the idol into the power of Daniel to be broken, and by casting his enemies into the den of lions; or as Nebuchadnezzar served Him, of whom I have spoken before, by issuing a terrible law to prevent any of his subjects from blaspheming God. In this way, therefore, kings can serve the Lord, even in so far as they are kings, when they do in His service what they could not do were they not kings.

  1. Seeing, then, that the kings of the earth were not yet serving the Lord in the time of the apostles, but were still imagining vain things against the Lord and against His Anointed, that all might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, it must be granted that at that time acts of impiety could not possibly be prevented by the laws, but were rather performed under their sanction. For the order of events was then so rolling on, that even the Jews were killing those who preached Christ, thinking that they did God service in so doing, just as Christ had foretold, and the heathen were raging against the Christians, and the patience of the martyrs was overcoming them all.  But so soon as the fulfillment began of what is written in a later psalm, “All kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him,” what sober-minded man could say to the kings, “Let not any thought trouble you within your kingdom as to who restrains or attacks the Church of your Lord; deem it not a matter in which you should be concerned, which of your subjects may choose to be religious or sacrilegious,” seeing thatyou cannot say to them, “Deem it no concern of yours which of your subjects may choose to be chaste, or which unchaste?”  For why, when free-will is given by God to man, should adulteries be punished by the laws, and sacrilege allowed?  Is it a lighter matter that a soul should not keep faith with God, than that a woman should be faithless to her husband?  Or if those faults which are committed not in contempt but in ignorance of religious truth are to be visited with lighter punishment, are they therefore to be neglected altogether?”

The Correction of the Donatists Chapter 5.19-20

We see in this the works of a mass delusion that had befallen these men. They literally thought that Christ’s perfected rule had already arrived. Two verses that were of primary importance in their argument were Psalms 2:1, 2, 10, 11, and Psalms 72:11. We also see that Daniel 7:18 was dragooned as well in service of this great blasphemy. The most obvious and salient fact of the folly of attributing millennial colors to the Roman Empire was that war did continue to rage along the frontiers of the empire, and civil war had shaken Rome before and after the death of Constantine. No age of universal peace had been inaugurated for the world at large. Furthermore, the Eusebian pretensions of an everlasting empire that would bring the world into the submission of Christ was already dissolving in the time of Augustine. The western half of “God’s Kingdom” was collapsing in the face of pressure from Germanic tribes in the North, causing Augustine to modify the “eternal kingdom of God” in a rearguard action in his City of God:

““Butbythechainandprison-houseofthisinterdictthedevilisprohibited and restrained from seducing those nations which belong toChrist, butwhichheformerlyseducedorheldinsubjection…  The devil, then, is bound and shut up in the abyss that he may not seduce the nations from which the Church is gathered, and which he formerly seduced before the Church existed. For it is not said “that he should not seduce any man,” but “that he should not seduce the nations” – meaning, no doubt, those among which the Church exists – “till the thousand years should be fulfilled,” – i.e., either what remains of the sixth day which consists of a thousand years, or all the years which are to elapse till the end of the world. [emphasis added]”

City of God, 20.7

We see the futility of this rearguard action, for while Augustine could no longer have pretensions about the everlasting rule of Rome as an empire, he continued to hold on to the pretension that no nation won to the Church of Rome could fall into Satan’s grasp, yet even as he was dying of illness his beloved Hippo was being besieged by the Vandals and Arian heretics, who would eventually alter, burn, and loot the city and inaugurate more than a century of Vandalic rule in North Africa; so much for Satan not deceiving the nations. The loss of North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, and Constantinople to the forces of Islam and the massive secular apostasy racking the remainder of the west show the abject failure of Augustine’s efforts to salvage a morally and intellectually bankrupt position, for even the most brilliant man is limited to the limitations of his own ideology. The Eastern Church would have to wait until 1453 when they would have to deal with their absurd blasphemy. Even as late as 1395, when the Byzantine Empire was little more than a city-state facing the twilight hours of its death, the Eusebian delusion continued to hold the mind of Patriarch Anthony who stated:

“Therefore, my son, you are wrong to affirm that we have the church without an Emperor for it is impossible for Christians to have a church and no empire.”[10]

Even after the shattering refutation of the Eusebian delusion in 1510, Philotheus at Pskov proclaimed: “Two Romes have fallen. The third stands. And there will be no fourth. No one shall replace your Christian Tsardom.” Some sadly to this day, against all reason, hold to the fallacious Eusebian paradigm:

“Likewise, in Orthodox Imperial praxis embodied in the symphonia, the State worked in harmonia with the Church, each in their proper sphere.  In this philosophy, the Emperor was divinely appointed and a real authority, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies in Isaiah that kings and rulers would convert to serve the Messiah.”[11]

It should  be made clear that what in effect occurred in the fourth century was a reinvention of Christianity of unparalleled scope and magnitude. The changes inaugurated by the Reformation that so offend Traditional Catholics and those changes inaugurated by Rome that so offend Traditional Orthodox pale in comparison to those changes inaugurated by Eusebius, Ambrose, and Augustine. In traditionalist Catholic circles, Protestant is synonymous with “innovator” and breach with tradition. Yet their own grounding in the 4th Century shift was a breach with tradition on a far greater and graver scale than Luther’s break with Rome. Peter Brown describes this new era thus:

“This was his (Augustine’s) image of the Catholic Church as it appeared to him in Milan and in Rome. It was not the old church of Cyprian, it was the new, expanding church of Ambrose, rising above the Roman world like a ‘moon waking in tis brightness,’ it was confident, international body, established in the respect of the Christian Emperors, sought out by noblemen and intellectuals, capable of brining the esoteric truths of the philosophy of Plato, a church set, no longer to defy society, but to master it. ”[12]

It was nothing less than the rejection of the historic and traditional vocation of the Church as witness to the world of the world’s corruption and sin and the glory and hope in Christ; this witness was rejected in order to be yet one more player in the petty power struggles of the ages. They forgot James 1:27 and replaced it with James 4:1-4.

In the West, by the time of Aquinas, millennial arguments had fallen out of favor only to be replaced by misapplications of OT injunctions to use the sword. It should be noted that Augustine did explicitly concede that the Apostles had no temporal kingdom, but that their time had passed in favor of the fulfilment of prophecy by Constantine; it is clear to all concerned that Eusebius, Ambrose, and Augustine were, if they were anything, drunk with power. They had the delusion to believe that a mere Roman Emperor could be the fulfilment of so many messianic passages. Yet the Roman, the Holy Roman, and the Russian Empire, who are now but smoldering ruins in the ashbin of history, show this delusion to be a flat-out lie. The kings of the earth did not serve Christ and they did not partake in His millennial kingdom; but this much is clear: they were just more of the same petty tyrants and thugs who used high-sounding rhetoric in order to justify their murders. The Great Russian novelist Dostoyevsky hinted at the implications of this union in his Brothers Karamazov in his chapter entitled the Grand Inquisitor. In this fictitious interrogation of Christ by a 16th century Spanish inquisitor, we see that the Catholic Church had given in to all three of the temptations that Satan offered Christ in the wilderness, but it is the third temptation that is truly salient to the point. Dostoyevsky concisely appraises the Faustian Bargain of Christendom:

“Hadst Thou taken the world and Caesar’s purple, Thou wouldst have founded the universal state and have given universal peace. For who can rule men if not he who holds their conscience and their bread in his hands? We have taken the sword of Caesar, and in taking it, of course, have rejected Thee and followed him.”[13]

We see the obvious truth that Christendom, in the words of David Bentley Hart, was “a betrayal of the Gospel”[14]. Christendom was nothing other than a jumping of the gun and a bargain with Satan. The Kingdom of God will be established in its perfection by Christ Himself and at his Second Coming, as was believed by Ireneaus, Justin the Martyr, and the Ante-Nicene Church, not by the hands of men who delude themselves into thinking that they are building God’s temporal Kingdom. How many failed efforts to build the Kingdom of God by force litter the pages of history? How many failures will it take to dissuade people from such an insane endeavor? In conclusion, who would not return to the old way after having changed his former way of life for a new one only to find the new one to be based on lies and fabrications? Catholics, Calvinists, and Orthodox Christians, that’s who. Like sane men, Christians must reject the false doctrines of the Eusebian paradigm and return to the original and pure doctrines of God.

3.1 General Objections

In this third and final section I will discuss and rebut objections to Christian non-violence: (1) general objections, (2) Theonomist objections, and (3) Catholic/Orthodox objections.

There are several common and fallacious objections to Christian non-violence to which I will turn to.

Appeal to Silence: Oftentimes people will say “but Jesus did not tell the Centurion to quit soldiering.” Even intelligent theologians like Peter Leithart fall into this elementary error. This is firstly an appeal to silence, which is an elementary fallacy. Secondly, what would happen if we treated all instances of silence as instances of approval? Would we conclude that Rahab the harlot need not quit herself of her trade or that Cornelius the Centurion need not have ceased offering sacrifices to Caeser and officiating celebrations to the gods of Rome (his duty as centurion)? Such puerile silliness is sadly legion amongst Christians.

Christ and the money changers: People will bring up Christ and his cleansing of the temple and His use of a whip to drive out the money changers. Now it could be argued that he only whipped animals and not people, but I will not take that route. I will accept the premise as given that Christ whipped the money changers, but to draw the conclusion that Christians can take up swords and slaughter enemies from this slender reed is obviously absurd. It would be like saying that if I give a babysitter the right to spank my child, that implies they can shoot him as well if the infraction is great enough. It is painfully clear that this was part of Christ’s special mission on earth to die for the sins of the world; I don’t suppose that this crowd will then say we can die sacrificial deaths to save men’s souls as well? So even if we accept this premise, it commits the hasty generalization fallacy, by concluding more than the text will bear and also ignoring the special mission of Christ.

The “let him buy a sword” argument: Some will point to Luke 22:36 where Christ commands his disciples to buy two swords. This is ludicrously interpreted as Christ endorsing armed resistance. Yet the obvious flaw in this view is that when, in Luke 22:38, His disciples proclaim that they already have two swords, He says “that is enough?” Enough for what? An insurrection? Of course not. There two ways to interpret this passage without assuming Christ is a gun-toting militia member. The first means to interpretation is that, since Galileans of means often wore swords as symbol of status (much like Renaissance gentlemen wore rapiers or Tokugawa Era Samurai bore katanas) and that Christ himself often sought to deflect attention from His mission; it is quite possible Christ was commanding them to blend in with the crowd so as not to raise suspicion.  A second alternative is that two swords were enough for an object lesson. As we see a little later on in Luke 22:49-51, one of His disciples cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. We learn in John 18:11 that man was Peter. The object lesson was that the use of the sword, even in defense of an innocent man, was illegitimate. As Tertullian points out:

“still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier.”[15]

What about the Old Testament injunctions to violence: What of it? People seem to have a strange fetish with this one. In the Old Testament, God commanded circumcision, prohibited work on the Sabbath (a man was killed for gathering sticks), prohibited from eating pork, commanded to have daily oblations, and commanded to put entire cities to the sword. Yet I don’t see to many people scrambling to reinstate these rules. It must be made perfectly clear that, while just and good, the Law of Moses was done away with. If we see in Jeremiah 31:31-40, 2nd Corinthians 3:7, 11, 13, Galatians 3:15-29, and Hebrews 8:13 that the Law of Moses is obsolete, passing away and ended, just as circumcision, food laws, and purity laws are obsolete, so, too, is war.

What about Christians in the army: It’s generally accepted that there is no record of Christians in the Roman Army prior to 170 AD. Some might say Cornelius or the unnamed centurion of Matthew were Christians. Since we don’t know what happened to them after becoming Christians, they are neither here nor there. The fact that some Christians were found in the army is easily explained that they converted while already in the Roman Army. You either had to serve you time out, die in battle, or be executed (martyred) for disobedience.  We see from Hippolytus that it was an excommunicable offense for a Christian to voluntarily seek to join the Roman Army:

A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate who wears the purple must resign or be rejected. If an applicant or a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God. Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition 16, [QW44]

Clearly Christians in the army is yet one more red herring of a bankrupt position.

3.2 The Theonomists

Theonomy is a branch of Calvinism that seeks to apply certain portions of the Law of Moses to contemporary Christian life. It is this misapplication of OT law that leads to their errors. As to their error in applying Old Testament law to the present day, part of that problem was answered above under “What about the Old Testament injunctions to violence,” but another problem arises; we read in Deuteronomy 27:26 and Galatians 3:10 that a curse lies on the man who does not keep everything written in the Law. Well, do Theonomists offer animal sacrifices, abstain from unclean animals and unclean contacts (dead animals and humans, menstruating women), offer food offerings, or wear phylacteries? Of course not! The Law was not a smorgasbord where you could pick and choose which laws you keep and which ones you don’t. It was an all or nothing commitment, just as Christ is. Their spiritual bigamy is seen in Romans 7:1-6 where Paul likens a woman remarrying after the death of her husband to a believer in Christ dying to the Law and being made alive in Christ. Clearly people who voluntarily choose to live under a curse are spiritual bigamists already in deep trouble and can hardly be counted on to be consistent in their beliefs and practices.

3.3 The Catholics and Orthodox

The main argument unique to both Catholics and Orthodox in this regard is their appeal to tradition. The latter condemns the former for its breach in 1054 and Catholics condemn Protestants for their innovations. Yet, as I have made abundantly clear, the side that Catholics and Orthodox have chosen in the 4th century shift were themselves innovators of tradition. They en tota invented a new Christian view on war, government, oaths, and the state based on a false eschatology. More innovations could be pointed to, but that would be beyond the scope of this paper. The Catholic or the Orthodox has to prove at least two things to show the “legitimacy” of their tradition. (1) can it be shown from Scripture that a man or group of men were endowed by Christ with the authority to innovate and (2) can it be shown that the Christian tradition prior to 313 endowed a man or men with such power. If they cannot show this, then they are just as much hucksters, innovators, and frauds as the Protestants they so eagerly condemn. The answer to both questions is a clear and obvious no. For even if we accept their OT justification for a priesthood, not even Aaron’s sons could “invent new rituals or new doctrines.” We see God destroy Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10:1 for bringing in strange fire to the tabernacle, and we see with the likes of Jeroboam and the kings of Ephraim and Reoboam and the kings of Judah that innovation in the doctrines of Moses brought steep judgment from God. In Revelation 22:18-19 we learn that stiff penalties will be added to men who add to God’s word and his life will be blotted out of the Book of Life should he remove from God’s word. This teaching is confirmed by Ireneaus[16]. Given that someone could spend a lifetime and still not master Catholic theology makes it abundantly clear that a great many additions have been made. This tradition is a fairytale that has no basis in scripture or history and is but a fraud to legitimate their Faustian bargain we saw in the Grand Inquisitor. It would seem that, like the Jews of Jeremiah’s day, they support error simply because it is long persisted in[17]. It should be abundantly clear that errors long held to do not magically gain legitimacy, for if they did, how long would the teachings of Luther have to be practiced before they became legitimate? Thus the errors of the Catholics and Orthodox are not validated by long adherence either. If only the Catholics and Orthodox would read tradition, instead of assuming Church history starts in the 4th century, then they would see that the Church originally forbade war, but then that would be irksome and time-consuming, something they cannot be bothered with.

4.1 Conclusion

I have demonstrated from Scripture and Tradition that Christ, in fulfilling the OT prophesies, ushered in the Church age as the age of peace. Christians, being the first fruits of the New Creation, were to be a living example of the future age in Christ, and that innovators and frauds invented a New Christianity based on war and imperial domination totally at odds with the teachings of the Sermon on the Mt. and the Sermon on the Plain. They trusted in men rather than God. I have shown that the common Christian arguments against non-violence are fallacious, that the Theonomists choose to live under a curse, and that the Catholics and Orthodox were in fact a breach from tradition and the first Protestants, and that an error long held to does not magically gain legitimacy. In short, this long practiced capitulation to Satan’s third temptation of Christ is a grave and terrible innovation that has brought Christianity much trouble and error.

 

 

 

[1]Peter Scott and William Cavanaugh, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology (Blackwell, 2006), 191.

[2]AN INTERVIEW WITH GENE SHARP, last modified April 13th 2016, http://www.fragmentsweb.org/fourtx/sharpint.html

[3]Ronald J. Sider,The Early Church on Killing: A Comprehensive Sourcebook on War, Abortion, and Capital Punishment, Baker Academic (July 1, 2012), 178.

[4] The quotes are taken from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 2004.

[5] First Apology Chapter 39 and Dialogue with Trypho Chapters 109-110

[6] Against Heresies Book IV Chapter 34 Paragraph 4

[7] Against Marcion Book III Chapter 21 and Against Marcion Book IV Chapter 1

[8] Contra Celsus Book V Chapter 33

[9] Treatise 12 Book 2 Chapter 18

[10]Medieval Sourcebook: Patriarch Anthony: Defending the Emperor, 1395, last modified April 14th 2016,  http://legacy.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/patanthony-emp.asp

[11]Non Serviam – Anarchism as a Dialectical Subversion Tool, last modified April 14th 2016,https://jaysanalysis.com/2016/03/06/non-serviam-anarchism-as-a-dialectical-subversion-tool/

[12] Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, University of California Press; Revised edition edition (August 7, 2000), 221.

[13]“THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV By Fyodor Mikailovich Dostoevsky Translated by Constance Garnett Chapter 5,” accessed April 14th 2016,  https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pol116/grand.htm

[14]“No Enduring City”, last modified April 14th 2016,  http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/08/no-enduring-city

[15] De Idolotria Chapter 19:

[16] Against Heresies 5.30.1, Against Heresies 4.33.8

[17] Jeremiah 44:15-19

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