Friday, September 16, 2016

The Ancient Church and War (Patristic Quotes)

It is interesting how the early church writers understood Matthew 26:52:

"But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a
believer may turn himself unto military service, and
whether the military may be admitted unto the faith,
even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, to
whom there is no necessity for taking part in
sacrifices or capital punishments. There is no
agreement between the divine and the human sacrament,
the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil,
the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul
cannot be due to two masters-God and Caesar. And yet
Moses carried a rod, and Aaron wore a buckle, and John
(Baptist) is girt with leather and Joshua the son of
Nun leads a line of march; and the People warred: if
it pleases you to sport with the subject. But how will
a Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in
peace, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away?
For albeit soldiers had come unto John, and had
received the formula of their rule; albeit, likewise,
a centurion had believed; still the Lord afterward, in
disarming Peter, unbed every soldier. No dress is
lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful action"
(Tertullian, De Idolatria XIX).

Justin Martyr writes:

"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 go forth the law, and the
word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge
among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; 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
any more.' 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" (1
Apologia XXXIX).

"For we do not train our women like Amazons to
manliness in war; since we wish the men even to be
peaceable. I hear that the Sarmatian women practise
war no less than the men; and the women of the Sacae
besides, who shoot backwards, feigning flight as well
as the men" (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata IV.VIII).

"If an applicant or believer seeks to become a
soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God"
(Apostolic Tradition 16).

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