Nonviolence – Absolute Pacifism

Let’s start out this post with another quote from A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story  by  Diana Butler Bass.

Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Origen all specifically condemned participation in war. “The Christian fathers of the first three centuries,” states theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill, “were generally adamant that discipleship requires close adherence to the nonviolent and countercultural example of Jesus’s own life and his sayings about the nature of the kingdom.”

It is clear from the early Christian sources that for the first three hundred years or so the People of the Way were absolute pacifists. They did not believe in joining in on the empire’s wars. In those days when a welcomed Roman soldier wished to become a Christian he was basically told to find another occupation. This changed when some of the leaders began bending to empire demands and especially the power yielding enticements.  Pacifism disappeared when Constantine took over the leadership role of his State mandated religion.

Today many Christians are adamant that abortion kills an innocent life but then go on to say that is ok to kill another human being because your government told you to kill or it is alright to kill someone who has done bad things.  Some of us prefer to go back to the beginning and say, as Jesus taught us, that extinguishing any life is wrong.

I can hear some of you now saying “Then I guess we should have just let Hitler take over the world?”or something like that.  But maybe we just weren’t patient enough to let God solve that man-made problem instead of taking it in our own hands.  I don’t fully know the answer to that question. But I do know that wars are the result of empire actions and decisions and maybe we Christians should emphatically say that we will have nothing to do with it. The Quakers have been doing that since their beginnings. God bless them for that….

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