Sunday, September 23, 2007

Early Christian Soldiers


I'm reading "Eusebius, The Church History", who was a Christian who lived from 260 - 339 AD and wrote about early Christianity. It's a fascinating book, here's an excerpt from the period at the beginning of Diocletian's persecution of Christians:

"First he struck at those in the camps, thinking that if he won there the rest would be easily defeated. Now large numbers of soldiers were glad to become civilians so as not to renounce their reverence for the Creator. The commander-in-chief, whoever he was, first began persecuting the soldiers by sorting them out and letting them choose either to conform and retain their rank or to disobey the edict and be stripped of it. A great many soldiers of Christ's kingdom unhesitatingly chose to confess him rather than hold onto their apparent glory and prosperity. Of these, a few here and there were already receiving not only loss of honor, but even death in exchange for their loyal devotion, for as yet the instigator of the plot was risking bloodshed only rarely, apparently fearing the number of believers and hesitating to make war on all of them at once. But once he had readied himself, words are inadequate to describe the number or the nobility of God's martyrs, as witnessed by people in every city and region."

Obviously there were quite a few Christian Roman soldiers by 303 AD, so I don't really 'get' Christians who claim to be pacifists.

10 comments:

The Merry Widow said...

Well, Revelation has Christ returning in garments dipped in blood! AND a 2 edged sword proceeding from HIS Mouth...no pacifism there!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!

tmw

Eyes said...

Morning tmw:>D Don't you think the two edged sword represents his word, which can not be disputed at that time? In other words everyone 'knows' at that time, like we all know the sky is blue or the earth is round at this time. I don't think Jesus will go into actual physical battle killing people. That's more up the tree of islam.... We know he will be fair, but never cruel.

Brooke said...

"That's more up the tree of islam...."

Well said!

Brooke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eyes said...

:>D Ya, I think it's important to differentiate between us and them. This book I'm reading is really interesting because you can see even the early Christians dying for the sake of freedom. Freedom to choose to believe what they want. That is an entirely novel idea in ancient times and thanks entirely to Judaism and therefore Christianity. I love Joshua 24:15: "15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." .... But other examples are sprinkled throughout the OT and NT.

So, that's the big difference between islam and J/C. In islam, you're born a muslim and will die a muslim (one way or the other)...

The Merry Widow said...

Eyes-HE cannot be anything but; Perfect, Just and Truth! Fair is a false concept that we have accepted as true. It is childish in that this is a fallen and cursed world, so we will not see fairness. Consider this, what was the most unfair thing that ever occurred? Jesus crucifiction, so I do not ask for Justice, but Mercy...

tmw

Eyes said...

Hi TMW, I would agree, "just" is a better term:>)

Russet Shadows said...

Christian pacifism is based upon misreading "kill" for "murder" in the Ten Commandments. It is an asinine position, especially given that Christ Himself did not tell soldiers that they were sinning by being soldiers; He simply told them to be content with their wages!

Stephen Samuel said...

Christ does call on people to 'turn the other cheek', and remember when he healed the ear of the man who had come to take him to be killed.

While it's arguable that there was no call to absolute pacifism (he did allow his follower to carry the sword which cut off the ear that he reattached), I think it is clear that Jesus called on people to be a good bit less warlike than we're used to being.

Eyes said...

Hi Stephen, Yes, I think it boils down to the fact that we have a right to life. As such we have a right to defend when our lives are threatened. Living in a smaller world, where threats can come from anywhere, interpretting that has become quite a bit more complex. Hitler wasn't an immediate threat to the US or Canada, but unbridled tyranny could become one. Ditto with communism as it spread through SE Asia.