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.