SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD
But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).
We are now going to address the issue about which compromised Christianity has been led into perhaps its deepest deception. It is the issue of our separation from the world as disciples of Christ. Just how separate must a disciple be in attitude and in practice? What are the practical consequences of my being so separated from the world that Paul calls it a crucifixion of me to the world and of the world to me?
With respect to this statement of Paul, we may observe that the degree of separation between a person and the society around him is capable of considerable variety. Your obedience as a disciple could bring you, theoretically, into no withdrawal, or into enough tension that you cannot participate in some aspects of that society's life which it considers important, or even into various degrees of physical seclusion (as in monasticism or the Hutterite Anabaptists). From the perspective derived from taking the pertinent Scriptures in their natural sense and when we observe early post-apostolic Christianity, we shall see that it was clearly understood, clearly taught and definitely required that the crucifixion attitude regarding the world had so many important consequences that the disciples of Jesus had to withdraw from participation in many important social institutions. This restricted participation by apostolic and early post-apostolic Christians is commonly observed by historians of the early Church, but is typically interpreted by them as being the result of living in a society that required its key participants to worship pagan gods. Since Christians could not do this, so their interpretation goes, they were forced into a non-participatory lifestyle; but once the idolatrous requirements were abolished then there were no reasons left for them to stay aloof from those areas of social responsibility and involvement. We shall see that this line of reasoning is not faithful to the Scriptural principles and commands given to disciples of Jesus. And we shall see that early Christians did not restrict their defense of Christian nonparticipation to the grounds that such participation required idolatry (far from it!). There are factors inherent within the gospel itself that prohibit certain kinds of involvement in any society of man, whether or not it requires idolatry.
The relation of Jesus and His body to this world
These all died in faith ... having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth ... seeking a homeland. ... But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16).
We have already seen that the Church is called to be a society in its own right, a separated society that manifests the social life found in the heavenly kingdom of God. The relationship of the Church to the world is to be the same as the relationship of the kingdom of God to this world. And with respect to this world, the author of Hebrews tells us, God's people are aliens and sojourners within a strange land. This was true even under the old covenant (Leviticus 25:23), to a certain degree; but it is especially emphasized for those under the new covenant (1 Peter 2:11), who have had no country set aside for them by God. Aliens who dwell in the land had neither the full privileges and protections enjoyed by its citizens, nor the full responsibilities of the citizens. As He is, so also are we in this world (1 John 4:17).
Christians stand in relation to this world in the same way that Jesus did: it by rights belonged to Him, but since it was not yet the time for Him to assert those rights, He had no place to lay His head. And so with us: the earth will belong to us one day, but until His return we must bear His reproach and feel out of place here (as well as be considered out of place by that very world).
Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you (I John 3:13).
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19).
...do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).
The "world" is every society that refuses to openly acknowledge and submit to Jesus in a disciple's obedience. From God's perspective, Christian England, Christian Europe, Christian America, were never anything more than the world in disguise, a wolf in sheep's clothing, societies whose god is Satan despite professions to the contrary. And while those expressions of the world may have been in recent times more tolerant of true believers than militantly atheistic states, they nevertheless have in truth always rejected the full teaching of Jesus -- and Jesus Himself -- because His wisdom is destructive foolishness in the eyes of the world. Turning the other cheek is very bad foreign policy, you know. But then, if you reduce His teachings to "Love one another," and then define love in a manner that is convenient to you, you would not find "Christ's teaching" to be a threat to personal or national interest. And yet His teachings are painfully more specific than that, aren't they.
Some hard sayings of the kingdom
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any one wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two (Matthew 5:38-41).
Jesus clearly teaches that we, his disciples, are not to resist the evil person when he hits us, sues us, or forces our labor. Rather than give us any grounds for not taking His teaching exactly as it stands, He warns us that He will consider us His friends only if we do what He commands us (John 15:14). Only the man who is willing to die to this world will even want to obey this teaching; and only the man willing to die to this world can be saved! The Christian policeman or president who says, "while I will obey this teaching in my personal life, I do not have to take it into my public or business life and therefore I can shoot, vote for war or take retaliatory measures in good conscience" -- such a man is deceived, thinking he does not always have to act according to the principles of discipleship.
Christ and His Spirit call forth from us the commitment to a gentleness that simply cannot be mixed with the personal or institutionalized violence of this world. Samuel and David could engage in that violence because they were still outside of the kingdom of God, waiting for its coming; Peter, however, was forbidden to (Matthew 26:51f). You have to make a choice about this when deciding whether to become a Christian, otherwise you are not becoming a disciple of Christ.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone... Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord" ...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17, 19, 21).
You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you (James 5:6).
There is simply no room for any form of revenge in a disciple's personal, business or public life. Consequently, for example, a disciple of Jesus cannot realistically expect to take part in formulating or executing national policy; national policy is solidly rooted in the principle of self-seeking glory and revenge (as God defines those terms), and anyone who advocated eliminating those principles from national affairs to the degree that Christ requires of His disciples would be laughed out of politics. Yet anyone who claims to be a Christian and does not make such an announcement is playing games either with his constituency or his God.
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, for example, the U.S. declaration of war was an application of the principle of revenge, and no disciple of Jesus could agree with it. When the colonies went into revolt against the authority of the king of England it was an application of the principle of revenge, and no disciple of Christ could agree to it, let alone fight for it (especially in light of Romans 13:1-7). The American Revolution and the World Wars were the worldly way of resolving a conflict that the world's godlessness makes inevitable; faithful citizens of the kingdom of God have withdrawn from the world's godlessness and the world's solutions to the problems created by that godlessness. The Christian who engages in these worldly methods, whether in politics or business has received the sentence of "disobedient slave" (Luke 12:45-48), and will receive one of the three judgments mentioned by Jesus in that passage. If a man in public office were to become a disciple of Jesus he would have to announce to his electorate his decision to follow the principles of the kingdom of God very carefully, which decision would require his frequent and radical departure from the popular will. If his constituency accepted this, fine -- he could remain -- but, of course, they will not.
In response to the charge that this kind of uncompromising attitude would open up our country to being ruled over by aggressors, the Christian can say several things. First, we can say that from God's revelation we know that the cycle of action and reaction that gives birth to everything from juvenile delinquency to police brutality to terrorism and international war will never be overcome; yet the only real reconciliation that will ever be created on this planet will be achieved by those who separate themselves from that complex chain of action and reaction and -- in imitation of the crucified Son of God -- absorb the wrath of the "enemy," overcoming evil with good. Secondly, we can say that God listens to the prayers of His children, and fights for them if and when they really need deliverance. If all of America were to become disciples of Jesus -- which they will not -- they would have protection against foreign conquest to whatever degree God desired. Thirdly, the true follower of Christ will say that he is quite ready to be ruled over by unfriendly communists or unfriendly capitalists (neither of them obeys God, yet one or another of them must rule over us, it seems). A Christian is entitled to his preference over the form of society he desires, of course -- but he will not wield the sword for that personal preference.He will vote for "the better man," or "the lesser of two evils," but he will not fight for the right to vote. At this point, a protest may begin to grow within you: "This is madness! Hitler and his Nazis were defeated by people who armed themselves and destroyed his evil power with a just power. You would just sit there and let his holocaust go unchecked!" But that is too simple an argument to fit the facts. Hitler and Nazi Germany did not just "happen;" they were part of that complex chain of action and reaction described earlier. If the allies had acted honorably after World War I -- in a reconciling way, instead of a vindictive way -- they would not have put upon Germany a burden of restitution that was impossible to achieve, nor would they have sent troops into the Rurh Valley in 1923, nor would they have had a hand in the horrible inflation that wiped out the life savings of millions of hard-working people and drove them to enough desperation to make Hitler's rhetoric sound believable and help them to believe that their cause was "just" enough to warrant German rearmament. But of course, you would then have to look at the causes of World War I and so on, back through time. Only by stepping altogether outside of this chain of action and reaction, and by yielding ourselves to the Son of God and His holy Way, can the healing that is so desperately needed come to pass. Christians are not "idealists," however; they know from God's revelation that the human race will never, as a race, accept God's solution: what theoretically could happen, will not in fact happen.
Through Isaiah God promised, "in the last days ... they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war" (Isaiah 2:2, 4). He prophesied that when the "shoot" springs up from the stem of Jesse, "they will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:1, 9). Well, Jesus -- the shoot of the stem of Jesse -- has come, and since it is us disciples upon whom the promised end of the ages has already come -- although in first fruits form (1 Corinthians 10:11) -- we will beat our swords into plowshares, regardless of whether anyone else does so. We shall neither hurt nor destroy, we who have entered into this knowledge of the Lord. God has indeed made a provision for a civil arm of wrath to deal with the rebellion of a worldly man (Romans 13:1-4), but children of the kingdom of God do not operate that system. It is to be run by the world's citizens to deal with their problems. We who follow Jesus do not take part in worldly rebellion nor do we punish those who do. We cannot act as policemen or warriors for the world because we cannot exert force upon people (with the mild exception of disciplining our own children). We cannot act as judges, because if we did we would be obliged to judge with the judgments of God's law and not the law of the United States courts. We would not, for example, be able to grant most divorces or remarriages -- nor allow abortions to go unpunished. As disciples, we are never free from the law of Christ!
"Oh, but if Christians withdrew from these activities where would all the justice go?" This complaint is often given, but it is naive. First of all, Christians are not called upon to withdraw from all aspects of society: we may not be able to pursue their criminals, but we can certainly risk our lives putting out their fires, and we can serve as teachers and social workers. Secondly, God has been quite able to work in societies (to whatever degree He has desired) before Christians ever came along: our society will progress toward its appointed end, whether or not we take charge of its institutions. Thirdly, whatever secular society loses from such direct participation (and therefore compromised participation) of its Christians, it will more than make up for by the presence and inspiration of an uncompromised alternate society called the Church. Christians who are participating in worldly society in disobedient ways cannot give it the inspiration that early Christians provided theirs.
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm (John 18:36).
If the servants of Jesus were not to fight to prevent injustice against the only truly innocent person this world has ever known, how can anyone suppose that they ought to fight to prevent lesser forms of injustice. If we Christians cannot fight for Jesus, do you think we can fight for the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R., the U.A.R. or anyone else? If His kingdom were of this world his servants would fight; consequently, those who do fight are aligning themselves with the kingdom of this world. They may not like that judgment, but it is the Lord's judgment nevertheless.
If persons were in warfare prior to coming to Christ, or prior to coming to knowledge of the ways of His kingdom they ought not to feel ashamed. While people were called to feel guilty for their fornication and theft by apostolic preachers, they were never called to feel guilt for their military participation. Such participation is appropriate for members of this world: it is one aspect of the way that worldly society is forced to take care of worldly rebellion and aggression -- as is police work and the judicial system. It is only after one leaves the world that one must renounce these things.
Testimony from the early church
In this area, as in many others we have examined, we find that the early Christians demonstrate that what they taught was what we learn when we take the Scriptures in their literal, grammatically natural sense. This attitude, of course, produced the attitude of non-combat and the virtual non-participation in executing the affairs of secular government we have seen to be taught by the Scriptures.
The basic attitude of these Christians toward the society around them is summed up beautifully in the "Epistle to Diognetus," written by an anonymous Christian disciple around the year 130 A.D.
They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all (others); they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed.
To sum up all in one word -- what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world... The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world... The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it -- though itself enjoying no injury -- because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians -- though in nowise injured (by them) -- because they abstain from the life of pleasures... The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world... God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it would be unlawful for them to forsake."
Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 A.D.) was born in Samaria, but seems to have spent most of his life in Rome. He writes of warfare as a thing of the past for Christians:
We who formerly used to murder one another do not now only refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie, or deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ. But if the soldiers enrolled by you ... prefer their allegiance to their own life ..., it would be verily ridiculous if we, who earnestly long for incorruption, should not endure all things ..."
Tertullian (c. 145-220 A.D.), who resided in both North Africa and Rome, describes the typical attitude of early Christians about personal reaction to aggression:
If one attempt to provoke you by manual violence, the admonition of the Lord is at hand. "To him," He says, "who smites you on the face, turn the other cheek likewise." Let outrageousness be wearied out by your patience."
Regarding the office of magistrate, Tertullian's argument against Christians' acceptance of it was not restricted to the idolatrous aspects of it, nor even to the temptations that tend to go with the office.
"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 (only), 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 of 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 one's life or character, for you might bear with his judging about money; neither condemning nor forecondemning; binding no one, imprisoning or torturing no one -- if it is credible that all this is possible.
The highest office, that of emperor, is similarly considered to be both necessary, and yet obviously against the calling of a disciple of Christ. In the following passage Tertullian is reflecting the teaching about the separate nature of the two kingdoms we have seen above. Just before the quote begins, Tertullian had been discussing the report about Jesus that Pontius Pilate had sent to the Emperor, a report that had the Roman government considering recognizing Jesus as a god.
With respect to soldiering, the same faithfulness to Scriptural principles is maintained by him.
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 oaths of allegiance, 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 (you say), Moses carried a rod, and Aaron wore a buckle, and John (the 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 although soldiers had come unto John, and had received the formula of their rule, although, likewise, a centurion had believed; still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier. No dress is lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful action.
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 [i.e., Christians' accepting military honors], 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? ... 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? ... Of course, if faith comes later, and finds any preoccupied with military service, their case is different ... 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 it, which has been the course with many; or all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to in order to avoid offending God, and that is not allowed even outside of military service; or, last of all, for God the fate must be endured which a citizen-faith has been no less ready to accept. Neither does military service hold out escape from punishment of sins, or exemption from martyrdom. Nowhere does the Christian change his character. There is one gospel, and the same Jesus, who will one day deny everyone who denies, and acknowledge everyone who acknowledges God.
[Regarding our being likened unto sheep:] No one gives the name of sheep to those who fall in battle with arms in hand, and while repelling force with force, but only to those who are slain, yielding themselves up in their own place of duty and with patience, rather than fighting in self-defence.
Origen (c. 185-254 A.D.) wrote his work "Against Celsus" in the last years of his life. He had been born and raised in Alexandria, and had spent the latter part of his life in Caesarea (of Palestine); but he had also traveled extensively throughout Asia Minor and Greece. While one may well indeed be critical of his tendency to indulge in non-Scriptural speculations, he was nevertheless known by all around to be a very truthful and humble person, as well as an excellent scholar; his descriptions of contemporary Christian practices can be believed. When he describes the pacifistic attitude as being the attitude of Christians in general, we know, by virtue of his travels, his character and his intelligence, that he is a witness to be taken seriously.
[Celsus, the pagan critic, says] ."..you [Christians] surely do not say that if the Romans were, in compliance with your wish, to neglect duties to gods and men and were to worship the Most High, or whatever you please to call him, that he will come down and fight for them, so that they shall need no other help than his..." We say that ... if they all unite in prayer with one accord, they will be able to put to flight far more enemies than those who were discomfited by the prayer of Moses when he cried to the Lord... But if all the Romans, according to the position of Celsus, embrace the Christian faith, they will, when they pray, overcome their enemies, or rather, they will not war at all, being guarded by that divine power which promised to save five entire cities for the sake of fifty just persons.
In the next place, Celsus urges us, "to help the king with all our might, and to labour 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;" and the more one excels in piety, the more effective 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 as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, lead us to the violation of oaths, and who disturb the peace, we in this way are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them... 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.
Celsus also urges us to "take office in the government of the country, if that is required for the maintenance of the laws and the support of religions." But we recognize in each state the existence of another national organization, founded by the Word of God, and we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over Churches... And it is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God -- for the salvation of men."
There is additional significance in the fact that Celsus wrote his attack upon Christianity some seventy years earlier than Origen's reply, and either from Rome or Alexandria. This tells us that the pagan of Rome (or Alexandria) in 180 A.D. knew what the Christians of the eastern Mediterranean still upheld in 250 A.D. -- that Christians refused to hold office and to participate in warfare. In his reasoning, there is no hint of saying "if only you freed us from the obligation to worship your gods we would be glad to rule over you and fight your wars." Idolatry was not the foundation of the reason for their refusal, although it of course added conviction to their refusal. The Christian tradition of nonviolence and refusal to assume positions of judgment over others was rooted in the conviction that each Christian must necessarily imitate the way of Christ, who turned the other cheek and refused to act as a worldly judge or king.
Hippolytus (c. 160-235 A.D.) wrote the "Apostolic Tradition" around the year 215 A.D. It recorded the Roman church's liturgical tradition and baptismal discipline as it had come down to them. In one section it deals with the occupations that were forbidden to Christians; as a matter of fact, they were not admitted to baptism until three years after they had abandoned these professions (undoubtedly a more stringent discipline than the apostles required). The professions dealt with are pimp, idol carvers, actors, charioteers, gladiators, temple priests, prostitutes, magicians and astrologers and, in addition, soldiers, governors and magistrates.
A soldier who is in authority must be told not to execute men; if he should be ordered to do it, he shall not do it. He must be told not to take the military oath. If he will not agree, let him be rejected [i.e., rejected as a baptismal candidate].
A military governor or a magistrate of a city who wears the purple, either let him desist or let him be rejected.
This ancient ecclesiastical policy is in perfect harmony with the positions defended by Origen and Tertullian. Rome, North Africa, Alexandria, Palestine, Asia Minor and Greece are all in agreement. Christians cannot exercise ruling authority over unbelievers because of the inescapable compromising of Jesus' teaching that must accompany worldly rule; furthermore, no disciple of Christ can use violence against other men, whether in self-defense, police activity or the military.
Council of Nicea (324 A.D.), Canon XII. One of the canons of the council, canon 12, reflected the ancient and original discipline about forbidding participation in military violence - a position that was soon to change so radically that ONLY Christians were allowed to be soldiers:
As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal, having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned, like dogs, to their own vomit, (so that some spent money and by means of gifts regained their military stations); let these, after they have passed the space of three years as hearers, be for ten years prostrators. But in all these cases it is necessary to examine well into their purpose and what their repentance appears to be like. For as many as give evidence of their conversions by deeds, and not pretence, with fear, and tears, and perseverance, and good works, when they have fulfilled their appointed time as hearers, may properly communicate in prayers; and after that the bishop may determine yet more favourably concerning them. But those who take [the matter] with indifference, and who think the form of [not] entering the Church is sufficient for their conversion, must fulfil the whole time.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XII:
Those who endured violence and were seen to have resisted, but who afterwards yielded to wickedness, and returned to the army, shall be excommunicated for ten years. But in every case the way in which they do their penance must be scrutinized. And if anyone who is doing penance shews himself zealous in its performance, the bishop shall treat him more leniently than had he been cold and indifferent.
This is really a most significant passage. The plain sense of the language clearly demonstrates that the church was still teaching new disciples to leave their military careers (or, minimally, as with Hippolytus, to renounce the use of the sword if they did not leave the military). Those who abandoned this way of life in order to return to the military were excommunicated, and permitted back only after a lengthy period of demonstrated repentance. This discipline was maintained even after the time when Constantine had become emperor and had brought the bishops together for the council at Nicea. There are some who maintain that this canon does not refer to Christians in general, but that it refers specifically and only to men who “had fought for Licinius in his war on the Christians.” But that first sentence of the canon certainly only makes sense if it is speaking against ANY participation of Christians in war: “As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal, having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned, like dogs, to their own vomit,...”. According to the plain sense of the wording, the canon’s criticism has nothing to do with WHO they fought for, but only with the fact that they were fighting at ALL.
In summary, can there be any doubt, dear pilgrim, that early Christians had been taught to take the full teaching of the Scriptures quite literally because that natural reading of the Scriptures was the very same as the apostolic instruction? Can there be any doubt in your mind that in order to return to the Christianity of the apostles we must do the same thing, congregation by congregation? The way a convert responds to the world is certainly one of the most accurate indicators of how he has in fact responded to Christ; and a person's refusal to fight the world's wars or to administer its rebellious social institutions is one of the ways we are instructed to respond to the claims of the world. These refusals teach a man to "hate" his own life in the world for the sake of Christ. And they demonstrate that the kingdom of God cannot be harmonized or blended with the kingdom of man, no matter how benevolent and tolerant of believers that latter kingdom might appear to be.
"With the disappearance of the Jewish political base for the life of God's people, Christians consider themselves as aliens on the earth, like the patriarchs (Acts 7:6, 29; Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11)..." Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. E-J (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), p. 311. <back>
Such, for example, is the attitude we see in Paul toward slavery (I Corinthians 7:20f). <back>
However, we do help support that system by paying all of its taxes (even the portion used for war). We obey all its fair laws very carefully, for such laws of state are for us laws of God. <back>
Not much "Christian patriotism" or "Christian nationalism" here, is there? <back>
Chap. 5, 6. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. 26-27. <back>
"The First Apology," ch. XXXIX. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. 176. Notice how he speaks of soldiering as an occupation of the world. <back>
"On Patience," ch.viii. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.III, p. 712. <back>
Note here a clue to the date of the beginning of the willingness of some Christians -- in North Africa, at least -- to entertain the idea of accepting public office. <back>
To the Romans, the magistrate was said to condemn, while the legislature was said to "forecondemn," by virtue of passing laws upon which the condemnation was based. <back>
"On Idolatry," chap. xvii. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III. Of course, the whole thrust of his argument is that it is not possible. When the magistrate was freed from the idolatrous obligations nothing else was changed to vitiate the force of Tertullian's argument. <back>
"The Apology," chap. xxi. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, p. 72. The logic here is clear: what is essential for the maintenance of the unsubmitted world's machinery is at the same time impossible for Christians. <back>
Latin: "sacramentum." <back>
Notice the presumption, though not the delineation, of the theology that the old covenant is set aside when the new has come. <back>
"On Idolatry," ch.xix. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.III, p. 73. <back>
"De Corona," chap. xi. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, p. 99. Given this understanding of Tertullian, an understanding that is so clearly thought out and expressed, his description in the "Apology" (chap. xlii), of Christians as people who even "fight" (Latin: "militamus") along with the pagans, undoubtedly means people who "serve in the military" with them in the manner described in this passage. See Lewis & Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879), p. 1144. "(1) to serve as a soldier." See also P.G.W. Glare, Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), Vol.V, where the same primary meaning is given (p. 1109). <back>
"Against Marcion," chap. xxxix. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, p. 415. <back>
"Against Celsus," ch.73, 75. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 667-668. <back>
Note well that there is no mention of idolatry being a factor in the prohibition against military life. Actually, as we see in both Hippolytus and Tertullian, it is not military life that is prohibited, but violence against humans. Even after idolatry ceased being a factor in military life, this prohibition would remain. <back>
A catechumen was a person who was preparing for baptism. <back>
The Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus, Gregory Dix, ed. (London: S.P.C.K., 1968), II. xvi. 17-19. <back>
“The Canons of the 318 Holy Fathers Assembled in the City of Nice, in Bithynia,” The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Volume XIV, Page 27. <back>
“Canon 12.” <back>