Themelios 33 - Nonviolence in the Ancient Church
Today I read an interesting article from the latest issue of Themelios (which can be found here in PDF). Not only does it use a nice serif font for the article text (I wonder what it is) but the article itself is interesting. If you are interested in the early church’s thinking on Christianity and violence, it is certainly worth your read.
The summary of the early church’s opinion was not surprising, showing what most of us know anyway that there was a pretty consistent stance against military service among the Christians of the first few centuries (I know of no exceptions. Do you?).
The conclusion was short and well-said but I will not repeat the arguments here. Read them for yourself; the whole article is pretty brief.
To me one of the fundamental points is what does the NT mean when it says the state "bears the sword" and "It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer" (Rom 13:4, NET)? It seems to me that this would involve violence. Last time I checked, swords were meant to kill.
Another point that needs to be brought up is a little more abstract, but relevant to the question, and it is this: if something is right and good for the government, it must be right and good for a Christian to do that in the government. After all, if it is wrong it is, well, wrong. But if it is okay for the government, or stated more strongly, if it is a divinely ordained task of the government, it seems terribly inconsistent to say that a Christian cannot fulfill that role.
I must admit, though, that I am not well-read in this area. Perhaps I am missing something, but it seems somewhat straightforward.