The Total Pacifist?

I have read several histories of the Church and it seems we were total pacifists until Augustine made his Just War Theory when his city was in danger of destruction.

What is the Catholic position on the Total Pacifist? Can Just War Theory ever be undone?

There is a letter by Marcus Aurelius early in the 2nd century (I can’t find it on-line but I have it in my ECF reference material in my home office) where he praises the actions of his Christian warriors. He notes that it was by their prayers that the weather changed and helped defeat an enemy. He admits to be very surprised at how many Christians were in his military company. Clearly, these early Christians were not pacifists.

There were entire roman companies that converted to Christ and then refused to fight and were of course executed.

Hmmm… I detect a mystery. :confused:

[quote=DarinHamel]I have read several histories of the Church and it seems we were total pacifists until Augustine made his Just War Theory when his city was in danger of destruction.

What is the Catholic position on the Total Pacifist? Can Just War Theory ever be undone?
[/quote]

While I would suggest that some specific Christians might be given the charism of total pacifism, I would also suggest that this is the exception, rather than the rule.

Inasmuch as St. Augustine’s teaching on “Just War” has been formally codified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I don’t expect it to be rescinded!

[quote=DarinHamel]I have read several histories of the Church and it seems we were total pacifists until Augustine made his Just War Theory when his city was in danger of destruction.

What is the Catholic position on the Total Pacifist? Can Just War Theory ever be undone?
[/quote]

The only way these “histories” can assert that is by a selective reading of early Church texts. In fact, opinions on this subject were quite diverse. Here is an interesting article from First Things:
firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0110/articles/cole.html

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. John 2:15

I’d wager to say that our funder wasn’t a total pacifist.

[quote=Trelow]And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. John 2:15

I’d wager to say that our funder wasn’t a total pacifist.
[/quote]

Good point! :thumbsup:

**NAB LUK 22:35 **

“…And the man without a sword must sell his coat and buy one.”

Jesus telling the Apostles to arm themselves was not about duck hunting.

Please visit Throwing Stones

Early Christians faced several problems.

First of all Imperial Rome didn’t have a separate police force (although there was a “watch” in the city itself.) In most of the Empire the laws were enforced by the Army – note that it was Roman Soldiers, not corrections officials or sheriffs, who crucified Christ. During periods of persecution, the military carried out the persecutions.

Second, soldiers were automatically members of a military cult. There were pagan ceremonies and sacrifices that were obligatory. (Read Tertullian “On Wearing the Military Chaplet.”)

At the same time, however, the Army was the Empire’s defense against the chaos of invading barbarians. And Christians routinely prayed for the success of the Emperor’s armies.

Again, soldiers would convert. This raised another problem – what should a convert do? Was he obliged to desert, or disobey orders? If so, how would this reflect on the law-abiding Christian community.

What about times when soldiers were ordered to do things that were clearly forbidden by the Church – like massacreing civilians?

All these problems were not based on a pacifist bent, but on contradictions engendered by being members of a religion that was both law-abiding and illegal.

Once Christianity was legalized by the Edict of Milan (313 AD) the contradictions vanished.

Man, lots and lots of reasons why violence may be permissible under certain circumstances. Thanks guys, I have wondered about this for quite a while.

Sometimes when I read the gospels I only remember what my preconcieved notions let me remember. I have wondered and tried to remember if Jesus had ever been violent and went through the gospels and just passed over the whip of cords and buy the sword passages.

I guess thats why this site is here huh?
Thanks again, :thumbsup:
Darin

[quote=DarinHamel]I have read several histories of the Church and it seems we were total pacifists until Augustine made his Just War Theory when his city was in danger of destruction.

What is the Catholic position on the Total Pacifist? Can Just War Theory ever be undone?
[/quote]

Since Paul advised everyone to perform the duties of their state in life faithfully, and specifically named classes such as married persons, slaves and soldiers, I would demand biblical evidence for pacificism as a teaching of the early Church before I attempted to counter such a statement.

[quote=puzzleannie]Since Paul advised everyone to perform the duties of their state in life faithfully, and specifically named classes such as married persons, slaves and soldiers, I would demand biblical evidence for pacificism as a teaching of the early Church before I attempted to counter such a statement.
[/quote]

How about the biblical evidence for perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience?

When I was younger, in the 1970s, priests used to talk about “lesser of two evils”. So let me get this straight; Christianity teaches that sometimes we have to defy the will of Jesus?

St. Peter commits three “lesser of two evils” in defiance to the will of Jesus, in order not to be murdered at Christ’s cruxifiction. Jesus prays hard for St. Peter to bring him back from Satan. St. Peter repents and eventually is martyred for the faith. I think it is obvious that accepting death itself, rather than to defy the will of Jesus, even in a lesser way, is the correct answer. I have not heard any preists teaching “lesser of two evils” lately.

Either it is within the will of Jesus for the Pope to use violence at the Vatican (sell the Pope’s coat to buy a sword) (Swiss Guards) to protect himself or the use of violence at the Vatican (Swiss Guards) is defiance to the will of Jesus. Like St. Peter, there is no “lesser of two evils” acceptable avenue with Jesus.

[quote=DarinHamel]How about the biblical evidence for perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience?
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Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are not vows of poverty, chastity, pacifism and obedience.

Nor is everyone in the Church obliged to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

[quote=DarinHamel]How about the biblical evidence for perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience?
[/quote]

OP claims to have biblical evidence of “total pacificism” of Early church, this thread is not about vows, it is about pacificism.

Is there any record of an apostle after the descent of the Holy Spirit having performed an act of violence in self defense or any type of violence at all?

[quote=DarinHamel]Is there any record of an apostle after the descent of the Holy Spirit having performed an act of violence in self defense or any type of violence at all?
[/quote]

Saint Paul shook the snake off into the fire.

Why limit your period to after the descent of the Holy Sprit? The Son, Himself said, “one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.”

Did that command somehow change?

[quote=vern humphrey]Saint Paul shook the snake off into the fire.

Why limit your period to after the descent of the Holy Sprit? The Son, Himself said, “one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.”

Did that command somehow change?
[/quote]

And when Peter said “Here Lord we have two swords.” Jesus said, “Enough.” Then Peter used the sword and Jesus healed the man whom Peter cut.

It seems to me that Jesus was just using an analogy and Peter took it literally.

I limit it to after the Descent because before it they made a lot of mistakes. No real reason beyond that.

[quote=DarinHamel]And when Peter said “Here Lord we have two swords.” Jesus said, “Enough.” Then Peter used the sword and Jesus healed the man whom Peter cut.

It seems to me that Jesus was just using an analogy and Peter took it literally.
[/quote]

Let me get this straight – He said, straight up, “one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.” And He didn’t really mean it literally?

They showed him that they had two swords with them, and He didn’t say, “I didn’t mean that literally – get rid of those nasty 'ol things?”

And when they went into the garden He didn’t know Peter had a sword?

[quote=DarinHamel]I limit it to after the Descent because before it they made a lot of mistakes. No real reason beyond that.
[/quote]

Reminds me of a guy who was arguing there should be no bishops or priests, who said, “Show me in the Gospels where bishops and priests are mentioned.”

You see this kind of thing all the time when debating Fundamentalists – they want to build a fence around their “proof texts” and limit the discussion to particular verses, times, or incidents.

Hi Vern,

Reminds me of a guy who was arguing there should be no bishops or priests, who said, “Show me in the Gospels where bishops and priests are mentioned.”

You see this kind of thing all the time when debating Fundamentalists – they want to build a fence around their “proof texts” and limit the discussion to particular verses, times, or incidents.

Reminds me of the pharisees, too. Having full knowledge of the Mosaic law, they used their prowess to continually jab at Christ in efforts to trip Him up. It is their very knowledge that blinded them to the Truth.

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