Monday, October 3, 2016

The Early Church on Government

"My opinion is this: that in this way a kingdom may be governed in peace-when the sovereign is acquainted with the God of Truth. That is, if the ruler refrains from doing wrong to his subjects out of fear of God..."- Melito

* Do we have such leaders today?

"Who are more deserving to obtain the things they ask for than those who, like us, pray for your government?...We pray that your empire may receive increase and addition...and this also for our advantage, that we may lead a peaceable and quiet life and may readily perform all that is commanded of us (by God)."- Athenagoras

*This is our only duty to government, other than paying taxes and obeying the law.

Government a Divinely Appointed Institution
"And the Word says by Solomon, "By me, kings reign and princes administer justice."- Irenaeus

"God imposed upon mankind the fear of man, for mankind did not acknowledge the fear of God....Earthly rule, therefore, has been appointed by God for the benefit of nations."- Irenaeus

"By the counsels of holy men, states are managed well."- Clement of Alexandria

Christian Non-Participation
"So we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings. Nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than affairs of the state."- Tertullian

"I owe no duty to forum, campaign or senate. I stay awake for no public function. I make no effort to occupy a platform. I am no office seeker. I have no desire to smell out political corruption. I shun the voter's booth, the juryman;s bench....I have withdrawn from worldly politics!"- Tertullian

"And it is not for the purpose of escaping duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a more divine and necessary service in the church of God."- Origen

Not All Governments Serve Their True End
"For example, let him tell us whether the laws of the Scythians- which permit the murder of parents- are upright laws! Or those of the Persians, which permit the marriages of sons with their mothers or of daughters with their own fathers..."- Origen

"Those persons are more severely judged who in this world have more power."- Cyprian

*Are current governments serving their true end?

On Governmental Oaths and Military Service
"Do we believe it is lawful for a human oath to be added on top of one that is divine? Is it lawful for a man to come under promise to another master after Christ?...Shall a Christian apply the chain, the prison, torture, and punishment?...You will see by a slight survey how many other offenses there are involved in the performance of military duties. And we must hold them to involve a transgression of God's law."- Tertullian

*Tertullian wrote an entire treatise on why Christians were forbidden to serve in the military, titled The Crown.

"A just man may not be a soldier."- Lactantius

"We are not permitted to wear any uniform that symbolizes a sinful act."- Tertullian

"Inquiry is made on this point, whether a believer may turn himself to military service, and whether the military may be admitted to the faith, even the rank and file..But how will a Christian man war, or how will he serve in peace even, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away?"- Tertullian

*Early Christians required those to be baptized to resign their public office and to end their military service before baptism.

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