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Author Topic: Expansionism of religions  (Read 3523 times)

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Offline Phidippides

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Expansionism of religions
« on: June 20, 2007, 02:00:26 AM »
This is an interesting animated map showing how the major religions of the world expanded over time:

http://www.mapsofwar.com/ind/history-of-religion.html

Offline Donald Baker

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2007, 06:31:13 PM »
Notice that Christianity has been on the move ever since Colonial expansionism from the European powers.  Those who say that European colonialism was a blight on history might also say it was a boon for Christianity.  Perhaps European ethnocentrism was a Godly thing from a certain point of view. :)

Offline Phidippides

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2007, 06:06:35 PM »
One thing I wonder about is whether Islam battled against Buddhism or Hinduism on its Eastern front.  There had to have been some clashes throughout history, though we really only hear of the clashes between Christianity and Islam.

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 07:27:30 AM »
That is an interesting display.  However, the Jewish religion was pacifist in practice from about 500 BC to 1,900 AD, and Christianity was pacifist in theory and practice from about 30 AD to 400 AD.  Christianity spread nonviolently, even though it was ruthlessly persecuted, in its early centuries.  The fact that the Christian faith was 'advanced' by use of the sword was a heresy and an eternal shame.  But, it's easy to convert heathens when your sword is at their neck.  Are we supposed to be proud that our 'spiritual ancestors' perverted the truth of the gospel like that?
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Offline Donald Baker

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 07:08:35 PM »
That is an interesting display.? However, the Jewish religion was pacifist in practice from about 500 BC to 1,900 AD, and Christianity was pacifist in theory and practice from about 30 AD to 400 AD.? Christianity spread nonviolently, even though it was ruthlessly persecuted, in its early centuries.? The fact that the Christian faith was 'advanced' by use of the sword was a heresy and an eternal shame.? But, it's easy to convert heathens when your sword is at their neck.? Are we supposed to be proud that our 'spiritual ancestors' perverted the truth of the gospel like that?

Tell me now.  How many of those European armies were led by priests, monks, bishops, and cardinals?  Isabella and Ferdinand, Charles V, Henry the Eighth, Frederick I, Charlemagne, Richard III, Peter the Great etc....led those armies.  They warred for power, land, wealth, and prestige.   I don't think Christendom was foremost on their mind....although some like Vlad Dracul probably did consider it.  Christianity spread because greedy and violent Europeans went out and subdued the earth.....despite them, not because of them.  If the primary motivation for conquest was for Christ, I suspect the Incas and Mayas would still be around today.  Cortez and Pizarro weren't about Christ, they were about finding Gold for Spain so she could finance her incessant wars with France and England. ;)

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2007, 08:14:11 PM »
the Jewish religion was pacifist in practice from about 500 BC to 1,900 AD,
Kinda hard to have a military when you don't have a country.  Before that, they were very warrior-like (as God commanded them to be)

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2007, 01:13:00 PM »
That is an interesting display.  However, the Jewish religion was pacifist in practice from about 500 BC to 1,900 AD, and Christianity was pacifist in theory and practice from about 30 AD to 400 AD.  Christianity spread nonviolently, even though it was ruthlessly persecuted, in its early centuries.  The fact that the Christian faith was 'advanced' by use of the sword was a heresy and an eternal shame.  But, it's easy to convert heathens when your sword is at their neck.  Are we supposed to be proud that our 'spiritual ancestors' perverted the truth of the gospel like that?

Tell me now.  How many of those European armies were led by priests, monks, bishops, and cardinals?  Isabella and Ferdinand, Charles V, Henry the Eighth, Frederick I, Charlemagne, Richard III, Peter the Great etc....led those armies.  They warred for power, land, wealth, and prestige.   I don't think Christendom was foremost on their mind....although some like Vlad Dracul probably did consider it.  Christianity spread because greedy and violent Europeans went out and subdued the earth.....despite them, not because of them.  If the primary motivation for conquest was for Christ, I suspect the Incas and Mayas would still be around today.  Cortez and Pizarro weren't about Christ, they were about finding Gold for Spain so she could finance her incessant wars with France and England. ;)
You may be a better historian of religious history than my professors were.  The leaders of European expansion claimed to be Christians, claimed to have the blessings of their clergy, and they surely had that blessing.  Did Pope Innocent and other popes bless the crusades and their nights?  I believe so.  Christianity spread because the clergy blessed it, called it righteous.  You mention Cortez, and if you read Bernal-s first-hand account of that, you know the priests blessed it as it occurred.  Mayas are still around today!  I worked with Christian, pacifist, Catholic Mayas who were in the Acteal massacre on 12-22-1997, and we met neighbors of theirs, Mayas, who still worship the sun and moon and keep the Mayan long count calendar.  Cortez believed he was killing Aztecs and other tribesmen for Jesus, and the priests told him so.  I condemn the teachings of the Catholic and Protestant seminary professors and saints and theologians who taught those heresies.  You do know how Zwingli died?  You do know we still have military chaplains who bless the killers in American battles, don't you?
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Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2007, 01:25:04 PM »
the Jewish religion was pacifist in practice from about 500 BC to 1,900 AD,
Kinda hard to have a military when you don't have a country.  Before that, they were very warrior-like (as God commanded them to be)

Before that, God commanded them to commit genocide, and punished them if they didn't.  Even in OT history, much changed, and it is erroneous to assume that God always wanted them to kill.  From the time of Josiah to the 20th century, Judaism was essentially pacifist.  It's weird, but Jews were pacifist much longer than Christians or any other major religion were.  You don't need a country!  Religions don't need kings!  Look how Jahweh criticized the early Hebrews for wanting a kingdom (under Saul) like the heathen peoples.  Same for Buddhists: nationalism supercedes the pacifist teachings of Buddah.
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Offline Donald Baker

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2007, 05:31:57 PM »
That is an interesting display.? However, the Jewish religion was pacifist in practice from about 500 BC to 1,900 AD, and Christianity was pacifist in theory and practice from about 30 AD to 400 AD.? Christianity spread nonviolently, even though it was ruthlessly persecuted, in its early centuries.? The fact that the Christian faith was 'advanced' by use of the sword was a heresy and an eternal shame.? But, it's easy to convert heathens when your sword is at their neck.? Are we supposed to be proud that our 'spiritual ancestors' perverted the truth of the gospel like that?

Tell me now.? How many of those European armies were led by priests, monks, bishops, and cardinals?? Isabella and Ferdinand, Charles V, Henry the Eighth, Frederick I, Charlemagne, Richard III, Peter the Great etc....led those armies.? They warred for power, land, wealth, and prestige.? ?I don't think Christendom was foremost on their mind....although some like Vlad Dracul probably did consider it.? Christianity spread because greedy and violent Europeans went out and subdued the earth.....despite them, not because of them.? If the primary motivation for conquest was for Christ, I suspect the Incas and Mayas would still be around today.? Cortez and Pizarro weren't about Christ, they were about finding Gold for Spain so she could finance her incessant wars with France and England. ;)
You may be a better historian of religious history than my professors were.? The leaders of European expansion claimed to be Christians, claimed to have the blessings of their clergy, and they surely had that blessing.? Did Pope Innocent and other popes bless the crusades and their nights?? I believe so.? Christianity spread because the clergy blessed it, called it righteous.? You mention Cortez, and if you read Bernal-s first-hand account of that, you know the priests blessed it as it occurred.? Mayas are still around today!? I worked with Christian, pacifist, Catholic Mayas who were in the Acteal massacre on 12-22-1997, and we met neighbors of theirs, Mayas, who still worship the sun and moon and keep the Mayan long count calendar.? Cortez believed he was killing Aztecs and other tribesmen for Jesus, and the priests told him so.? I condemn the teachings of the Catholic and Protestant seminary professors and saints and theologians who taught those heresies.? You do know how Zwingli died?? You do know we still have military chaplains who bless the killers in American battles, don't you?

Again, why did Cortez go to the New World?  To evangelize the heathen there?  No.  He went to find gold for his king and queen so they could fight their wars against the other European powers.  Cortez even portrayed himself a god to the Aztecs to save his neck......don't confuse Cortez with being a Christian.....I have my doubts.  As for the clergy who blessed Cortez's actions, they were probably afraid not to....so who was in control of who?  The Church only wished it wielded the power you suggest.....it never did.  The Church was always the tool of the secular rulers, and the Pope needed them as much as the secular rulers thought they needed him.

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2007, 11:12:59 AM »
Donald, I was taught in philosophy and in the history of religion that, during the Middle Ages, philosophy was the handmaiden of the church.  Anabaptist history teaches that "Pope" and "Emperor" were in bed together starting at the death bed of Constantine I.  The church sold its soul to worldly empire, knowing full well that Jesus clearly told Pilate that Jesus' kingdom was not of this world, therefore Jesus' followers were not fighting (Gospel of John 18:36).  Cortez and Bernal and their priests among the conquistadores in Mexico believed themselves to be Christians, doing God's holy work.  They forced the Aztecas and other tribes to convert to Christianity by the sword.  Their "Christian" monarchs in Madrid considered it all as much of God's will as their successful ejection of the Muslim Moors and the Spanish Jews during the Conquista which ended in 1492.    Christians sponsored the Crusades and led the Crusades, although if you wish to judge them as not having been Christians, I agree.  Which is precisely why I don't consider a warmongering president like George W. Bush to be a Christian - at least not ethically and morally.

You cannot theologically-correctly wage war by the sword and consider it a Christian effort.  In my Scriptural opinion.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 11:16:40 AM by Fit2BThaied »
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Offline Phidippides

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2007, 12:50:03 AM »
Fit, I think you have to begin with the recognition that what your theology says is different from the theology of other Christian denominations.  For these others, violence can be morally justified within the Christian framework in certain circumstances, such as to prevent a graver danger.  It seems that you believe it can never be morally justified based on what I've read from you. 

Even if you don't agree with what these other denominations teach, it may help to understand subsequent actions taken by them based on this moral starting point I just mentioned.  With that said, my learning about the Crusades, or even the dismissal of persons from Spain, were due to political reasons rather than mere religious ones.  I realize that it's convenient nowadays to simplify issues of the past in order to judge them, perhaps even for argument against certain present-day beliefs, but I think that the study of history much be approached much differently.  In a nutshell, the Crusades may be likened to a Medieval "Vietnam" where European powers - including Christian authorities - sent soldiers to fight against the impending storm of Muslims who had already conquered many other lands during their several hundred years run.  When faced with such a threat with armies at your continent's doorstep it's not so hard to see how the Crusades would have been justified.

As far as the expulsion of Jews from Spain, the era was a time of fear against spies.  In order to know that a person had allegiance to Spain he or she had to be Christian; if a person did not want to "convert" then he or she would have to leave.  While this seems harsh to us today (and we may even question the authenticity of such a conversion) it is not too hard to see how one's religion was testament to citizenship and political alliance.  And think of it this way - it occurred some 400 years before the internment of Japanese-Americans in camps during WWII.  Issues are not always so clear when it comes to national security and we are clearly dealing with them even today in the U.S., Britain, and other places.  If questions still linger in modern times, how can we really make stern judgments on people who lived centuries ago? 

This is my understanding of the historical issues you presented and I hope it provided some additional context for these past issues.

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2007, 02:25:38 AM »
Phidippides, thank you for that well phrased 'defense' of violence, even violence in the name of preserving the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You understand correctly, I guess, that I believe that Christians can NEVER use violence.  Never.  It is forbidden, both by the literal Scriptures of the New Testament with or without reference to the Old Testament; and it is forbidden by the general principles of the message of universal love for humans that is obvious in the New Testament, obvious to school children but not to doctored professors of (false) morality.

My point is that theologically, the Just War Theory is a manure pile, and those who teach it shovel unGodly manure in the name of Jesus.  Maybe I'm only a still small voice crying in the wilderness, but sometimes almost everybody can be dead wrong.

Your historical analysis of why the "Christian nations of Europe" committed genocide and heresy in the name of Jesus, is more or less historically accurate as to facts, but not to the theory.    Self defense, individually and nationally, is foreign to the message of Jesus and His disciples. 

But hey, I luv ya'.  :)  And I don't want to kill you.  I wouldn't want to kill you if you were my enemy!  As you point out, the crime is sometimes called 'nationalism.'  Kill for Hilter, kill for Stalin, kill for Bush, because nation became God when Jesus was rejected.
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Offline Phidippides

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2007, 03:43:06 AM »
I realize what you're saying, and based on the belief you're beginning with - that all violence is wrong - then yes, any kind of war would be wrong, and continuing that same reasoning then any police activity which involves force would seem to be wrong as well....putting people in prison could also be reasoned to be wrong if the prisoner is put away against his will.  I don't see how civilized society could exist in such a system, and I think that is what other Christian denominations think as well, but perhaps such existence is not the "point" of life within the pacifist belief system.  I don't know.  But anyway, starting at the other belief, that violence isn't necessarily wrong, then it's easier to understand what I mentioned in my last post.

I should also point out that I feel you missed the point of my last post since you characterized it as equating "preserving the Gospel" with "violence", when I tried to show the underlying political, rather than religious, motivation for certain acts.  Certainly there have been times when abuses have occurred throughout the ages in the name of religion but it's really not a good idea to judge something based on exceptions. 

p.s. why aren't you ever complaining about people killing American soldiers?  You seem to harp on Bush a lot even though any and all killing would likely stop completely over there if the insurgent attacks stopped completely....seems like you're blaming the cart when you should be blaming the horse....

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2007, 01:17:21 AM »
Phidippides, I apologize for thinking that you had tried to justify violence as a defense of the Gospel; you didn't say that, I see now.

The question of a police force is separate, usually, from questions about national armies.  However, pacifist Christians seldom if ever are policemen, if it still requires killing people in the line of duty.  We live in countries where few of the residents are devout Christians, and it's beside the point to ask, "What would God do to a country if the vast majority of its residents and leaders were obedient followers of Jesus?"  Actually there have been examples of such commonwealths, one in particular, that was the only American colony to live in peace with its native Indians.  Repeating myself: all the early Christians were absolute pacifists until after 325 AD.  Civilized society can live in such a system.  Besides, who says our highest mandate from God is to live in a civilized society?  Was Communist China civilized?  Yet the true Church seems to have survived or thrived there while it died in civilized Europe.  I challenge the civility of a system of governance that survives upon brute force, as Europe has since 400 AD.  It was the Communist Russians who helped stop the "Christian" Nazi armies.

I agree that we should not judge something based on exceptions.  Shall I list every war in European and American history, every one of which broke the commandments of Jesus?  You live in a society and culture which believes it is God's will for Christians to kill their national enemies, and has believed so for 1,600 years, consistently.  The myth of redemptive violence is the rule, not the exception, in Euro-American history, and was the myth that falsely claimed to 'justify' (make righteous) the conquest of the Americas.

Particularly since almost all of us are citizens of the USA, I criticize Bush and his team as warmongers.  But yes, I consistently also condemn the actions of people who kill American soldiers, and Iraqi soldiers, et al.  I have no license to judge or preach ethics to Muslims or other non-Christians, and we have a duty to judge one another according to the Word of God.    The insurgent attacks against American soldiers would stop completely if those Americans left.......hey, maybe I'm blaming the cart and the horse!
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Offline Phidippides

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2007, 09:24:52 PM »
Repeating myself: all the early Christians were absolute pacifists until after 325 AD.

I do not know where you are getting your information from.  A glance through the early Christians in the follow page shows any number of Christians pre-325 A.D. who were soldiers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_saint

I do not understand how any "absolute pacifists" could be soldiers, particularly in that age. 

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2007, 10:28:15 PM »
Repeating myself: all the early Christians were absolute pacifists until after 325 AD.

I do not know where you are getting your information from.  A glance through the early Christians in the follow page shows any number of Christians pre-325 A.D. who were soldiers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_saint

I do not understand how any "absolute pacifists" could be soldiers, particularly in that age. 
Well, if you guys are actually going to do some pacifist homework, instead of making me do all your homework for you and then you don't turn it in  :), I need to sharpen my writing skills, at the risk of being too wordy.

Repeating myself: virtually all the early Christian pacifists were absolute pacifists, including virtually all the converts in the Roman armies who chose to be court-martialled and executed (becoming dead martyrs) rather than to worship Caesar as a God, or to kill.  Many went to their death after they said, "I am a Christian; I cannot kill."

Phidipdipdppdidpdes, did you read the wikipedia article?  Did you stop to understand what it said?  It said that many early martyrs of the church were killed as described in my prior paragraph, precisely because they refused to kill, or they refused to worship Caesar in the war cult.  They were converted from the ranks of the army!  Read it again, please: "soldier-saint hagiography which has a common theme: a soldier of the Empire has become a Christian and is found out. He undergoes tortures?which may miraculously not affect him?but refuses to offer incense to the Emperor (see imperial cult) nor deny his faith (apostasy) and is martyred."  They kill him for two or more reasons: he won't worship the emperor's cult, and he won't kill any more.  Duhhhhhh.

I'll be more wordy: if you search hard, you'll find one exceptionally quirky exception to the absolute pacifism of early Christians prior to 325 AD.  I believe it is reported by the historian Tertullian, that one band of killing soldiers were reputed to be Christians.  However, even if this alleged report is historically accurate, the Christians were heretics. 

Find me a clear statement by an Ante-Nicene Father, in church history, that Christians were allowed to kill in wars.  In R. Neibuhr tract during world war two, "Why I am Not a Pacifist," he began by stating that no church historian denies that the entire first three centuries of Christian history was entirely pacifist.  Caught up in the war hysteria, Neibuhr just didn't think Christian pacifism was practical.  Not realistic, even though three centuries proved it was practical and realistic and righteous and successful, giving us articles in wikipedia about pacifist military saints.

A few more words, back on topic: the expansion of Christianity occurred pacifistically, but some of the leaders just hated that old persecution thingy.  Too many martyrs, not enough Christian procurators, tetrarchs, or emperors.  So when the pagan Constantine offered them a deal they couldn't refuse, the bishops and the Pope decided to abandon Biblical pacifism and kill the pagans, and kill any heretics such as pacifists.  A complete turnaround in 100 years, a complete Fall of the Church.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2007, 10:32:47 PM by Fit2BThaied »
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Offline Donald Baker

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2007, 11:37:36 PM »
It might have been Tacitus instead of Tertullian you meant. 

Offline Phidippides

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2007, 11:40:00 PM »
Phidipdipdppdidpdes, did you read the wikipedia article?? Did you stop to understand what it said?? It said that many early martyrs of the church were killed as described in my prior paragraph, precisely because they refused to kill, or they refused to worship Caesar in the war cult.? They were converted from the ranks of the army!? Read it again, please: "soldier-saint hagiography which has a common theme: a soldier of the Empire has become a Christian and is found out. He undergoes tortures?which may miraculously not affect him?but refuses to offer incense to the Emperor (see imperial cult) nor deny his faith (apostasy) and is martyred."? They kill him for two or more reasons: he won't worship the emperor's cult, and he won't kill any more.? Duhhhhhh.

I did read and re-read the article and still do not see any place where they talk about the "absolute pacificism" of the early Christians. ?I also see that you added a reason for Christian martyrdom: "he won't kill anymore"; this, however, does not mean "Christian pacificm". ?When I checked through three more of the early Christians mentioned who were soldiers, I didn't read anything about them being "absolute pacifists". ?Saint Sebastian, Marcellus, and Agathius.

Since you were the one who made the claim quite forcefully that "all the early Christians were absolute pacifists until after 325 AD" I think the burden is on you to show that. ?Mind you, merely being peaceful, desperately seeking peace between nations or groups, or accepting one's own martyrdom is not "absolute pacificsm" and so I hope you don't equate the two. ?

Simply put, I do not see any evidence that what you say is true, and based on the example of early Christians being soldiers I think it suggests that absolute pacifism was not the norm.

Offline Phidippides

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2007, 11:40:49 PM »
It might have been Tacitus instead of Tertullian you meant.?

No, I believe it was Tertullian. 

Offline Donald Baker

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2007, 12:07:03 AM »
Well I didn't know because Tertullian wasn't an historian, he was a theologian.  But anyway.....:)

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2007, 03:51:46 AM »
I have already corrected my more elaborate claim.  Now I'll clarify it further.  Perhaps if the legendary mad man with the gas-powered chain saw had been at the front door of their home, threatening to kill their mother, some early Christian pacifists might have lied, and said that Mama was at the grocery store.   :)  Surely some soldiers in noncombatant roles, after converting, did not refuse to kill until they were ordered to kill.  Perhaps I've painted myself into a corner unnecessarily; some of Yoder's 25 other versions of religious pacifism apply to various 'pacifist' groups through the years.  So, I'll jump out of the painted corner and remind you guys of what YOU have not proven yet, in my extremely pacifist opinion.

The burden of proof is upon YOU to prove, theologically with proper methods of interpreting Scripture and church doctrine, that it is moral to kill ANYBODY as a Christian.  Prove it.While you're at it, you can try to justify (make holy righteous) Christian use of nuclear warfare, or antipersonnel mines, or lots of other methods of warfare which kill far, far more noncombatants than combatants.

I've already 'proven my case' or at least stated it quite clearly, by Scipture, historical examples, and logic.  Your turn, brothers.
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Offline Phidippides

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2007, 11:43:48 AM »
I'll point to you that the interpretation of Scripture has been, since the early days of Christianity, that war may be justified.? I'll also refer back to what I have already pointed to above and about early Christian soldiers (although granted we haven't gotten specifically to their stance on actual violence in the course of their duty, though this might be presumed).? I'll also point to St. Augustine, present at one or more of the Hippo Synods, which was in my understanding where the Bible was compiled...and you are using the Bible to support your claims:?

Quote
At the Synod of Hippo (393), and again at the Synod of 397 at Carthage, a list of the books of Holy Scripture was drawn up. It is the Catholic canon (i.e. including the books classed by Protestants as "Apocrypha"). The latter synod, at the end of the enumeration, added, "But let Church beyond sea (Rome) be consulted about confirming this canon". St. Augustine was one among the forty-four bishops who signed the proceedings.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01199a.htm

I think this suggests that St. Augustine, for one, was very familiar with the precepts of Christianity and Our Lord's instructions.? But you seem to reject a vast amount of history, you have your own interpretation that you have arrived at in your own life.? I, for one, am supported in my understanding based on what many lives have studied over the course of hundreds and hundreds of years.?

It seems to me that if you call what St. Augustine said to be "heresy" then you may also want to consider whether the Synod of Hippo was also "heresy", in which case you may want to reconsider the validity of the very Bible upon which you gain your understanding of "absolute pacifism".? At least that's where the logic could lead.?

With all this said, you seem to be thinking of this in absolutes; either you are a pacifist or you are a nuke-loving war monger.? Hardly the case.? I will not try to justify the use of nuclear weapons on civilian cities as it is my understanding that that is immoral and probably could never be justified.? I also think it's fair game to question the morality of our going to war in Iraq, even though I think this question of attack is separate from our continued peace-keeping operations there now.

My real difference with your positions is not about whether peace-seeking is good or bad, or whether war should be avoided or desired, but whether violence - including war - can be morally justified in certain circumstances.  But murder can never be morally justified.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2007, 11:50:08 AM by Phidippides »

Offline Fit2BThaied

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Re: Expansionism of religions
« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2007, 08:39:54 AM »
Phip, maybe we're getting somewhere now.  I probably made too extreme of a case for Christian pacifism, when the greatest modern interpreter of it listed many, many varieties and degrees of it. 

I would advise all of us not to begin our Christian history at 325 AD.  Also, you can realistically and scholastically expect that a church which has championed violence since 325 would not have properly preserved the extreme position of the earlier church.   No, I didn't call Saint Augustine a heretic; in fact around the year 400, even in such Augustinian writings as City of War and City of Peace, it's hard to find a specific, well-organized "Just War Theory."  That may have come closer to the age of Saint Aquinas.  Augustine was a brilliant, devout genius who wrote extensively, but beginning with his meager writings about Christian participation in warfare, the traditional pacifism of four centuries decayed and swiftly became something very different, so that few people realize what Neibuhr admitted during world war two: that all church historians know the early church was pacifist, and it would be futile to argue differently.  This, mind you, as he began his essay, "Why I Am Not a Pacifist"!

Perhaps you have easy access to Foxe's Book of Martyrs.  Look in the chapters of the first three centuries, and you'll find consistent examples where a converted soldier says, "I cannot kill; I am a Christian."  Better yet, find an Anabaptist library with an English edition of the Martyr's Mirror.

I am glad to hear that you are not one of those "Nuke it and pave it" mentality.  Even if the Just War Theory was biblical, even if it were ex cathedra dogma, just war cannot kill more noncombatants than combatants.  Virtually ALL modern warfare since about 1936 has killed MANY noncombatants for every combatant (aside from the fact that many combatants were drafted or forced into the military).  Oh, speaking of the Just War Theory: would each of you worthy opponents in this debate please read it?  There are onlly two major ethical positions for the last 2000 years: Christian pacifism of one variety or another; and the JWT.   Once you honestly consider the official JWT, you'll see that it is not an acceptable ethical position.  I think the JWT article in Wikipedia is reasonably accurate, considering the theory has several versions, none of which have been officially dogmatized by most denominations.
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