Monday, April 29, 2013

Early & modern Christian positions
on the question of war /

Στάσεις απέναντι στο ζήτημα του πολέμου
των πρώτων και των σύγχρονων χριστιανών




What caused the mission of Greek Orthodox Church to Korea? /
Ποια ήταν η αιτία της ιεραποστολής στην Κορέα
από την Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία της Ελλάδος;

"Archimandrite Hariton Symeonides of the Greek Orthodox Church -
Holy Water Blessing with Greek Soldiers during the Korean War.
Archimandrite Hariton was the first Greek Chaplain to come in contact with the Korean Orthodox
whom were scattered throughout Korea due to the War. He worked to gather the flock in 1951." * * 



'Orthodox priests sprinkled holy water on nuclear warheads and blessed military factories,
navy vessels and army aeroplanes while mugging for cameras.' *



"NONVIOLENCE. Virtually every religious tradition contains some sort of injunction against taking human life. The biblical instruction “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13, Dt. 5:17), considered normative for both Jewish and Christian traditions, is echoed in the New Testament (Mt. 5:21) and also in the Quran: “Slay not the life that God has made sacred” (6:152). In the Buddhist tradition, the first of the Five Precepts mandated as part of the Eightfold Path of righteous living is the requirement not to kill. A Jain text claims that “if someone kills living things . . . his sin increases” (Sutrakratanga 1.1), a sentiment that is also found in Hinduism: “The killing of living beings is not conducive to heaven” (Manusmrti 5.48).

[...]

EARLY CHRISTIANITY. Martyrdom was an important feature of early Christianity as well, partly because it seemed an imitation of the sacrifice of Jesus, but there has been disagreement among Christians from that time to the present over whether Jesus’ example of selfless love (agape) was meant to be followed to similar extremes by other members of the Christian community. Those who thought so expected that the peaceable kingdom of God that is often depicted in the Gospels would be realized in this world, and they took literally Jesus’ advocacy of a nonviolent approach to conflict: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44).

The early church fathers, including Tertullian and Origen, affirmed that Christians were constrained from taking human life, a principle that prevented them from participating in the Roman army. The fact that soldiers in the army were required to swear allegiance to the emperor’s god was also a deterrent, since it would have forced Christians into what they regarded as idolatry.

The adoption of Christianity as the state religion by Constantine in the fourth century CE brought about a major reversal in Christian attitudes toward pacifism and led to the formulation of the doctrine of just war. This idea, based on a concept stated by Cicero and developed by Ambrose and Augustine, has had a significant influence on Christian social thought. The abuse of the concept in justifying military adventures and violent persecutions of heretical and minority groups led Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, to reaffirm that war is always sinful, even if it is occasionally waged for a just cause.

PACIFIST CHRISTIAN MOVEMENTS.
The late medieval period witnessed the rise of a series of movements dedicated to pacifism and the ethic of love that Jesus had advocated in his Sermon on the Mount. One of the first of such groups was the Waldensian community based in France and North Italy; this was founded by Pierre Valdès, who in 1170 had committed himself to a life of poverty and simplicity, and who refused to bear arms. Although Valdès was excommunicated from the church, he is said to have influenced the young Francis of Assisi, whose religious order later adopted many of Valdès’s principles. Similar pacifist teachings were advocated by John Wyclif and his Lollard followers in fourteenthcentury England, and in the same century the Hussite and Taborite movements in Czechoslovakia rejected all forms of violence, as did their successors, the Moravians.

The Protestant Reformation provided a new stimulus for groups that rejected the church’s compromise with what it often regarded as the political necessity of military force. In the first decades of the sixteenth century, the Anabaptists broke away from Ulrich Zwingli’s branch of the Swiss Reformation over the issues of voluntary baptism and absolute pacifism—teachings the Anabaptists affirmed and that, later in the same century, were adopted by Menno Simons and his Mennonite followers in Holland. In a tragic and ironic twist of fate, many of these pacifists were persecuted by fellow Protestants as heretics, and were burned at the stake.

Perhaps the best-known Protestant pacifist movement is the Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers, which was established by George Fox in England in 1649. The nonviolent ethic of this radical Puritan movement was based on the notion that a spark of the divine exists in every person, making every life sacred. With this in mind, the Quaker colonialist William Penn refused to bear arms in his conflict with the American Indians, with whom he eventually negotiated a peace settlement.

Many pacifist Christian movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, owe a substantial debt to Christian predecessors such as those mentioned above. Others have been influenced by Western humanist and Asian pacifist thought, especially, in the twentieth century, by the ideas of Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi, in turn, was influenced by Christian pacifists, including the Russian novelist and visionary Lev Tolstoi and the American Christian social activists Kirby Page, Clarence Marsh Case, and A. J. Muste. The largest Christian pacifist organization of modern times, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, was founded in England in 1914; and a number of statements urging nonviolence have been issued from the Vatican and from the World Council of Churches in response to the two world wars of this century. In the United States during the mid-twentieth century, Christian pacifist ideas played a significant role in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolent movement for racial justice, the movement against the American involvement in the Vietnam War, and in movements against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Some Christian “nuclear pacifists,” however, restrict their advocacy of nonviolence to nuclear arms, whose massively destructive power, they feel, vitiates the traditional Christian defense of weaponry in a “just war.”"



«Οι πρώτοι εκκλησιαστικοί πατέρες, περιλαμβανομένου του Τερτυλλιανού και του Ωριγένη, δήλωναν ότι απαγορευόταν στους Χριστιανούς να αφαιρέσουν ανθρώπινη ζωή, μια αρχή που τους εμπόδιζε να συμμετέχουν στο ρωμαϊκό στρατό».


* The Encyclopedia of Religion
[Εγκυκλοπαίδεια της Θρησκείας],
2nd ed., Macmillan Reference/Thomson Gale 2005,
vol./τόμ. 10, p./σ. 6647, 6648.


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