Monday, April 15, 2013

Oscar Cullmann
on the stand of the Christians
on the demands made
by a totalitarian State /

Ο Όσκαρ Κούλμαν
για τη στάση των χριστιανών
έναντι των απαιτήσεων
ενός απολυταρχικού Κράτους

Now we understand why we hear a tone quite different here from that in Romans 13. In all other points the Johannine Apocalypse may be a book radically different from the Epistle to the Romans; but in the interpretation of the State there is no contradiction—no more than there is within the Pauline letters themselves or among the sayings of Jesus. Regarding the State's requirement of worship of Caesar's image Paul would not have spoken otherwise than the author of the Johannine Apocalypse. Moreover our present chapter contains a verse which leads us back to Romans 13. In the beginning of the chapter we discover the holy indignation at the blasphemous bearing of the State which deifies itself; yet in verse 10 we read: "If one kills with the sword, by the sword he must die." Here we are reminded of the limitation placed on resistance even to the totalitarian State. We must resist the totalitarian demand of this State, and indeed at any cost; but only within the compass of this demand. This means: positively, perseverance in our Christian preaching; negatively, perseverance in our refusal of the idolatry demanded by the State. The totalitarian demand we have to resist even to blood; but it is not our business to take the sword, to wage war as the fellowship of Christians against this State in order to destroy its existence. This is said even by the author of the Johannine Apocalypse, who describes the satanic beast so powerfully. The saying in verse 10 according to the generally admitted reading leads us back also to Jesus, to his decisive renunciation of Zealotism in Gethsemane in the face of his followers' Zealotist pattern of behavior, as we read in Matthew 26:52, "All that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

Εδώ μάς γίνεται η υπενθύμιση του περιορισμού που τίθεται στην αντίσταση ακόμη και έναντι ενός απολυταρχικού Κράτους. Θα πρέπει να αντισταθούμε στην απολυταρχική απαίτηση αυτού του Κράτους, και αυτό πράγματι με οποιοδήποτε κόστος· αλλά μόνο υπό τον όρο αυτής της απαίτησης. Αυτό σημαίνει: ενεργητικά, επιμονή στο χριστιανικό μας κήρυγμα· παθητικά, επιμονή στην άρνησή μας έναντι της ειδωλολατρίας που απαιτεί το Κράτος. Στην απολυταρχική απαίτηση θα πρέπει να αντισταθούμε ακόμη και μέχρις αίματος· αλλά δεν είναι δική μας δουλειά να πάρουμε το σπαθί, να διεξαγάγουμε πόλεμο ως αδελφότητα χριστιανών κατά του Κράτους έτσι ώστε να το αφανίσουμε.

* Oscar Cullmann / Όσκαρ Κούλμαν,
The State in the New Testament
[Το Κράτος στην Καινή Διαθήκη],
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956,
pp./σσ. 83, 84.

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