Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tertullian explains Christian anarchy

Tertullian is an early church father (known as ante-Nicene) from the period circa 160-225 C.E. He was one of the first Christian apologists, and the first to write in Latin. This is what he says regarding the Christian's view of earthly affairs:

Unless I mistake the matter, the prevention of such associations [of illicit societies] is based on a prudential regard to public order, that the state may not be divided into parties, which would naturally lead to disturbance in the electoral assemblies, the councils, the curiae, the special conventions, even in the public shows by the hostile collisions of rival parties; especially when now, in pursuit of gain, men have begun to consider their violence an article to be bought and sold. But as those in whom all ardour in the pursuit of glory and honour is dead, we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings; nor is there aught more entirely foreign to us than affairs of state. We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth--the world. ( Apology XXXVIII)
This essentially explains how when we are born unto Christ, we are born into an international community with no earthly boundaries. All of humanity is in service to the Lord, and all nations answer unto Him. The Kingdom of God goes out to all nations, and all tongues. When we have solidarity through Christ amongst the varied nations, how can we support one nation's triumph over another?

A little known American Christian activist from the 19th Century named Adin Ballou is a personal inspiration to me (I actually started and wrote most of the beginnings of the Wikipedia article on him). Ballou expounded on this idea, bringing it into the discussion of morality.

How many does it take to annul the commandments of God, and render that lawful, which HE has forbidden? How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness?

One man must not kill. If he does it is murder. Two, ten, one hundred men, acting on their own responsibility, must not kill. If they do, it is still murder. But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is no murder. It is just, necessary, commendable and right. Only get people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent.
These are some serious thoughts in the face of the new American imperialism. To whom do we give allegiance. In whom do we trust? It is the Lord of Hosts and his son, the Prince of Peace.

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