I found a box on a shelf in the Olney school library containing pamphlets about peace.
One was called "The Bible and War" by Paul M. Mills.
Mills makes an eloquent argument against war. I wonder that pamphlets such as these moulder away on the back shelves of libraries and aren't everywhere. Does anyone know of a link to this pamphlet on the web?
This pamphlet has no copyright date, but the latest citation dates from 1945. It was issued by Oregon Yearly meeting.
Some points Mills makes:
--The moral damage of war is worse than the physical. Do you agree? This counters the kind of liberal anti-war arguments that make me uneasy: In the liberal mindset, war is an evil because it costs money that could be spent on medicines and food and housing for the poor. War is too expensive. But then I wonder: if war were cheap or economically beneficial to the poor, would that make it OK?
--Mills notes that for the first 300 years after Jesus, the church considered war and revenge as unChristian. He cites Origen: "We no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn war anymore, having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus who is our leader ... And none fight better for the king than we do. ... we fight on his behalf, forming a special army--an army of piety--by offering our prayers to God."
Mills also quotes Hippolytus to the effect that no Christian should kill or become a soldier and that "weaponlessness" is "becoming to the Gospel."
-- In the mid fourth century, the peace stance changed. Mills attributes this to the Christian response to the pagans invading the Roman Empire. Augustine, who relied on the Roman Empire to protect the church, believed that if Rome fell, Christianity would be finished. Christians needed to fight alongside the Romans to preserve the faith. Out of this sprung "just war" theory.
About just war theory, Mill writes: "Sixteen centuries with their wars should be sufficient to disillusion us regarding Augustine's dream of wars conducted in a good, kind, Christian way. It cannot be done."
--Mill writes that Augustine's "great mistake" was in trying to adjust the Bible to circumstances and not circumstances to the Bible. War was a way out, but it "was not the Christian way out. Now we can see that his way did not work."
As Mills highlights, Christians joining the Roman army did not prevent Rome falling to the pagans. Rome fell. However, the power of the Gospel did not fall, but spread, despite the dissolution of the Roman Empire. Scattered Christians converted the pagans to Christianity through peaceful means. They didn't need the military might of the Romans.
I had never considered that the lack of a strong, coherent empire did nothing to impede the expansion of a different kind of kingdom. Although the pagan tribes of the north became more powerful than the Romans, the pagans became Christian and not vice versa.
What do you think of Mills's assertions? And do you agree that the moral damage of war is worse than the physical?