Monday, August 19, 2013


Christians started to violently defend themselves 1700 years ago, when Constantine gave pagan temples to be church property, and then told us we had to defend person and property by force of arms.  This after 300 years of Christians suffering at the hands of the Roman state that regarded us as disloyal, because we would follow only the nonviolent merciful Jesus. We were given freedom of religion in Constantine’s empire, but it was stipulated that our religion would, from then on, become part of his army’s weaponry.   Three hundred years of catacomb Christianity rolled over in its grave.  We became reputable, property insured, and capable of organized violence all in the same time frame.  The Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. legalized being Christian—a freedom fundamentally compromised by enslavement to Caesar’s wars.
Constantine and the Battle of Milvian Bridge--in which he attributed victory to his conditional embrace of the cross.

Most Christians know very little of this history of Constantine {he is honored as a saint in some Eastern Orthodox churches, yet not by Roman Catholics}.  But with the brutality of Twentieth Century wars, and now a never-ending War against Terrorism, many are beginning to examine consciences on our relationship with the state--all this fighting for survival of worldly kingdoms.  Interestingly, there is at this juncture a full length feature film in production on Constantine and the Council of Nicaea. Perhaps it will shed light on the critical turn of the Church towards organized violence, perhaps it will be clever promotion for more of the same.   For pro and con on the history Constantine, there are some good resources below.

The most powerful weapon we are given in the Gospels is God’s loving forgiveness, which is in reality His loving saving Son—and it’s the forgiveness He teaches and lives with us to this very day.  Forgiveness seven times seventy.  Father forgive them they know not what they do [with their choice of weaponized violence].  Those who would save their lives will lose them.  These are hard sayings for God’s people so inclined to live for the worldly kingdom—but they are crucial Good News coming from the mouth and heart of Jesus, lived by Him, hands to feet head to toe, from cross to Resurrection.


“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.”  Rev. 3:16

“Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.”  MLK

“Put away the sword.”  Mt 26:52


References - George Weigel's recent comments.
A good review of this issue, placing the church history in the context of the Spirituality of Nonviolence, can be found in the first segment of Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy’s series, Behold the Lamb, available at

And Fr. E.C. McCarthy highly recommends an important authoritative book on the subject, Constantine and the Bishops {2000}, available at Amazon and libraries.


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