Since I have been on the topic of empire/nationalism/violence/military lately, I thought I’d throw out some quotes, from the period between the Apostles and Constantine, that have challenged me. It is historically undeniable that the early church of the first three centuries was against employing violence in any situation. Something that is frustrating at times is that folks in the “just war” camp (whom I respect as friends and sisters and brother is Jesus) often appeal to reason to defend their view. “What if…” scenarios drive their rebuttals and often their view of scripture appeals to Old Testament texts as a model, when Jesus (the perfect revelation of God) ought to be our model. All that is to say, we ought to be willing to look at history and Scripture (and its trajectory as it flows from Old to New to Now) and build our case from there. This post will list a few quotes that give witness to how the early church viewed nationalism and violence. How ought we respond to these quotations? How do they confront our views of nationalism and war? What are your thoughts on the importance of these witnesses to how we ought to understand the way of Jesus in modern times?
“The professions and trades of those who are going to be accepted into the community must be examined. The nature and type of each must be established… brothel, sculptors of idols, charioteer, athlete, gladiator… give it up or be rejected. A military constable must be forbidden to kill, neither may he swear; if he is not willing to follow these instructions, he must be rejected. A proconsul or magistrate who wears the purple and governs by the sword shall give it up or be rejected. Anyone taking or already baptized who wants to become a soldier shall be sent away, for he ha despised God.” — Hippolytus, 218 AD
I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command. I despise death. — Tatian
We ourselves were well conversant with war, murder, and everything evil, but all of us throughout the whole wide earth have traded in our weapons of war. We have exchanged our swords for plowshares, our spears for farm tools… now we cultivate the fear of God, justice, kindness, faith, and the expectation of the future given us through the crucified one… the more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever increasing numbers become believers. – Justin, martyred in 165 AD
“I recognize no empire of this present age.” — Speratus, Acts of the Martyrs
 Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 145.
 Ibid, 143.