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Origen: Vanquish all demons who stir up war


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace


From Reply to Celsus
Translator unknown

And as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this way are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them…


If a revolt had indeed given rise to the Christian community, if Christians took their origins from the Jews, who were allowed to take up arms in defense of their possessions and to kill their enemies, the Christian Lawgiver would not have made homicide absolutely forbidden. He would not have taught that his disciples were never justified in taking such action against a man even if he were the greatest wrongdoer. [Jesus] considered it contrary to his divinely inspired legislation to approve any kind of homicide whatsoever. If Christians had started with a revolt, they would never have submitted to the kind of peaceful laws which permitted them to be slaughtered “like sheep” (Psalm 44:11) and which made them always incapable of taking vengeance on their persecutors because they followed the law of gentleness and love.

To those who ask about our origin and our founder we reply that we have come in response to Jesus’ commands to beat into plowshares the rational swords of conflict and arrogance and to change into pruning hooks these spears that we used to fight with. For we no longer take up the sword against any nation, nor do we learn the art of war any more. Instead of following the traditions that made us “strangers to the covenants” (Eph 2:12), we have become sons of peace through Jesus our founder.

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