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Erasmus: War is a betrayal of Christianity


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

Erasmus: Selections on war


Desiderius Erasmus
From In Praise of Folly
Unknown translator

Mars in battle gives complete victory but to one party; nay, he often makes them both losers.


Farther, when the Christian church has been all along first planted, then confirmed, and since established by the blood of her martyrs, as if Christ her head would be wanting in the same methods still of protecting her, they invert the order, and propagate their religion now by arms and violence, which was wont formerly to be done only with patience and sufferings. And though war be so brutish, as that it becomes beasts rather than men; so extravagant, that the poets feigned it an effect of the furies; so licentious, that it stops the course of all justice and honesty, so desperate, that it is best waged by ruffians and banditti, and so unchristian, that it is contrary to the express commands of the gospel; yet maugre all this, peace is too quiet, too inactive, and they must be engaged in the boisterousness of war….And yet some of their learned fawning courtiers will interpret this notorious madness for zeal, and piety, and fortitude, having found out the way how a man may draw his sword, and sheathe it in his brother’s bowels, and yet not offend against the duty of the second table, whereby we are obliged to love our neighbours as ourselves.

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