Persuasion or Force?
Tuesday/January/2012 15:25 Filed in: Quotations
A long time ago, in Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church, I ran across the following quotations from the Church Fathers:
"Satan, because there is no truth in him, breaks in with axe and sword. But the Saviour is gentle, and forces no one, to whom he comes, but knocks and speaks to the soul: Open to me, my sister? If we open to him, he enters; but if we will not, he departs. For the truth is not preached by sword and dungeon, by the might of an army, but by persuasion and exhortation. How can there be persuasion where fear of the emperor is uppermost? How exhortation, where the contradicter has to expect banishment and death?"
— Athanasius, cited in: Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church Vol. 3 Chapter 1 page 45.
"Christians are not to destroy error by force and violence, but should work the salvation of men by persuasion, instruction, and love."
— Chrysostom, tract on the martyr Babylas, cited in: Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church Vol. 3 Chapter 1 page 65.
What, if anything, does this say about Christian political involvement?
As followers of Jesus Christ, our role in society is to be "light" and "salt" and "a city set on a hill" — a persuasive influence. How can this be reconciled with political efforts to make the country's laws conform to (what we believe to be) Christian morals and ideals? Can it?