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The world is becoming crazier and crazier. We are seeing outbreaks of violence in many countries, and here in America, certain groups are making loud noises about "if you want my guns, come git them!" There are warnings (some probably overblown) about secret orders to round up Christians and put them in FEMA camps for extermination or "re-education."

My question is this: in a situation of aggression or violence directed towards the citizenry, are clergy of any rank prohibited from using force to defend themselves or their people?

I have more than a passing interest in this as it may be God's will that I am ordained within the next year.

Thank you!


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I think that I remember some type of "just war theory" doctrine in Western Christianity...but I cannot recall the particulars. I do not think there is any such mindset in Holy Orthodoxy. I also do not recall any of the holy martyrs using violence against their oppressors before their martyrdom. St Basil the Great's canon 13 recommends that those who kill in war should abstain from taking communion for three years.

During the Bosnian civil war, Patriarch Pavle said: “the Church must condemn all atrocities that are committed, no matter what the faith or origin of the person committing them may be. No sin committed by one person justifies a sin committed by another. We will all face the Last Judgment together where each of us must answer for his sins. No one can justify his sins by saying someone else is guilty of a crime.” And the Serbian bishops said: “The way of nonviolence and cooperation is the only way blessed by God.” A petition in the Liturgy was added: “For all those who commit injustice against their neighbours, whether by causing sorrow to orphans, spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and their hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.”

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Originally Posted by Recluse
During the Bosnian civil war... a petition in the Liturgy was added: “For all those who commit injustice against their neighbours, whether by causing sorrow to orphans, spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and their hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.”

I wish I had known of this before preaching on the passage calling for non-retribution in the Sermon on the Mount this past Sunday (Lutheran, Anglican, RC lectionary).

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Originally Posted by Recluse
I think that I remember some type of "just war theory" doctrine in Western Christianity...but I cannot recall the particulars. I do not think there is any such mindset in Holy Orthodoxy. I also do not recall any of the holy martyrs using violence against their oppressors before their martyrdom. St Basil the Great's canon 13 recommends that those who kill in war should abstain from taking communion for three years.

During the Bosnian civil war, Patriarch Pavle said: “the Church must condemn all atrocities that are committed, no matter what the faith or origin of the person committing them may be. No sin committed by one person justifies a sin committed by another. We will all face the Last Judgment together where each of us must answer for his sins. No one can justify his sins by saying someone else is guilty of a crime.” And the Serbian bishops said: “The way of nonviolence and cooperation is the only way blessed by God.” A petition in the Liturgy was added: “For all those who commit injustice against their neighbours, whether by causing sorrow to orphans, spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and their hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.”

If I understand what you are saying then, it appears that martyrdom is preferable to self-defense, which appears to be seen as an "evil" in the sense of returning hatred for hatred. Correct?

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Originally Posted by Irish_Ruthenian
[quote=Recluse]
If I understand what you are saying then, it appears that martyrdom is preferable to self-defense, which appears to be seen as an "evil" in the sense of returning hatred for hatred. Correct?

Living among the "plain people" ("historic peace churches" such as Mennonite and Church of the Bretheren) they would say resoundingly, "YES".

Much of their formation comes from recalling the martyrs of pre-Constantinian Christianity as well as the martyrdom suffered by their people in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Originally Posted by Recluse
I think that I remember some type of "just war theory" doctrine in Western Christianity...but I cannot recall the particulars. I do not think there is any such mindset in Holy Orthodoxy. I also do not recall any of the holy martyrs using violence against their oppressors before their martyrdom. St Basil the Great's canon 13 recommends that those who kill in war should abstain from taking communion for three years.

During the Bosnian civil war, Patriarch Pavle said: “the Church must condemn all atrocities that are committed, no matter what the faith or origin of the person committing them may be. No sin committed by one person justifies a sin committed by another. We will all face the Last Judgment together where each of us must answer for his sins. No one can justify his sins by saying someone else is guilty of a crime.” And the Serbian bishops said: “The way of nonviolence and cooperation is the only way blessed by God.” A petition in the Liturgy was added: “For all those who commit injustice against their neighbours, whether by causing sorrow to orphans, spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and their hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.”
Better decanonize St. Alexander Nevsky and every other Orthodox saint who took up arms, including monks to fight the Mongols.


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Originally Posted by Fr. Deacon Lance
Better decanonize St. Alexander Nevsky and every other Orthodox saint who took up arms, including monks to fight the Mongols.

At the risk of writing with forked fingers: There would also be serious problems with Bishop of Rome Gregory the Great for having raised an army to repel the Goths.

Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg Professor Scott Gustafson described such situations as "using sin against sin."

Messy. Very messy.

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Not to mention Martin Luther for what he urged Christians to do with Jews and their synagogues . . .

Have we here lost the ability to discuss a subject dispassionately and logically?

Can we not defend ourselves or others, even with arms?

It is easy for pacifist groups to say they won't take up arms - let others do that for them.

That is why the pacifist groups are still around to continue their sermonizing.

Alex

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Father Deacon Lance,

And don't forget St Alexander Oslablya who left his monastic cell to kill his country's enemies in direct combat.

Now that was a Recluse with backbone! smile

Alex

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What did Martin Luther say about the Jews and their synagogues.

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Originally Posted by Fr. Deacon Lance
Better decanonize St. Alexander Nevsky and every other Orthodox saint who took up arms, including monks to fight the Mongols.

More sarcasm? Sigh.


Orthodoxy.....views all dimensions of creation eucharistically. The offering of the Divine Liturgy is the paradigm for human life in the world as we fulfill our vocation as the priests of creation. Bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ through which the church participates already in the heavenly banquet of the kingdom of God. Communicants are then to live the Eucharist by offering all aspects of their lives to the Father in union with the sacrifice of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Such a life should be characterized by peacemaking, forgiveness and reconciliation; a non-violent approach surely provides the most straightforward witness to the life of kingdom as revealed in Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, the process of theosis is dynamic and open to everyone in all walks of life and vocations; hence, the soldier, the police officer and others involved in the use of deadly force for the protection of the innocent may grow in holiness and find salvation. They do not fight holy wars and will not become saints simply due to their success in killing enemies. Indeed, their participation in violence will probably produce a variety of obstacles for their faithful pursuit of the Christian life. They will need the spiritual therapies of the church in order to find healing for their souls from the harms they have suffered. But as the many saints from military backgrounds indicate, it is possible for them to overcome the damaging effects of bloodshed and to embody the holiness of God. Fr John McGuckin notes that “most of the soldier saints … went voluntarily to their deaths, as passion-bearers, or martyrs; and some of them were actually martyred for refusing to obey their military superiors”. Those who returned home as “righteous vindicators” did so because they conquered not only a worldly enemy, but also “the very chaos and wickedness” of warfare and bloodshed.
http://www.incommunion.org/tag/war-and-violence/


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Please correct me if I am incorrect, but I don't see anything radical in Patriarch Pavle' s words. Orthodoxy views the taking of a life, even by a soldier in war as a sin requiring repentance and absolution. Defensive actions by common soldiers would be viewed in a different way than atrocities. Of course it's a slippery slope in defining actions by soldiers and governments.

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Originally Posted by Recluse
Originally Posted by Fr. Deacon Lance
Better decanonize St. Alexander Nevsky and every other Orthodox saint who took up arms, including monks to fight the Mongols.

More sarcasm? Sigh.


Orthodoxy.....views all dimensions of creation eucharistically. The offering of the Divine Liturgy is the paradigm for human life in the world as we fulfill our vocation as the priests of creation. Bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ through which the church participates already in the heavenly banquet of the kingdom of God. Communicants are then to live the Eucharist by offering all aspects of their lives to the Father in union with the sacrifice of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Such a life should be characterized by peacemaking, forgiveness and reconciliation; a non-violent approach surely provides the most straightforward witness to the life of kingdom as revealed in Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, the process of theosis is dynamic and open to everyone in all walks of life and vocations; hence, the soldier, the police officer and others involved in the use of deadly force for the protection of the innocent may grow in holiness and find salvation. They do not fight holy wars and will not become saints simply due to their success in killing enemies. Indeed, their participation in violence will probably produce a variety of obstacles for their faithful pursuit of the Christian life. They will need the spiritual therapies of the church in order to find healing for their souls from the harms they have suffered. But as the many saints from military backgrounds indicate, it is possible for them to overcome the damaging effects of bloodshed and to embody the holiness of God. Fr John McGuckin notes that “most of the soldier saints … went voluntarily to their deaths, as passion-bearers, or martyrs; and some of them were actually martyred for refusing to obey their military superiors”. Those who returned home as “righteous vindicators” did so because they conquered not only a worldly enemy, but also “the very chaos and wickedness” of warfare and bloodshed.
http://www.incommunion.org/tag/war-and-violence/

As I have been thinking over these thoughts for the last many months (maybe years) I find that this train of thought is what I have tended to feel is the most correct. Joining my life to Christ means, I believe, a participation in His Eucharistic suffering for the world and sin. How many were converted by watching martyrs go heroically (by the grace of God) to their deaths.

I pray for a good death in which our Lord helps me, coward that I am, to be victorious in Him.

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Originally Posted by Irish_Ruthenian
As I have been thinking over these thoughts for the last many months (maybe years) I find that this train of thought is what I have tended to feel is the most correct. Joining my life to Christ means, I believe, a participation in His Eucharistic suffering for the world and sin. How many were converted by watching martyrs go heroically (by the grace of God) to their deaths.

I pray for a good death in which our Lord helps me, coward that I am, to be victorious in Him.

Amen my brother in Christ. Let us follow Christ's example.

The only apostle to ever shed blood, (in defense of Christ), was St Peter when he cut off the ear of Malchus. He was immediately admonished by Jesus: "Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

Christ's last miracle before his crucifixion was to heal Malchus' wound.

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Whilst I would not take steps of physical defense for myself alone, should an assailant take steps of violence against women, or children (or those otherwise marginalized by society) in my presence) I should surely stand between the assailant and them; even if that means physically removing the assailant from his intended victim(s).

I feel there is a Biblical and justifiable use of force. Not that there is a "Just War" or cause foe war. But should my Christian testimony be an excuse for me to stand by if I know a woman or child is being raped or otherwise victimized?

The matter of Peter's action against Malchius in the garden was misplaced because Simon Peter acted to prevent our Lord from being arrested and by extension going to the cross to make redemption possible for those who believe. Simon Peter's act outside the will of God because of the circumstance at the time.

Still, it was a sign to the Israelite leadership. Our Lord's act of healing Malchius was overt testimony of His Person and Power in light of His claims. Since He was being arrested because of His claims the healing pointed to the validity of His testimony of Himself.

My 2¢ worth anyway,

μιχαηλ η αιρετικη

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