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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Concerning Military Service.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XIX.—Concerning Military Service.

In that last section, decision may seem to have been given likewise concerning military service, which is between dignity and power. 314 But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may turn himself unto military service, and whether the military may be admitted unto the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, to whom there is no necessity for taking part in sacrifices or capital punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and the human sacrament, 315 the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters—God and Cæsar. And yet Moses carried a rod, 316 and Aaron wore a buckle, 317 and John (Baptist) is girt with leather 318 and Joshua the son of Nun leads a line of march; and the People warred: if it pleases you to sport with the subject. But how will a Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in peace, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? 319 For albeit soldiers had come unto John, and had received the formula of their rule; 320 albeit, likewise, a centurion had believed; 321 still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbe**d every soldier.  No dress is lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful action.


Footnotes

73:314

Elucidation II.

73:315

“Sacramentum” in Latin is, among other meanings, “a military oath.”

73:316

“Virgam.” The vine switch, or rod, in the Roman army was a mark of the centurion’s (i.e., captain’s) rank.

73:317

To fasten the ephod; hence the buckle worn by soldiers here referred to would probably be the belt buckle. Buckles were sometimes given as military rewards (White and Riddle).

73:318

As soldiers with belts.

73:319

Matt. 26:52, 2 Cor. 10:4, John 18:36.

73:320

See Luke 3:12, 13.

73:321

Matt. viii. 5, etc.; Luke vii. 1, etc.


Next: Concerning Idolatry in Words.

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