The Early Christian View of War

by David Bercot

There is no absolute proof that Christians did not serve in the Roman army before the reign of Marcus Aurelius. But given the strong pacifistic sentiment of the second and third-century Church, it is hard to believe that most would have softened their attitude towards military service. Surely, if there had been such a general change in the Church’s teaching, men like Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian would have commented on it. Yet none of them give any indication that it had done so, and as has already been noted, all three were outspoken pacifists. But most important, they seem without question to represent the overwhelming sentiment of the Church as a whole during their time.

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