Posted by: sean | May 4, 2008

Lactantius: a.d. 313

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 141
When the worship of God was taken away, men lost the knowledge of good and evil… They then began to fight with one another, to plot, and to achieve glory for themselves from the shedding of human blood.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 143
If only God were worshiped, there would not be dissensions and wars. For men would know that they are the sons of one God.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 153
Why would [the just man] carry on war and mix himself with the passions of others when his mind is engaged in perpetual peace with men? Would he be delighted with foreign merchandise or with human blood–he who does not know how to seek gain? For the Christian is satisfied with his standard of living. He considers it unlawful not only to commit slaughter himself, but also to be present with those who do it.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 169
If desire is restrained, no one will use violence by land or by sea. No one will lead an army to carry off and lay waste the property of others… For what are the interests of our country, but the detriments of another state or nation? To extend the boundaries that are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state, to improve the revenues–all of these things are not virtues. Rather, they are the overthrowing of virtues.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 169
How can a man be just who hates, who despoils, who puts to death? Yet, those who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things…When they speak of the “duties” relating to warfare, their speech pertains neither to justice nor to true virtue.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 185
The Stoics say that the emotion of anger is the whetstone of virtue. As though no one could fight bravely against enemies unless he were excited by anger. By this, they plainly show that they neither know what virtue is, nor why God gave anger to man. If it were given to us for the purpose of using it to slay men, then what creature can be considered more savage than man? Who resembles the wild beasts more than the creature whom God formed for communion and innocence?

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 187
Therefore, it is not befitting that those who strive to keep to the path of justice should be companions and sharers in this public homicide. For when God forbids us to kill, he prohibits more than the open violence that is not even allowed by the public laws. He also warns us against doing those things that are considered lawful among men. For that reason, it will not be lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself. Nor is it lawful for him to accuse anyone of a capital charge. For it makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or by the sword instead. That is because it is the act of putting to death itself that is prohibited. Therefore, with regard to this commandment of God, there should be no exception at all. Rather, it is always lawful to put a man to death, whom God willed to be a sacred creature.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, p. 271
It is not right that a worshiper of God should be injured by another worshiper of God.



  1. There was great promise in Lactantius – he voiced how a Christian could be tolerant. But was this just the voice of justice facing injustice (

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