Letters to the Editor

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PITTS: Love thy enemy a seldom-followed teaching

Letter by Bill Nerin, Gig Harbor on April 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm with No Comments »
April 3, 2013 12:42 pm

Re: “Proof that love can – with time – overcome evil” (Leonard Pitts Jr. column, 4-3).

This column reminded me of the first two centuries of Christianity after Jesus’ death. Roland Bainton, the famed professor of ecclesiastical history at Yale University Divinity School, says in his 1960 book “Christian Attitudes Toward War and Peace”: “We may say that ecclesiastical authors before Constantine condemned Christian participation in warfare.”

The very early Christians followed the teaching of Jesus to love the enemy, as Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That some 200-year period ended when Christian leaders accepted Emperor Constantine’s desire to make Christianity the state religion. It was then that teachers like St. Augustine crafted the “just war theory” allowing Christians to kill others.

I would say that historically this was the beginning of the demise of early Christianity. What might the world look like today if the millions of Christians today lived the life of loving the enemies by not killing them in wars. It is remarkable that today there are still some Christians who follow Jesus and do not believe in killing others.

As Pitts suggests, “love can – with time – overcome evil.” But it is so hard to believe.

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