Sources on Early Christians and Non-Participation in War

An inquiry from Caleb Turner, regarding recent article in The Huffington Post:

Dr. Camp,

I wonder what evidence or sources support this statement from your recent Huffington Post article:

“One of the dirty secrets of the early church is the fact that for the first three centuries of Christian history, the leaders of the church insisted that Christians do not kill — including in so-called justifiable war.”

Thank you,

Caleb Turner

Thanks for your inquiry, Caleb. It’s clear that there were Christians serving in the Roman military as early as the 180’s. At the same time, all sources we have in which early church teachers address the question, they reject the practice of warfare for Christians. I address this in one chapter in a recent book entitled Who Is My Enemy?: Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam–and Themselves

A few other sources you may find helpful:

John Driver, How Christians Made Peace with War: Early Christian Understandings of War

Roland Bainton, Christian Attitudes Toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-Evaluation (Roland Bainton Reprints)

Lisa Sowle Cahill, Love Your Enemies

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