Christian apologists are often so keen on telling everybody that Christianity never used the sword in it’s early history, rather it is was a completely peaceful missionary movement, and that the only sword that was used was the sword of the tongue through preaching to the masses. In essence they are trying to contrast this with Islam, where the sword was used in the early stages of Islam, in battles and wars. For starters, even taking the argument at face value, the argument doesn’t make Islam any less true than it does Christianity. There is no set criterion that says if one group used the sword, and the other didn’t, then group two must be true and group one must be false. Christian apologists have invented this formulation.
In fact if we want to play that game, then Christianity is false too, as anyone who reads the Old Testament will find a plethora of violence and the use of the sword. So if someone is discounted for using the sword, then the God of the Old Testament must be regarded as a false god, and since the God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament (unless you’re a Marcionite and then you have no problem) this therefore makes the New Testament of Christianity false as well and hence Christianity is false.
But now back to the initial claim, that early Christianity did not use the sword, how honest is this claim? Well it is actually a fact, early Christianity did not use the sword, but how honest is it to then argue that this proves Christianity is a completely peaceful religion? In other words, is this an actual proper analysis? The answer is a clear NO. To answer the question as to why early Christianity was peaceful we need to firstly understand and analyze the historical situation of Christianity at the time, as well as the beliefs of many Christians of the time as well.
So let’s start off by analyzing the state of early Christianity at the time. Was Christianity a dominant social-political force (faction)? The answer is no, Christians were being persecuted, and were in no position of power, or authority. In other words, Christians didn’t have the means to pick up the sword and to use it, because if they did, they would be crushed in a heartbeat, they would most likely suffer the same fate as the Jewish population who decided to rebel against Rome, if not worse. So therefore with these actual historical facts, it becomes abundantly clear as to why early Christianity didn’t use the sword, and only stuck to preaching, because they were in no position to use the sword! It’s not because they somehow looked into their hearts and wanted to be peaceful hippies, it was because they were greatly outmatched to take on the sword, because if they did they would be crushed.
Now comes the part where I prove my thesis, my thesis is the following:
Early Christianity did not use the sword because it was too weak and in no position to use the sword.
Now my thesis can be greatly strengthened and proven if it can be shown that once Christians did come into power, that once Christians did gain the upper hand in terms of the social-political factor of the state, and once all these things were done THEN Christians eventually used the sword. Well, that is EXACTLY what happened. Once the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, thanks to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, the sword began to be used by Christianity! And Christianity never looked back, ever since Christianity got into power from those early days, the Church used it’s power to oppress, and kill anyone who went against their rules.
So to sum up, yes, early Christianity was peaceful and did not utilize the sword, but once Christianity did get into power, it did use the sword, and killed millions of people who would not conform to their values or message, including Christians as well who were deemed to have been heretics against ‘orthodox’ Christianity, the very orthodox Christianity you see practiced today. Back then, you could, and were killed if you went against the Trinity, or other ‘orthodox’ beliefs in Christianity.
So in light of these historical facts, Christian apologists don’t have a leg to stand upon, and their analysis of the whole situation is quite frankly pathetic, and completely biased and simplistic to suit themselves.
Now there is a second reason as to why early Christianity did not use the sword, the reason being is that many early Christian communities thought the world was about to end! Many early Christian communities believed Jesus was about to return, and that he was going to destroy all the wicked evil powers on earth, and would usher in a holy Kingdom of God where the believers would be at peace and happiness.
Now if you believed the world was going to end soon, that the oppression was going to end, because Jesus was coming back to destroy all the bad guys and to save you, why would you pick the sword up? You would simply wait it out with patience as things were going to get better very shortly because Jesus himself was coming with the sword. And this is something Christian apologists often like to keep a secret from their audience, they preach that they they’re against the sword, but they don’t tell you they believe Jesus will return, and Jesus WILL USE THE SWORD to kill people! Now that’s a big difference isn’t it? You won’t use the sword, but your master is going to be using the sword killing people left right and centre while you sit by praising him! That makes me feel so much safer, and really makes me believe you’re a peaceful person. In other words my friends, Christian apologists are literally waiting for the day Jesus comes back, and starts killing people with the sword! Now let me repeat, that doesn’t make Christianity false, I am simply using the LOGIC OF THE CHRISTIAN ARGUMENATION, and I am simply showing how dishonest Christian apologists are when they try to dupe people into this image of Christianity not using the sword, or that they don’t believe in the sword.
Now there’s no need for me go all over the teachings of Jesus coming back and using the sword, as the website loonwatch have already done a masterful job on this issue with all the passages:
Back to the first point I made regarding Christian communities who believed the world was about to end due to Biblical teachings and passages, I would recommend the following books that discuss the issue in depth:
The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders (http://www.amazon.com/The-Historical-Figure-Jesus-Sanders/dp/0140144994)
Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium by Bart Erhman (http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Apocalyptic-Prophet-New-Millennium/dp/019512474X/ref=pd_sim_b_1)
Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity by Paula Fredrickson (http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Nazareth-King-Jews-Christianity/dp/0679767460/ref=pd_sim_b_2)
So to conclude, I have put forth two arguments as to why early Christianity did not use the sword, 1) they were in no position to use the sword, however once they did get into power, they freely used the sword, 2) early Christian communities believed the world was about to end, that Jesus was going to return shortly, and he would destroy the evil forces and usher in a Kingdom of God in which the believers would rejoice and live happily. In essence, they believed that Jesus would use the sword.