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Ambassador College Thesis
Should a Christian Fight?
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Should a Christian Fight?
Leroy Neff   
Church of God

Born: November 20, 1923
Died: January 28, 2014
Member Since: 1951
Ambassador College: 1959
Ordained: June 7, 1958
Office: ACE - Evangelist

Chapter IX:


   The consequences of the great compromise of the fourth century, which was discussed earlier, have been untold human suffering and woe!
   History has recorded the results of this mistake. The facts are terrible and hard to imagine.
   Those facts are going to be given in this chapter.
   God's instructions about fighting are clear and plain. The early Catholic Church of the first few centuries had accepted this teaching. As a result many were persecuted and martyred. Under Constantine's protection, the church no longer was persecuted. Then the church rejected Christ's teachings against fighting which they had previously followed, and taught the doctrines of men instead.
   In rejecting the commandments of Christ, the Church was now teaching the commandments of men, just as the Jews did during the time of Christ (Matt. 15:9).

The Persecuted Now Persecute

   Almost immediately the Catholic Church began to persecute, where before she had been persecuted. Now the church was in the good favor of the state and in control of all religion. Any unbeliever, heretic (real or assumed), any person not willing to submit to the authority of the church was persecuted.
   This persecution was first promoted by Constantine, but later, directly by the church. Here is the official statement of the Emperor to put down the "heretics."
   "Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics:
   "... To speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give... Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief" he means the TRUTH OF GOD "BY A PUBLIC MANIFESTATION OF DISPLEASURE? Forasmuch, then, as it is no longer possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present statute that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves together. We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies: and (we) forbid the holding of your superstitious and senseless meetings, not in public merely, BUT IN ANY PRIVATE HOUSE OR PLACE WHATSOEVER... Take the far better course of entering the Catholic Church... We have commanded... that you be positively deprived of every gathering point for your superstitious meetings, I mean all the houses of prayer... and that these be made over without delay to the Catholic Church; that any other places be confiscated to the public service, AND NO FACILITY WHATEVER BE LEFT FOR ANY FUTURE GATHERING, in order that from this day forward none of your unlawful assemblies may presume to appear in any public or private place. Let this edict be made public" (from Eusebius' Life of Constantine, book 3).
   By this edict, any dissenter who might protest on any point of doctrine, was under extreme peril of his life. This included any person who would not accept Catholic doctrine.

True Church Must Flee

   As a result of Constantine's decree, the true Church now entered a time of ten years severe persecution (Rev. 2:10), as well as the period of 1260 years (Rev. 12:6). For this time of over a millennium, the true Church had to flee from the organized religious society of the Roman Church or be in extreme peril of life.
   The true Church had been prophesied to be a little flock (Luke 12:32). It was to be persecuted (Luke 21:12).
   This could not refer to the great number who now embraced the Catholic religion and who now became the persecutors instead of the persecuted. This amazing fact is little known or recognized by the world today. The world has seen the huge churches of the past two thousand years, and has little cared or noticed God's true Church. The world has thought the Catholic and Protestants were the Churches of God. God's Church has always been comparatively small.
   Because of the compromise with Constantine, and the power now given to this Church, terrible crimes were committed in the name of the religion. These crimes which lasted many centuries were done in the name of "Christ."
   Gibbon records that capital punishment (death) was pronounced against people who even possessed unacceptable religious writings. And, "the sword of the magistrate, and even of the tyrant was unsheathed, to enforce the reasons of the theologian'"

Inquisitions Result of Compromise

   To further show how this persecution effectively dealt with the dissenter, and in many cases even with Catholics, we must note certain facts relating to the inquisitions. The word inquisition is "the name given to the ecclesiastical (church) jurisdiction dealing both in the Middle Ages and in modern times with the detection and punishment of heretics and all persons guilty of any offense against Catholic orthodoxy (from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, article "Inquisition," eleventh edition). An heretic by this statement would be anyone who would not believe or go along with Catholic teachings.
   At first the inquisition included the punishment and death of those with "outward manifestations of heresy." In later centuries it included those who were deemed guilty of having "crimes of conscience." At first there were only a few occasions when a person was judged to have outward evidence of heresy. Later, in the Middle Ages a person could be suspected of having inward heresy (in the mind), while not obviously violating the laws of the Catholic Church

Even Catholics Killed by Catholics

   Because of this, even many Catholics, as well as Protestants were later subjected to these inquisitions. This, in a limited sense, was indicated by the prophecy of Revelation 2:23: "And I will kill her children with death." Within a period of fifty- two years after Constantine, there were no less than sixty-eight laws recorded against heretics. At first the penalty was only scourging, fines or exile. Later, the penalty was perpetual imprisonment, cutting out the tongue, death by strangling or burning at the stake!
   In 1034 certain of the Cathari, also known as the Albigensians, were given a choice between the "adoration of the cross and death" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, article "Inquisition"). About this time Peter de Bruis was burned to death because of the charge that he was a leader in heresy. Later, as the inquisition developed and expanded, the Pope appointed commissioners to stamp out "heresy." These commissioners traveled from place to place.
   "On arriving in a district they addressed its inhabitants, called upon them to confess, if they were heretics, or to denounce those whom they knew to be heretics: a 'time of grace' was opened, during which those who freely confessed were dispensed from all penalties, or only given a secret and very light penance, while those whose heresy had been openly manifested were exempted from the penalties of death and perpetual imprisonment. But this time could not exceed one month. After that began the inquisition. As soon as their mission was at an end and heresy was considered stamped out, the inquisitors left the country" (ibid., page 589).
   During such an inquisition those accused of heresy were either put to death, given long terms of imprisonment, perpetual imprisonment, or some other "appropriate" sentence.

Torture Instituted

   Later on the countries were divided into various districts and the local monastery had charge of the inquisitions. The procedures and trials of the inquisitions were conducted in utmost secrecy. The accused was considered guilty unless proved otherwise. He could have no legal representation. His accusers were not named, nor did they appear in the inquiry against him. He could have no witnesses for his defense. Torture of all kinds came in vogue to force the accused to confess his guilt of heresy.
   "The Church was originally opposed to torture, and canon law did not admit confessions extorted by that means; but by the bull Ad extirpanda (1252) Innocent IV, approved its use for the discovery of heresy and Urban IV confirmed this usage..." (Ibid., page 590). Later, even the torture of witnesses was used to extract the "truth." There was never a case of acquittal, according to this article!
   After the inquisition, the accused was turned over to the civil authorities to carry out the sentence, and then the property of the accused was divided between the church and the state.
   The period of most active persecution under the inquisitions occurred after the twelfth century. During these terrible inquisitions some whole villages were wiped out in an effort to stamp out such people as the Albigensians and Waldenses. Vast multitudes of people were killed in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Other areas escaped with fewer deaths.

Millions Perish by Inquisitions

   During the period between 1540 and 1570 alone, at least 900,000 people were put to death by these terrible persecutions. In all, several million people were put to death by these inquisitions. Is it any wonder that those of God's Church had to flee for their lives during this terrible time of trouble?
   These crimes against humanity were done "in the name of Christ." Christ did not authorize them! The blood of the righteous cry out and God will avenge HIS ELECT!
   Much cruelty resulted from that compromise of the fourth century! What would the founding fathers such as, Tertulian, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyprian, Lactantius and others, who were totally opposed to violence and bloodshed, think of the church that they helped to found? What would they think of these crimes of their church against humanity?
   Just as Jesus prophesied, "They shall put you out of the synagogues (churches): yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God a service" (John 16:2).

The Crusades

   The next major series of events that show the result of the compromise is that of the Crusades. The Crusades are considered by most religious people to have been good, and according to God's will. In fact some world famous evangelists have taken this name and applied it to their evangelistic endeavors.
   The Crusades were seven in number, and were supposedly instituted to wrest the control of the Holy Land from the Mohammedans. They all occurred within a period of about 300 years ending just prior to the fourteenth century. They cost a tremendous amount of money and many lives were lost. In the end these Crusades came to naught.
   The Crusaders practiced what they thought was the true Christian religion, and engaged in war, contrary to Christ's teaching. They were trying to take away the land of Palestine from the Mohammedans.
   During the Fourth Crusade the Crusaders were turned from their goal of capturing Jerusalem, so they attacked Constantinople instead. They captured and plundered the city and set up their own rule which lasted about fifty years. Hurlbut, in the Story of the Christian Church, records:
   "The kings and princes who led the movement were perpetually quarreling, each chieftain caring more for his own interests than for the common cause; all jealous of one another, and fearful of a success which might promote the influence or fame of a rival" (page 132).
   After the seven Crusades were over there were minor Crusades and almost any war, even those against the "heretics" were called Crusades.

Tremendous Cost of Vatican's Wars

   The expense of carrying on these land war activities was tremendous. The church had come a long way from the time when its teachers taught that it was even wrong to kill in any way. It was considered wrong to even speak anything against a person that might cause him to die. It was a long way from the teaching of Tertulian who wrote in the third century: "How will a Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in peace without a sword, which the Lord has taken away?" (De Idolatria XIX).
   Now the church had taken the sword and it was very costly. It was bringing misery and wretchedness on untold multitudes of people. This cost increased to the point that during the fourteenth century the majority of the tremendous income of the Vatican was used for war purposes.
   "A parallel reorganization and departmentalization of the papal financial administration led to a new efficiency in the levy and collection of papal taxes fees, etc., which bore hard on the clergy, and drained large sums from the national states, stirring public opinion still further, especially in England. Significant items of the budget of John XXII: war, 63.7%; upkeep and entertainment, 12.7%; alms, 7.16%; 0.4% stables; 0.33% art; library, 0.17%" (Encyclopedia of World History, William L. Langer, page 286).
   The figures speak for themselves. The Church was using much of its wealth as a tool for the "god of war" instead of the God of peace. What would the humble Carpenter of Nazareth think of such an organization which took His name, claimed to be His representative, and yet spend such vast sums of money to wage war, killing and injuring multitudes of people?

Protestant Persecutions

   Persecutions and fighting were not committed by the Catholics alone. At first the Protestants were persecuted, but some of them soon turned to persecute also. They followed the same path that the mother church had followed centuries earlier.
   Here is a brief summary of Protestant persecutions.
   "Calvin consented to the death of Servetus. In Holland Calvinists executed an Arminian. In Germany Lutherans put to death a few Anabaptists. In England Protestant Edward VI executed 2 Roman Catholic in 6 years (Romanist Mary in the 5 following years burned 282 Protestants). Elizabeth executed, in 45 years, 187 Romanists, most of them for treason not heresy. In Massachusetts, 1659, 3 Quakers were hanged by Puritans, and, in 1692, 20 were executed for witchcraft." (Pocket Bible Handbook, H. H. Halley, page 793.)
   Even though the Protestant persecutions have not been nearly as severe or as extensive as the Catholics, nevertheless, the Protestants are also guilty before God because of this sin against humanity and God.
   There was also war and enmity between the Protestants and the Catholics for many years. To justify their own actions, the Protestants blame these wars on the Catholics, who started them. The Protestants did not rely on God to fight their battles for them. They fought their own battles instead of letting God fight them, and much blood-shed resulted.
   In subsequent years, we have had many wars between various Western nations. In almost all of these wars the major denominations had members on both sides of the battle lines. Men of one denomination fought against and killed men of their own faith. In many of these wars, religious as well as political issues were involved. What terrible times of trouble have been brought on mankind in the name of religion!
   When all of these terrible atrocities are examined in the light of Bible prophecy it becomes more plain that these were not the Churches of God.

Will Inquisitions Come Again?

   There are going to be more trying times ahead for God's people, and for the whole world. Jesus prophesied that some of his saints would be beaten and scourged in the churches (Matt. 10:17). God's people would be hailed before the courts, the rulers and people in high places for a witness before them.
   People will again be brought before such higher powers as we near the end and climax of this age. May God's people stand firm in these trying times and not give up the faith of Jesus!
   Bible prophecies show that the end time descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel will be in a condition of captivity just before Jesus Christ returns back to earth.
   There will be a terrible time of trouble such as never was before in the history of man. For three and a half years some of God's servants who do not escape to a place of refuge, will be given over once again to persecution and martyrdom (Rev. 6: 9-11).

Babylon Will Pay for Her Crimes'

   God labels the false religious system as BABYLON! It is confusion that is just what the word "Babylon" means. There is a confusion of beliefs and practices.
   The prophecies concerning this church system are explained very clearly in the 17 and 18 chapters of Revelation. In these chapters we find that the people of the earth have become spiritually drunk (they cannot see things clearly) because of her false teachings (Rev. 17:2). This great church is called by the prophetic scriptures an immoral woman or whore. The civil governments of the world are referred to in the masculine gender. This false woman church system has had illicit relations with these civil rulers and states.
   This woman is not alone in her sins as she has daughters (verse 5) who protested against her and came out of her, and yet they have the same sins.
   There have been a few ministers from time to time who have seen the evils and complete idiocy of war. Especially in the time of peace these men have spoken out against war. One example of this was Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick who spoke before the League of Nations prior to World War II. He chose as a subject for his address, Christ's statement: "All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword." Here is a part of his address:
   "We cannot reconcile Jesus Christ and war that is the essence of the matter. That is the challenge which today should stir the conscience of Christendom. War is the most colossal and ruinous social sin that afflicts mankind; it is utterly and irremediably unchristian; in its total method and effect it means everything that Jesus did not mean and it means nothing that he did mean; it is a more blatant denial of every Christian doctrine about God and man than all the theoretical atheists on earth ever could devise. It would be worthwhile, would it not, to see the Christian Church claim as her own this greatest moral issue of our time, to see her lift once more as in our fathers' days, a clear standard against the paganism of this present world and, refusing to hold her conscience at the beck and call of belligerent states, put the kingdom of God above nationalism and call the world to peace? That would no t be the denial of patriotism but its apotheosis."
   This famous theologian, as well as others, recognizes that war is totally contrary to Christ's teachings. The above statement clearly shows that there are those who do understand the utter and total PAGANISM of war.
   When war comes, these few voices are usually stilled or go unheeded. It becomes expedient and easier to go with the crowd, to become engulfed in the tide of public opinion against an opposing nation and to participate in warfare against other human beings.
   In addition to killing in war, this religious system has also killed the saints down through the ages. Because of her temporary victory over the saints she is drunken with self-satisfaction and power (Rev. 12:6).
   Because of her sins and he r iniquity she is going to receive double payment in retribution for her gross sins against God's Church and against humanity. She has burned and killed the saints, so she too will be burned with fire (verse 16).
   She has dealt in all kinds of merchandise including the slaves of men (Chapter 18:13), and has even sold the dead bodies of men.
   "And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and all that were slain upon the earth" (Rev. 18:24).
   With her great power and influence she could have taught the world peace and right ways instead of the perverse ways of the old Babylonian mysteries.
   In the Old Testament we also find other prophecies referring to this same false church system. Here again she is pictured as ruling over the nations of the world. She is an anti-type of the ancient Babylon, since she is following the same false system and has the same sins! In Jeremiah, chapters fifty and fifty-one, this same church system is described. She is told of her terrible sins and the punishment that will result because of her sins.
   She is accused of destroying God's heritage. As a result, she will be recompensed according to her own sins. Her men of war, her soldiers (verse 30) will not be so strong and fearless when they face the destruction of the Almighty God. The sword will come upon these mighty men and princes (verse 35-38).
   Jesus said that they who take the sword will perish with the sword. These religious people who have taken the sword, and who will yet take the sword against God's people, are going to perish by the terrible sword of war. None will be able to help them in that day.
   Her mighty men will not fight then (Jer. 51:30). God is bringing judgment on her graven images, in all her churches (verse 47). Men will no longer bow down to the images of modern Babylon.
   God will not only bring this retribution upon her but also on her daughters who have come out of her (Rev. 2:23). Then all of the churches (the true churches) will know that truly God does give unto everyone according to his works.

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Publication Date: May 1962
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