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Biblical doctrines Church History The Papacy

Live by the sword, die by the sword

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and his ‘friend’ brought soldiers to arrest Him just before His crucifixion, to His disciple who had just used a sword to cut off the high priest servant’s ear, Jesus said:

Put up again your sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matthew 26:52 KJVER) (emphasis added)

Often now I hear of Christians speaking of justification to take up arms against tyrants when it seems what Jesus said in the New Testament that we should not. We live in a secular world and it is not our role to police it. Governmental institutions have been set up to administer the law to evil doers. But what about tyrants? Is there a right to resist them or are we to use the existing institutions?

Back in the nineteen-sixties and seventies, Central American Jesuits designed posters 306a5419acdda88e267f1ac7b9e5a6b9to motivate [peasants] to overthrow corrupt politicians. The posters for this Bellarminian liberation theology depicted an angry Jesus Christ in the image of Che Guevara, swathed in fatigues, draped in bullet-belts, holding a submachine gun at the ready, a Rambo Jesus, a Jesus whose Sacred Heart called for social action that included killing. The American bishop scare aroused the same dynamic in the 1770’s. What was considered by many to be the most influential sermon on the subject was preached to Boston’s Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company by Rev. Jonathan Mayhew’s successor at Harvard, Rev. Simeon Howard. Simeon Howard received his early preaching experience in Nova Scotia – or Acadia, as the French settlers called it. He experienced first-hand the uprooting and expulsion, by British soldiers, of some three thousand French Catholic Acadians, along with their Jesuit priests. Cruelly, often violently, the Acadians were forced to emigrate to various American colonies, with no compensation for property or livestock. (Longfellow memorialized the event in Evangeline).