Saturday, September 10, 2011

Free will and religion

Christ the True Vine (16th Century icon)
Image from Wikimedia Commons

I do wish this were more widely understood among those who try to force or pressure others to practice Christianity:

Religion is not to be defended by putting to death, but by dying. Not by cruelty, but by patient endurance. Not by guilt, but by good faith. For the former belongs to evil, the latter to the good... For if you wish to defend religion by bloodshed, tortures, and guilt, it will no longer be defended. Rather, it will be polluted and profaned. For nothing is so much a matter of free will as religion. If the mind of the worshiper is disinclined to it, religion is at once taken away and ceases to exist...

We (Christians), on the contrary, do not require that anyone should be compelled to worship our God, whether he is willing or unwilling.

Nor do we become angry if anyone does not worship Him. We trust in the majesty of Him who has the power to avenge contempt shown towards Him.

We leave vengeance to God. We do not act as those persons who would have it appear that they are defenders of their gods, who rage without restraint against those who do not worship them.

-- Lactantius (about 260 -340 C.E.)



  1. Fascinating, the way he speaks of Christian tolerance for the non-believer. At what point in history did that end! I would have thought sooner than 260-340 C.E.
    Is Lactantius recognized within the Roman Catholic Church? Are his teachings accepted? If so, how did the Inquisition come to be?

  2. Well, here's what Catholic Encyclopedia says about him:


    I wish the writer had broken the article into paragraphs!

    It seems the Church got him confused with another person with a similar name and this tarnished his reputation somewhat with the powers that be.


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