Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy
“I respect your right to believe that Julius Caesar lived and taught a way of justified violence and enmity but I don’t believe that. I believe he taught a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies.”
Whether Julius Caesar lived and taught a way of violence and enmity or a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of fact. Faith has nothing to do with determining what Caesar taught and lived. Unequivocal and incontestable empirical evidence exists and is available for all to view, e.g., Commentarii de Bello Gallico. This evidence makes it unarguable and morally certain that Julius Caesar lived and taught a way of justified violence and enmity and not a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies. Billions of dollars worth of advertising may deceive billions of people into believing Julius Caesar was a person of nonviolent love of all, but that does not change the documented fact that he was not.
There is an old gimmick that cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, pastors, evangelists and your local just war Christians employ with great success when asked why they do not follow the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and teach the Way of Nonviolent Love of all that He taught in relation to violence and enmity. They say, “I respect the right of any Christian, as a disciple of Jesus, to believe in the Way of nonviolence, but I don’t personally believe in that. I believe in the Christian just war theory.”
Whether or not a person believes that Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of the Gospels, is “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” is a matter of faith. But the Way Jesus lived, thought, acted and died and the Way He commands His followers to live and to think, to act and to die is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of fact. His teaching is what it is regardless whether a person has faith in Him as “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour.”
Unequivocal and incontestable empirical evidence as to what Jesus taught, and commanded His Apostles to teach and to obey (Mt 28:19), as His Way exists and is available for all to see in the Gospels. This evidence makes it cl morally certain that Jesus rejected violence and enmity for any reason as part of His Way of life or part of the Way of Life, which His followers should live and teach. “Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19) is a straightforward instructions that any twelve year old could understand whether or not he or she believes in Jesus. That same twelve-year boy or girl would equally have no problem understanding that this instruction does not include “teaching the opposite of what I have commanded you.”
The evidence in the Gospels that Jesus totally rejects violence and enmity as part of the Way of life He lives and teaches is as factually and morally beyond reasonable doubt as the evidence that He lives and teaches the total rejection of adultery. Whether Jesus is “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” or not, His teaching, His Way, is a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Faith plays no part in knowing what Jesus taught. His Way is what it is and it is available for every human being to see. Faith, however, is the determiner of the authority, validity and truth of what Jesus taught, and is therefore the sine aqua non for accepting His Way as the Way of God, the Way of truth, and then choosing day-in and day-out to struggle to live according to it.
Faith and only faith in Jesus as “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” spiritually validates as God’s Way the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, which Jesus in fact taught by word and deed, unto being murdered by a gang of religious and secular politicos. But no one needs faith in Jesus as “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” in order to know what He taught as the Way of God, the Way of righteousness, the Way of discipleship. Any literate person can know that for himself or herself. Again, to know His teaching is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of fact. To believe His teaching is the Word, Way and Will of God is a matter of faith in who He is and therefore in His authority and in the truthfulness of His teaching.
(To be continued)
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy