The History of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship

History of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship

We were established in 1937, and now have some 1100 members in over 40 countries, as well as a sister organisation, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, in the United States of America.
We founded the Week of Prayer for World Peace, and continue with close links.
We are a member of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations and of the International Peace Bureau.

The Early Church Fathers

Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.

Thus Tertullian (c.160-c.225), referring to John 18.11, expressed the orthodox belief of the earliest Christians that what we would call pacifism was the norm. It was not simply that Christians rejected the idolatry and emperor-worship of the imperial army. They believed the work of the army itself to be unacceptable. Men like Justin Martyr (c.100-c.165) and Irenaeus (c.130-200) spoke of Christians actually fulfilling the prophecies that swords would be turned into ploughshares. Cyprian (c.200-258) argued that ‘God has willed that iron be used for tilling the earth, therefore he has forbidden its use for taking human life.’ He even said that ‘the hand that has held the Eucharist must not be stained with blood and the sword.’ By the end of the third century, Christians were being killed for their refusal to kill. Thus Maximilian (martyred, 291):

I cannot be a soldier. I cannot do evil. I am a Christian.

In one of the most celebrated conversions to the faith, Martin (316-397) left the army stating ‘I am a soldier of Christ: it is not lawful for me to fight.’

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