By Theodore Shoebat
Four thousand Christians in Iraq have trained themselves, and are locked and loaded and ready to drive ISIS out of their lands. John Michael, a British-Assyrian who lives in Iraq said:
This is our last stand, if this fails then Christianity will be finished in Iraq.
Sajad Jiyad, an expert on Iraq, had this to say on the new militia:
It’s also important for the locals to send a message to ISIS that they are not going to allow the demographic change to become permanent. …The Assyrians want their land back and they – as well as the Turkmen and the Yazidis – are sending a message that: ‘We are going to come back and we are not going to leave our villages and towns and our cultures to be destroyed. We want to come back to our homes and, no matter what we face, we’re willing to fight and take that back.’ I think that is a positive message for the entire nation.
We at Shoebat.com had the opportunity to interview one of the founders of the militia, and here it is on video:
With this said, I would like to present to you a short essay on Christian militias, which is actually a chapter of my upcoming book on Christian militancy, which will be the most exhaustive study ever written on the subject…
The entire concept of Christian militias is based on one single precept that was taught by St. Peter, when the Jewish authorities ordered the Christians to no longer preach Christ:
We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
The Christian militia is only reformed as a response to men trying to persecute the Faith.When the Church is surrounded by pagan enemies, left to the slaughter by indifferent governors, is deprived of state troops or officers to protect it, but is in possession of arms and weapons to unsheathe against its charging adversary, Christians then form militias, and with justice and equitableness, strike the devilish foes before they oppress the vulnerable flock. St. Odo of Cluny, amongst the holiest of monks, affirmed that if the churches cannot defend themselves from persecutors, then the laymen have every right to pick up their arms protect them:
It was lawful, therefore, for a layman to carry the sword in battle that he might protect defenseless people, as the harmless flock from evening wolves according to the saying of Scripture [Acts 20:29], and that he might restrain by arms or by the law those whom ecclesiastical censure was not able to subdue. (Odo of Cluny, Life of Gerald of Aurillac, 1.8)
When St. Odo writes of “ecclesiastical censure” he is making reference to the Church’s authority to suppress heretics. The heretics who are restrained by such censure, and who come with violence against the priests, must then be protected by Christians, even laymen.
The idea of Christian militias fighting a tyrannical state was opposed by the Protestant reformer Melanchthon, who was against the idea of revolution even if it were against an abusive government. If the “magistrate commands anything with tyrannical caprice,” he wrote in 1521, “we must bear with this magistrate because of love, where nothing can be changed without a public uprising or sedition.” (Quoted by John Witte, Law and Protestantism, ch. 4, p. 137)
But the Catholic position, as conveyed by St. Robert, says that “self-defense is lawful for anybody, not only for a prince, but also for a private citizen”. (Bellarmine, On Laymen or Secular People, ch. 15, ed. Tutino, pp. 68-69) And St. Thomas says:
Tyrannical rule is not just, because it is not directed to the common good but to the private good of the ruler … Disruption of such a government therefore does not have the character of sedition, unless perhaps the tyrant’s rule is disrupted so inordinately that the community subject to it suffers greater detriment from the ensuing disorder than it did from the tyrannical government itself. Indeed it is the tyrant who is guilty of sedition, since he nourishes discord and sedition among his subjects in order to be able to dominate them more securely. (Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae 64, article 2)
Therefore, Christians can form militias to protect themselves and to defend the Church from attackers, without state approval. Christian militias are organized for several reasons: defend the Church from oppression and attacks, protect the defenseless, and to uproot the pagan threat before it makes a great slaughter of Christians. All of the goals of the Christian militias are governed by one aspiration: justice. If any action goes against, or as has nothing to do with justice, then it must be cast aside. Every crusade, and every holy war, must be done for the advancement of justice and for the destruction of tyranny.
When the Jews were under the sovereignty of the Persians, and were working to rebuild the Temple, they were encompassed by rapacious pagans, who cried out with heathen fury, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” (Nehemiah 4:11) The Jews, with the greatest consternation, cried out, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.” (Nehemiah 4:12)
What was Nehemiah to do? He could not turn to the officers of the state, nor depend upon the government for protection. He thus resolved to form a militia, not of civil troops, but of common folk. He did not think twice when he “positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.” (Nehemiah 4:13) He did not hesitate when he declared to the people with fortitude, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14)
Nehemiah was not some vigilante, but a monastic prophet. Therefore it is the right of the Church to defend itself against conniving wolves and enemies who conspire and plan for its destruction. It was because of the weapons bore by the people, under the command of their holy prophet, that the pagans were struck with fear, and delayed their ambush. As the Nehemiah wrote:
And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me. (Nehemiah 4:15-18)
The command of Nehemiah to bear a sword by one’s side, is in accordance to the injunction of Christ when He told the Apostles,
But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. (Luke 22:36)
St. Thomas, a monastic, permitted Christian revolution when the sovereign becomes severely tyrannical, and he references to the coup done by Ehud against the king of Moab, in the Old Testament, to substantiate his point:
If, however, a tyranny were so extreme as to be intolerable, it has seemed to some that it would be an act consistent with virtue if the mightier men were to slay the tyrant, exposing themselves to the peril of death in order to liberate the community. For a certain Ehud slew Eglon, king of Moab, with a dagger ‘fastened to his thigh’, because he oppressed the people of God with a harsh bondage; and for this deed Ehud was made a judge of the people. (Aquinas, De regimine principum, 1.7)
In another place St. Thomas wrote that “sometimes the things commanded by a ruler are against God. Therefore rulers are not to be obeyed in all things.” (Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, 104, article 5) St. Thomas, in one writing, declared that “he who delivers his country by slaying a tyrant is to be praised and rewarded.” (Aquinas, Scripta super libros sententiarum, II:44:2:2, article 2)
Peter Lombard, amongst the most influential and reputable scholastics of the Middle Ages, wrote that “if the emperor commands one thing and God another, you must disregard the former and obey God.” (Lombard, Collectanea in omnes de Pauli apostoli epistolas, PL 191:1505, in Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, 104, article 5)
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that there are three forms of obedience: obedience sufficient for salvation, which one is obligated to do for eternal life; the second is perfect obedience, which obeys in all things lawful; and the third is indiscriminate obedience, which is recklessly obeys all things regardless of how destructive they may be. (Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, 104, article 5)
The first, no government can take away; the second must always be in accordance to God’s law; and the third is both volatile and dangerous because it gives the rulers absolute license to order acts contrary to God’s law. This thoughtless obedience contradicts the first two, and is more fitting to the excessive obedience seen in cults, or in the Japanese and Ottoman Turks, who obeyed their emperors in their commands to plunder, rape and slaughter millions.
If what a king demands is not for God, but for the devil, then, as St. Thomas instructs, “not only is one not bound to obey the ruler, but one is bound not to obey him, as in the case of the holy martyrs who suffered death rather than obey the ungodly commands of tyrants.” (Aquinas, Scripta super libros sententiarum II, Dist. 44, quaest. 2, article 2, trans. R.W. Dyson)
The Christian society has the right to overthrow its rulers if they have proven themselves to be enemies, and not defenders, of the true Faith, and this can be done even if they are legitimately ruling, as St. Thomas tells us. (Aquinas, De regimine principum, 1.8)
The Church can validly push for revolution against tyrannical governments. For even in the sacred Scriptures, legitimately ruling are rightfully killed by the saints. The Scriptures praise the valiant Hezekiah for rebelling against the Assyrian empire, declaring, “The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.” (2 Kings 18:7)
Elijah anointed Jehu to kill the king Joram, who was legitimately ruling, and even so God commended him, saying “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” (2 Kings 10:30)
Monastic militancy continued on through the Church, for in Christendom there were so many warriors who endured the life of the monks, fighting demons and the followers of demons. The connection between monasticism and warfare was made by St. Ambrose when he described how the monastics, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptists, and other holy men, were all involved in warfare, either physical and spiritual, or both:
…Elijah, Elisha, John the son of Elizabeth, who clothed in sheepskins, poor and needy, and afflicted with pain, wandered in deserts, in hollows and thickets of mountains, amongst pathless rocks, rough caves, pitfalls and marshes, of whom the world was not worthy. From the same, Daniel, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, who were brought up in the royal palace, were fed meagerly as though in the desert, with coarse food, and ordinary drink. Rightfully did those royal slaves prevail over kingdoms, despise captivity, shaking off its yoke, subdue powers, conquer the elements, quench the nature of fire, dull the flames, blunt the edge of the sword, stop the mouths of lions; they were found most strong when esteemed to be most weak, and did not shrink from the mockings of men, because they looked for heavenly rewards; they did not dread the darkness of the prison, on whom was shining the beauty of eternal light. (St. Ambrose, letter 63, 67)
In the most glorious Battle of the Kulikovo Field, in which the brave Russian Christians defeated the Muslim Tatars, the prince of Moscow, Dimitry Ivanovich, went to the monastery of the monk, St. Sergius, and begged him for his two monastic warriors, Peresvet and Osliaba, to join him in battle. He said to the monk:
Good father, give me two warriors of your monastic troop, two brethren, Peresvet and Osliaba. For they are universally acclaimed as mighty warriors and valorous knights, highly expert in the art and practice of warfare. (The Tale of the Battle of the Kulikovo Field, p. 60)
In the first Crusade, before the warriors went out to Jerusalem they sought help from Daimbert, the Archbishop of Pisa who was appointed patriarch of Jerusalem 1098. He, being zealously for their holy cause, provided for them a supply of 900 naval ships and accompanied them in their journey to fight the Muslims in Syria. (Anna Komnenus, Alexiad, 11.9, see also f. 44 of the translator, Sewter)
There were even monks who fought heretics themselves, without a legitimate army. For example, St. Ambrose wrote of a number of monks who burned down a Valentinian temple, writing that they, “enraged by their insolence, burnt their hurriedly-built temple in some country village.” (St. Ambrose, letter 40.16) When St. Ambrose discovered that the government was going to punish the monks, he sent a letter to the emperor Theodosius exhorting him to not punish them, but instead, let them go since they were destroying impiety:
How can your piety avenge them [the Valentinians], seeing it has commanded them to be excluded, and denied them permission to meet together? (St. Ambrose, letter 40.26, brackets mine)
These Christian militants in Iraq have every right to carry arms against the Islamic devils. The most superior right is the right to bare arms, it is even more important than the right to worship God. You may have the right to worship God, but if you have not the liberty to bear arms, then how will you ever fight for your Faith when the state turns against it? I would rather have the right to bear arms than the right to worship God, for in such a state the tyrannical government would think twice before persecuting us.