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Secular Courts and Law

Early Church Fathers Quotes on Secular Courts and Law

Testament of Our Lord

“We have learned not only not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us, but to those who smite us on the one side of the face to offer the other side also, and to those who take away our coat to give likewise our cloak.”

Athenagoras 

These we hold in contempt, though to the generality they appear matters of great importance; for we have learned, not only not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us, but to those who smite us on one side of the face to offer the other side also, and to those who take away our coat to give likewise our cloak. But, when we have surrendered our property, they plot against our very bodies and souls, pouring upon us wholesale charges of crimes of which we are guiltless even in thought, but which belong to these idle praters themselves, and to the whole tribe of those who are like them. – ibid

But among us you will find uneducated persons, and artisans, and old women, who, if they are unable in words to prove the benefit of our doctrine, yet by their deeds exhibit the benefit arising from their persuasion of its truth: they do not rehearse speeches, but exhibit good works; when struck, they do not strike again; when robbed, they do not go to law; they give to those that ask of them, and love their neighbors as themselves. – ibid

Clement of Alexandria 

For in the first Epistle to the Corinthians the divine apostle says: “Dare any of you, having a matter against the other, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Know you not that the saints shall judge the world?” and so on. The section being very long, we shall exhibit the meaning of the apostle’s utterance by emphasizing such of the apostolic expressions… For he does not merely instance the Gnostic as characterized by suffering wrong rather than doing wrong; but he teaches that he is not mindful of injuries, and does not allow him even to pray against the man who has done him wrong. For he knows that the Lord expressly commanded “to pray for enemies.” To say, then, that the man who has been injured goes to law before the unrighteous, is nothing else than to say that he shows a wish to retaliate, and a desire to injure the second in return, which is also to do wrong likewise himself. And his saying, that he wishes “some to go to law before the saints,” points out those who ask by prayer that those who have done wrong should suffer retaliation for their injustice, and intimates that the second are better than the former; but they are not yet obedient, if they do not, having become entirely free of resentment, pray even for their enemies.

Tertullian 

And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?

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