Luke 14:23

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And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. (ASV)


Augustine, one of the most revered fathers of the church by both Catholics and Protestants explicitly used Jesus’ words in Luke 14 (the banquet parable), esp. 14:23 as justification to use death threats and torture to force people to become Catholics. This is in many of his writings, such as Letter 185, 11, and sees the gospel account of “making people come in” as saying that we should force people to come into the Catholic church. This was the basis for this same terrorist approach for over 1000 years, where heretics and pagans would be told to convert or they will be killed, or where heretics and pagans would be tortured to convert or die in the process.


Augustine condones the use of force to protect the church and induce heretics to return to the fold on the basis that the heretical groups (such as the Donatists) already used violence against the Catholic church (and against each other). Plus in those times the idea of heresy was akin to treason in a state which was primarily Christian and the Church had official state sponsorship. He proposes a desperate solution when regular diplomatic measures have failed. Augustine is, after all, one of the originators of the Christian Just War Theory (Aquinas took up and developed this from Augustine).

The parable itself says nothing about using violence to fill the house, or about violent resistance being used to enter. If the parable is about God and heaven, is it saying that God is going to send armies to convert people by the sword? That seems like a stretch.


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