Sunday, August 3, 2014

Jacques Maritain on the Kingdom of God vs. the Pagan Empire

In a small book published a few years ago I pointed out the fault which consists in thinking of the spiritual community of the Kingdom of God as if it were itself a temporal community or an earthly city. Let us go deeper. If one reflects upon the opposition which I have just pointed out between the Pagan Empire and the Holy Word, it is necessary to say that each time that a Christian thinks and acts as if hate could triumph over love, and as if the Christian community based itself upon hate of the enemy, of the enemy of the group, of the wicked, just so much does it give way to the spirit of the Empire of the pagan, to the spirit of the world. It would be naive to be astonished that we have followed often the spirit of the world more than the spirit of Christ; it would be a graver matter to hide the fact that, in so far as we betray thus the spirit of Christ, just so much do we wound in the heart Christianity and civilization. [...]

I say that if we believe that the real proof of faith in God and love of God is not only, as some have said it is, to be ready to die for Him but to kill for Him—by just so much are we following the worldly spirit instead of the spirit of Christ, and by just so much are we blaspheming faith in God. For to kill for the Empire is the supreme sign of faith in the Pagan Empire, but the supreme sign of faith in God is to give one’s life to God—not the life of another. “Greater love hath no man than this,” according to the words of Christ, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.”


Source: Jacques Maritain, "The Pagan Empire and the Power of God," VQR 15, no. 2 (Spring 1939), March 31, 2010, accessed August 3, 2014,

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