What did early Christians believe about...?
(Before 400 AD)
Uninspired records of how early Christians worshipped and what doctrine they believed!
Abortion-Not A 20th Century Phenomenon
Read the story about the baby holding the surgeons finger from within the womb during fetal operation.
74 AD The Letter of Barnabas "The way of light, then, is as follows. If any one desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following. . . . Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born" (Letter of Barnabas 19).
137 AD The Apocalypse of Peter "And near that place I saw another strait place . . . and there sat women . . . And over against them many children who were born to them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion" (The Apocalypse of Peter 25).
150 AD Didache "The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child" (Didache 2:1)
170 AD Mark Felix "There are some women among you who by drinking special potions extinguish the life of the future human in their very bowels, thus committing murder before they even give birth." (Mark Felix, Christian Lawyer, Octavius chap. 30)
177 AD Athenagoras "What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers? . . . [W]hen we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God's care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it" (A Plea for the Christians 35, Embassy chap. 5).
177 AD Athenagoras, "What reason would we have to commit murder when we say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God? For the same person would not regard the fetus in the womb as a living thing and therefore an object of God's care, and at the same time slay it, once it had come to life." (Athenagoras Plea, ch.35)
210 AD Tertullian "Among surgeons' tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs [of the child] within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery. "There is also [another instrument in the shape of] a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: They give it, from its infanticide function, the name of embruosphaktes, [meaning] "the slayer of the infant," which of course was alive. . . ." [The doctors who performed abortions] all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and [they] pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive" (The Soul 25).
210 AD Tertullian "In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed" (Apology 9:8).
210 AD Tertullian "Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does" (Apology 27).
210 AD Tertullian "The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion [Ex. 21:22]
226 AD Minucius Felix "There are some [pagan] women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come down from the teaching of your [false] gods. . . . To us [Christians] it is not lawful either to see or hear of homicide" (Octavius 30).
228 AD Hippolytus "Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!" (Refutation of All Heresies).
250 AD Diognetus (a likely reference to both exposure of infants to die and abortion): "(Christians) marry, like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring." (Letter of Diognetus (late 2nd or 3rd century; ch.5, vs.6)
307 AD Lactantius "When God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but he warns us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful among men.. Therefore, let no one imagine that even this is allowed, to strangle newly-born children, which is the greatest impiety; for God breathes into their souls for life, and not for death. But men, that there may be no crime with which they may not pollute their hands, deprive [unborn] souls as yet innocent and simple of the light which they themselves have not given. "Can anyone, indeed, expect that they would abstain from the blood of others who do not abstain even from their own? But these are, without any controversy, wicked and unjust" (Divine Institutes 6:20).
314 AD Council of Ancyra "Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees" (canon 21).
374 AD Basil the Great "He that kills another with a sword, or hurls an axe at his own wife and kills her, is guilty of willful murder; not he who throws a stone at a dog, and unintentionally kills a man, or who corrects one with a rod, or scourge, in order to reform him, or who kills a man in his own defense, when he only designed to hurt him. But the man, or woman, is a murderer that gives a philtrum, if the man that takes it die upon it; so are they who take medicines to procure abortion; and so are they who kill on the highway, and rapparees" ((First Canonical Letter, canon 8).
374 AD Basil the Great "Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years' penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not" (First Canonical Letter, canon 2).
391 AD John Chrysostom "Wherefore I beseech you, flee fornication . . . Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit?--where there are many efforts at abortion?--where there is murder before the birth? For even the harlot you do not let continue a mere harlot, but make her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to prostitution, prostitution to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then do thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine" (Homilies on Romans 24).
396 AD Jerome "I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the Church, their mother . . . Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder" (Letters 22:13).
400 AD The Apostolic Constitutions "Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for He says, 'You shall not suffer a witch to live' [Ex. 22:18]. Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for "everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed." (Apostolic Constitutions 7:3).
"The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind." (Josephus, Flavius, The Works of Josephus, Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book II, 25)
"Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born." (Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, The Epistle of Barnabas, chap. XIX, The Way of Light)
"Who does not reckon among the things of greatest interest the contests of gladiators and wild beasts, especially those which are given by you? But we, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles. How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death? And when we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder?" (Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume II, The Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter V.-The Christians Condemn and Detest All Cruelty., Answering the charge that Christians murder and eat human flesh)
"The embryo therefore becomes a human being in the womb from the moment that its form is completed. The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion, inasmuch as there exists already the rudiment of a human being, which has imputed to it even now the condition of life and death, since it is already liable to the issues of both, although, by living still in the mother, it for the most part shares its own state with the mother." (Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume III, Tertullian, A Treatise on the soul, Chapter VII.-On the Formation and State of the Embryo)
Exodus 21:22-23: "If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life"
"And now I should wish to meet him who says or believes that we are initiated by the slaughter and blood of an infant. Think you that it can be possible for so tender, so little a body to receive those fatal wounds; for any one to shed, pour forth, and drain that new blood of a youngling, and of a man scarcely come into existence? No one can believe this, except one who can dare to do it. And I see that you at one time expose your begotten children to wild beasts and to birds; at another, that you crush them when strangled with a miserable kind of death. There are some women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels, and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth." (Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume IV, The Octavius of Minucius Felix, Chapter
Argument: the Story About Christians Drinking the Blood of an Infant that They Have Murdered, is a Barefaced Calumny. But the Gentiles, Both Cruelly Expose Their Children Newly Born, and Before They are Born Destroy Them by a Cruel Abortion. Christians are Neither Allowed to See Nor to Hear of Manslaughter.)
"1. And the second commandment of the Teaching; 2. Thou shalt not commit murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not commit paederasty, thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not practise magic, thou shalt not practise witchcraft, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten." Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume VII, Apostolic Teachings and Constitutions, Chapter II. -The Second Commandment: Gross Sin Forbidden.)
"III. Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for He says, "Ye shall not suffer a witch to live." Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for "everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed." (Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume VII, Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Book VII, Moral Exhortations)
"25. And near that place I saw another strait place into which the gore and the filth of those who were being punished ran down and became there as it were a lake: and there sat women having the gore up to their necks, and over against them sat many children who were born to them out of due time, crying; and there came forth from them sparks of fire and smote the women in the eyes: and these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion." Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume X, The Apocalypse of Peter)
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