The First and the Last

There’s an old story about a Puritan and a Quaker having a conversation about pacifism in eighteenth-century America. The Puritan was arguing for the so-called ‘Just War’ position – i.e. that Christians are permitted to participate in war so long as certain conditions are present – while the Quaker was trying to persuade him that the teaching of Jesus forbids Christians from engaging in all violence and warfare, with no exceptions.

After they had been arguing back and forth for a long time, the Puritan said, “Well, I can see the strength of your argument. In fact, if all men were as you are, I would be a pacifist”.

The Quaker replied: “Then the difference between you and me is simply this: you want to be the last good man on earth, and I want to be the first”.


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