‘Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.’
(Kill them all. For the Lord knoweth them that are His.) was supposedly the reply of Arnaud Amalric (died 1225) when he was asked by a Crusader how to distinguish between the Cathars and the Catholics during the sacking of the city of Beziers in 1209.
This is the basis for the more contemporary, ” Kill them all and let God sort them out.”
Just as well he wasn’t around for series 6, episodes 5&6 or we might have lost two Doctors, Amy and Rory along with several 22nd Century miners and their ‘gangers’; artificial ‘almost people’ remotely controlled for tasks with dangerous acid.
Two Doctors, because one Doctor (the ‘real’ Doctor) in researching the ‘flesh’, the substance from which the ‘gangers’ are created, had allowed himself to be reproduced. Why was he researching the ‘flesh’? Well, that’s another story.
These episodes ask important questions about what it means to be a person. Is it our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our memories, our relationships; or even, our soul, that makes us ‘real’ people?
Well, all of the above, I suppose; along with our terrible tendency towards judgement and persecution (even ex-ecution) of any ‘them’ that is not ‘us’. This interests me even more.
As miners and ‘gangers’ confronted each other, each with some cause for hatred, they were frustrated at times by their inability to tell ‘us’ from ‘them’ at all; what then?
In our real world (sadly) after Arnaud, there was the Inquisition, and then Henry VIII put his own spin on ‘us and them’ by executing both Catholics and Protestants, just to emphasise and protect his ‘middle of the road Anglicanism’. In Salem, Massachusetts, the so-called ‘witch trials’ flew the flag of ‘us and them’, becoming the cultural blueprint for Senator Joseph McCarthy who divided the United States over the issue of Communism in the 1950’s.
So what? Well, they say there are two types of people in the world….and in the Church too, I suppose.
What about our life, in Christ, and in this world? Jesus did not shrink from warning his disciples that his enemies would be their enemies too and that there may even be times when they were difficult to recognize. Whatever the case, Matthew records these words of Jesus regarding our enemies in the world;
‘But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ Matthew 5:44-48
In other words, when it comes to enemies,“Love them all and let God sort them out.”