World's Penchant for Peace

A look at recent world trends.

By GEORGE KEOUGH, Professor of Arabic Language, S.D.A. Theological Seminary

The world's greatest need today is for peace. Two terribly devastating wars in the past thirty years have brought many nations to bankruptcy and ruin, with starvation staring them in the face, and they need peace in which to recuperate, a time of peace in which to repair the destruction of the years of war. Nations that were strong and rich three decades ago are today weak and poor and perishing. Without peace they will perish utterly.

But war is threatening the world today as never before. There is civil war, and near civil war, in many lands. International war, world war, looms on the horizon, now blacker, now lighter, but ever threatening to destroy everything worthwhile. The daily papers and the magazines are full of the talk of it, and we hear it every day over the radio.

The advantages and disadvantages of the atomic bomb, of military alliances, and of large armies are discussed and weighed. Some advocate that the secret of the bomb be shared with all nations, and others suggest the destruction of the means of manufacturing the bomb, forswearing the use of it. Still others say that it should be made the property of the UN, in the hope that the bomb and the armies will thereby be united and be equally in favor or against all nations. Peace, they say, will then ensue. But will it? It hardly looks like it.

Men want peace. No one of any consequence wants war. Yet war seems to be thrust upon us, and each one blames the other for thrusting it upon the world. A power seems to be pushing the nations to war against their will. What can we do about it? That is the question that is exercis­ing many minds.

Men see the need of peace, and are working for peace, and many proposals are being made to bring about and ensure a lasting peace in which the world might attain to the highest heights of wealth and luxury. It is as though Earth stood between hell and Paradise, and while desiring most earnestly to enter Paradise, felt herself pulled against her will into hell.

One proposal to meet the situation was broad­cast over the British Broadcasting Company net­work by John Middleton Murry, and published in The Listener of March 54, 1946, pages 338, 339. Professor Murry summarized the problem briefly, saying that man in the past hundred years has become a thousand times more powerful than he was, and within the next ten years may become a thousand times more powerful still. With all this increase in power, with some improvement in the domestic field, international relations have deteriorated terribly. Nation-states, he says, are now more barbarous than they were a century ago. What is the remedy? Here is his proposal:

"Is the Christian church saying this simple thing with all the emphasis its urgency demands ? I don't think it is. I ask myself : Why not? And the only answers I can give are these : First, the Christian church has been subordinate to the nation-state so long that it is mentally unprepared to give it a clear lead. Second, the Christian mind has a peculiar dif­ficulty in conceiving the social reality of modern man. It clings to the obsolete conception of the individual—obsolete in this all-important sense that the individual as conceived by Christianity does not and cannot exist in modern society, and that the society which will permit him to exist has now to be created all over again. So I put my challenge baldly and brutally—because there is no more time for fine distinctions. I say that the job of the Christian church today is not to convert individuals, but the nation-state. If the Christian church is not prepared for that, then let it prepare to descend to the catacombs."

Now here is a great danger against which we must be prepared. If men get the conviction that the only way peace may be ensured is for the church to rule the state, if Christianity is to be no longer an individual matter but a matter of state control, then we are back in the Middle Ages, with all their intolerance and persecution of the' individual who desires to worship God as he feels convinced he ought. Desperate situations require desperate remedies, but a remedy that would make things far worse than they are is not to be welcomed by wise men. Can men never learn that the only way of peace is the way of God's commandments? (Isa. 48 :18.)

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By GEORGE KEOUGH, Professor of Arabic Language, S.D.A. Theological Seminary

July 1946

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