What Should the Churches Do?
ACCORDING to a recent observation of the Archbishop of York, when men ask: why does not the Church do something? they usually mean : why do not the Bishops say something? In the latest Penguin special, entitled Christianity and World Order, the Bishop of Chichester has said something and the utterance is the more deserving of attention since it is representative rather than individual. The judgements expressed would be endorsed by most Christian leaders.
Faced by the challenge of the totalitarian State, the most con- servative of established Churches, the Lutheran, has been forced to assert its independence in the Confessional movement, and if the leaders of that movement do not openly oppose Hitler's war, it may be that they regard the war as the judgement of God on a rotten civilisation. Anglica, leaders are not now engaged in hallowing the warlike crusade of their own nation and in .re- iterating Government policy. Dr. Bell does not speak for him- self alone when he says the Christian "cannot regard any war as a 'Christian war' or as a 'holy war,' for no war can be holy, though the object with which a nation undertakes it may be just." Doubtless the war is God's judgement on a rotten civilisation, yet on our side it is being waged in defence of the decent things in that civilisation. This very fact lays a special task on the Church. "The Church must do everything it can to prevent the methods of barbarism and tyranny prevailing at home." Dr. Bell speaks with authority on the subject of our treatment of refugees. "I do not hesitate to say that the British nation suffered a real moral defeat when, in violation of the principles of freedom and justice, the Government interned thousands of Ger- man and Austrian refugees .. . under conditions involving mental cruelty and grave hardship both to those interned and to the relatives from whom they were separated." The nation has not yet recovered from this defeat, for the wrong has still to be ade- quately righted.
Dr. Bell expresses a widely held Christian judgement when he says that victory is not an end in itself and that the Government should counter Hitler's propaganda by a great constructive moral and political effort. He commends the Pope's Five Peace Points as expressing the principles which should guide such an effort, and he pleads for conference and joint action by the Roman Catholic Church and the Churches belonging to the Oecumenical movement in exposition and support of these principles. Nor does he overlook the responsibilities of local churches as centres of fellowship and social experiment, for Dr. Bell knows how little can be effected by conferences of leaders when the led are apathetic.
This little book can be unreservedly commended to all who desire to understand the outlook of and the outlook for the
Christian Church at the present time. H. G. WOOD.