21 AUGUST 1936, Page 26

Faith or Force

Church and State on the European Continent. By Adolf Keller, D.D. (The Epworth Press. 6s.)

THE signs accumulate that the age-long tension between the Christian Church and the organised State is reaching a phase more acute than any that has been experienced since Constan- tine gave to the Christians the right freely to follow their relig- ion. The French Revolution for a brief period overthrew the order of the Church. But the mood rapidly passed. Today, in the opposite ends of Europe, in Russia and in Spain, it is undergo- ing a persecution that makes the Terroi of Paris seem like child's play, and in between these extremities—in Germany and in Italy—systems of thought have achieved political power that place the freedom of faith in the direst jeopardy. Few men are as well qualified to survey the whole scene as Dr. Keller. At Geneva he has an office—the Central Bureau of Inter-Church Aid—which puts him in touch with the needs and trials of organised Christianity in all countries. He knows the facts better than most men, and—as was shown in his previous book Religion and the European mind—he combines with this knowledge gifts of criticism and understanding that make his judgement particularly valuable. Those who wish to know what are the exact relations between the Church and the State in the different countries of Europe will find here the information they seek. One thing stands out clearly. The day of the State Church is over. "The real choice with which the Churches are confronted today is that between disestablishment and a system of co- operation with the State." Thus everywhere those who believe in Christianity are driven more and more to think out precisely what they mean by the Church. The difficulties of this task are most acute where, as in Russia and Germany, the association with the State has been closest. Thus political pressure leads straight to a deeper theology. The struggles in Germany are an answer, given by the German

Evangelical Church, " to the all-important question : The Church of Faith—to be or not to be ? " Tin Church of Russia is at last finding its soul in the work of its exiles Bulgakov, Berdiaev, Arseniev, Glubokowsky and Zernov. The picture that Dr. Keller draws is dark and threatening. But it is in suffering that the Christian Church shows its true nature and achieves its real strength. The revolutionary countries are teaching the Chwch what it means to be in the world, but not of it. Persecution may bring a unity of Christendom that prosperity failed to accomplish. Dr. Keller's book does, at any rate, show that no Church can afford not to take the liveliest interest in what is happening to other Churches. Christianity, as much as peace or economics, is a world problem.