The inconceivable has occurred. In the twentieth century...

The Christian Science Monitor

The inconceivable has occurred. In the twentieth century of the Christian era the nations of Europe have drawn the sword with no more respect for the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount than was displayed by the Roman legionaries on Calvary. The skeptic demands, with unconcealed contempt, whether the event is the result of twenty centuries of Christian practice. The question is perhaps natural, but it is none the less not a little shallow. Christianity is no more responsible for war in Europe today than Epicureanism was responsible for the persecution of Marcus Aurelius; but what is termed religion was, and is, largely responsible for both. You cannot convert the cathedral into something approaching the temple of Janus, nor can you indulge in dithyrambs concerning consecrated battle-flags, without reducing your Christianity to the region of the Cromwellian maxim, "Trust in God and keep your powder dry."

Any one who questions this will find his answer in a famous saying of the Red Prince, quoted approvingly by a minister of today, "Let your hearts beat to God and your fists on your enemies." It seems a curious commentary by a Christian prince on that saying on the Syrian hillside, "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." No sane person would deny that, in a sin-laden civilization, circumstances might arise to cause, in Mrs. Eddy's phrase (on page 278 of Miscellany), peace to be "subserved by the battle's plan." That, however, is only because the theology of the Christian era has represented war almost as a sacrament. It has unquestionably sanctified a pharse invented for quite another purpose, "Killing no murder."

The simple fact is that if the energies of Christendom had been directed more to the demonstration of practical Christianity—that is to say, to the healing of the sick—war would long ago have become impossible. It is impossible persistently to exclude death from your consciousness without excluding war. The abrogation to a class of the right to heal consequently constituted the surrender, by scholastic theology, of the fruits of the victory won in the garden at Bethany. The effects were incalculable, and included the victory of the sword. The Cæsars realized that clearly enough in their struggle with the Christian legionaries.

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