In a recent issue of The Nation a professor of sociology in Columbia University, C. Wright Mills, issues a stinging condemnation of Christianity (“A Pagan Sermon to the Christian Clergy,” The Nation, March 8, 1958). Cast in the form of a sermon preached by a pagan to Christian clergy, he deals positively and emphatically with the problem of total war in an atomic age. He sees only one possible attitude of the Christian toward this problem. “But truly,” says Professor Mills, “I do not see how you can claim to be Christians and yet not speak out totally and dogmatically against the preparations and testing now under way for World War III. As I read it, Christian doctrine in contact with the realities of today cannot lead to any other position.… I believe the decisive test of Christianity lies in your witness of the refusal by individuals and by groups to engage in war. Pacifism, I believe, is the test of your Christianity—and of you.” Since the vast majority of those who claim to be Christians, even among the clergy to whom he is preaching, fail in this decisive test, he finds Christianity bankrupt in moral imagination and a party to the moral defeat of contemporary man.
As a priest of the Church, I am one of those to whom Mr. Mills’ sermon is particularly addressed. But in my added capacity of one who consents to direct a small part of the program of the Atomic Energy Commission, I would certainly be singled out as a glowing example of treachery to the Faith.
The Nature Of Christianity
There is a widespread impression both in the secular world and in large segments of Protestant Christianity that the essence of Christianity is to be found in an ethical idealism. Christianity is interpreted as a religion founded by a teacher ...1
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