In the area of man’s social and political concerns there is hardly a more agonizing question facing the world today than the question of war and peace. Other questions recede into the background when this one is asked, because this one affects not merely the quality of our corporate existence upon earth, but our very existence itself. With the discovery of nuclear energy and the manufacture of the hydrogen bomb there has come into the hands of men a power able to scorch the face of the earth and to destroy or mutilate all life upon it. If states were to resort to war, and in the course of it employ the thermonuclear power they now possess, they would be able to exterminate each other and in the process involve all or the greater part of mankind in death. This means that when today we seriously put the question of war, we place ourselves upon the very brink of history where yawns the abyss of global chaos. Standing there we are able to hear with new clarity and understanding the words our Lord once spoke to Peter: All who take the sword will perish by the sword.

Hearing the prophecy, we can hardly fail, of course, to hear the accompanying command: Put your sword back into its place! And having heard this we are bound to inquire into its relevance for us. Teetering on the brink of racial suicide, we are compelled to ask: If Christ’s word about perishing is likely to be realized in our own life and time, must his command to lay up the sword be heeded when we formulate our current plans and policies? Is it possible that history has carried us to the point at which contemporary states are required to appropriate to themselves the imperative once addressed to Simon Peter? Is it possible that in this atomic and space age, with its ...

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