A Statesman’S Secret Faith

Dag Hammarskjöld: The Statesman and his Faith, by Henry P. Van Dusen (Harper & Row, 1967, 235 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Sherwood E. Wirt, editor, “Decision,” Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This is a moving book about a great spirit of our time. As far as I know, only one man was fully aware of Dag Hammarskjold’s secret faith before the appearance of the spiritual diary he kept for thirty years. That man was Billy Graham. The evangelist had learned in private conversation what none of the personnel of the United Nations secretariat, over which Hammarskjöld presided for nearly a decade, had apparently discovered: that the lonely Swede had a strong personal faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. This fact was brought out in Graham’s statements at the time of the African plane tragedy, when the evangelist’s tribute, unlike others from around the world, referred to Hammarskjöld’s deep devotion to Christ.

In this volume Van Dusen helpfully documents the evidence of Hammarskjöld’s faith by relating the entries in Markings (the diary) to significant events in the statesman’s life. He shows that a “crisis” and a “conversion” seem to have come late in 1952. “I said Yes to Someone,” Hammarskjöld wrote of the experience. It was about this time that Hammarskjöld became General Secretary of the United Nations.

Van Dusen notes that from this period scriptural references began to proliferate in the diary. Curiously, there were no references to the Apostle Paul; yet the four Gospels were quoted repeatedly, as were the Psalms. “The God whom Hammarskjöld knew,” concludes Van Dusen, “was the God of the Psalmists and of Jesus Christ.”

Hammarskjöld also leaned heavily on certain Christian mystics, notably Thomas a Kempis, ...

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