Very rarely is one given the ambiguous privilege of experiencing a revolution personally. For the theologian, such times are especially valuable, since in the absence of actual revolutionary conditions, it is easy to content oneself with a smug quoting of Romans 13, as if this single passage presented all the Bible has to say on (i.e., against!) political action. Werner Elert, in his Christian Ethos, noted on the basis of his experiences in Germany during the nightmare of World War II that both those Christians who support and those who reject the political status quo do so in a crisis of conscience, for God’s Word stands in judgment not only on irresponsible change but also on the irresponsible exercise of power by the establishment. The last two months in France have indeed reinforced this interpretation for sensitive Christian participants in the drama of revolution, counter-revolution, general strike, and election upheaval.
The outline of events during and after the historic “days of May” is now quite plain. Paris Match of June 29 and July 6 gave a superb retrospective coverage of the revolutionary period in terms of “eight episodes”: (1) The student uprising at Nanterre, which under the aegis of wild-eyed sociology student David Cohn-Bendit grew so large that the university had to be closed. (2) The transfer of the revolutionary spirit from the youngest to the oldest French university: the start of organized resistance by students at the Sorbonne, followed by police intervention (a supreme tactical error on the part of the dean, who requested aid despite a centuries-old tacit agreement that town must not interfere with gown) and, as a consequence, thousands of students demonstrating in the ...1
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