To accept what is manifestly inevitable and to strive to modify its inherent iniquities is one thing. To pronounce as inevitable something that is only problematically so is quite another. He who does the latter contributes to its occurrence and participates in its evils. The thoughtful person who seeks to understand current pronouncements of religious bodies on the subject of public disorder can scarcely fail to be perplexed. Are the architects of tomorrow’s Church attempting to formulate an actual Theology of Violence?

We read in the proceedings of the Zagorsk Consultation: “Some Christians find themselves in situations where they must, in all responsibility, participate fully in the revolution with its inevitable violence?” (We wonder, incidentally, whether Patriarch Alexis and Metropolitan Nikodim would thus counsel Christians in Czechoslovakia during the past August.) Or, one notes a quotation attributed to the General Secretary of the WCC: “There are times when a Christian ought to break the law, any law.”

Scarcely more reassuring is an excerpt from the report of the Commission on Theology of the Lutheran World Federation held in Geneva earlier this year: “The use of violence to carry out a revolution with the goal of bringing about a more just legal structure presents an exceptional situation. There are cases in which Christians can conceivably approve of the use of violence and in fact participate in violence.” Such quotations could easily be multiplied.

One wonders what lies behind this tacit approval of violence upon the part of ecclesiastical leaders. There are several possible explanations. The first to suggest itself is that, in the event of revolution (read violence), ...

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