Some contemporary churchmen have developed a de facto doctrine of revolution that defies order and encourages violence. Both in the World Council of Churches and in the National Council of Churches there have repeatedly been calls for revolution, for the use of force to alter structures of society that will not yield peacefully and to curb the misuse of power. Unlike Communist, existential, and anarchistic revolutionary theory, churchmen have tied their views to the Christian faith and given them religious sanction. But the result is the same: Law and order break down; force and brutality take over.

No one will deny that there are powerful structures that perpetuate racial discrimination and other injustice, work against the down-and-outers, and support repressive legislation designed to protect selfish interests. This has always been so, and will always be so. The question is, then, How are we to combat these forces of injustice?

The Scriptures and psychology teach us an incomparable lesson: the weapons one chooses to use will be the weapons with which one is opposed. The Christian may use force for what he considers to be good ends; the opponent will use force for evil ends. The issue then turns on who exercises more force, not on whose objectives are valid. It becomes a tit-for-tat situation in which those who possess the greater force ultimately survive. Is this the Christian way?

History readily supplies lessons about the demonic aspect of force. In the French Revolution, intense violence was used to overthrow the French monarchy. Finally the guillotine caught up with its users, who themselves became victims of worse oppression, and totalitarian monarchy was replaced finally by the Napoleonic dictatorship. In Russia, the ...

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