Deciding between a bad nuclear choice and a very bad nuclear choice.

If the United States would disarm unilaterally, a Soviet invasion is almost a foregone conclusion. The world’s freest society would be overtaken by an atheistic, totalitarian regime. But if the nuclear buildup continues, a nuclear holocaust, which history suggests is inevitable, looms ever nearer. Welcome to a fallen world that has ruled out the possibility of choosing a clearly “right” path and has relegated most Christians either to silence or to uneasy support for one of the equally dismal alternatives.

Unlike the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, evangelicals are firmly divided on the issue of nuclear arms. The evangelical community is home for total pacifists and also for those who believe that the hope of taking the gospel to all the earth rests on the shoulders of American military strength. Nowhere was this clashing of perspectives more evident than at a conference called “The Church and Peacemaking in the Nuclear Age,” held in May in Pasadena, California. Ostensibly, this was the first gathering of evangelicals to discuss the issue of nuclear arms. However, some evangelicals, by apparently avoiding the conference, expressed their view that this issue does not belong on the list of evangelical priorities.

The idea for the conference originated in 1979 with two students at Fuller Theological Seminary who were trying to find their own ways through this complex issue. Recognizing that the evangelical voice is not consolidated, organizers tried to provide for an equal airing of all positions. Moderator Vernon Grounds, former president of Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary, remarked on opening night, “Nobody anticipates that his or her ideas will be changed.” ...

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