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Modern Pacifism Allied with Radicalism

Another prominent feature of the modern pacifist movement to which we strenuously object is its leadership, particularly in the political and interdenominational spheres. While there are many sincere Christians connected with it, an unduly large proportion of its leaders have come from the ranks of church liberals, socialists, secular humanists, atheists, and Communists—the type of people with whom it is extremely dangerous to mingle. Those various groups find it possible to work together on a humanistic basis. While the Christian pacifist wants disarmament for one reason, the Communist wants it for an entirely different reason; and yet the effect of their influence is the same—a defenseless America.

The Christian pacifist desires disarmament because he believes that if war is made impossible, man’s nobler nature will assert itself and ultimately develop an ideal society. The Communist desires disarmament and promotes a peace-at-any-price psychology in the hope that eventually the time will come when his system can be more easily imposed on an unsuspecting people. Each advocates it for the United States, even unilateral disarmament, without any guarantee that there will also be disarmament on the part of other nations, particularly on the part of highly militarized Russia.

Often without realizing it or intending it, the Christian pacifist is found working hand in glove with radicals whose ultimate purposes are quite different from his. But what a bitter experience it might turn out to be for the person who sincerely desires peace to discover that the system which he helped to promote actually had the opposite effect! Although sincere in his purpose, he surely has strange bedfellows. And are we not told that in some respects the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of light (Luke 16:8)?

Almost invariably the Christian pacifist turns out to be a liberal in the church. He laughs at the Christian doctrine of the sovereignty of God and the sinfulness of man; and, believing that human nature is essentially good and needs only to be properly directed, he thinks that man by his own efforts is working himself to a higher level of religion and morality. Actuated by those assumptions, he repudiates the divine Christ, reduces Him to a mere moral teacher and good example, and denies or ignores the consequences of sin. He calls for a shorter Bible and expects the kingdom of God to be established on earth largely through such things as social legislation, education, and disarmament.

The testimony of history is very clear to the effect that true Christianity tends to develop brave, courageous men with strong convictions for the right. Never does it produce cowards. True religion and true patriotism have always gone hand in hand, while unbelief, doubt, and liberalism have invariably been accompanied by socialism, Communism, radicalism, and other enemies of free government.

Not long ago one of our church magazines had occasion to give this warning on its editorial page: “Conservative and patriotic laymen have much fault to find with the radical ministers who are fairly common in the Protestant communions. One described them as ‘preachers who have abandoned the Gospel of salvation for the Social Gospel; the Bible for the writings of “Saint” Karl Marx, and who wave the red flag in times of peace and the white flag in times of war.’ The fact has often been pointed out that the social radical is always a modernist in theology.”

And in a prominent article in another church magazine, we find these words:

It is a fact that most of the outstanding pacifist leaders of America and Europe today are men who have broken with evangelical Christianity, men who frankly deny most, or all of the great fundamental beliefs of Christians. The leadership of these men, so much a unit in their pacifist teachings, is a type of leadership evangelical Christians should watch carefully. My one desire is to flee from such men and their leadership. But if a man identifies himself with the present pacifist movement he finds that type on every side and in the lead. This alone should provoke thought and bring pause.

It is not only interesting but highly instructive to observe the course liberalism has followed. It is a matter of historical record that liberalism (“Higher Criticism” as it was first called, or “Destructive Criticism” as it might more appropriately have been called) was born in Germany about 150 years ago. With characteristic German thoroughness and efficiency, the scholars set to work to study and analyze the Bible. But as time went on that study came to be conducted less and less from the viewpoint of evangelical Christianity, and more and more from that of humanistic philosophy and skepticism. Although many of the old terms were retained, faith in the Bible as a divinely inspired book was destroyed, theology as a science was practically discarded, and man’s origin was ascribed to an evolutionary process rather than to a creative act of God. Human conduct came to be based more and more on what was considered expedient or practical than on a supernaturally given moral code, and in general a broad system of humanitarianism or self-salvation was substituted for the gospel of redemption through Christ.

The general tendency and influence of the movement was far more atheistic than was realized at the time.

While the movement arose in Germany, it did not stay there, but spread to France, Holland, England, and America, and with the same results. The situation was analyzed briefly and accurately by an American writer as follows:

Luther gave Germany the Bible in her own tongue and made her the great people which she later became, many of her emigrants becoming our finest citizens and homemakers. Then her universities began turning out a subtile learning which blasted the very foundations on which she stood. The Bible which Luther gave her, and with it her faith, was ploughed under. The soil was then left ready for any sowing, and the seed which fell upon it was Nietzsche’s philosophy. This became the new philosophy of a generation that knew not Joseph, the philosophy of Nazism—that might makes right and that Christianity is wrong. That let loose on the face of the earth a scourge with demonical aim to crush all minorities and liberties and the determination to rule or die. Of course in saying these things we know there are always individual exceptions, and in all of this we are speaking in a general summary. Through the years Germany has produced some of the finest Christians that ever lived (Dr. George W. Arms).

Loraine Boettner, The Christian Attitude Toward War, 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1985), 60.

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