Chapter 24 » 24.43

Practical expressions of our peace testimony

Building the institutions of peace and social justice

We have to ask ourselves at the outset whether the Society of Friends, or indeed any branch of the Christian church, has any call to concern itself with the sordid realities of international affairs … There are politicians who would answer with a contemptuous ‘No’, in the mistaken belief that morals are totally irrelevant to politics. In this they grossly belittle the nature of their political calling which loses all validity if it abandons the attempt to translate moral principles into practical action. The Christians who tell us that politics are irrelevant to morals are on surer ground, since Christian hope is not founded upon political peace; if it were it could never have survived the 2,000 years of wrong which it has had to endure since it was first proclaimed. We cannot but regret the tribulation, the nakedness, the peril and the sword, but we cannot forget that ‘in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us’, and that the Christian message is to be proclaimed in all circumstances, even when hell itself seems to have broken loose. Such was the experience of Rendel Harris when, after his ship had been torpedoed in the Mediterranean, he landed with others at Alexandria in a state of ‘Apostolic one-stage-from-nudity’, to be met at the Customs House with the irrelevant, political question, ‘Have you anything to declare?’; he felt that the only possible answer in the circumstances was, ‘We declare unto you glad tidings’. All too often, the question put to us by politics cannot be answered in any other way.

J Duncan Wood, 1962

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