Reformed Evangelism

An Appeal to an Old and Hardened Sinner

“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)

Dear John,

It has been 3 years since I last wrote you: I have been often minded to write again, but have until now failed to do so. I am glad that God has preserved your life, so that I still have opportunity to appeal to you on His behalf. You must make your peace with Him while breath is yet in your body. He is ready, on His part, to be your friend. Has He not shown His good will to you in numberless ways — not the least in giving you a long life with many enjoyments and comforts?

Yet you have continued to refuse His offer, which, I trust, I have made plain to you already. Be sure that He will not be your friend in the day of your death if you spurn Him! He calls you to be reconciled to Him even now. This is not because you are lovable or good: In His eyes you are none of those things. It is His mercy alone that is keeping you out of Hell at this hour.

I have tried to impress you with the seriousness and urgency of this, the most important matter that will ever come before you – your soul’s salvation. I will try again.

According to the sacred Scriptures – the infallible word of God, the case stands thus: You are about to be damned. Do you understand? DAMNED – the very word is full of terror! Damned to outer darkness, to everlasting pains, without hope of deliverance, as time grinds on without end – where, as Jesus said,”your worm dieth not, and your fire is not quenched”.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t believe it. You think that you have never done anything to give God a reason to treat you like that. Every man’s ways are right in his own eyes.

You think that men of the world know better than to believe in bogey men or gods that throw you into Hell for just being a fallible human being and making a few mistakes. You can think that; but it’s a lie from the devil, and it will destroy you if you do not reject it.

God made you, John, and He has an absolute right to deal with you as He sees fit. He has the right to demand your obedience to all His commandments; and to enforce them by whatever punishments he thinks appropriate. You do not keep His commandments; nor have you ever done so, nor do you intend to do so. You are your god, and the center of your little universe: nothing matters but you having your way, doing the things that please you, living life your own way.

Not a pretty picture, eh? No, it’s not. And God sees your petty, selfish, shrunken heart for what it is! He knows you through and through. Your lies mean nothing to Him – but only the reality of your sin and wickedness. You can imagine that He’s cruel and demanding and unfit to rule; but rule He does! What if you don’t like Him – what if you hate the thought of Him? Do you think that nullifies His claims on you; or that it will it make Him go away? Don’t be a fool!

These things you must grasp and hold on to, in spite of all the temptations of the devil:

First, You are obligated to love the Lord your Maker with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. This obligation has lain upon you from your infancy, when you first began to knowingly disobey your parents. Through all the years of your life, this obligation has not diminished or ceased. Yet you have not acknowledged it, and you have made no serious, sustained effort to meet it. You owe God a debt that you can never hope to pay.

Second, You are obliged to love your fellow-man as you love yourself. Judge for your self how faithfully you have kept this commandment.

Third, God will judge you – and in your case, soon. He takes no pleasure in people who flaunt his laws and who, when He seeks to bring them to repentance, only wish that He would leave them alone. He is greatly provoked by your impiety, your irreverence, your contempt of him and His commandments, your refusal to hear His Word, your rebellion against His government! Don’t you know that He is the great King? Are you unaware that the one who made the stars and lit the sun has the power to destroy you? Why then do you choose to continue to live in sin?

Fourth, The answer to that last question is this. You continue in sin because you can’t help yourself, and you will not repent because you can’t. You cannot repent because part of what it means to be a sinner is to be a slave of sin. (Romans 6:16) I’m not just talking about bad habits, though you have plenty of those. I am talking about a deep seated hatred of God and a principle of selfishness that lie so deep and are so strongly rooted in your heart that you could never change them. You are in fact, according to God’s word, powerless to repent and believe the gospel. You are, spiritually speaking, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-3). You may be aware of this. You may say, “That is true, I have found it to be so.” Now, it is well if you have come that far in self-knowledge; but it cannot help you, can it? There is still a chasm between you and safety that you cannot cross! What then will you do?

You are in a similar case to a man chained to the railroad tracks in front of a speeding train. Even if the engineer happens to see him, he will not be able to stop in time: the man is finished! But there is this difference in your case: the engineer of this train has no intention of putting on the brakes. He intends to run you over at full speed! Don’t pretend to be innocent. You have deserved this of Him, and also of the countless people whom you have hurt by your selfish ways, either intentionally or unintentionally. God will avenge them and Himself.

So how do you plan to break those chains and escape the oncoming train of God’s wrath? “Well”, you may say, “If what you are telling me is true, then it doesn’t matter what I do. So I guess I’ll just go to Hell”. But that’s insane! If you were in danger of your life, would you take that view? Wouldn’t you spend the last ounce of your cunning and strength to avoid death? How much more to avoid damnation? For there is a way out. Many have repented and come to Christ. They have stopped doing the evil things they were accustomed to doing and begun to serve the Lord. It is not impossible. To men it is impossible; but not to God.

God can save you; but I cannot tell you whether He will or not. It is up to Him, for He has said: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” You can do nothing to make him choose you – the choice was made before the world began! (Ephesians 1:4) Let that sink in. God has already decided whether you will live forever with Christ in glory or spend eternity in Hell, and there is nothing you can do about it. I would get down on my face and beg Him to show you mercy on any terms He may demand. You may find out, and I hope that you do, that you are one of the chosen.

To be perfectly clear, you ought to accept the offer of salvation, repent and receive Christ, but you have no power to do any of these things; so you are completely dependent on God. If this doesn’t scare you to death, then you don’t understand! You are in the hands of an angry God, who hates your sin and counts you as an enemy. He owes you nothing, and you have nothing to give Him that can appease his anger! Your case could not be worse!

That is why I’m being so blunt with you!

If it should please God to save you, He will have to give you the ability to repent and believe. As Jesus said, “No man can come to me unless the Father draw him.” I hope and pray that He will. I advise you to pray that He will. If you can submit to His view of things as the true one; if you can admit and really feel that you are a great sinner; if you fear and tremble for the danger you are in; if you are desperate enough to turn from your sins, and willing to humble yourself before Him and cry out to Him for sovereign mercy, then there will be reason to believe that He is calling you to Himself. Then you may be on the brink of a new birth. May it be so!

Jesus is your only hope. You can lay hold of that hope by entrusting yourself to Him for your salvation. You need nothing else but Him. He has made all the arrangements. He has done all the work. Your works are worth nothing – to offer them to God is an insult. But Christ Jesus lived a perfect, righteous life; and then He died in our place, for our sins. He took our guilt, and gave us His righteousness. Profound, mystifying, unfathomable truth – but essentially simple. Just believe that God is that good, that He “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

Be honest with yourself, John. Look into your heart. There is nothing good in there – and that is true of us all. The longer a Christian lives, the more he realizes what a wretched thing he is, what a wicked life he has lived! God’s law condemns us all. As the English prayerbook says, “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us.” You need Jesus!

My final word to you is this: Flee! Flee for your life! Flee from the wrath to come! Your time has run out! Eternity is near! Seek the Lord while you can, and make your peace with Him, turning from your sins and embracing the offer of Jesus Christ, who said, “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give rest to your souls.” (Matthew 11:28) “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:48) “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth The Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day.”

May God give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand!

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (the words of the Lord Jesus in Mark 8:36)

Your friend,

Howard Douglas King

This Far Side Cartoon Makes a Point

Many dinosaur bones are not “fossilized” or mineralized. They are real bones. Not only are the bones intact, they stink. Dogs can sniff them out if they are not too far underground. Also, there are soft tissues, even red blood cells and DNA inside! None of these things could have survived ten thousand years, let alone 60 millions. Yet the paleontologists refuse to reconsider their dogma of long ages of “prehistory”.

If you follow the uniformitarian theory that the geological formations have been formed by ordinary processes observed today, your estimation of earth’s age and the time of the advent of living things will depend on what natural process you choose, and what assumptions you make about it. They choose the processes and the assumptions that will give them the oldest date. If however, you follow the science — that is, observation and not guesses — you will find that the earth as we know it could only have been formed by a global catastrophe, and that life has only existed for thousands of years. Why do the paleontologists insist on the millions of years when living tissue is found in unfossilized dinosaur bones? Because they must defend their pet myth of evolution and rule out the existence of the Creator God whom they detest.

They Are Not Vaccines

The so-called “vaccines” are experimental substances that monkey with our cell function in unpredictable ways. No one can argue that they are not experimental; for the FDA has only approved them for emergency use.

Furthermore, they do not confer real (permanent) immunity; they are therefore, by definition, not vaccines. The proof of this is that the definition of a vaccine has been changed:

In the nineteenth century, when actual pathogens were being injected, Webster defined “vaccinate” this way:

2. To communicate a disease to a person by inserting infectious matter in his skin or flesh; as, to inoculate a person with the matter of small pox or cow pox. When the latter disease is communicated, it is called vaccination.

And “inoculate” as:

2. To communicate a disease to a person by inserting infectious matter in his skin or flesh; as, to inoculate a person with the matter of small pox or cow pox. When the latter disease is communicated, it is called vaccination. (Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1828)

The amount of the living pathogen, or the impotence of a dead one injected prevented a serious case of the disease; but activated an effective and lasting immune response.

Here are some standard dictionary entries for “vaccine”:

“1. any preparation of weakened or killed bacteria or viruses introduced into the body to prevent a disease by stimulating antibodies against it.” (Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary)

“Vaccine — an antigenic preparation used to stimulate the production of antibodies and procure immunity from one or several diseases.” (Oxford American Dictionary, 1999 edition)

NPR, in an article about Merriam Webster’s definition of “vaccine” says:

“The definition used to be: “A preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease.”

It is not said when it adopted this definition. Note: it redefines “immunity” as something capable of increase; whereas it means “In a medical sense, “protection from disease.”

“Your annual flu shot tries to give you immunity from, or make you insusceptible to, the illness.” (Vocabulary.com)

The origin of the term shows that the main idea is permanent exemption, impunity, invulnerability. Either you are immune or you are not. You can increase or decrease resistance; not immunity.

NPR continues, “Now, it [Merriam Webster] reads:

1 : a preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body’s immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease: (such as a fragment of virus spike protein)”

Nothing about immunity here.

“a : an antigenic preparation of a typically inactivated or attenuated (see ATTENUATED sense 2) pathogenic agent (such as a bacterium or virus) or one of its components or products (such as a protein or toxin)

b : a preparation of genetic material (such as a strand of synthesized messenger RNA) that is used by the cells of the body to produce an antigenic substance (such as a fragment of virus spike protein)”

Nothing about immunity here either.

The change in definition, it is claimed, is made in the interest of scientific accuracy and common usage. But “common usage” does not change overnight, and “scientific accuracy” has nothing to do with it. The scientists and medical professionals can change the meaning of a word as it is used in that community, in which case a new entry should be added to the list of possible meanings. But “common usage” has not changed; for most people still think of a vaccination as the safe procedure they were subjected to as children in school that immunized them against certain diseases.

Lest you think I am merely quibbling about words; consider that I am trying to draw attention to the fact that people are not being told the truth about the substance that is being injected to our bodies.

Why is this important? Because these injections of foreign and bio-engineered synthetics are not the same thing, and they are not safe. The public has been deliberately misled and manipulated.

No one knew how long the resistance produced by these drugs would last, yet Biden (among others) told us, point blank, that if we got vaccinated, we would not get the disease. No one knew the deadly side-effects that would kill off tens of thousands and ruin the health of many more, yet they assured us of the safety of these injections. Do not believe them when they tell you to get a booster! Do not believe them when they come after your children to make Guinea pigs of them!

Understanding the Times: The Great Cosmic War

Thoughtful Christians come to understand, sooner or later, that the world order of which we are unavoidably a part is not only not Christian, but is essentially unnatural and destructive. The world has changed dramatically since the days of Jesus and the apostles. There has been great progress in the building of Christian culture at various times, and in various places; but there has also been regress.

When Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, it was to claim the sovereignty of the world, and to commence the sure conquest of all those powers that refuse to surrender to the authority of their rightful King (Psalm 110). The cosmic war that has been going on ever since is total war! The Enemy has devised every imaginable weapon and strategy for the deception of men and nations. He has not only succeeded in deceiving the nations about the truth of Christ; but he has seduced them into a way of life that violates every law of God and of nature; and through the idolization of technology, has replaced the ancient system of institutions and customs of human society that once gave order and meaning to life with a diabolical, anti-human reign of evil. All the foundations of godly social order have been overturned, and what are we to do?

He cannot succeed ultimately. His days are numbered (Revelation 20:1-3). But he has done great harm that will not be easily or quickly undone. I believe we are where we are today, in part, because of our failure as soldiers to stand for all of God’s revealed truth. The old maxim, “In essentials unity” has been so abused as to reduce the number of essential doctrines to a handful in the interests of a superficial unity. Whenever the church has stood firm on the particular doctrine under attack, she has been victorious. Whenever she has given way on the specious pretext that “this doctrine is not essential for salvation”, she has been overcome and driven back. The failure to hold fast to the whole system of revealed truth is folly; just as the failure of a fighter to guard any part of his body during mortal combat is a crucial mistake that may well mean his death. One may survive a severed leg; but he can hardly fight!

God’s way of life for men is a system, just as the human body is a system. Just as it would be madness to try to “remodel” a living human being in order to improve it; so it has been our folly to believe that the basic structures of social order can be remodeled without peril. The ancient Adamic, familial, patriarchal, agrarian social order passed on through successive generations was the basis of a common life, common understanding, and common action. It was the fertile soil in which the gospel of the Kingdom was planted. In the ancient world, there was a common understanding that farming was the normal vocation of men, that the production of food, clothing, and other necessities was best accomplished by a decentralized system of free, self-sufficient homesteads. This arrangement was the most efficient, for those who stood to benefit from the productivity of the farm were the ones who owned it and worked it, and they were all members of a family, bound together in a common labor of love. Furthermore, production was not removed from consumption by distance, the interference of markets, and the parasitism of middlemen. Money and markets did not, under that order, rule the world. Government was local, small, and comparatively unobtrusive.

That system has not only been modified; it has been so drastically changed that what we have now is no longer friendly to human beings. We have, most of us, lost even the basic understanding of how the world is supposed to work. Humanity has fallen victim to the new alternative social systems of an industrial world: fascism, socialism, communism and capitalism. Power-hungry plutocrats can destroy our fiat currency overnight, making us all paupers. They are too smart to kill all the geese that lay their golden eggs, but they are ready to sacrifice a certain number of us whenever it seems prudent to them. We are naked and vulnerable because we no longer have strong, economically-sound families or the family farm to go back to. We no longer know how to survive without the system; and we have been morally weakened by the habitual compromise that is the price of participation in that system.

Perhaps, now that the evil root has borne it’s evil fruit, we are ready to begin to see things as they are. The situation is dire, but not without hope. It is hard to conceive how we can ever get back to the wholesome agrarian order from which we have been banished by the modern world. If I did not believe that the old paths are a part of that “will of God”, that “righteousness” that is destined to dwell in the earth, I would despair of this world entirely. But it is vain to speak of the triumph of Christianity apart from the re-establishment of the only social order that is consistent with it, and in which it can thrive. So I confidently expect that God has a plan that will restore both the true Christian doctrine and a godly social order. As the prophets assure us,

“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.” (Micah 4:2-4)

Victory is assured, but it has never been secured by sloth or self-indulgence. We must get serious about our faith, and get ready for the battle of our lives.

HDK

On Vaccine Passports and the Future Perpetual Slavery of the Human Race

A video has appeared on Rumble produced by someone who sees where the world rulers want to take us, and who thinks that there is no way out – that humanity is entering into a technological slavery so complete that we will never be able to free ourselves. It is worth watching. It presents a plausible and an alarming prospect. If I did not believe the Bible, I might despair.

However, this bleak picture of the future of humankind fails to take into account the most liberating force in human history. The early church was largely composed of slaves. The Roman empire at length became professedly Christian. Some deplore this development because it resulted in people claiming to be Christians because of the advantages it would give them. But the point often missed is that Christians now had liberty to live out their faith; and everyone benefited, in that they had a great degree of personal freedom and of justice.

When the external organization of the church in Europe became corrupt; and the life of the people was dominated by crooked greedy priests, a new movement of true Christianity called the Reformation brought liberty to many nations. This attempt to enslave the whole world will ultimately fail because the more Christianity is persecuted, the stronger it becomes; for “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. The gospel will be proclaimed in spite of the consequences. And all this is guaranteed by the promise of the King of kings: “I will build my church; and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The Stone will become a mountain (Daniel 2:35-35). The whole earth will be filled with the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14).

Jesus Christ is almighty, and no power can resist His will. If He permits us to be brought under a pervasive surveillance and total control, we must defy the power and preach the gospel, no matter what it costs us, knowing that in His time deliverance will come – if not to us, to another generation.

Man does not determine his own destiny: “the Lord rules in the affairs of men”, as mighty Nebuchadnezzar found out the hard way (Daniel chapter 4). God hates empires that are built on an unrighteous use of power, and He has more than once prevented the aggregation of the nations into one. What of ancient Babel? Or the Assyrians, or the Chaldeans, or the Persians? How long did Alexander’s widespread dominion last? I have already mentioned Rome. I could go on: Genghis Khan’s Mongolian – Chinese empire, the USSR. No man has ever been universal sovereign except the Lord Jesus, God’s anointed King.

The Scripture says that God will put all of Christ’s enemies under His feet before the Second Coming (Psalm 110, I Corinthians 15:25). Whether you are a Christian or not — your only hope of freedom is Jesus Christ. Sinful man is the problem – not the solution.

But my faith is that, no matter how miserable my fate is in this life, and no matter how powerful my enemies seem to be, the tables will be turned when The Lord judges the world in righteousness. Then the humblest slave who believes in Christ will enter into everlasting life, and the proudest mega-rich oppressor will be cast into Hell. Justice will prevail. Amen!

Howard Douglas King

December 29, 2021

What is the Truth about the Biden Regime’s Response to the Covid Virus?

These are the facts:

The Regime is promoting “vaccines” that are not vaccines, but experimental drugs. We were told that they were safe: but they are causing sickness, and deaths by the tens of thousands. Uncle Joe himself promised us that those who were vaccinated would not get sick. The Regime denies this, and censors, slanders and “cancels” anyone who draws attention to this fact.

The Regime assured us that these drugs would be effective. Uncle Joe himself told us that if we would just get vaccinated, we would not get sick.

The Regime is trying to force us to take another round of these experimental and dangerous drugs because they see that the public no longer trusts them.

The Regime is trying to turn our children into lab rats with us; even though the long term effects of these experimental drugs are unknown, and children are not at risk of illness from the virus.

Meanwhile, inexpensive, safe and effective treatments are available, but the Regime denies this, and is hindering — in some cases preventing — doctors and patients from exercising their own judgment and using them.

Under the Regime, the same drug companies that are saying we must be vaccinated are now rolling out a treatment with a new pill that is promised to be safe and effective.

It is clear from the data that natural immunity is a far more potent defense than the experimental drugs they call “vaccines”. Ordinarily, natural immunity from other diseases lasts for a lifetime. But the Regime never talks about natural immunity, and the CDC admits that they have not conducted research relative to this important issue.

Public health officials, doctors, researchers, nurses, whose knowledge and experience entitle them to a hearing, who are telling us the truth about these things, are being censored. The Regime claims that these people are not to be listened to – that they are spreading misinformation prejudicial to the public health, and that they must be silenced.

With each mutation, which is by definition a copying mistake – a genetic defect – the virus is losing its potency, but the Regime pretends that it is as dangerous as ever, or more so.

The man most responsible for the Regime’s response to this, Dr. Faucci, is directly connected with research and funding of experiments in increasing the lethality of bat viruses in the Wuhan lab where the virus originated – a facility of the Chinese “People’s Liberation Army”. The Regime denies any such connection. It for a long time denied (as did the UN’s WHO) that the virus originated in the Wuhan lab, and now admits that it did; but it never mentions that this is a Chinese Communist Germ Warfare lab.

Yet the Regime has wrecked our children’s education and social development, our jobs, our public institutions, and the economy. It has, as far as it has been able, stripped us of our constitutional rights. Its “lock-downs” have caused domestic violence, mental illness and suicide to skyrocket. Inflation is soaring: the buying power of those on fixed incomes is diminishing faster than any increases in their benefits. The country has become deeply divided between those who believe the propaganda of Big Pharma (whose profits have by now exceeded their wildest dreams) and of a Marxist Socialist State reaching for dictatorial power on one hand, and those who are not so blinded on the other.

That is, in summary, the sad, true state of affairs. Much more could be said. The good news is that the Regime has told so many obvious lies, and done so much damage to the lives of so many people, that the public is beginning to wake up. I hope it’s not too late.

Polls show that support for the Regime’s handling of the crisis is tanking. Let’s hope that our fellow Americans will go further, and realize that this is what the Democrats have always intended to do; and that Covid has only given them an excuse. Weren’t we warned?

In What Sense is Man the Possessor Of Increasing Power Over Nature?

From The Abolition of Man, by C. S. Lewis

“Man’s conquest of Nature” is an expression often used to describe the progress of applied science. “Man has Nature whacked”, said someone to a friend of mine not long ago. In their context the words had a certain tragic beauty, for the speaker was dying of tuberculosis. “No matter” he said, “I know I’m one of the casualties. Of course there are casualties on the winning as well as on the losing side. But that doesn’t alter the fact that it [Man] is winning.” I have chosen this story as my point of departure in order to make it clear that I do not wish to disparage all that is really beneficial in the process described as ‘Man’s conquest’, much less all the real devotion and self-sacrifice that has gone to make it possible. But having done so I must proceed to analyse this conception a little more closely. In what sense is Man the possessor of increasing power over Nature?

Let us consider three typical examples: the aeroplane, the wireless, and the contraceptive. In a civilized community, in peace-time, anyone who can pay for them may use these things. But it cannot strictly be said that when he does so he is exercising his own proper or individual power over Nature. If I pay you to carry me, I am not therefore myself a strong man. Any or all of the three things I have mentioned can be withheld from some men by other men — by those who sell, or those who allow the sale, or those who own the sources of production, or those who make the goods. What we call Man’s power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by.

Again, as regards the powers manifested in the aeroplane or the wireless, Man is as much the patient or subject as the possessor, since he is the target both for bombs and for propaganda. And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.

C. S. Lewis Demolishes Pacifism

There is much more in this than simply a refutation of pacifism. Lewis’ genius shines in his illuminating discussion of the process by which we should make moral judgments. I found his remarks upon intuition, reason and conscience particularly edifying. If you are a serious person and have never read anything of Lewis’ other than the Narnia Chronicles, or the Screwtape Letters (both masterful works of imagination conveying truth) you don’t know what you are missing. His “Problem of Pain” and “Mere Christianity” have been in continuously in print since the 1950s because they have universal appeal and accessibility, and because the subjects are always relevant. Here was a towering intellectual giant who, because of his Christianity, humbled himself to speak to the common man and did great good thereby. The following is from his book, The Weight of Glory.

The question is whether to serve in the wars at the command of the civil society to which we belong is a wicked action, or an action morally indifferent, or an action morally obligatory. In asking how to decide this question, we are raising a much more general question: how do we decide what is good or evil? The usual answer is that we decide by conscience.

But probably no one thinks now of conscience as a separate faculty, like one of the senses. Indeed, it cannot be so thought of. For an autonomous faculty like a sense cannot be argued with; you cannot argue a man into seeing green if he sees blue. But the conscience can be altered by argument; and if you did not think so, you would not have asked me to come and argue with you about the morality of obeying the civil law when it tells us to serve in the wars.

Conscience, then, means the whole man engaged in a particular subject matter. But even in this sense conscience still has two meanings. It can mean (a) the pressure a man feels upon his will to do what he thinks is right; (b) his judgment as to what the content of right and wrong are. In sense (a) conscience is always to be followed. It is the sovereign of the universe, which “if it had power as it has right, would absolutely rule the world.” It is not to be argued with, but obeyed, and even to question it is to incur guilt. But in sense (b) it is a very different matter. People may be mistaken about wrong and right; most people in some degree are mistaken.

By what means are mistakes in this field to be corrected? The most useful analogy here is that of Reason—by which I do not mean some separate faculty but, once more, the whole man judging, only judging this time not about good and evil, but about truth and falsehood.

Now any concrete train of reasoning involves three elements: Firstly, there is the reception of facts to reason about. These facts are received either from our own senses, or from the report of other minds; that is, either experience or authority supplies us with our material. But each man’s experience is so limited that the second source is the more usual; of every hundred facts upon which to reason, ninety-nine depend on authority.

Secondly, there is the direct, simple act of the mind perceiving self-evident truth, as when we see that if A and B both equal C, then they equal each other. This act I call intuition. Thirdly, there is an art or skill of arranging the facts so as to yield a series of such intuitions which linked together produce a proof of the truth or falsehood of the proposition we are considering. Thus in a geometrical proof each step is seen by intuition, and to fail to see it is to be not a bad geometrician but an idiot. The skill comes in arranging the material into a series of intuitable “steps.” Failure to do this does not mean idiocy, but only lack of ingenuity or invention. Failure to follow it need not mean idiocy, but either inattention or a defect of memory which forbids us to hold all the intuitions together.

Now all correction of errors in reasoning is really correction of the first or the third element. The second, the intuitional element, cannot be corrected if it is wrong, nor supplied if it is lacking. You can give the man new facts. You can invent a simpler proof, that is, a simpler concatenation of intuitable truths. But when you come to an absolute inability to see any one of the self-evident steps out of which the proof is built, then you can do nothing.

No doubt this absolute inability is much rarer than we suppose. Every teacher knows that people are constantly protesting that they “can’t see” some self evident inference, but the supposed inability is usually a refusal to see, resulting either from some passion which wants not to see the truth in question or else from sloth which does not want to think at all. But when the inability is real, argument is at an end.

You cannot produce rational intuition by argument, because argument depends upon rational intuition. Proof rests upon the unprovable which has to be just “seen.” Hence faulty intuition is incorrigible. It does not follow that it cannot be trained by practice in attention and in the mortification of disturbing passions, or corrupted by the opposite habits. But it is not amenable to correction by argument.

Before leaving the subject of Reason, I must point out that authority not only combines with experience to produce the raw material, the “facts,” but also has to be frequently used instead of reasoning itself as a method of getting conclusions. For example, few of us have followed the reasoning on which even ten percent of the truths we believe are based. We accept them on authority from the experts and are wise to do so, for though we

are thereby sometimes deceived, yet we should have to live like savages if we did not.

Now all three elements are found also in conscience. The facts, as before, come from experience and authority. I do not mean “moral facts” but those facts about actions without holding which we could not raise moral questions at all—for we should not even be discussing Pacifism if we did not know what war and killing meant, nor Chastity, if we had not yet learned what schoolmasters used to call “the facts of life.” Secondly, there are the pure intuitions of utterly simple good and evil as such. Third, there is the process of argument by which you arrange the intuitions so as to convince a man that a particular act is wrong or right. And finally, there is authority as a substitute for argument, telling a man of some wrong or right which he would not otherwise have discovered, and rightly accepted if the man has good reason to believe the authority wiser and better than himself.

The main difference between Reason and Conscience is an alarming one. It is thus: that while the unarguable intuitions on which all depend are liable to be corrupted by passion when we are considering truth and falsehood, they are much more liable, they are almost certain to be corrupted when we are considering good and evil. For then we are concerned with some action to be here and now done or left undone by ourselves. And we should not be considering that action at all unless we had some wish either to do or not to do it, so that in this sphere we are bribed from the very beginning.

Hence the value of authority in checking, or even superseding, our own activity is much greater in this sphere than in that of Reason. Hence, too, human beings must be trained in obedience to the moral intuitions almost before they have them, and years before they are rational enough to discuss them, or they will be corrupted before the time for discussion arrives.

These basic moral intuitions are the only element in Conscience which cannot be argued about; if there can be a difference of opinion which does not reveal one of the parties as a moral idiot, then it is not an intuition. They are the ultimate preferences of the will for love rather than hatred and happiness rather than misery. There are people so corrupted as to have

lost even these, just as there are people who can’t see the simplest proof, but in the main these can be said to be the voice of humanity as such. And they are unarguable.

But here the trouble begins. People are constantly claiming this unarguable and unanswerable status for moral judgments which are not really intuitions at all but remote consequences or particular applications of them, eminently open to discussion since the consequences may be illogically drawn or the application falsely made. Thus you may meet a “temperance” fanatic who claims to have an unanswerable intuition that all strong drink is forbidden. Really he can have nothing of the sort. The real intuition is that health and harmony are good. Then there is a generalisation from facts to the effect that drunkenness produces disease and quarrelling, and perhaps also, if the fanatic is Christian, the voice of Authority saying that the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. Then there is a conclusion that what can always be abused had better never be used at all—a conclusion eminently suited for discussion. Finally, there is the process whereby early associations, arrogance, and the like turn the remote conclusion into something which the man thinks unarguable because he does not wish to argue about it.

This then, is our first canon for moral decisions. Conscience in the (a) sense, the thing that moves us to do right, has absolute authority, but conscience in the (b) sense, our judgment as to what is right, is a mixture of inarguable intuitions and highly arguable processes of reasoning or of submission to authority; and nothing is to be treated as an intuition unless it is such that no good man has ever dreamed of doubting. The man who “just feels” that total abstinence from drink or marriage is obligatory is to be treated like the man who “just feels sure” that Henry VIII is not by Shakespeare or that vaccination does no good. For a mere unargued conviction is in place only when we are dealing with the axiomatic; and these views are not axiomatic.

I therefore begin by ruling out one Pacifist position which probably no one present holds, but which conceivably might be held—that of the man who claims to know on the ground of immediate intuition that all killing of human beings is in all circumstances an absolute evil. With the man who reaches the same result by reasoning or authority, I can argue. Of the man who claims not to reach it but to start there, we can only say that he can have no such intuition as he claims. He is mistaking an opinion, or, more likely, a passion, for an intuition. Of course, it would be rude to say this to him. To him we can only say that if he is not a moral idiot, then unfortunately the rest of the human race, including its best and wisest, are, and that argument across such a chasm is impossible.

Having ruled out this extreme case, I return to enquire how we are to decide on a question of morals. We have seen that every moral judgment involves facts, intuition, and reasoning, and, if we are wise enough to be humble, it will involve some regard for authority as well. Its strength depends on the strength of these four factors. Thus if I find that the facts on which I am working are clear and little disputed, that the basic intuition is unmistakably an intuition, that the reasoning which connects this intuition with the particular judgment is strong, and that I am in agreement or (at worst) not in disagreement with authority, then I can trust my moral judgment with reasonable confidence. And if, in addition, I find little reason to suppose that any passion has secretly swayed my mind, this confidence is confirmed. If, on the other hand, I find the facts doubtful, the supposed intuition by no means obvious to all good men, the reasoning weak, and authority against me, then I ought to conclude that I am probably wrong. And if the conclusion which I have reached turns out also to flatter some strong passion of my own, then my suspicion should deepen into moral certainty.

By “moral certainty” I mean that degree of certainty proper to moral decisions; for mathematical certainty is not here to be looked for. I now apply these tests to the judgment, “It is immoral to obey when the civil society of which I am a member commands me to serve in the wars!” First as to the facts. The main relevant fact admitted by all parties is that war is very disagreeable. The main contention urged as fact by Pacifists would be that wars always do more harm than good. How is one to find out whether this is true? It belongs to a class of historical generalisations which involve a comparison between the actual consequences of some actual event and a consequence which might have followed if that event had not occurred.

“Wars do no good” involves the proposition that if the Greeks had yielded to Xerxes and the Romans to Hannibal, the course of history ever since would have been perhaps better, but certainly no worse than it actually has been; that a Mediterranean world in which Carthaginian power succeeded Persian would have been at least as good and happy and as fruitful for all posterity as the actual Mediterranean world in which Roman power succeeded Greek. My point is not that such an opinion seems to me overwhelmingly improbable. My point is that both opinions are merely speculative; there is no conceivable way of convincing a man of either. Indeed it is doubtful whether the whole conception of “what would have happened”—that is, of unrealised possibilities—is more than an imaginative technique for giving a vivid rhetorical account of what did happen. That wars do no good is then so far from being a fact that it hardly ranks as a historical opinion.

Nor is the matter mended by saying “modern wars”; how are we to decide whether the total effect would have been better or worse if Europe had submitted to Germany in 1914? It is, of course, true that wars never do half the good which the leaders of the belligerents say they are going to do. Nothing ever does half the good—perhaps nothing ever does half the evil—which is expected of it. And that may be a sound argument for not pitching one’s propaganda too high. But it is no argument against war. If a Germanised Europe in 1914 would have been an evil, then the war which prevented that evil was, so far, justified. To call it useless because it did not also cure slums and unemployment is like coming up to a man who has just succeeded in defending himself from a man-eating tiger and saying, “It’s no good, old chap. This hasn’t really cured your rheumatism!” On the test of fact, then, I find the Pacifist position weak. It seems to me that history is full of useful wars as well as of useless wars. If all that can be brought against the frequent appearance of utility is mere speculation about what would have happened, I am not converted.

I turn next to the intuition. There is no question of discussion once we have found it; there is only the danger of mistaking for an intuition something which is really a conclusion and therefore needs argument. We want something which no good man has ever disputed; we are in search of platitude. The relevant intuition seems to be that love is good and hatred bad, or that helping is good and harming bad. We have next to consider whether reasoning leads us from this intuition to the Pacifist conclusion or not.

And the first thing I notice is that intuition can lead to no action until it is limited in some way or other. You cannot do simply good to simply Man; you must do this or that good to this or that man. And if you do this good, you can’t at the same time do that; and if you do it to these men, you can’t also do it to those. Hence from the outset the law of beneficence involves not doing some good to some men at some times. Hence those rules which so far as I know have never been doubted, as that we should help one we have promised to help rather than another, or a benefactor rather than one who has no special claims on us, or a compatriot more than a stranger, or a kinsman rather than a mere compatriot.

And this in fact most often means helping A at the expense of B, who drowns while you pull A on board. And sooner or later, it involves helping A by actually doing some degree of violence to B. But when B is up to mischief against A, you must either do nothing (which disobeys the intuition) or you must help one against the other. And certainly no one’s conscience tells him to help B, the guilty. It remains, therefore, to help A.

So far, I suppose, we all agree. If the argument is not to end in an anti-Pacifist conclusion, one or other of two stopping places must be selected. You must either say that violence to B is lawful only if it stops short of killing, or else that killing of individuals is indeed lawful but the mass killing of a war is not. As regards the first,I admit the general proposition that the lesser violence done to B is always preferable to the greater, provided that it is equally efficient in restraining him and equally good for everyone concerned, including B, whose claim is inferior to all the other claims involved but not nonexistent. But I do not therefore conclude that to kill B is always wrong. In some instances—for instance in a small, isolated community, death may be the only efficient method of restraint. In any community its effect on the population, not simply as a deterrent through fear, but also as an expression of the moral importance of certain crimes, may be valuable.

And as for B himself, I think a bad man is at least as likely to make a good end in the execution shed some weeks after the crime as in the prison hospital twenty years later. I am not producing arguments to show that capital punishment is certainly right; I am only maintaining that it is not certainly wrong; it is a matter on which good men may legitimately differ.

As regards the second, the position seems to be much clearer. It is arguable that a criminal can always be satisfactorily dealt with without the death penalty. It is certain that a whole nation cannot be prevented from taking what it wants except by war. It is almost equally certain that the absorption of certain societies by certain other societies is a great evil.

The doctrine that war is always a greater evil seems to imply a materialist ethic, a belief that death and pain are the greatest evils. But I do not think they are, I think the suppression of a higher religion by a lower, or even a higher secular culture by a lower, a much greater evil.

Nor am I greatly moved by the fact that many of the individuals we strike down in war are innocent. That seems, in a way, to make war not worse but better. All men die, and most men miserably. That two soldiers on opposite sides, each believing his own country to be in the right, each at the moment when his selfishness is most in abeyance and his will to sacrifice in the ascendant, should kill [each] other in plain battle seems to me by no means one of the most terrible things in this very terrible world. Of course, one of them (at least) must be mistaken.

And of course war is a very great evil. But that is not the question. The question is whether war is the greatest evil in the world, so that any state of affairs which might result from submission is certainly preferable. And I do not see any really cogent arguments for that view.

Another attempt to get a Pacifist conclusion from the intuition is of a more political and calculating kind. If not the greatest evil, yet war is a great evil. Therefore, we should all like to remove it if we can. But every war leads to another war. The removal of war must therefore be attempted. We must increase by propaganda the number of Pacifists in each nation until it becomes great enough to deter that nation from going to war.

This seems to me wild work. Only liberal societies tolerate Pacifists. In the liberal society, the number of Pacifists will either be large enough to cripple the state as a belligerent, or not. If not, you have done nothing. If it is large enough, then you have handed over the state which does tolerate Pacifists to its totalitarian neighbour who does not. Pacifism of this kind is taking the straight road to a world in which there will be no Pacifists.

It may be asked whether, faint as the hope is of abolishing war by Pacifism, there is any other hope. But the question belongs to a mode of thought which I find quite alien to me. It consists in assuming that the great permanent miseries in human life must be curable if only we can find the right cure; and it then proceeds by elimination and concludes that whatever is left, however unlikely to prove a cure, must nevertheless do so. Hence the fanaticism of Marxists, Freudians, Eugenists, Spiritualists, Douglasites, Federal Unionists, Vegetarians, and all the rest.

But I have received no assurance that anything we can do will eradicate suffering. I think the best results are obtained by people who work quietly away at limited objectives, such as the abolition of the slave trade, or prison reform, or factory acts, or tuberculosis, not by those who think they can achieve universal justice, or health, or peace.

I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can. To avert or postpone one particular war by wise policy, or to render one particular campaign shorter by strength and skill or less terrible by mercy to the conquered and the civilians is more useful than all the proposals for universal peace that have ever been made; just as the dentist who can stop one toothache has deserved better of humanity than all the men who think they have some scheme for producing a perfectly healthy race. I do not therefore find any very clear and cogent reason for inferring from the general principle of beneficence the conclusion that I must disobey if I am called on by lawful authority to be a soldier.

I turn next to consider Authority. Authority is either special or general, and again either human or divine. The special human authority which rests on me in this matter is that of the society to which I belong. That society by its declaration of war has decided the issue against Pacifism in this particular instance, and by its institutions and practice for centuries has decided against Pacifism in general. If I am a Pacifist, I have Arthur and Alfred, Elizabeth and Cromwell, Walpole and Burke, against me. I have my university, my school, and my parents against me. I have the literature of my country against me, and cannot even open my Beowulf, my Shakespeare, my Johnson, or my Wordsworth without being reproved.

Now, of course, this authority of England is not final. But there is a difference between conclusive authority and authority of no weight at all. Men may differ as to the weight they would give the almost unanimous authority of England. I am not here concerned with assessing it but merely with noting that whatever weight it has is against Pacifism. And, of course, my duty to take that authority into account is increased by the fact that I am indebted to that society for my birth and my upbringing, for the education which has allowed me to become a Pacifist, and the tolerant laws which allow me to remain one. So much for special human authority.

The sentence of general human authority is equally clear. From the dawn of history down to the sinking of the Terris Bay the world echoes with the praise of righteous war. To be a Pacifist, I must part company with Homer and Virgil, with Plato and Aristotle, with Zarathustra and the Bhagavad-Gita, with Cicero and Montaigne, with Iceland and with Egypt. From this point of view, I am almost tempted to reply to the Pacifist as Johnson replied to Goldsmith, “Nay Sir, if you will not take the universal opinion of mankind, I have no more to say.”

I am aware that, though Hooker thought “the general and perpetual voice of men is as the sentence of God Himself,” yet many who hear will give it little or no weight. This disregard of human authority may have two roots. It may spring from the belief that human history is a simple, unilinear movement from worse to better—what is called a belief in Progress—so that any given generation is always in all respects wiser than all previous generations. To those who believe thus, our ancestors are superseded and there seems nothing improbable in the claim that the whole world was wrong until the day before yesterday and now has suddenly become right. With such people I confess I cannot argue, for I do not share their basic assumption. Believers in progress rightly note that in the world of machines the new model supersedes the old; from this they falsely infer a similar kind of supercession in such things as virtue and wisdom.

But human authority may be discounted on a quite different ground. It may be held, at least by a Christian Pacifist, that the human race is fallen and corrupt, so that even the consent of great and wise human teachers and great nations widely separated in time and place affords no clue whatsoever to the good. If this contention is being made, we must then turn to our next head, that of Divine Authority.

I shall consider Divine Authority only in terms of Christianity. Of the other civilised religions I believe that only one—Buddhism—is genuinely Pacifist; and anyway I am not well enough informed about them to discuss them with profit. And when we turn to Christianity, we find Pacifism based almost exclusively on certain of the sayings of Our Lord Himself. If those sayings do not establish the Pacifist position, it is vain to try to base it on the general secums judicat of Christendom as a whole.

For when I seek guidance there, I find Authority on the whole against me. Looking at the statement which is my immediate authority as an Anglican, the Thirty-Nine Articles, I find it laid down in black and white that “it is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons and serve in the wars.” Dissenters may not accept this; then I can refer them to the history of the Presbyterians, which is by no means Pacifist. Papists may not accept this; then I can refer them to the ruling of Thomas Aquinas that “even as princes lawfully defend their land by the sword against disturbance from within, so it belongs to them to defend it by the sword from enemies without.” Or if you demand patristic authority, I give you St. Augustine, “If Christian discipleship wholly reprobated war, then to those who sought the counsel of salvation in the Gospel this answer would have been given first,that they should throw away their arms and withdraw themselves altogether from being soldiers. But what was really said to them was, ‘Do violence to no man and be content with your pay/ When he bade them to be content with their due soldier’s pay, he forbade them not to be paid as soldiers.”

But of checking individual voices, there would be no end. All bodies that claim to be Churches—that is, who claim apostolic succession and accept the Creeds—have constantly blessed what they regarded as righteous arms. Doctors, bishops, and popes—including, I think, the present Pope [Pius XII]— have again and again discountenanced the Pacifist position. Nor, I think, do we find a word about Pacifism in the apostolic writings, which are older than the Gospels and represent, if anything does, that original Christendom whereof the Gospels themselves are a product.

The whole Christian case for Pacifism rests, therefore, on certain Dominical utterances, such as “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” I am now to deal with the Christian who says this is to be taken without qualification. I need not point out—for it has doubtless been pointed out to you before—that such a Christian is obliged to take all the other hard sayings of Our Lord in the same way. For the man who has done so, who has on every occasion given to all who ask him and has finally given all he has to the poor, no one will fail to feel respect. With such a man I must suppose myself to be arguing; for who would deem worth answering that inconsistent person who takes Our Lord’s words a la rigueur when they dispense him from a possible obligation and takes them with latitude when they demand that he should become a pauper?

There are three ways of taking the command to turn the other cheek. One is the Pacifist interpretation; it means what it says and imposes a duty of nonresistance on all men in all circumstances. Another is the minimising interpretation; it does not mean what it says but is merely an orientally hyperbolical way of saying that you should put up with a lot and be placable. Both you and I agree in rejecting this view. The conflict is therefore between the Pacifist interpretation and a third one which I am now going to propound. I think the text means exactly what it says, but with an understood reservation in favour of those obviously exceptional cases which every hearer would naturally assume to be exceptions without being told. Or to put the same thing in more logical language, I think the duty of nonresistance is here stated as regards injuries simpliciter, but without prejudice to anything we may have to allow later about injuries secundum quid.

That is, insofar as the only relevant factors in the case are an injury to me by my neighbour and a desire on my part to retaliate, then I hold that Christianity commands the absolute mortification of that desire. No quarter whatever is given to the voice within us which says, “He’s done it to me, so I’ll do the same to him.” But the moment you introduce other factors, of course, the problem is altered. Does anyone suppose that Our Lord’s hearers understood Him to mean that if a homicidal maniac, attempting to murder a third party, tried to knock me out of the way, I must stand aside and let him get his victim? I at any rate think it impossible they could have so understood Him. I think it equally impossible that they supposed Him to mean that the best way of bringing up a child was to let it hit its parents whenever it was in a temper, or, when it had grabbed at the jam, to give it the honey also.

I think the meaning of the words was perfectly clear—”Insofar as you are simply an angry man who has been hurt, mortify your anger and do not hit back”—even, one would have assumed that insofar as you are a magistrate struck by a private person, a parent struck by a child, a teacher by a scholar, a sane man by a lunatic, or a soldier by the public enemy, your duties may be very different, different because [there] may be then other motives than egoistic retaliation for hitting back.

Indeed, as the audience were private people in a disarmed nation, it seems unlikely that they would have ever supposed Our Lord to be referring to war. War was not what they would have been thinking of. The frictions of daily life among villagers were more likely to be in their minds. That is my chief reason for preferring this interpretation to yours. Any saying is to be taken in the sense it would naturally have borne in the time and place of utterance. But I also think that, so taken, it harmonises better with St. John Baptist’s words to the soldiers and with the fact that one of the few persons whom Our Lord praised without reservation was a Roman centurion.

It also allows me to suppose that the New Testament is consistent with itself. St. Paul approves of the magistrate’s use of the sword (Romans 13:4) and so does St. Peter (I Peter 2:14). If Our Lord’s words are taken in the unqualified sense which the Pacifist demands, we shall then be forced to the conclusion that Christ’s true meaning, concealed from those who lived in the same time and spoke the same language, and whom He Himself chose to be His messengers to the world, as well as from all their successors, has at last been discovered in our own time.

I know there are people who will not find this sort of thing difficult to believe, just as there are people ready to maintain that the true meaning of Plato or Shakespeare, oddly concealed from their contemporaries and immediate successors, has preserved its virginity for the daring embraces of one or two modern professors. But I cannot apply to divine matters a method of exegesis which I have already rejected with contempt in my profane studies. Any theory which bases itself on a supposed “historical Jesus” to be dug out of the Gospels and then set up in opposition to Christian teaching is suspect. There have been too many historical Jesuses—a liberal Jesus, a pneumatic Jesus, a Barthian Jesus, a Marxist Jesus. They are the cheap crop of each publisher’s list, like the new Napoleons and new Queen Victorias. It is not to such phantoms that I look for my faith and my salvation.

Christian authority, then, fails me in my search for Pacifism. It remains to inquire whether, if I still remain a Pacifist, I ought to suspect the secret influence of any passion. I hope you will not here misunderstand me. I do not intend to join in any of the jibes to which those of your persuasion are exposed in the popular press. Let me say at the outset that I think it unlikely there is anyone present less courageous than myself. But let me also say that there is no man alive so virtuous that he need feel himself insulted at being asked to consider the possibility of a warping passion when the choice is one between so much happiness and so much misery.

For let us make no mistake. All that we fear from all the kinds of adversity, severally, is collected together in the life of a soldier on active service. Like sickness, it threatens pain and death. Like poverty, it threatens ill lodging, cold, heat, thirst, and hunger. Like slavery, it threatens toil, humiliation, injustice, and arbitrary rule. Like exile, it separates you from all you love. Like the gallies, it imprisons you at close quarters with uncongenial companions. It threatens every temporal evil— every evil except dishonour and final perdition, and those who bear it like it no better than you would like it.

On the other side, though it may not be your fault, it is certainly a fact that Pacifism threatens you with almost nothing. Some public opprobrium, yes, from people whose opinion you discount and whose society you do not frequent, soon recompensed by the warm mutual approval which exists, inevitably, in any minority group. For the rest it offers you a continuance of the life you know and love, among the people and in the surroundings you know and love. It offers you time to lay the foundations of a career; for whether you will or no, you can hardly help getting the jobs for which the discharged soldiers will one day look in vain. You do not even have to fear, as Pacifists may have had to fear in the last war, that public opinion will punish you when the peace comes. For we have learned now that though the world is slow to forgive, it is quick to forget.

This, then, is why I am not a Pacifist. If I tried to become one, I should find a very doubtful factual basis, an obscure train of reasoning, a weight of authority both human and Divine against me, and strong grounds for suspecting that my wishes had directed my decision. As I have said, moral decisions do not admit of mathematical certainty. It may be, after all, that Pacifism is right. But it seems to me very long odds, longer odds than I would care to take with the voice of almost all humanity against me.

Alexander Solzhenitzyn: What the Prisoners in Stalin’s Prison Camps Regretted

It is said – and it is generally true – that we never learn from history. Our generation knows little about the history of Russia – in particular, the Stalinist regime (1922-1952), that made living in the Soviet Union an age long nightmare. The rising generation doesn’t even know history! This ignorance is our great danger.

It must be understood that every Communist regime gains absolute power by confiscating the people’s firearms. Then they are free to round up everyone that is perceived as a threat to the regime, imprison them, torture them, kill them – at its whim.

We need to explain to people who Joseph Stalin was, that he was responsible for the murders of tens of millions of people, that he imprisoned 1untold numbers in labor camps, that more than a million of them died there, that he was so fond of torture that the manufacture of testicle pincers became an industry. He was a paranoid maniac, and everyone who surrounded him lived in terror every moment, afraid of doing or saying something that displeased him. Most of his victims were not guilty of any crime. It was enough to be merely accused of saying something that might be construed as a criticism of Stalin.

One of his victims was Alexander Solzhenitzyn, a Captain in the Red army, serving on the frontlines in the war with Hitler’s Germany. He was accused of “anti-Soviet propaganda” and “founding a hostile organization” because he criticized Stalin’s conduct of the war to a friend, and off he went to prison, and then to the Gulag, sentenced to 8 years of forced labor in terrible conditions. He witnessed Stalin’s takeover, the confiscation of guns, and the everyday horrors of living under Stalin’s totalitarian rule. He 2survived the camps, wrote a classic book, 3Gulag Archipelago and many other influential books, factual and fact-based fiction; which were widely read by people in Russia and other countries. He educated a generation that had only heard propaganda and lies all their lives. Their outrage played a part in the fall of the Communist government when Gorbachev was premier.

Under Stalin, huge numbers of people just disappeared! No one knew where they were taken. There were no public trials. No one knew if he would be next. The Stalin’s agents would go out in black cars at night to arrest whoever they would, for whatever reason; and no one resisted. Here is what he had to say later about the people’s fearfulness, passivity, and state of denial that allowed this horror to continue:

“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?

“Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?

“After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps [Stalin’s thugs] were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria [Government limo] sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur — what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked.

“The Organs [of the state] would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

Alexander Solzhenitzyn, from Gulag Archipelago, (translated from the Russian)

1It is estimated that 1.2 to 1.7 million died in the Gulag. According to official Soviet estimates, more than 14 million people passed through the Gulag from 1929 to 1953, with a further 7 to 8 million being deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union, including entire nationalities in several cases.

2He lived long enough to write a history of Russia, dying at the age of ninety years.

3A “Gulag” is a forced labor camp. An “archipelago” is a cluster or group of islands. The Gulag archipelago was a network of more than 30,000 isolated camps all over the Soviet Union.

Machines and Families (Part 1)

How the Industrial Revolution Destroyed

The Traditional Family

Part One

Introduction

Christians today are deeply divided on many issues that are vital to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Some believe that the world has no future and that it is therefore a waste of time to debate what the future ought to look like. Others imagine a future that looks a lot like the present technological society, only cleaned up by the influence of a dominant Christian majority. A small minority of us see a radically different design for the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the world. We believe in a kind of Christian Agrarianism.

The technological model focuses on tools, while the agrarian model focuses on the task itself which God gave to man at his creation – to make the whole earth into a beautiful and fruitful garden. The Technologist believes that the key to a better future is better and better tools. Efficiency at all costs! If the institutions and conventions of society have to evolve to accommodate the quest for greater productivity and a higher standard of living – so be it! Of course Christians who are Technologists must draw the line at some changes (usually to retreat and re-draw the line somewhere farther back later on). The status quo dictated by the technological establishment generally prevails. Even Scripture must bend to accommodate it.

The Christian Agrarian, on the other hand, asserts that industrialism as it has existed historically is not an acceptable way for man to exercise dominion over the earth. He maintains that as a system:

(1) It is based on defective and unbiblical principles.

(2) It tends to the destruction of nature, rather than its cultivation.

(3) It is hostile to the institutions requisite to a godly social order.

Ralph Borsodi’s Critique of Industrialism

And the Technological Society

To date (2003), no work has appeared (to this author’s knowledge) which provides an adequate defense of Christian Agrarianism. Until this occurs, I know of no better critique of industrialism available than This Ugly Civilization, by Ralph Borsodi. Published in 1929, just before the Great Depression, this book clearly pointed to some of the problems which created the greatest economic downturn in our history. It is a wide-ranging, thorough-going and utterly damning critique of the causes, nature and ultimate results of industrialism. But it goes further, showing also how it is possible to resist, and proposing alternatives for the living of life as it was intended to be lived.

Though the world Borsodi bravely takes on is the world of the 1920s, I believe that his work is still relevant. High technology is, after all, just the advanced stage of industrialism. It is accelerated and intensified industrialism — the factory on steroids. As such, both the quantitative gains and the qualitative losses produced by the modern factory system are accentuated. And the already-stressful pace of change has been vastly accelerated.

It will be plain to the reader of Borsodi that he was not a Christian. I wish he had been, but he was in fact a militant atheist and a nihilist. His concern was only with the things of this life. Taking this into account, I would not favor the unedited re-printing of his book. However, its value remains, and I suggest we make use of it in a spirit of gratefulness to the One who is the source of all truth, wherever found, and who lays up the wealth of the wicked for the just.

The style is vigorous and passionate and exceedingly clear. As compared with the abstractedness of Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society, it is concrete and specific — both in its critique, and in its proposal of alternatives to the status quo. (I was never quite sure what Ellul wanted us to do.)

Machines are not Evil

Neither Borsodi nor Christian Agrarians are against the use or the improvement of tools. Rather, we insist that machines are to serve man – not man the machine. By destroying the village and the productive homestead, the Industrial Revolution has wreaked a calamity upon mankind of incalculable dimensions. Though enriched in the number and variety of possessions, we have been impoverished in terms of human values like community, family life, self-expression, and fulfilling work.

Borsodi boldly asks the question:

“Where would we be today, if the genius of the Industrial Revolution had been applied for the benefit of domestic production, rather than to centralized mass production?” I suspect we would see a very different world — one in which massive waste of resources, pollution, urbanization, social upheaval, displacement of small-scale farmers and craftsmen, degradation of work, socialization of national life, class warfare, reduction of product quality, weakening of the family, and the virtual extinction of the homemaker had never occurred.

“Instead, if machines had been developed and refined for the improvement of the homestead, the quality of our lives would have been made better – not worse. And here is the bright spot in Borsodi’s assessment of our predicament. It is not too late for an industrial “counter-revolution”. Residential electric rates are low today. Power is cheap. Technology is being developed for homestead applications as never before. All we need is the vision and courage to step out and challenge the system that we are sick and tired of anyway! “

Borsodi goes into detail to show us that it is economically feasible to build productive, more self-sufficient homesteads that will provide the satisfaction of living more meaningful, natural, comfortable lives. For Christian Agrarians, this is more than an option – it is mandated conformity to the Divine plan. It is the shape of things to come. For in the latter days, “Every man shall sit under his own vine and his own fig tree, and none shall make him afraid” (Micah 4:4).