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Peace Aims and the Post War World

Especially of late has there been a persistent clamor for definite peace aims on the part of the Allies to prepare for the post-war world. Leading commentators and editors have been showing how that it is absolutely necessary to state the war aims and the peace aims clearly now before the war is won in order that the chaos and failure of the last armistice may not be repeated. And, of course, it is also understood that this must be the decision of the United Nations in the form of clear statements of future policy signed and agreed to by the majority.

This demand for statement of policy comes at a time when there is more sign of victory for the United Nations than ever before. This feeling of optimism is general in spite of the warnings that the end is still a long way off. Churchill called it the end of the beginning. Many others have spoken of the difficult positions which still have to be conquered. Those of us who have been too enthusiastic will better be able to judge of the position of the Allies and the nearness of victory when the truthful reports that come months and even a year after their happenings are revealed. It will also be plainer to us when the present offensives shall have developed more. At this writing and probably for some time to come it will be impossible for a layman to judge of the true progress of the war. Nevertheless there are some indications which definitely point to a marked success the united nations are having. There is the remarkable increase in production in our United States. The output of industrial Detroit it is told us, exceeds the peak production in automobile days. This change-over and tooling up for war exhibits the genius of our American engineers.

That an expression of aims is absolutely necessary cannot be denied. It not only is a foolish way to wage a war without definite aims, but the reason for waging a war at all is taken away when there is no objective and a real cause, However, it cannot be denied that there have been some aims expressed and that there has been a cause for war because of the aggressive actions of the Axis powers. Yet the real causes and the true situation has not been made clear. The aims that have been expressed are not definite enough and do not at all cover the mighty practical problems which shall arise after the war. An Atlantic Charter has been made. But many questions and differences have been raised about it.

The problems of reconstruction will remain for generations to come. The problem of maintaining a peace that will have been established is a knotty one that so far has not been answered satisfactorily to those nations concerned.

Some of the problems of reconstruction are enumerated and explained in an article in the December Harpers entitled, “Hunger, Hatred, and Postwar Europe”. The writer introduces his article with the following paragraph: “The many “peace plans” and “blue prints” for “reconstruction” which have been issued in the past few months all, so far as I am aware, presume the existence of stable and cooperative governments of Europe. When such governments come into being the merits of these proposals will have been tested. After the war the world will have to recover from an economic and social demoralization such as it has not known since the Thirty years war, perhaps since the Dark Ages.” He enumerates the realities which have to be faced. First he mentions hunger, which is now and shall prevail after the war. Just a little thinking will startle us with the reality of this fact. We only have to remind ourselves of the present rationing and shortages which will increase as time goes on. The next thing mentioned is the wealth that is destroyed. Bombs and destruction will have destroyed much of industrial Europe. Much more of the land and cattle will have been depleted than in the last war. During the last war the writer tells us it was from 25 to 50% throughout the continent. Deterioration of machines and consumers goods is mentioned in the third place. Destruction of human life is another reality. Confusion over property, over land, demoralization of finance, what to use for money, absence of a market, conflicting social classes are mentioned in that grim list too. Last of all he treats of hate. He says, “Never in history has such a volume of hate been generated as will be released on Armistice Day”.

These things we feel are the stark reality and they cause us to become very sober in our outlook upon the future. The years that lie ahead will be filled by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. However, the optimism and certainty with which some leaders speak and plan about the post war world cause us to feel that they may attain their goal. Especially do we think so when we read of the descriptions of achievements of the powers of darkness as they are pictured in the powers of the beast, which arises out of the turmoil of the waters, the nations.

The Voices of Church Leaders

It is to be expected that the leaders of the churches will also raise their voices to speak about the post war world and about the steps to take to attain a better world. Looked at superficially the churches could be pointed at with an accusing finger and question, “What have you yourselves done for peace and harmony in the church world?” The divisions among the churches seem to deprive the churches of a right to speak to the world about reconstruction. And it seems as if that is the feeling among church leaders today in England and in America. That is how I would explain the many voices of church leaders today for church union. Especially during this war has that subject been raised. Steps also have been taken to attain more unity in America and especially in Britain. There are the following unions already: “The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America”, “The National Christian Council” in India, a union of churches is in the process of being formed in Britain, a “World Council of Churches” was formed at Utrecht, Holland, just before the war as is expected to take permanent form as soon as peace returns.

In this connection I would like to point to the article of E. Stanley Jones, in the “Christian Century” of December 16. He writes about Church Federal Union Now. In this article E. Stanley Jones maintains that after the suffering of the war men will long for a vast world reconstruction and that the time is now for cooperation for the reconstruction. A plan to amalgamate the denominations into one church union in which the churches would lose their names, their policy, their organization, their distinctiveness, themselves, is rejected by him. “If that is the vision for church unity”, he writes, “then I think we are striving for the moon.” He proposes therefore a Federation. It would be a union of churches like the union of States that we have. In that federation churches would cease to be churches and become branches of one Church, “The Church of Christ in America”. He proposes that there could be national branches too of one world church, “the World Assembly of the Church of Christ”. As to the doctrinal basis the confession of Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” would be the rock upon which this church would be built. He maintains that would leave the door open to everyone who would make such a confession. It would leave the door open to the Roman Catholic, if he would submit to becoming a branch of the Church upon that confession. E. Stanley Jones believes it can be realized just as well as it was realized in our union of states in America, and that in such a Federation the Church might be the spearhead of reconstruction.

It is not so much our purpose in pointing to some of the important events that are taking place to evaluate them at length. Much could be said about such trends in the church world for union. However, to make a comment, we would say, many of them are probably characterized by the same error and shortsightedness as is shown in this position of E. Stanley Jones. To propose to make the confession of Peter the basis of Church organization would demand that we jump back into the days of the apostles and forget about the history of the Church of Christ since that time. The Church of Christ was surely founded upon the rock, the confession of Peter, which is the epitome of the Church’s confession in the entire Word of God. But the true Church of Christ has gone through a history of almost two thousand years. In that time she was guided by the Holy Spirit to affirm and confess that same confession more fully in the light of the entire Word of God. This fuller expression was occasioned by false teachers that crept into the church. Over against the heresies the Church has made clear statements of the truth of the Bible, and this confession of Peter. The error of E. Stanley Jones then is by forgetting the full expression of our confession even in the Bible, and forgetting the sins of schism and heretical church groups, to wish to start all over again from the beginning and set forth without the full armor of the truth. Such a federation would be a mighty force as to numbers and power. But it would be a babe as to the expression of the truth. It would become susceptible to every wind of false doctrine. Such a church would easily become the victim of another “beast”.

Certainly we should strive for unity. That unity we have in principle—one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We must yet, however, fight against error and the flesh and powers and principalities. By faith in that oneness which we have in the truth we can seek unity, the unity of truth and not outward organization merely.