16 април 2013

The Agony of the Church (1917) by Nikolai Velimirović (11)


Patriotism and Imperialism--qualities more physical than spiritual--were the worst enemies of the primitive Church, as I tried to show in my previous chapters. Well, Patriotism and Imperialism have been the most prominent qualities of modern Europe. Now compare the primitive Church with the modern Church: the primitive Church fought most tenaciously and heroically against the exclusive Patriotism of the Jews and against the Imperialism of the Romans, and the modern Church serves very obediently modern Patriotism and Imperialism! I wish I were wrong in what I am stating now, but, alas! the facts are too obvious, both the facts of this War, and the facts of previous peace.

Here are the facts:
When Austria mobilised against Serbia and declared War, the Church in Austria did not protest against it, but, on the contrary, she supported the Vienna Government with all her heart and means.

It is well known how much the Church of Germany, both the Protestant and the Roman Catholic, unanimously and strongly supported the War policy of the Kaiser's Government--the very policy of a blind exclusiveness and a regardless Imperialism.

The Governments of Russia and Great Britain declared War against their enemies without consulting their respective Churches, yet the Churches of both countries have done their best to help their "country's cause."

The Churches of France, Italy, Serbia, Rumania, Belgium, and Bulgaria have been at the disposal of the War Governments of their countries. 

Now we have almost the same denominations of religion on each fighting side (it is, however, significant that the whole Anglican Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church are on the side of the Allies), so that we cannot say it is a War of Protestants against Catholics, nor of the Orthodox against the Modernists, nor of the Episcopalians against the Presbyterians, nor even of the Christians against Mohamedans (because on both sides we have Christians and Mohammedans). No, we cannot say that, for it is not a War of one Church against the other, nor of one religion against another; it is a War of Patriotism against Patriotism, of Patriotism against Imperialism, and of Imperialism against Imperialism. The Churches are only the tools of Patriotism or Imperialism. Not one of the Churches has stated her standpoint as a different one from the standpoint of its respective Government. The Churches have simply adopted the standpoint of the Government. They seemed to have no standpoint of their own concerning this War between nations. As if the War were quite a surprisingly new event in history!

When the Austrian Government declared war on Serbia, the Church of Austria adopted the standpoint of the Austrian Government as the right one. The Serbian Church adopted the standpoint of the Serbian Government, of course, as the right one. So it happened that the Churches in Austria and Serbia prayed to the same God, and against each other.

The Church of Germany stood up against the Church of Russia because the German Government stood up against the Russian Government. Neither could the Church of Germany raise any protest against the warlike German  Government, nor could the Church of Russia say anything to cancel what the Russian Government had already said. And so it happened that the Churches of Germany and Russia prayed to the same God for each other's destruction.

The Churches of France, England, Belgium, and Italy have fully recognised the justice of the Governments of France, Belgium, and Italy concerning the War of those countries against other countries, whose justice on the other hand has been fully recognised by their Churches. And so it has happened that during the last three years the most contradictory prayers have been sent to God in Heaven from the "One, Holy, Catholic Church" on earth. 

The Churches of the different countries adopted the standpoint of those countries which governed them. What is the consequence if a Christian Church adopts the standpoint of a worldly Government as the true one? It means practically nothing else but that the said Church recognises that standpoint as the Christian one. 
Now, if the German policy is right, the German Church is right, and consequently, the Russian Church is wrong; and, on the other hand, if the Russian policy is right the Russian Church is right, and, consequently, the German Church is wrong. The same, if the Serbian Patriotism, which dictates the Serbian policy, is right, then the Serbian Church, too, is right; and if the Austro-German Imperialism is right, then the Austro-German Churches are right, and the Church in Serbia wrong. Of course the same could be said for other belligerent Churches, i.e., the justice or injustice of the Church of England  depended on the justice or injustice of the English Government, and the same about the French, Belgian, and Italian Churches, which are dependent on the justice or injustice of their respective Governments. The same is true not only of the so-called established Churches, but of the Disestablished as well. The great fact remains: no Church whatever did protest against the War action taken by the respective Governments; no Church whatever refused to do the War work she was asked to do, and, finally, no Church whatever opposed her views to the views of the Governments. In one word, no Christian Church now existing has declined to be the very obedient servant either of Patriotism or Imperialism. Future generations will be, I hope, more truly Christian than we have been--they will be shocked to read in the history of the greatest and bloodiest conflict in the world's history, that the worldly Governments, and not the Christian Church, formulated the truth; in other words, that the politicians and soldiers were bearers and formulators of the truth, and that the Church was only a follower and supporter of that truth, this truth having to wage War in consequence, i.e. the disobedience of all God's ten Commandments--not to speak of the New Testament--which truth must be condemned by the Church as untrue. Following to the extreme the ideals of Patriotism and Imperialism, the Churches partially did not shrink even from preaching War as a legal thing. The court preacher of the Kaiser, preaching in the Domchurch at Berlin after the Allie's refusal to enter into peace negotiations with Germany, said: "We have spoken to our enemies (read, the enemies of German Imperialism), and they did not listen to our words; well, let our guns talk now until our enemies are compelled to listen to us!" That is the voice of a great Church. Yet this voice has not remained unaccompanied with similar warlike and unchristian voices from other great and small Churches. 

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