THE LITTLE ISLANDS AMIDST THE OCEAN
Why did not the Church--the educator of Europe for the space of nineteenhundred years--why did she not protest against this War?
Because she was too weak everywhere; and, even if she had protested, hervoice would not have been listened to.
But why was the Church so weak as to be silent at a most fatal moment inhistory, and to have to listen to the Foreign and War Offices to knowwhat the truth was?
Because she was not a united, universal Church, like a lofty mountainouscontinent despising all the storms of an angry ocean around. She was weak, because she was cut in pieces and had become like an archipelago of small islands in a stormy ocean.
The Churches were not prepared to protest, they were prepared only to surrender to any temporal power. Therefore, they surrendered altogether, without making any effort, to Patriotism and Imperialism.
But what led to the Churches' surrender? It was through their internal quarrels; through their fruitless controversies and paralysing mutual accusations and self-sufficiency.
The Eastern Church proudly insisted on her superiority over all other Churches, because she preserved faithfully and unchangingly the most ancient traditions of Christianity, and because she had an episcopal decentralised system of Church administration, which has been capable of adapting itself to all political and social situations. She reserved perfection only for herself, and was prodigious in criticising other Christian communities. She became an isolated island.
The Roman Church has had nothing to do with any other Church, living in her isolation and raising higher and higher the walls which separated her from other Churches. She has a wonderful record of missionary work in Europe and outside; she has a minutely organised centralisation, with an infallible autocrat at the head; and she has an enlarged dogmatic system, larger than any other Church. She pointed out again and again her superiority to all other Christian communities, and claimed for herself the exclusive right to speak in the name of Jesus Christ. Thus she became an isolated island.
The Anglican Church repudiated the papal authority. She repudiated as well the Eastern worship of the saints and use of ikons on the one side, and on the other she repudiated all the extremes of Protestantism in teaching, worship and administration. She thought in that way to be the absolutely true Christian organism, incomparably better than any other all around. Thus the Anglican Church became an isolated island too.
The Protestants of the Continent, and of England and Scotland, thought to save the Christian religion in its integrity by bringing it back to its primitive simplicity. By repudiating the Pope and the Bishops, by shortening the Christian dogmatic, and by reducing worship to a minimum, they boasted of restoring the true Church of Christ and His Apostles. Everything which was an addition to their simplicity was regarded by them either as unnecessary, or even as idolatrous and false. Thus the Presbyterian and Protestant Nonconformist Churches became isolated islands.
But the more the morselling of Christianity went on, the more dangerous became the raging ocean around it, so that now the Christian Archipelago seems to be quite covered with the stormy waves. The Church, therefore, is in an agony everywhere. Even if the Church had no responsibility upon her shoulders for the present bloodshed in Europe, she would be in agony, just because the whole Christian world is in agony, but much more so because a great deal of responsibility for it must rest on her shoulders.