Social and Political Concerns
by Bishop John (Kallos) of Amorion
In prefacing my presentation on social and political concerns, I would like to commence with this Litany:
“We want peace instead of war:
Love instead of hate:
We want a world community instead of nationalism:
We want sincerity instead of lies:
We want reasons instead of platitutdes:
We want justice not for ourselves alone but for all mankind:
We want warmth, humaneness and closeness instead of coldness, inhumanness and alienation.”
Indeed, the Christian Church is a movement into the world and not a movement away from the world. That this is and ought to be the mission of the Christian Church is given proof and substance by God’s coming into the world through the historical event of the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus, every Christian by witnessing his or her own faith ought to be concerned, and even better still be positively involved in the alleviation of the various social, moral and political evils which plague our nation and our world. We as committed Christians have a sacred obligation of not only expressing vocally our concern in these matters, but by actually being involved in the struggle of transforming man and our society.
For Christianity, the Kerygma about new relationships between man and God, between man and man, about peace, love and justice, is neither based simply on the loftiness of these ideas, not on the fact that God commands them. Rather, it is based on the holy doctrines of the Incarnation and the Resurrection. A person must believe in the possibility of the metamorphosis of man and society, as this transformation is expressed in these doctrines, or his efforts for the re-building of a new world will be a waste of time and in vain. In all of man’s work on earth, there is an interaction between God’s grace and man’s effort as regards that which is good.
If the Christian Church is to be relevant today, it must come to terms with today’s social and political concerns and she must do it now. The Christian Church today cannot be content in merely preaching about love, peace, truth, justice, freedom, integration, etc., but it must become actively involved in the struggle for their becoming realities. And when I make mention of the church, I do not limit myself to the institution or structure of the church as such, but I am referring to the whole community of believers, both clergy and laity.
Mankind is at the crossroad. Mankind is facing a crisis. Mankind today is in need of a reconciliation. This reconciliation can be ours, only if we truly commit ourselves, our essence, our ground of being to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who is the light, the truth and the way to love, peace and justice. The 60’s by the wave of demonstrations made us aware of the deceit of the status-quo as regards to segregation, poverty, war, our environment and many other issues.
As regards racism, it is that school of thought based on a lie that color is more than skin deep, and that therefore the races must be kept apart. It wrongly claims that one group must always be first-call and the other must always be second-class, because they were made that way by virtue of the color pigment of their skin. The New Testament says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:28. Racism is still one of the most explosive issues facing our nation today, I wonder how many of us have been content in merely facing superficially this problem and how many of us have been directly involved in eradicating this national stigma of ours, never forgetting that the U.S.A. is one of the racist nations in the world.
The other most flagrant issue of our nation as a result of our involvement in Vietnam is war and peace. Our Lord in Matthew 5:9 says, “How blessed are the peacemakers: God shall call them his sons,” and in Matthew 10:34, He says, “You must not think that I have come to bring peace on earth: I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” In the first of the two quotations, Christ is making mention of the inward and personal peace. In the second, Christ is speaking of the political peace. Our role in this most unpopular war in U.S. history, should not confuse our thinking and reasoning to the point wherein we cannot make a distinction between a war of aggression and a war of defense. For it is the latter under certain conditions that the natural law allows, as was our involvement in World War II. Whether a war is moral or immoral is determined by the motive and circumstances of the nations involved. In any case, war must be the last resort. Every avenue for peaceable means of settling dispute must be exhausted before plunging a nation into the prospect of people killing people.
The Christian Gospel which preaches the good news of the fatherhood of God, also preaches the brotherhood of man. Poverty means people, and the poor world makes up three-quarters of the world’s population. One of the many gaps today is that of the industrialized nations and the underdeveloped countries. Poverty is most dehumanizing. We as Christians are commanded to aid the poor as is evidenced by the parable of the second coming and the right man poor Lazarus. The question of poverty is indeed a potential explosive one to our world.
Why all these social evils? It goes back to the fall of man. The first man did not remain in the state of the original sin, turning away from the will and law of God, God’s image in man was weakened and blackened and his mind was dulled as regards spiritual things. Man’s fall did not destroy man’s free will, but weakened it.
Thus we have to struggle all the more to correct all the social and political evils which plague our world and nation. To succeed in this goal man must first of all change. A new man must come into being, by being reborn and transformed. There can be no new morality without there first being a new man. There can be no social or political change of any consequence and duration without there being a substantial change in man, wherein the renewed man will re-commit himself to the Christ of the New Testament. The power of change we know all too well, for the New Testament Christian affected his whole world and all its human, social and political relations and institutions. The power of changing our secular American society and our world lies in man’s renewed relationship to God and God alone. This should be our challenge as we embark on the new decade, in the light of the demonstrations of the 60’s which made us all the more aware of the many social and political evils which plague our society.