Religious Reality
By A.E.J. Rawlinson

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Chapter VIII - Christianity and Politics

Politics at their worst are a discreditable struggle between parties and groups for selfish, and sectional ends, full of dishonesty and chicanery and corruption. It is often recognized at the present time as desirable that none should be for party, but all for the state. The Christian ideal goes further than this: it is that none should be for party, but all for the Kingdom of GOD, and for the state only in so far as the state is capable of being made the instrument of that higher ideal. The Christian man is not to hold aloof from political life, but to seek, so far as his personal effort and influence can be made to tell, to Christianize the political struggle. In every contested election he is bound to think out in the light of Christian ideals the issues which are at stake, without either prejudice or heat, and to register his vote in accordance with his conscience under the most solemn sense of responsibility before GOD. He is bound, of course, to be a reformer, standing for cleanness of methods, probity of motives, honest thinking, class unselfishness, and the elimination of abuses and malpractices. He will tend in most cases to be a cross- bencher, in the sense of being independent of party caucuses and concerned only for social and political righteousness.

A Christian man who has leisure and opportunity can render enormous service by going into politics, more especially into municipal politics, which are too often surrendered to the tender mercies of corrupt, narrow-minded, or interested local wire-pullers. There is an enormous field of unselfish social service and opportunity lying open to Christian laymen in this connexion. There can be no truer form of work for the Church of GOD than the work of a municipal councillor who seeks not popularity but righteousness.

The carrying over of Christian ideals into national and international politics is equally indispensable. In the sphere of international affairs in particular, while other nations have, for the most part, rendered official lip-service from time to time to ideals of international morality, it has been reserved for Germany to declare openly for the repudiation of “sentiment,” and for a policy of undisguised cynicism and real-politik. The doctrine that the state as such is exempt from moral obligation towards its neighbours, and that the whole political duty of man is exhausted in the service of his country and the promotion of her purely selfish interests and “will to power,” has been exhibited in action by the Prussian Government in such a fashion as to incur the moral reprobation of the world. The cynical doctrines of real-politik, the belief that the “interests” of the state are in politics and diplomacy paramount, and that “the foreigner” is a natural enemy, the belief that in all international relationships selfish and self-interested considerations must really determine policy, are unfortunately by no means unrepresented, though they are not unchallenged, in the political life of other countries besides Germany. There are influential publicists in England to-day the principles of whose political thinking are really Prussian. It remains to be seen whether, when the time comes for peace to be made between the nations, the forces of international idealism will prove strong enough to carry the day, or whether we shall have a merely vindictive and “realist” peace which will contain within itself the seeds of future wars. There can be no question but that a Christian man is bound to stand both for the freedom of oppressed nationalities and for the right of all peoples freely to determine their own affairs, and also for the duty of nations as of individuals to love their neighbours as themselves, and to seek primarily not their own but each other’s good. If these professions are to be more than nominal they must mean a readiness for national sacrifices and for national unselfishness in time of peace as in time of war.


Preface  •  Author’s Preface  •  Introduction  •  Part I - The Theory of the Christian Religion: Chapter I - the Man Christ Jesus  •  Chapter II - The Revelation of the Father  •  Chapter III - The Fellowship of the Spirit  •  Chapter IV - The Holy Trinity  •  Chapter V - The Problem of Evil  •  Chapter VI - Sin and Redemption  •  Chapter VII - The Church and Her Mission in the World  •  Chapter VIII - Protestant and Catholic  •  Chapter IX - Sacraments  •  Chapter X - The Last Things  •  Chapter XI - Clergy and Laity  •  Chapter XII - The Bible  •  Part II - The Practice of the Christian Religion: Chapter I - The Christian Aim  •  Chapter II - The Way of the World  •  Chapter III - The Spirit and the Flesh  •  Chapter IV - The Works of the Devil  •  Chapter V - The Kingdom of God  •  Chapter VI - Christianity and Commerce  •  Chapter VII - Christianity and Industry  •  Chapter VIII - Christianity and Politics  •  Chapter IX - Christianity and War  •  Chapter X - Love, Courtship, and Marriage  •  Part III - The Maintenance of the Christian Life: Chapter I - How to Begin  •  Chapter II - Prayer  •  Chapter III - Self-Examination and Repentance  •  Chapter IV - Corporate Worship and Communion  •  Chapter V - The Devotional Use of the Bible  •  Chapter VI - Almsgiving and Fasting

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Religious Reality
By A. E. J. Rawlinson
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