AUGUST 8, 1946
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—There is something very interesting in reading about the meeting, in Cambridge, England, of representatives of the World Council of Churches. In one account that I read, Dr. Walter W. Van Kirk of New York said that he found considerable pessimism among the delegates as to the value of the United Nations. He said that the imperfections in that organization were "derived from the paganism of secular society, and that results from the failure of the churches around this table in bringing Christian influence into secular society."
I think many of us would agree that, if we are to have peace, there must be a rise in spiritual leadership. In fact, I think many of us feel that there can be no permanent settlement of the problems that face us nationally and internationally without a real spiritual awakening in the world as a whole.
To have peace, the big powers will really have to want to see the lot of human beings improved. They will have to safeguard the rights of the individual and see to it that justice tempered by mercy is a reality throughout the world. That is a far cry from having your eyes fixed primarily on the economic success of your nation.
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One hears so much of power politics. Boiled down, power politics simply means that each great nation is trying to create combinations of power greater than any of the other great nations. We won't get away from that until the people of the big nations say to their leaders, "We want you to do the thing that is right, not for us alone but for humanity as a whole." That will not be said until the people are conscious that spiritual force must rule the world.
Christ's power over men was that of an individual who had great spiritual force. He could inspire those around Him to have the courage to preach and live by a doctrine which was based on unselfishness and the love of humanity. That power has been a moving force down through the ages. But even in so-called Christian countries, it has never quite come into its own and actually been the mainspring in the lives of the majority of people. It will not amount to much unless it affects the individuals in every community.
The churches cannot become just another pressure group. In a country like ours, where church and state are pretty carefully separated, great emphasis will have to be laid on the fundamental principles from which action springs, rather than on the specific actions undertaken by groups of individuals.
The churches will have to take a stand against unthinking and un-Christian prejudices. They will have to develop among the people a greater sense of responsibility for the conditions existing in society. And above all, they will have to watch the sense of values held by the youth of the world, since the world will grow to be material or spiritual exactly in proportion to the aspirations of the rising generation. If their values are spiritual values, the pattern of the world will change.