Christians in the Atomic Age
The outbreak of world war in September 1939 prevented the WCC from carrying out its mission immediately but this delay in the formation (or more accurately the implementation) of the World Council served to hasten the establishment of the British Council of Churches. These developments hide the divisions that World War II exacerbated in the traditional schism between just war ‘culturalists’ and pacifist ‘counter-culturalists’. During World War II pacifism became increasingly tainted by its association with appeasement and was blamed for the outbreak of hostilities. Purists like Dr Donald Soper (a Methodist) and the Revd Dr George MacLeod (the Scottish Kirk), along with Canon Charles Raven, were discredited and banned from broadcasting by the BBC due to their anti-war protestations. Pacifist credibility was inevitably weakened amongst those who thought the war against Hitler just and that battles were being waged to save Christendom from totalitarian excess. Christian intellectuals on the liberal wing of pacifism, including the major ecclesiastical historian Rev. Cecil J. Cadoux (1940), thus began to give weight to non-pacifist and more Augustinian arguments. Many pacifists (not just Christian) concluded that war was ‘relatively justified’1 in the face of evil like fascism and that the Christian West was engaged in a deeply moral mission to defend Christendom.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Atomic Bomb Mass Destruction Great Power Status Federal Council
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