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Noble Notes  

THE REAL KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH


BY
NOBLE M. NOTAS i

Notes on Highly Improbable Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards All Men
_______________________________________

POLITICAL SOVEREIGNTY AT ISSUE

The legitimate sphere of political authority is always of keen interest to the ordinary
citizen as well as to the serious student of political science. Both may want to examine
Westel W. Willoughby’s book on the timeless subject of state sovereignty, The Ethical
Basis of Political Authority. Professor Willoughby helped establish political science as
discipline separate from economics and history – he was known during his tenure at John
Hopkins University as "the dean of American political science."

• Since the function of the State is to advance the welfare of its citizens, there is no
absolute limit to its power to do so, or so the professor declared. In other words,
there is no absolute ethical principle restraining the State from providing for the
welfare of its citizens.

• Ironically, the effort to prevent state intrusion can advance it. Furthermore, under
the complex conditions of our society where all individuals are closely
interrelated, a universal law to preclude one individual from interfering with
another individual can be used by the state to interfere with everyone.

• The individual and his attributes are so integrated with society that it is impossible
to draw a logical distinction between the individual and the society. In the
absolute sense, there is no such thing as individual "rights" that cannot be
infringed upon by the highest form of social organization, i.e. the state. Civil

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rights are maintained by the state police power, which exercises the right of the
state to intervene to secure the public welfare; hence civil rights are not absolute
but are limited to the requirements of public order and general welfare. For
instance, the citizen may be required to give his life during war for the general
welfare.

• As far as the individual is concerned, moral activity has an internal motive; it is an


act of the person's moral will. An external force may coerce him to act but it
cannot coerce his moral will. He may very well be forced to do something
unwillingly, but his moral will remains free when he wills not to perform the
action.

THE POLICE POWER IS ESSENTIAL

Let us assume with the professor that there is no absolute limit to the provision of
welfare. Still, theories of properly limited state sovereignty abound; the appropriate limit
of governmental intervention is and shall ever be the subject of continuing and often
heated controversy. Most people do not have the leisure to engage in theoretical
arguments; they leave them to delegates who are inclined to debate them, and they soon
discover that even those who are argue for less governmental incursion into private
affairs wind up voting for more of it.

Whatever the degree of sovereignty, everyone agrees that a police power is ultimately
needed to enforce it; otherwise there would be no political entity such as a state. An
exercise of power or use of force is needed to keep the peace and protect the sovereign. In
a democracy, the people are sovereign. In theory at least, people agree to refrain from
violent attacks on others provided their own lives and property are secured by the higher
power, the sovereign power. And their lives and property are ostensibly protected from
abuses by the persons they have elected to wield the sovereign force. When the threat
comes from without, the political legitimate response may be war. Even where there is no
external threat, the police power may be exercised to intervene in another country’s
affairs to protect its people from a tyrant who ignores human rights by engaging in
democide, or stands by passively while they are destroyed by natural disaster.

The abuses of power are many and many are those who do not consider them to be
abuses at all. By virtue of human nature, which of course can be held against us, we are
creatures of habit; we go along with the prevailing political authority’s exercise of
sovereignty because it is convenient to do so. Much to our chagrin, the state may
eventually, by repeatedly forcing unethical acts on people, cause people inclined to obey
them to believe that those acts are ethical. Therefore only the active and continuous
cultivation of conscience and character by the individual can lead a person to that
personal freedom which is the personally responsibility of a free agent. Personal
responsibility is crucial to freedom in order, for the person comprises not only the
individual but the society as well.

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In any event, a balance must be struck between anarchy and tyranny, the individual and
society, freedom and order. A tug-of-war is at play along the continuum between the
poles; nothing can be accomplished without the application of power, i.e. force. Again,
for this is worth repeating as we tend to forget it: no end is achieved without the
application of power, or force.

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY UNFORGIVEN AND REPEATED

To say that history is a record of man's crimes against humanity has been an
understatement for many centuries. Humans apparently need someone to hate in order to
love themselves; they organize themselves into groups to do just that. After examining
the record of violence and cruelty from the dawn of history on down to its continuation
today, we might conclude that the human race is genetically defective, or we might
conclude that man was conceived in original sin by a sadistic creator. Others argue that
the human propensity to brutally battle works for the survival of the race, and, given the
fact that humans are rational animals, for the improvement of morals and advance of
civilization.

Love, though often hate-based, has prevented utter self-destruction of the race: the
species has survived, multiplied and taken over the planet despites its defects. In spite of
our faults, and purportedly because of them, we are successful animals, physically
weaker than other members of the animal kingdom, but stronger by virtue of the adaptive
flexibility evident in our imagination and other mental powers. Therefore let us face the
truth about our history: if civilization is a success, then history is not only a record of
crimes against humanity, it is also a success story brought about by the exercise of force
often violent and unjust.

I approached a man on Fifth Avenue because he looked familiar; he identified himself:


"You probably recognize my Viking forebears. I am descended from conquest, from
murderers and rapists," he confessed, exaggerating one side of the story.

Many swords have been re-forged into ploughs and into cookware during the course of
human history. Some peoples enjoyed considerable periods of peace; when peace was
threatened, the kitchen utensils were melted down into weapons. Peace could only be
maintained for long periods under the shadow of swords, fashioned and guided by the
human intellect.

In China the sacred words of power were not only written on tortoise shells and kettles
but were also etched on swords. Pen and Sword worked as one to end the seemingly
endless Warring States Period and to establish an imperial regimen lasting over two
thousand years. Naturally, violent internal struggles recurred from time to time,
especially when the Emperor departed from the heavenly mandate, causing major
droughts and floods. Yet the general order and relative peace purchased two centuries
before Christ at the cost of millions of lives withstood the test of time. Absent the
constant wars between the states, the Chinese civilization, resting on its agricultural
foundation, was arrested: philosophical and scientific innovation atrophied and

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astronomical routine was the order of the dynasties. Still, during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, enlightened intellectuals in war-torn Europe praised China as a
vastly superior civilization in terms of morals and statecraft. Very few called it a despotic
regimen or an oppressive state.

However that may be, history provides us with many examples of the ways civilization is
advanced by human force so cruel at times we wonder how the various races managed to
survive at all. Actually the various races have not survived except in hybrid forms. To the
victor went the spoils of war including the vanquished women. Some women were
patriotic and committed suicide either alone or en masse; yet many capitulated to save
their lives; others instinctively embraced the winners. In short, a great deal of
miscegenation has occurred over time, with the net effect of stronger human beings,
much to the chagrin of the "superman" theorists; actually, the more honest racists
admitted that no surviving Teutonic or Aryan super race exists, and recommended
creating a mythical race to suit the purpose - the more ignorant Nazis actually believed
the story concocted.

Many people find their identity in their suffering by cutting ancient scars open yet again
and rubbing salt in the wounds. Each ethnic group naturally wants to be admired, yet
"patriotic" or "ethnocentric" members within the groups are jealous of other self-
conscious ethnic communities with whom they have had conflicts at one time or another.
Ethnocentric persons are indignant when a traditional enemy is praised for its positive
contributions to civilization; their own history of violence is ignored in order to
emphasize the crimes of their enemies.

We might say, "Never mind the ancient history, for Christ's sake. Nobody is without sin.
All of the fathers were sinners. Therefore let us let go of our pain, forgive and forget,
approach one another with palms up. Let's accentuate the positive and move forward."
Yet Christians, despite Christ’s emphasis on forgiveness, like everyone else, forget their
own faults and fail to forgive their enemies.

"Only god can forgive," was the ancient rule. To forgive an offender was downright
immoral; how could anyone learn except by application of the talion principle, by
collective punishment, by blood feuding? Kill the terrorist on sight, was the rule; destroy
his family's property; kill or exile his family. Take no prisoners. Never mind collateral
damage; take no any part in the harvested crops, the livestock, the hands; - destroy
everything or be cursed by the tribal god.

Yes, an opportunity might be provided to a member of one's own group to confess and
repent and to pay the price for god's forgiveness, but Christ's way of forgiving just
anybody, even when forgiveness is not sought, is considered by some to be anti-social
and terribly immoral. Modern Christians now forgive criminals before executing them in
order to feel better about themselves, to rid themselves of feelings of guilt; after all,
Christianity was supposed to save even condemned criminals from their condemnation,
and not simply wash one’s hands of the affair and turn the prisoner over to his worst
enemies. Indeed, forgiveness today has much to do with saving oneself from negative

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feelings, and little to do with saving criminals in order to demonstrate that anyone may be
saved regardless of their deeds.

DARE NOT PRAISE THE VIRTUES OF THEIR ENEMIES

Who is right and who is wrong? How may global peace be realized by peoples,
confronted as it is with persistent feuding and unforgiving hatred based upon their
identification with their respective cultures and especially the past wrongs done to their
own by another? It seems many loving people are unconscious of the personal and
ambiguous nature of the predicament and their own animosity. Much of the love we
witness is hate-based love; i.e. the love of one’s own kind is based on the hatred of
another.

Here is a public exchange with a professedly Greek woman who would not disclose her
personal identity. In response to my article, ‘Muslim Intellectuals Unite With Us’, she
vehemently disagreed that Muslims made any contributions to Western culture beyond
the persecution, destruction and death of the people she identifies with, and who finds no
fault with her own kind despite its history of being all too human. Anything said contrary
to her belief is satanic.

A: Intellectuals are eternally grateful for Islam's medieval contributions to our Western
intellectual culture. Muslim philosophers introduced the West to the humanist movement,
the historical sciences, the inductive scientific method, the founding principles of the
Italian Renaissance, and, most importantly, the harmony of faith and reason that shocked
medieval Europe. We are eternally grateful to Islam for the preservation of Greek
philosophy and its development of rational science; but we have taken that science to an
extreme, neglecting the mitigating metaphysics of the medieval Muslim philosophers
who were doctors of the soul as well as of the body.

B: Why do you maintain that we must grateful to Islam for the preservation of Greek
philosophy and its development of rational science? Is it an ironic statement or do you
really believe the lie? Then I intellectually dissent!

A: I started making notes on the subject of Islam’s contribution to the West some time
ago. The contributions made by Muslims and by Jews as well to Western culture are
historical facts. I bringing those facts forward to the general public in response to the
continuous vituperative remarks on Islam made in the media and elsewhere.

B: You write well but you are not an intellectual; you are ignorant and have been
deceived by propaganda in Western libraries. What do you know? Are you Greek? No.
Were you in Greece between 1453 and 1821? No. Have you studied the Byzantine
history? No, I don't think so. Islam is a religion I respect, I respect all religions. But the
orthodox monks derived from the Byzantine Era helped enfeeble of the Byzantine
Empire. Many young people preferred the scholarship of the monasteries rather than fight
for their country. Of course the same Christians destroyed most of the ancient culture

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including scripts and works of art. The Islamic evasion instigated a freebooting beyond
comprehension and brought slavery and child-abduction in the lives of the sleeping
Greeks. The Greek population never considered Islam as a probable solution out of their
problems, and remained Christian till the Revolution. The Church had a double role in the
whole matter. One part of the Greek Orthodox Church was friendly to the Ottomans,
another fought with the populace against them. There is absolutely no connection
between Islam and Greek Philosophy and the Renaissance had nothing to do with
Ottomans. Even the Greeks that were slaves for 400 years, under tough leadership and
without education, have been aroused from the sleep of lost history by the literary men of
Diaspora known as Fanariotes.

A: Gratitude expressed towards Muslims does not alter the reality of the Greek inventions
they cultivated. Neither does another woman's beauty detract from your own.

B: I don't care about the hormonal storm in the minds of the Ossian chaps. My ancestor is
Socrates, the one that praised the civilization of Knossos. Such was the disgrace for a
young Greek girl to sleep with or to even be raped by one of the islamico-muslim
icoarabomo gollianicolads of the Ottomans that the village threw stones at her to never
give birth to a child. For 400 hundred years the Greeks remained in a constant silence
massacred to the nth degree--- can this deathly silence be taken as Islam’s contribution to
Greek philosophy? Can this be considered as cultivating the inventions of the Greeks???
Nearly 1,000,000 people were left in this HOLY land from the 50 million tortured to
death by dervishical paganism, profitable passah, mouftisical egoism, and all this because
ONE priest opened the gate of Konstantinopolis. I rest my case for now. Some people
don't have Greek blood in their veins just like they don't have Indian blood to understand
the torture. You are stupid, but it's your right to speak, and say what you want! I respect
that, but I have the right as well. So don't soft-pedal everything to a beauty-contest. Kind
regards.

A: I appreciate true colors, and your self-portrait is warmly regarded. I occasionally write
about the unrivaled beauty of the Greeks. I look forward to your essay on the subject.

B: I appreciate true colors as well, BUT WHO GETS RID OF THE BLACK SUN-
GLASSES TO SEE THEM? Don't worry, you will have your essay you Satan. It will be
in Greek though. Cheers!!

THE GLOOMY GOSPEL OF CHRISTIAN REALISM

Abstractly speaking, the use of energy or exercise of force is not morally wrong. There
are no a priori, abstract ethical principles justifying or prohibiting the use of force. The
use of violent force, or war, is not wrong providing there is no better or more efficient
means of obtaining the end deemed right by the ethical process. The end deemed right by
the ethical process is relative to the interests of the parties who make that judgment.

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Noble Notes  

No doubt human beings are fallible and shall ever be so, therefore in our objective jihad
to realize universal righteousness in this world, our ethical process or strategic war
planning is always subject to revision each time our war machine gets bogged down by
human nature. Wherefore in our intellectual jihad our spirit despairs of any rational
solution to the problem of perpetual violence. Mired in the mud of ethical relativism, the
spirit gives up hope in any logical ascent to the one and only answer, the metaphysical
summit, the supreme being, and resorts to a leap of faith in another, incomprehensible
world, which for all intents and purposes is non-existent because it can never be realized
in this world of relative particulars.

That is to say that ultimately the subject of ethics, the Good, can never be fully known, so
rather than to despair, one believes in what appears to be nothing at all because it cannot
be refuted: it cannot appear in time and space except as a miraculous disaster destructive
of the entire world order as we know it in order to gain it eternal peace in the valley of
death. After all, in order not to despair when confronted with the miserable facts of
human history, man still needs something to believe in, but things are temporal and perish
in the end, so why not believe in nothing? Finally his consciousness has been raised over
the past million years to survey the relativity of all ethical systems and their failure to
accomplish much short of perpetual warfare; therefore, rather than to completely despair
in suicide or another episode of mass murder, he has resort to blind faith in nothing but
nothing.

Despite his faith in nothing he still adheres to "his" relative ethical system; most often he
does so as a matter of habit without the slightest awareness of its self-contradictions or
absurdity. In any event, despairing of having faith in man with his definite problems, he
has faith in the indefinite, and goes forth confidently to do whatever he wanted to do in
the first place, but with a good feeling of humility in face of the awesome end of every
life. That leaves him alive and leads him to the inevitable conflict which challenges the
humility he is so proud of; once again he falls back on some relative ethical system which
suits the purpose of war. Since that system is inherently bound to fall short of the ideal of,
say, universal love - the very nature of systems precludes the ideal - he proceeds
believing that, whatever he does, he will be forgiven and justified by the god who created
him fallible or originally evil.

Therefore the prospects are worse than gloomy. In fact, the litany of facts is a depressing
dirge. The morning edition of the Daily Gospel is enough to ruin the day; read the
evening edition for nightmares. The religious remedy for the horror leaves one even more
dejected, as in "thrown down", thrown down to such an hellish depth of despair that the
only alternative is to surrender to the ultimate fact that there is no escape. Hence one
must be realistic. We do not speak here of dreamy idealists who think their dreams are
real, but to pessimistic realists who have no faith in man as such. Amongst them we find
realists who profess faith in the unknown one and only god.

Reinhold Niebuhr was one of the most influential professors of Christianity of his day.
He was the father of the foreign-policy philosophy called Christian realism. His views are
considered fundamental to many Protestant denominations. He denounced Christian

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utopianism during World War II, and withdrew from the socialist and pacifist institutions
he had been associated with. As far as Niebuhr was concerned, the so-called "law of
love" does not and cannot govern the facts of human existence, for humanity originates in
sin. Christianity is not a faith in love alone; simply loving everyone will not work, nor
will socialist programs.

Now according to Willoughby the aim of governmental intervention is the welfare of the
people, hence there is no absolute limit to intervention for that good end, but after
swallowing a few bites of Niebuhr's Christian realism, we are left sinking into the very
depths of our human corruption; we revert to the idea of human history as record of
crimes against humanity, a war path from one holocaust to another. Nevertheless, the
bloody wars must be fought according to the relative ethical systems which, as we know,
are defective by virtue of their partiality to one line of thinking or the other, hence tend to
justify one violent faction or another, or even both in their mutual self-contradictions.

Even under the one and only god, groups love to hate and kill each other pursuant to the
same sacred law, which is, ultimately, kill or be killed, and we hope chance if not god is
on our side. Today we count on our technology to win, but Solomon's advice not to rely
on our wealth for the outcome of war still holds true: a few humans can now kill millions
with a nuclear device.

No, according to Christian realism, we should not rely on government to solve the
problem or original sin. Yes, the conflict originates in the evil within; ideologies are so
much swamp gas escaping from the rotten root of the human race. There is no escape
from original evil but faith in the god who made this rotating Good v. Evil disaster to
teach us a lesson. "He", in his infinite mercy, might grace us with forgiveness for our evil
deeds, for he created this conflict that we might fear and love him; in our original evil we
are really as innocent as a new born baby.

Christian realism peers into the face of evil. Let us wake up and smell the coffee, and
while eating breakfast read a few phrases from Reinhold Niebuhr's interpretation of the
Christian gospel, abstracted from his essay 'Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist.'

"In the profoundest versions of the Christian faith the very utopian illusions, which are
equated with Christianity, have been rigorously disavowed.”

"The failure of the Church to espouse pacifism is not apostasy, but is derived from an
understanding of the Christian Gospel which refuses simply to equate the Gospel with the
'law of love.'”

"An ethic of pure non-resistance can have no immediate relevance to any political
situation; for in every political situation it is necessary to achieve justice by resisting
pride and power.”

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"The reductio ad absurdum of this position is achieved in a book which has become
something of a textbook for modern pacifists, Richard Gregg's The Power of Non-
Violence. In this book non-violent resistance is commended as the best method of
defeating your foe, particularly as the method of breaking his morale. It is suggested that
Christ ended his life on the Cross (via passive non-resistance instead of active non-
violent resistance - Ed.) because he had not completely mastered the technique of non-
violence, and for this reason be regarded as a guide who is inferior to Gandhi, but whose
significance lies in initiating a movement which culminates in Gandhi.”

“Most modern forms of Christian pacifism are heretical. Presumably inspired by the
Christian gospel, they have really absorbed the Renaissance faith in the goodness of man,
have rejected the Christian doctrine of original sin as an outmoded bit of pessimism, have
reinterpreted the Cross so that it is made to stand for the absurd idea that perfect love is
guaranteed a simple victory over the world, and have rejected all other profound elements
of the Christian gospel as 'Pauline' accretions which must be stripped from the 'simple
gospel of Jesus.' This form of pacifism is not only heretical when judged by the standards
of the total gospel. It is equally heretical when judged by the facts of human existence.”
"In medieval ascetic perfectionism and in Protestant sectarian perfectionism...the effort to
achieve a standard of perfect love was not presented as a political alternative. On the
contrary, the political problem and the task were specifically disavowed.... On the
contrary, it regarded the mystery of evil as beyond its power of solution. It was content to
set up the most perfect and unselfish individual life as a symbol of the Kingdom of God.
It knew that this could only be done by disavowing the political task and by freeing the
individual of all responsibility for social justice.”

"A religious faith which substitutes faith in man for faith in God cannot validate itself in
experience. If we believe that the only reason men do not love each other perfectly is
because the law of love has not been preached perfectly, we believe something to which
experience does not conform.”

"The good news of the gospel is that there is a resource of divine mercy which is able to
overcome a contradiction within our own souls, which we cannot ourselves overcome.
This contradiction is that, though we know we ought to love our neighbor as our self,
there is a 'law in our members which wars against the law that is in our mind,' so that, in
fact, we love ourselves more than our neighbor.”

"The grace of God which is revealed in Christ is... an actual 'power of righteousness'...
This grace is conceived as 'justification,' as pardon rather than power, as the forgiveness
of God which is vouchsafed to man despite the fact that he never achieves the full
measure of Christ... The secular and moralistic version of Christianity... cannot
understand the doctrine precisely because they believe there is some simple way out of
the sinfulness of human history…. It is this kind of pacifism which is not a heresy... It is a
reminder to the Christian community that the relative norms of social justice... are not
final.”

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"Nothing is more futile and pathetic than the effort of some theologians who find it
necessary to become involved in the relativities of politics, in resistance to tyranny or in
social conflict, to justify themselves by seeking to prove Christ was also involved in
some of these relativities.”

"We are very foolish if we try to reduce the ethic of Jesus so that it will cover and justify
our prudential and relative standards and strategies. To do this is to reduce the ethic to a
new legalism. The significance of the law of love is precisely that it is not just another
law, but a law which transcends all law.”

"There is no life which is not involved in a violation of the injunction, 'Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself.' No one is so blind as the idealist who tells us that war would be
unnecessary 'if only' nations obeyed the law of Christ, but who remains unconscious of
the fact that even the most saintly life is involved in some measure of contradiction to this
law.”

"The pacifists do not know human nature. They merely assert that if men loved one
another, all the complex, and sometimes horrible, realities of the political order could be
dispensed with. They do not see that their 'if' begs the most basic problem of human
history. It is because men are sinners that justice can be achieved only by a certain degree
of coercion on the one hand, and by resistance to coercion and tyranny on the other hand.
The political life of man must constantly steer between the Scylla of anarchy and the
Charybdis of tyranny.”

Also see Reinhold Niebuhr, Christianity and Power Politics, New York: Scribner, 1940.

PROTESTING HYPOCRISY

Niebuhr like most people places democratic-republican coercion in the good hand and
tyrannical coercion in the evil hand. That political imbalance is not altogether agreeable
to those who believe their so-called tyrant is just; what is cruel from the perspective of
one man may appear as the righteous exercise of police power to another. One man’s
“despot” may, in the opinion of another, be his salvation. Besides, if, as Niebuhr
maintained, Christian realism does not mix with politics, then Christianity is neither
militant nor pacific; it is otherworldly and incapable of reforming this world let alone
establishing a Kingdom of God on Earth.

Leaving the logical contradictions aside, hand-washing transcendentalism leaves peoples


and their respective states with the problem of ethics, with the ethical relativism that even
the most sophisticated casuistry and theodicy cannot render coherent. The placement of
the absolute power of love that would bring everyone into the perfect unity would be the
death of individuality, therefore it is seen why that power is beyond our reach unto death.

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In the final analysis, we can kill or be killed: we can fight Hitler, for example, or we can
line up naked at the trenches to be slaughtered, praying with eyes uplifted to YHWH. The
truth of the matter is that the early Christians, following the Platonic precept, preferred to
suffer evil rather than do evil, and were martyred for their “anti-social” and “immoral”
behavior, their refusal to be marched off to war by the sovereign political power.

Niebuhr might as well have had said nothing at all in his march to war under the cross of
Jesus. The rubric under which his essay falls, Why the Church is Not Pacifist, not only
gives the lie to his essay but it reveals the essential hypocrisy of the Lutheran protestation
in its separation of church and state, a diremption coincidental to the devolution of
Roman Catholic unanimity into virulent political nationalism. Of course that violent
divorce cannot be finalized by decree: religion is the worship of absolute power, while
politics is its distribution; the church has its politics and the state its religion; the
differences drawn are nominal.

Confronted with the horror of World War II and the understandable need to fight Hitler to
the death, Niebuhr wanted to justify military service of Christians by arguing against the
modern imitation of early Christianity's refusal to do so. He states theologians are better
off leaving politics alone; yet he, a theologian, jumps into the line of fire, and insists that
the "Church", which he feels he represents, is not pacifist, except in placing itself beyond
the pale of politics as war is waged by its professed adherents. He would have been better
off presenting a realistic, secular argument against the forces of fascism and leaving
participation up to the individual's conscience. But since he was obviously beating a war
drum to encourage Christians to fight against the "synthetic barbarians," he might have
reverted to Luther's feudal development of the Augustinian scriptural interpretation of the
shield-sheathing scene: Augustine delivered Christ's sword to the political authority;
Luther left the sword in the hands of the political authority under the feudal concept of
justifiable war: that fealty and absolute obedience is due to the king whether he is right or
wrong, just as a child is owned by his father and owes obedience thereto.

The separation of church and state, of faith and works, relegated god to the other world
and left real power in the hands of the political authority, where it will be in the absence
of theocracy. Yet this for all intents and purposes reveals Protestantism as a virtually
atheistic protest against the Kingdom of God on Earth, for politics rules the Protestant. At
least that was once the complaint of the Catholic Church, a cosmopolitan institution that
wanted all kingdoms and nations living peacefully under Christ (a foolish and impossible
project according to Niebuhr); in fine, Protestantism is a rebellion against the Christian
deity. And of course non-Catholic critics have claimed that the Reformation was one side
of the political revolution; notwithstanding and even because of Calvin's quasi-theocratic
moral puritanism, Protestantism has become a secular religion of materialism.
Furthermore, neo-Hegalians and Marxists argued that Protestantism was identical to
secular Judaism, therefore limiting the "Jewish Question", to what to do about Jews, to
Jews, was a serious mistake.

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Now the Reformation may in fact be an improvement over Christianity's previous stage.
Protestantism may be preparing the way to a superior religion; or, if you prefer, a
superior non-religion.

But to return to the separation of Church and State, it does not have to be a divorce: the
priest may still have his influence, he may still whisper in the king's ear. In return the
king may use the sword to defend the true faith that would be free from state intervention,
the essentially "ascetic" and pacifist core of religion, namely the priesthood, providing it
does not threaten the existence of the state. Of course the priests will not take up the
sword although they may preach to the troops. Theoretically, everyone will eventually
drink from the same loving cup; alas, what looks good on paper may not be realized.

There will be very few conscientious objectors in a just war. Whether any war is just or
not, there will be hordes volunteering to kill one another. War is waged to make keep a
peace never entirely made. The core of religion has a universal aspect inasmuch as it
strives for final peace; to that extent it is pacifist, and that core is well worth defending
lest it perish and humankind regress to total war again. That is what Niebuhr referred to
as legitimate pacifism, the universal faith of altruism which refuses to kill under any
circumstance.

Niebuhr knew very well that the pacific core must stand passive in testimony to the fact
that all conventional norms are relative, for those conflicting norms all too often lead to
mutual assured destruction. Reinhold Niebuhr lived out the most terrible predicament of
world war followed by the high probability of mutually assured nuclear destruction; when
we behold the countenance of Christian realism, we look into the face of evil. Regardless
of Niebuhr's understandable pessimism and his faith in original evil, notwithstanding his
hypocrisy or the underlying crisis between the real and the ideal all but sociopaths suffer,
we may overcome evil one day and be redeemed providing that the King of the Animal
Kingdom abdicates.

Honolulu
July 26, 2002
i
Noble M. Notas is the non de plume David Arthur Walters uses for his notes on academic subjects

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