Thoughts On Religion At The Front - Ch. 19
( Originally Published 1917 )
FINALLY, I would say a word about the charge of pessimism which this report from the front may evoke. Both pessimism and optimism are rather moods in us than qualities which really belong to the facts of a situation. The main point is to try to get down to reality and not to flinch. Anyhow, I do not feel pessimistic about our holy and glorious religion. Far otherwise. It is coming again. Actualities at the front, as I try to learn from them, do seem to me to show a very widespread and deep ignorance of the good news of God in Christ. But that seems only to make more wonderful and precious those treasures of truth and joy in Christ which God has ready for those who seek them. They are the more wonderful because one knows that, in the silence which has fallen on many loud voices amid the thunderous cataclysm of war, the Word of God in Christ alone rings out anew. It is the truth of God in Him for this mysteriously muddled and cruel world, and yet the truth which includes every partial element of truth or goodness in the world. And there are such elements. Only second to the wonder of the Gospel of the Cross are the achievements of the souls of very ordinary men under unparalleled afflictions. Without knowing it, they are seen to be worthy of Jesus, Who loves them and gave Himself for them. If there are nearly virgin resources in God, there are also deep unused treasures of potentiality in men. There are in them excellences and simple heroisms which make plain that Christianity is no artificial thing superimposed on human nature, but is the laying bare and setting free of its inmost native quality. There is everywhere about, over here, a diffused Christianity in men who are better than they know. It seems like so much material that needs but a spark to set it ablaze. May there be a great conflagration—the flaming out of the Light of the world, to illuminate, to cleanse, to fill it with the heat of love, both human and divine ! AMEN.