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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 5, No. 2 April 23, 1942

A Christian Replies

A Christian Replies

Sir,—In his criticism of Our Christians "M" accuses the S.C.M. and myself (as writer of an article in "The Student") of what may be conveniently labelled "spiritual appeasement." Let us admit at once that there is some truth in the general charge.

The whole liberal movement in theology has meant largely a willingness to meet secular thought more than halfway, rather than stand for the particular dogmas of the faith, and the general watering-down has satisfied no-one. It is even curiously possible to find the philosopher more orthodox than the theologian, i.e., while Harrison Elliott (a Professor of Theology) cannot admit "the low estimate of natural man and of his possibilities" that is characteristic of traditional Christianity, the Director of the Institute of Education in London University (F. Clarke) says, "Original sin may be more than an outworn theological dogma after all. . . . May not our happiness, as well as the saving grace of our education, consist in the end in a frank and humble recognition of the fact?"

But that an important reaction against the appeasement principle has taken place is of course evident. It appears in the work of Barth, Brunner, Niebuhr, etc., and is made very explicit in such a popular confession as Davies' "On to Orthodoxy." The S.C.M. must catch up.

So much for the general accusation. I am less clear why the article on "War and Sex" should have been singled out for special criticism here. Towards the end of it I make special reference to the uncompromising attitude of the Church in regard to continence and fidelity, and it therefore seems rather hard to be accused of compromising. I gather, however, that what "M" objects to is having the Christian attitude justified by reference to man's psychological make-up. Would he really prefer arbitrary, unexplained injunctions which have no necessary reference to the truth of human nature? Or is he disappointed that I did not pitch the specifically Christian demand on a higher plana? If the latter, there would always of course be the possibility of writing on Ephesians 5 (end) or Matthew 6, 27-28; but such matters simply did not come within the scope of this particular article. It aim was:
1.To supply information, gathered from authoritative sources, on a matter that has occasioned many [unclear: rumours.]
2.To re-direct attention to a grave social evil.
3.To state afresh the minimum Christian demands in the matter and to give some reasonable basis for those demands.

It is regrettable to some readers either aim or execution was unsatisfactory, or damaging to the faith. I am grateful to "M" for his notice, and hope that I have not too obtusely failed to understand his objections.

Yours, etc.,