The Words of the Witt Family
With the explosion of the first atomic bomb Professor Einstein is reported to have said that everything had changed but the thinking of man. Since then has been coming a steady awakening to the realization that the political systems and arrangements of the pre-atomic era, both domestically within states and externally among nations, reflecting fragmented approaches to common human problems, can only serve to lead mankind further along the path towards ultimate self destruction. Indeed, it seems at least arguable that the entire course of human history to this very moment has been tending in the same direction and that only with the nuclear age is the all-time truth of the matter becoming, so to speak, new and clear to man in our generation.
It is in this setting that a newly published book, "The politics of God" (Hutchinson and Co. Ltd., 40) bears exceptional significance. Dr. Hugh J Schonfield, noted especially for his scholarly studies connected with Biblical research and Christian origins, poses in this remarkable book the question whether there is some kind of evolutionary process working its own way out in human affairs, shaped and directed in some degree by man himself, or whether there is in fact a Divine Plan for World Government working inexorably towards a predetermined end, despite obstructions and delays in its fulfillment due to man's obtuseness and lack of faith and understanding.
Dr. Schonfield's theme might be described as Messianism for modern man and his understanding of and dedication to his subject makes this a study which all who are seeking basic solutions to the problems of our times can scarcely afford to ignore. Although the author sees religion and politics as being interrelated the book is neither a religious nor political treaties but builds upon the tradition of a Divine Plan being unfolded in the affairs of men and throws considerable light on certain historical events which, so the author maintains, have been misinterpreted and misunderstood to such an extent that humanity as a whole is farther removed than ever before from the sense of purpose and mission which alone can give real meaning to our lives. There is special emphasis upon the true role of Jesus in the affairs of humanity and how in the author's view his real significance as Messiah became blurred if not destroyed by a Christianity which viewed him more as God and as a personal savior than as one whose main purpose was to rekindle the faith of responding individuals in the reality of the Fatherhood of God and in the Divine mission of a people of God, a people of Man, who would act as the saving leaven in the entire body of humanity: in other words the mission of the People of Israel was henceforth thrown open to all who would accept the sense of mission to be the corporate means of raising up fallen humanity. Only in such an understanding of a continuing of sense of corporate mission could an effective link be maintained between the Old Testament and the New, between the Jews and the Christians, and to this day that link has not been present in the minds of most Christians and Jews.
Among those who share Dr. Schonfield's concern in regard to a "Christian teaching "which had taken Christianity out of the proper orbit of Messianism" is Father Lev Gillet, Archimandrite of the Orthodox Russian Church, whose views on the subject, quoted by Dr. Schonfield from 'Communion in the Messiah', we give below:
"The Christian attitude in relation to Messianism is rather strange. Christians believe in a personal Messiah. Notwithstanding this belief, they are far less Messianically minded than the Jews. Their lack of Messianic consciousness takes two forms. They have largely lost the sense of Jesus' Messiahship. And they have largely, also, lost the Messianic vision. The Greek name Christos means "Anointed" and is the literal translation of the Hebrew Messhiah. Now the idea of the Anointed is a specifically Jewish idea. It feels decidedly into the background when Christianity lifts its Palestinian home and became a Gentile religion.
"Christians who think or speak of Christ almost always forget the Semitic word and the ideas which this name translates: in fact, they forget that Jesus is primarily the Messiah. The very idea of Jesus, Messiahship has passed away from their minds ---having lost the original sense of the word Christ", Christians (or, to be exact, most of them) have also lost the Messianic vision i.e. the expectation of the divine future, the orientation towards "what is coming"---It is true that and important revival of eschatology has recently taken place in theological thinking, but this revival has hardly affected the Christian masses and their practical piety."
Father Lev goes on to say: "Nevertheless, a real "Messianic communion" would be possible between Jews and Christians if both were inspired by a common Messianic hope and expectation-- and perhaps more easily than through the medium of thought, this "Messianic communion" could express itself through the way of practical co-operation of "life and work". Much could be achieved by Christians and Jews Messianically minded and acting together.
In "The Politics of God" the author points out the steps by which Christianity sacrificed its identity with the [Israel of history, though all followers of Jesus were in fact children of Abraham; and the Church (ekklesis) was not a new institution but a fresh development of the old one, ekklesia being the translation of the Hebrew word Kehillah, the congregation of Israel. The new people of God would be Israel redeemed and purified. However, the parting of the ways was clearly enough revealed in the ways was clearly enough revealed in the Emperor Constantine's declaration: 'We will have no dealings with this most hateful people, for the Lord has marked out another way for us' and from that time anti-Jewish decrees were multiplied.
In the perspective of History both Judaism and Christianity are seen to have opted out of their Messianic tasks and responsibilities but the need is still for a reformation of the idea of a God-nation such as that which came into being when Abram was called out of Chaldea. We can look neither to existing
political systems nor to existing religious faiths to provide the solution from their own strict adherents, though, as Dr. Schonfield points out, a Jew who is true to his Jewishness must at least be a world citizen, since his whole outlook and ideology identifies him with a world community, just as a Christian who is true to the nature, character and inspiration of Jesus must equally see himself as a world citizen subject to the dominion of the Spirit and as committed to playing his part in An unfolding Divine Plan.
It is evident that demands made upon individuals by secular governments clash often with the biddings of Jesus Christ and other spiritual teachers, but there is historical precedent for the existence of nation and communities enjoying a measure of internal autonomy and exemption from military service. The question is whether such a nation would in our day be permitted to come into being, grow and develop in the midst of the existing body of nation-states a true People of God aiming not to govern the world but simply to govern itself under God, thus acting as a prototype a Christ Nation -- exemplifying to the best of its capacity what government in a world community may eventually become. Such a Messianic community of world citizens would be drawn from the numerous individuals and small group of individuals who throughout the world in recent years have been awakening to the sense of a need positively and actively to involve themselves in the process of bringing to birth the new creation of a universal civilization of man as the systems and institutions, which have served to maintain a divided humanity, yield to the transforming pressures upon response to which the very continuance of the human race depends.
Dr. Schonfield, far from being content with a theoretical exposition of what our time require, discloses the fact that as the result of a spiritual revelation of life-changing power he was himself some years ago instrumental in bringing into existence what is today known and formally recognized by some Nation- states at the Commonwealth of Word Citizens. It exists as a legally constituted nation with a skeleton citizenship in sixty countries. This history of the origin and development of this potential political instrument for the redemption of mankind is related in The Politics of God!
It is evident that there are a great and growing number of forms in this time revelation through which a risen consciousness is beginning to seek and find expression, and this courageous political venture initiated and sustained by a tiny dedicated nucleus of men and women is designed, for the attraction of right citizenship and the molding and development of its constitution, to remain open to the same movement and action of the Divine Spirit as was responsible for bringing it to birth.
The time may be near when the nation-states of the world and the United Nations Organization may deem it to be in their interest to encourage the greater development of this infant nation as the corporate choice confronting mankind is clearly seen as doom or regeneration.