Science in Christian Perspective

Letter the Editor


Crises of Conscience

James B. Patrick

784 S. Braeburn Place
Staunton, VA 24401

From: PSCF 41 (September 1989): 192.

On receiving the latest issue of Perspectives I read the article "Crises of Conscience for Christians in Science" by Dr. Bube with mounting dismay. My memory went back to the early months of 1945 when I was a 21-year-old combat engineer platoon leader in Germany, fighting Hitler and the Nazis. I believed that I was a Christian, and I believed in what my country was doing in fighting that war. A few months later I saw the Dachau concentration camp shortly after it was liberated. The memory still haunts me, and until I read Bube's article I had never thought that we had sinned in fighting those who had done such awful things and would be doing them still if we had not won that war.

But if I understand Bube correctly, we should have overcome the Nazis "only through self-giving and active love." "Christians are forbidden to ... fight (in physical violence) for the cause of Christ......"

My feeling that we had served our Saviour nobly and, God knows, sacrificially in putting an end to the horrors of Nazism is not Christian realism, Bube says, but only "religious pragmatism," a view "held by religious people who may indeed have made a commitment of one type or another to Jesus Christ, people who regard themselves and who are regarded as Christians" but "which effectively denies any real significance for the teaching and life of Christ in many of the situations of life." Bube's characterization conveys a vivid sense of scorn for such benighted people.

So the cold, the hunger, the fear, the loneliness and separation from our families, the wounds, the blood, the deaths of my friends and five years out of my life were wasted entirely; Our Lord didn't want them-He was willing to let the holocaust go on until the Bubes of this world overcame the Nazis with love!

I don't believe it. I don't think Bube believes it. When Jesus was asked to give the greatest commandment, He quoted Deuteronomy's exhortation to love God with all your heart and soul and might, but He added "and with all your mind." Christians are called to think, not just to pursue the kind of intellectuals' Biblical literalism that Bube's article exemplifies.

And when I read in my paper that the new Soviet openness has revealed yet a third mass grave with the remains of some 30 of Stalin's victims out of the twenty mifliou total. I thank my God for those young men, many of them ChristiaiL who forged the weapons that prevented the spread of that deviltry over much of the rest of the world. We couldn't save everybody-I still have to fight tears every time I think of what happened in Cambodia-at least we did our best, and I expect to face my God not too many years from now with no apologies. If that's "religious pragmatism," so be it. Let those who stand on the sidelines in the battle against evil have their "crisis of conscience;" mine is clear.