Seldom has the Church been confronted with such wide demands on so many important fronts as it is today: civil rights, hard-core poverty, the growing needs of the inner city, the rise of a new class of highly intelligent, questioning young unreachables, the development of a new theology to meet the needs of a modern scientific world – and a war in Southeast Asia.
Viet Nam has posed a number of urgent problems. Churchmen have wrestled with the moral implications of our involvement in what some call a civil war, and have debated the ethical questions inherent in all war, the dangers of possible extension of the war, and the threat of a nuclear confrontation between the world’s great powers.
There are numerous persons in our land who have aroused sharp and unjust attacks from our national leaders. And these persons are widely respected church leaders at the highest official levels, clergymen and laymen in the parishes, columnists generally accredited as the wisest in the nation, professors in the leading colleges and universities, editors of secular magazines and daily newspapers, senators and representatives in both political parties, diplomats who have returned to private careers, retired military experts, and students.
Most of these critics stand where they do and weather condemnation because they love their country and because they grieve for every American life sacrificed in Vietnam.
Many of them have a world view of international affairs, and seek to speak out for all mankind, not for their own kind and country alone.
Some might wonder, does all this have anything to do with theology? This is tantamount to asking whether God the Father is indeed the Father of all mankind; whether God the Son is indeed the Redeemer of menaced peoples as well as sinful peoples; or whether God the Holy Spirit is indeed at work in the crucial events of history – today’s history as well as that of yesteryear. Such questions need only to be posed clearly in order for any literate Biblical Christian to see that they answer themselves.
Perhaps the two letters I want to read will present some very profound feelings that have not been given adequate hearing in our land today.
**Note the first letter, “Vietnam – Logic of Withdrawal” is not in the envelope. Perhaps it was used for another sermon and will be found later. Larry
“Home From Vietnam: June 14, 1967”, M. Edward Clark, Christian Century, Aug. 23, 1967
O God of love, O King of peace,
Make wars throughout the world to cease;
The wrath of sinful man restrain:
Give peace, O God, give peace again.