Bishop George Bell and CEM Joad on “5 Principles for Future Peace”

“The Church’s Function in War-time” by Bishop George Bell – Fortnightly Review – September 1939

512px-Praying_Hands_-_Albrecht_Durer[Reprinted in “The Church and Humanity, 1939-1946” by G.K.A. Bell – Longmans-Green 1946 – pp. 22-31][Source : “George Bell, Bishop of Chichester – Church, State, and Resistance in the Age of Dictatorship” by Andrew Chandler – Eerdmans 2016 – page 75]

“This matter of functions is vital. The State has a function, and the Church has a function. They are distinct. The State is the guarantor of order, justice and civil liberty. It acts by the power of restraint, legal and physical. The Church, on the other hand, is charged with a gospel of God’s redeeming love. It witnesses to a Revelation in history. It speaks of the realities which outlast change. It aims at creating a community founded on love, So when all the resources of the State are concentrated, for example, on winning a war, the Church is not a part of those resources . It stands for something different from these. It possesses an authority independent of the State. It is bound, because of that authority, to proclaim the realities which outlast change. It has to preach the gospel of redemption…[the church] is not the State’s spiritual auxiliary with exactly the same ends as the State. To give the impression that it is, is both to do a profound disservice to the nation and to betray its own principles…[the church must still settle] the question of right and wrong – the moral law:

The Church…ought to declare both in peace-time and war-time, that there are certain basic principles which can and should be the standards of both international and social order, and conduct. Such principles are the

[1] equal dignity of all men,

[2] respect for human life,

[3] acknowledgement of the solidarity for good and evil of all nations and races of the earth,

[4] fidelity to the plighted word, and

[5] appreciation of the fact that power of any kind, political or economic, must be co-extensive with responsibility.

The Church therefore ought to declare what is just.


“The Principles of Peace” by CEM Joad – The Spectator – August 1940

“I suggest that we make a public statement of the principles for which we are fighting this war…There are certain principles which form the heritage of our Western civilisation, principles which are derived partly from ancient Greece, partly from Christianity; so deeply are they woven into the texture of our civilisation that most of us have grown up as unconscious of their existence as we are unconscious of the air we breathe; yet just as air is an essential condition of physical existence, so the acceptance of these principles seems to me an essential condition of any tolerable political existence….What are these principles?

[1] the individual is entitled to respect as an end in himself, with a right to happiness in this life and a chance of salvation in the next. No claim of the State is entitled to over-ride this right…[this principle] we owe directly to Christ. Indeed, respect for the individual person as an end in himself constitutes the distinctive contribution of Christianity to political philosophy…for

[2] the State is made for man and not man for the State. Its function is to establish those conditions of order, law, security, justice and economic opportunity in which alone the individual can live the good life as he sees it, develop his personality and realise all that he has it in him to be.

[3] the individual should have a voice in determining the nature of the society in which he lives; that through his elected representatives he should make the laws under which he is governed, and that, if he disapproves of them and can persuade a sufficient number of his fellow-citizens to his view, he should be able to change them.

[4] he should not be arrested save for offences prescribed by the law of the land; that, if arrested, he should not be held in prison without trial and that his trial should be by an independent judiciary…

The principles are derived in equal measure from Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus, on the one hand, and from the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man on the other…

The principles are in the American Constitution. Hence, to publish them now, establishes our claim to be fighting (at present alone) for the principles from which America derives her political being…

All the principles are such as are consonant with Christian teaching…Hence to publish these principles is to establish our claim to be fighting for Christian civilisation against a paganism which denies its postulates and denounces its values…

If we are to win, we must turn this war into a war of European revolution…revolutionary wars are won by ideas. What, then, should be the ideas of the anti-Nazi revolution? They are to be found in the principles I have summarised, which embody the essential ideals of democracy, representative government and political freedom…the right of the free individual against the all-embracing claims of the State, and for representative government against police law….

The principles I have mentioned are…the indispensable requisites of civilised life in a civil society. What is more, they are principles which are widely accepted among us. But thoogh their acceptance is a necessary condition, both of European revolution and of the establishment of a civilised order after this war, it is by no means clear that it is sufficient. It seems to me inconceivable that after this war we should ever again allow a single nation to threaten the world’s peace…I deduce that if civilisation is to avoid destruction, it must set up a Federal Government to control armaments and foreign policy. This means adding to my four principles, which are accepted, the principle of

[5] Federalism….it seems to me difficult to envisage a durable peace in the world unless this principle is coupled with the other four.










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