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Fr. Bell: “Nobody likes the prophets much”

16 August 2017

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“Nobody likes the prophets much. But whenever the prophets are silent, the Church is first made powerless and then regarded, quite properly, as parasitic. The Church in a liberal and capitalist world has preferred popularity to prophecy. It is not surprising that now the Church discovers that “from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

If the Church is in any real sense to influence the world of tomorrow, it would seem that the Church must so reform itself that it can make a new and almost brutal proclamation of the ethics of Christ, with an authority born of belief that the way of life therein commanded comes straight from God. The ethics of Jesus, as one reads the same in the New Testament, as one finds it in the systematic formulation made by Christian moralists all down the years, is, to say the least, hardly to be twisted into consistency with the wisdom by which democrats, totalitarians, or what you will, would today build their various Utopias. One may deem it a true morality or a false morality; at least it is a different morality from that of the secularist. If men come to suspect that the secularist wisdom leads to little but insecurity, war, unhappiness, despair, they may just possibly conclude that it is the Christ who is the wise one. That happened several times in the days before we were born. But if they are to have that choice, the Church must continue to proclaim Christ’s way as of divine sanction, come weal come woe. That is its justification for being.”

Fr. Bernard Iddings Bell, The Atlantic Monthly, 1942

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