From the Editors

Perennial question, honest answers

May Christians ever endorse or participate in war or any form of military action? To that perennial question, Christians have generally given two answers: "No" or "Sometimes." The debate goes on not only between those two principled positions, but also between people who can't agree on whether the case at hand is one of those times or not.

Disagreement over the use of military force sparked a famous moment in the life of this magazine. Reinhold Niebuhr, who started his writing career with the Century, discontinued his association with the magazine because of its pacifist and noninterventionist leanings in the 1930s. This same dissatisfaction led Niebuhr to launch a new magazine, Christianity and Crisis, which called Christians to what he thought was a more realistic response to Hitler. Some of this history and some of the subsequent permutations of Niebuhrian realism are recalled in the review by Gary Dorrien (see page 652).

Niebuhr's quarrel was not actually with principled pacifists—those who embrace nonviolence as first and last a gospel witness. The principled pacifists are not worried, finally, about how history turns out; they leave the Hitlers and Milosevics of the world in God's hands, knowing that the triumph of good is an eschatological category.