Tag Archives: Bell’s Five Principles of Humanity Justice and Peace

80th Anniversary of The Bell Declaration 1939 – “The Church ought to declare what is just” – ‘The Church’s Function in War-time’ by G.K.A. [Bishop] Bell – Fortnightly Review – September 1939 [Bell’s Five Principles of Humanity, Justice and Peace]


George Bell Bishop of Chichester

“If the Church does not fulfil its function now, how will it ever persuade mankind that it has a function?

“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 [or Brexit – Ed], 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.

“[In short, 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…

“[But the Church must still settle] the question of right and wrong – the moral law:
The Church then 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 Church is universal. Its message is for all nations. The Church in any country fails to be the Church if it forgets that its members in one nation have a fellowship with its members in every nation”.

[Source: “The Church’s Function in War-time” by G.K.A. [Bishop] Bell – Fortnightly Review – September 1939]


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