the dangers of nuclear war, but in a mutation of Christianneschatological hope, which affects believers and unbelieversnalike. The passions fueling the peace movement can benunderstood only as the end result of a centuries-long processnof moral inversion, beginning with the political religions ofnthe Enlightenment, and now coming close to conqueringnthe Christian churches themselves.nIf we cannot expect the peace people to listen to reason, itnis because theirs is a movement springing from the decadencenof Christian life and from the moral paralysis of thosenwhose lives have been robbed of any transcendental dimension.nThe curious belief of the peace people that the specternof nuclear annihilation can be exorcised by a series of publicnmoral gestures becomes intelligible when we attribute tonthem a profane variation on Christian eschatology, fromnwhich divine providence and original sin have both beenndeleted, leaving only a fury of moral activism and thengroundless certainty that the obdurate realities of history andnhuman nature can be overcome by the sheer power of moralncommitment.nCertainly the peace movement, including the mostnexplicitly religious elements within it, is wholly untouchednby genuine Christian teaching about first and last things.nOne might have supposed that such teachings, whichnrepresent the end of the world as we know it as encompassingnan enlargement of the human prospect rather than itsnmere extinction, would have been especially pertinent tonour contemporaries, each of whom knows for a certaintynthat he belongs to what could be the last generation ofnhuman beings. The sense of providential guidance, whichnthe real Christian eschatology preserves even about thenprospect of nuclear annihilation, may enable us to contemplatenthat most terrifying of possibilities with somethingnother than sheer despair. But the transcendental dimensionnof Christian hope, which insists that even the destruction ofnthis world cannot be an unredeemed tragedy, is precisely thenvision that is repudiated by the peace activists, and oftennrepudiated on Christian grounds. How has this decadencenof Christian spirituality come aboutj and what does itnportend for the peace movement?nThe ultimate spiritual origins of the peace movement’snvirtual conquest of the Christian churches are to benfound in the character of the Christianity of the Cospels asnan antipolitical and indeed antinomian movement. In itsnearliest form. Christian faith and practice were conducted inndaily expectation of the end of things, and for that reason,nmore than for any other, they were indifferent or hostile tonthe institutions of the family and government whose disciplinesnfigure so prominentiy in the religions of the Romansnand the Jews. Primitive Christianity neglected the sadnbusiness of sustaining political order and of prescribing fornthe ordinary dilemmas of life, not because it was supposednthat the necessities of power and of moral constraint couldnever be removed from the world, but rather from anconviction of the evanescence and imminent destruction ofnthe world itself Hence the famous Interimsethik of the firstnChristians, and the intense cult of moral individuality innwhich this was expressed.nIt is only in Paul and, above all, in Augustine, that we findnan accommodation of Christian moral life to the perennialn16/CHRONICLESnnndemands of human nature, because in these writers eschatologicalnhopes have come to refer to a spiritual metamorphosis,npossible at any time, rather than to a historical event.nButtressed by the doctrine of original sin, Pauline andnAugustinian Christianity could coherently envisage Christiannmoral life as a permanent tension between the perspectivenof eternity — which is the perspective of grace and ofnthe forgiveness of sins — and the perspective of this world.nIn Augustine, and certainly in the theology of Aquinas,nChristian morality appeared to have reached, not indeed anmodus Vivendi, but an inevitably contradictory and for thatnreason a highly fruitful relationship of participation in thendemands of worfdly life. It thereby escaped the great dangernof Christianity, that of loosening social bonds for the sake ofnmoral individuality, and of subverting civilization in thenpursuit of purity of heart.nThis was the hazard, if not the reality, of early Christianity—nthat the sense of human life as bounded by mortalitynand by every other sort of finitude, and limitation, sonprominent in Jewish experience and (in a very differentnidiom) in the pagan philosophers, should be swamped by antriumphant moral hope. Partly because of the story of thenPassion itself, the perception of tragedy always remained annessential element in Christianity, but it had from the first toncontend with an explosive moral hope in which the accommodationsnof the ancient world, Jewish as much as pagan,nwere transvalued. The synthesis of Christianity’s transcendentnhopes with the necessities of earthly life wrought bynAugustine created Christendom as a civilization that lastednover a thousand years, and is only now unmistakably on thendecline.nNothing could be further from the truth than thenconservative cliche that the decline of Christianity innmodern times is owed to a return to a pagan outlook. Pagannreligious sensibility, insofar as we can reconstruct it from ournunderstanding of spiritual life in Greece and Rome, was anmatter of local piety and natural reverence and was altogethernlacking in the dimension of individualism and moralnoptimism that infused early Christianity. When a pagannmoral life is revived, as perhaps it is in Machiavelli’s writingsnand in the lives of some of his contemporaries, it is a moralnlife centered around the struggle for a strong city-state — anstruggle in which the promptings of Christian consciencenare swept aside. The pagan morality as we find it revived (ornat least admired) in the Renaissance is a morality of energynand tragedy, contemptuous of Christian moral scruples andnavowedly entirely worldly. This pagan morality is, above all,nentirely devoid of the sense of human history as a progressivenmoral drama which Christianity had inculcated, andnbecause it expected little in the way of any fundamentalnimprovement in human affairs, it could not issue in thenintemperate moralism to which Christianity has oftennsuccumbed. As Michael Polanyi says in his study The Logicnof Liberty, “Had the whole of Europe been at the time ofnthe same mind as Italy, Renaissance Humanism might havenestablished freedom of thought everywhere, simply byndefault of opposition. Europe might have returned to — or ifnyou like relapsed into — a liberalism resembling that ofnpre-Christian antiquity. Whatever may have followed afternthat, our present disasters would not have occurred.”nA recrudescence of paganism could not have led to ourn