The Sin of the Nuclear Arms Race 

The Nuclear Arms Race is beginning again. A race in which there are no winners, and all will be losers if the stadium is destroyed. So once more two great nations and some seedy little ones are enslaving themselves to an evil deity – Wotan, Mars, Sopona – plenty to choose from. In their worship of death they are not only sacrificing the good life of their citizens but also the beauty and health of the Earth and it’s wondrous life.

It is the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit to look at vibrant life and see only conquest, subservience and death. A sin to think a missile is security when it is designed to bring fear. A sin to think a warhead is the answer when it is the closure of all enquiry and dialogue. It is a strange notion that the possession of a nuclear arsenal makes a nation great when it’s development and maintenance plunders the life-giving needs of their ordinary people.

We have two presidents, so encased in their lives of luxury and grandiose delusions, and so careless of the lives of others, that they are able to launch a nuclear missile at a moments notice.


But can this be forgiven? 

Can we forgive them for the evil they are creating? Can we forgive them for the evil they ignite in our own lives as they make aggression the default position of our world?

Surprisingly, Jesus did that, for he forgave the brutalities of his torturers as they were inflicting the wounds. Forgiveness like that can only flow from an abundance of love for friend and foe.

It is the antithesis of a missile policy where the M.A.D. strategy demands an immediate and destructive nuclear response. A  retaliation to avenge the hurt whatever the consequences. Jesus forgave his tormentors not later after reflection, but as the cross was jerked into place.


Did they know what they were doing? 

Jesus excused them by adding, ‘they do not know what they are doing.’

In the most obvious of ways they did know exactly what they were doing. For all the soldiers it was their duty, and for some of them, a pleasure. For Pilate it was an easy way out of a possible scandal. For the Chief Priests killing Jesus removed a challenge to their power, privilege and status. None of those involved could plead innocence.

They did not realize, of course, that it was God they were crucifying, and were God not true to the nature of His love He would have sent angels, thunder bolts and sudden death to all the guilty parties. So the cosmic enormity of what they were doing passed them by.

But there is another way in which they did not know what they were doing.  Each of them was made in the image and likeness of God by a God who is love beyond all imagination. We are made for love but every-time we act selfishly or brutally or un-charitably, we besmirch that likeness and distort that image, and so diminish our true God-given humanity. That can only be reversed when we recognise and accept forgiveness for ourselves and then learn to forgive others.


Never out of the reach of God’s love and forgiveness 

The killers of Jesus with their jobbing brutality, moral weakness and self- serving privilege did not have the insight to see that their actions were poisoning their own souls. They were in desperate need of their victim’s forgiveness, but there is no record of their repentance.

It is hard to imagine that Hitler and Stalin were created for love and made in the likeness of God. But that was their heritage, betrayed by the brutality of their lives. Love should have been the heart-beat of their souls, but in their callous destruction of others, they blocked all love from their own lives and became the the evil monsters that we remember.

However, they, like the nuclear machos of our time, and the all too many indulging themselves ‘Wherever love is outraged’ (Timothy Rees) are never out of the range of the love and forgiveness of God

But they do need to have their phones switched on.


 Contributed by APF Member, Jonathan Hartfield – Grew up in Hastings UK. Trained at St.Georges Hospital where I met Meg. Had an exciting and turbulent time in Nigeria in 60s. Moved to New Zealand 1971. Worked as specialist Obst &Gyn, later palliative care in a Hospice. Retired from medicine 2013. Ordained priest 1986. We have 4 children 9 grand children. Enthusiastic gardener and choir singer.


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