Founding Document

Christianity and Democracy

by Reverend Richard John Neuhaus
A Statement of the Institute on Religion and Democracy

Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics. Believers now assert by faith what one day will be manifest to the sight of all: every earthly sovereignty is subordinate to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.

The Church is the community of believers who bear witness to that claim. Because the Church is pledged to the Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus, it must maintain a critical distance from all the kingdoms of the world, whether actual or proposed. Christians betray their Lord if, in theory or practice, they equate the Kingdom of God with any political, social, or economic order of this passing time. At best, such orders permit the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom and approximate, in small part, the freedom, peace and justice for which we hope. At worst, such orders attempt to suppress the good news of the Kingdom and oppress human beings who are the object of divine love and promise.

The First Political Task of the Church
The first political task of the Church is to be the Church. That is, Christians must proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel to all people, embracing them in a sustaining community of faith and discipline under the Lordship of Christ. In obedience to this biblical mandate, Christians have a special care for all who are in need, especially the poor, the oppressed, the despised and the marginal. The Church is called to be a community of diversity, including people of every race, nation, class, and political viewpoint. As a universal community, the Church witnesses to the limits of the national and ideological loyalties that divide mankind. Communal allegiance to Christ and his Kingdom is the indispensable check upon pretensions of the modern state. Because Christ is Lord, Caesar is not Lord. By humbling all secular claims to sovereignty, the Church makes its most important political contribution by being, fully and unapologetically, the Church.

While our first allegiance is to the community of faith and its mission in the world, Christians do not withdraws from participation in other communities. To the contrary, we are called to be leaven and light in movements of cultural, and economic change. History is the arena in which Christians exercise their discipleship. Because our hope is eternal and transcendent, Christians can participate in society without despair or delusion. We do not despair of the meaning of history, nor do we delude ourselves that our efforts are to be equated with establishing the Kingdom of God. The fulfillment of history’s travail is the promised Rule of God, not the establishment of our human programs and designs.

Towards an Open Church
God has given us no one pattern for the ordering of societies or of the world. For almost two millennia Christians have pursued their mission within a variety of social, political, and economic systems. Among Christians today, as in times past, there are significant disagreements about the most appropriate and effective ways to advance freedom, justice, and peace in the world. That Christians are to pursue these goals should be beyond dispute. Disagreements about how they are to be pursued need be neither surprising nor destructive. In making political decisions, we are all subject to error. Through prayer, we decide in the courage of our uncertainties. We strive to credit the intelligence and good intentions of those who decide differently. Especially within the believing community we must, in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr, avoid portraying our conflicts as a war between “the children of light and the children of darkness.” Our unity in Christ is greater than whatever may divide us.

Within our several churches, disagreement about the meaning of social justice should not merely be tolerated; it should be cherished. We are pledged to the goal that our churches be open churches. An open church engages sympathetically the diversity of Christian views both within and outside denominational structures. An open church welcomes dissent on contingent judgments about the right-ordering of society; this strengthens the search for truth and helps correct error. An open church makes decisions in the light of day, not in the shadowed corners of bureaucratic power. An open church has leaders eager to engage in the fullest consultation with all its members. An open church addresses social issues not so much to advance a particular position as to inform and empower people to make their own decisions responsibly. An open church understands that the Church speaks most effectively when the people who are the Church do the speaking, and leaders speak more believably when they speak with the informed consent of those whom they would lead.

Sometimes leaders can and should disagree with the views of the majority. To disagree, however, is not to disregard the views of others. Leadership in an open church is marked by candor and never by contempt for the convictions of those with whom we differ. In these ways, an open church becomes a zone of truth-telling in a world of mendacity.

The Totalitarian Impulse
In this century of Hitler and Stalin and their lesser imitators, the most urgent truth to be told about secular politics has been the threat of totalitarianism. That truth was told eloquently by John Courtney Murray, whose understanding of religious civil freedom was ratified by Vatican Council II. Many political theories of our time, Father Murray wrote, are marked by a “through-going monism, political, social, juridical, religious: there is only one Sovereign, one society, one law, one faith. And the cardinal denial is of the Christian dualism of powers, societies, and laws – spiritual and temporal, divine and human. Upon this denial follows the absorption of the community in the state, the absorption of the state in the party, and the assertion that the party-state is the supreme spiritual and moral, as well as political authority.”

The religious term for political monism or totalitarianism is idolatry. The state declares itself to be absolute, and accountable only to its own norms of judgment. Regimes that subscribe to this dogma often assert that they themselves embody the final meaning of history and are therefore not answerable to any higher authority or morality. The 1934 Barmen Declaration will long be remembered as a courageous affirmation of the integrity of the Church in a totalitarian society. “We repudiate the false teaching that the Church can turn over the form of her message and ordinances at will or according to some dominant ideological and political convictions….We repudiate the false teaching that the state can and should expand beyond its special responsibility to become the single and total order of life and also thereby fulfill the commission of the Church.”

Totalitarianism has taken both rightist and leftist forms. Our century is shrouded by the specters of Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s Gulag. That these revolutionary movements denied what we understand by freedom was a tenet that consistently proclaimed themselves.

Nazism was vanquished by the Second World War. What some would call the Third World War – the long, twilight struggle with Marxism-Leninism – now seems to be drawing to a close. Thanks be to God that Marxism-Leninism (a worldview and a system of social control utterly incompatible with Christian understanding of the human person, human community, human history, and human destiny) is dramatically on the wane as a political force at the end of this century. But Marxist-Leninist states continue to exist and continue to embody the totalitarian intention. Where these regimes exist, human freedom is gravely imperiled. Where these regimes have been overthrown, the future of freedom is not fully secured. In these circumstances, we cannot forget that we are living in the greatest century of persecution in the history of the Church. And we cannot rest while that persecution continues.

The struggle against communism in which we, and so many others, have been involved has been primarily a moral struggle. For in addition to the unspeakable human suffering that communism caused its intent was itself evil. Thus Christians must reject, in any of its forms, what Pope John Paul II has called “the impossible compromise between Christianity and Marxism.” Anti-communism, to be sure, is not a sufficient political philosophy. But it has been, and remains, an indispensable component in discerning the signs of these times. Those who did not understand this failed to recognize the bloody face of our age and, however benign their intentions, contributed little toward the establishment of a more humane world.

The Democratic Alternative
The historic alternative to totalitarianism in the modern world is democracy. There are different and sometimes confusing theories about democratic governance. Indeed the idea of democracy is so attractive that even totalitarian regimes have attempted to claim it as their own. The understanding of democratic governance espoused here, however, is neither novel nor complicated. Democracy’s marks are obvious to all who have eyes to see.

Democratic government is limited government. It is limited in the claims it makes and in the power it seeks to exercise Democratic government understands itself to be accountable to values and to truths that transcend any regime or party. Thus in the United States of America we declare ours to be a nation “under God,” which means first of all, a nation under judgment. In addition, limited government means that a clear distinction is made between the state and the society. The state is not the whole of the society; it is one important actor in the society. Other institutions – notably the family, educational, economic and cultural enterprises, and churches – are at least equally important actors in the society. They do not exist or act by sufferance of the state. Rather, these spheres have their own peculiar sovereignty, which must be respected by the state.

Democratic governance is pluralistic governance and thus the opposite of political monism. By protecting the roles of many institutional and individual actors within the social order, democracy keeps society open to the future. It resists the act of historical closure that flows from the totalitarian impulse. Because it cherishes criticism and change, democracy is a progressive movement invoking the promise of the future. Totalitarianism, in either its Nazi or communist form, is essentially reactive and fearful. It represses diversity and dissent in a fearful denial of the human capacity for growth and the human need for criticism.

As democracy keeps society open to the future it also keeps the future open. That is, the democratic posture is not one of merely passive receptivity to whatever may happen. Rather, it is one of protecting and nurturing individual and institutional visions of alternative futures. The democratic experiment is an ongoing one. Its intention is not that at some point in the near or distant future all questions will be answered and all conflicts resolved. The chief goal of democratic governance is to sustain the process of democratic governance. Toward that end, constitutional provisions do not provide all the answers to society’s problems but protect the process by which various answers are debated and adopted, always subject to change. Democratic government is contingent, modest in its claims, and open-ended.

What we perceive as the virtues of democratic governance, others condemn as its weakness. There is a deep human hunger for a monistic world, for authority, control and definitive meaning which can cut through the ambiguities and uncertainties of our existence. From this hunger emerged, in this century, the totalitarian impulse: and we may expect that the temptation to satisfy this hunger monistically will reappear in new forms in the future. This hunger is essentially religious in character, and it is dangerously misplaced when it seeks satisfaction in the politics of the present time. It cannot and should not be satisfied short of the coming of the Kingdom of God. To mistake any existing or proposed social order for the Kingdom of God is a great crime against humanity.

We readily acknowledge that democratic governance is unsatisfactory. Everything short of the consummation of the rule of Christ is unsatisfactory. For Christians, it is precisely the merit of democracy that it reminds us of this truth and sustains the possibility of humane government in a necessarily unsatisfactory world. There are tensions and contradictions within democratic theory and practice. Especially problematic are relationships between the individual and the community, between formal process and substantive purpose, between popular participation and power elites. We do not deny these and other problems. Rather, believing that democratic theory and practice is still developing, we would encourage in the churches a lively examination of the problems and their possible resolutions. Such an examination only begins with the basic outline of democratic governance set forth in this statement and should be informed by the maxim framed by Reinhold Niebuhr: “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

Democratic governance is based upon a morality of respect and fairness for all. It is responsive to the diverse moral judgments and meanings affirmed by individuals and institutions within society. It not only tolerates but rigorously protects those spheres within which people find meaning for their lives and share that meaning with others. Most importantly, democratic government does not seek to control or restrict the sphere of religion in which people affirm, exercise and share their ultimate beliefs about the world and their place in it.

As democratic government does not seek to absorb the sphere of religion, so it does seek to respect the autonomy of cultural and economic life. With respect to the last, there has been and doubtless will continue to be much debate about the relationship between democracy and capitalism. Whatever the economic achievements of capitalism, and they are considerable, our primary concern is to preserve and strengthen democracy. We believe that the personal and institutional ownership and control of property – always as stewards of God to whom the whole creation belongs – contributes greatly to freedom. We note as a matter of historical fact that democratic governance exists only where the free market plays a large part in a society’s economy.

Like political democracy, a market economy is a process open to the future. The focus is on the production of wealth rather than on the consolidation and redistribution of existing goods. Experience in America and the world suggests that when a market economy, disciplined and tempered by law and culture, is open to the participation of all, it works to the benefit of all, and especially of the poor. (Conversely, we note that the economic systems advanced by communist regimes have produced economic, social, cultural and ecological disasters, the effects of which will be with us for generations). A market economy may be a necessary condition for democracy. It is obviously not a sufficient condition for democracy. There are more or less capitalist societies with repressive regimes quite unlike the democratic governance we affirm. In modern industrialized societies the state is necessarily involved in aspects of economic life. Apart from pragmatic considerations, however, our bias in favor or a market economy is informed by our commitment to democracy. To the extent that capitalism is a necessary restraint upon the monistic drives of society, it warrants our critical approval.

The formal structures of democratic governments may and do vary. Both in theory and historical experience, however, there would seem to be some universal requirements. These include some concept of the rule of law to which any regime of the moment is held accountable. That concept may be embodied in a constitution, in common law, in institutionalized tradition, or in a mix of all three. It also appears necessary that there be an institutionalized division of powers within the government itself. Thus, as society is not monolithic, so the state is not monolithic. Within democratic government there are processes of appeal, whether to the courts or to the parliament or to some other agency. While there must be, so to speak, an agency of last resort, its decisions, too, are subject to democratic change. In sum, the instruments of democratic government are internally limited. As is the government itself externally limited by virtue of being but one actor in society.

As we have seen, democratic governance respects the rights not only of individuals in society but of other institutional actors. Individuals and institutions must associate in order to press their interest in relation to the government and to other associations. Crucial to this process is the freedom to assemble, to speak, and to publish. What in our country is represented by the Bill of Rights is not only constitutionally mandated but is theologically imperative. Such rights, however imperfectly framed and implemented, are necessary to keeping the future open and to resisting the impulse, also in our society, to effect an idolatrous closing off of historical change.

Among the universal requirements of democratic governance is the institutional means for peacefully transferring the authority to govern. In a democracy every government is temporary, for the being, until further notice. The means for transferring authority aim at maximum consultation and participation by the people governed. Although this goal can theoretically be achieved in different ways, the way it is generally accomplished is through popular elections.

Elections must be regular, at specified times. They must be contested, as open as possible to every viewpoint and interest group. They must be decisive, effectively bestowing governing authority upon the elected party or persons. We note that nowhere today is there democratic governance in the absence of regular, contested, and decisive elections.

Human Rights as Prior Rights
Finally, and perhaps most profoundly, democratic governance subscribes to a distinctive understanding of human rights. That understanding is that human rights are prior rights, that is, human rights are not established by the state. The state is bound to acknowledge and respect those rights which have their source in the transcendent dignity of the human person created by God.

Valid distinctions are made among categories of human rights – personal, civil, political, economic and social. Individual and communal freedom from terror and coercion is essential to the protection of all human rights. Repressive regimes of both the left and the right frequently and falsely pit social and economic rights against the rights of freedom. But within freedom human beings can pursue their economic and social well-being as they deem best. As a matter of empirical fact, those societies that give priority to civil rights and political freedoms generally secure a wide range of social and economic goods more successfully than do those societies that attempt social and economic advance at the cost of freedom.

The most fundamental of all human rights is the freedom of religious faith and practice. As the Westminster Confession of Faith proclaimed in 1646, “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from doctrines and commandments of men…”

Religion is both freedom’s shield and central sphere of action. “For religion,” Pope John Paul II has declared, “consists in the free adherence of the human mind to God, which is in all respects personal and conscientious; it arises from the desire for truth and in this relation the secular arm may not interfere, because religion itself by its nature transcends all things secular.” Religious freedom consists of many parts: the freedom to believe, to worship, to teach, to evangelize, to collaborate in works of mercy and to witness to the public good. Where religious freedom is violated, all other human rights are assaulted to their source.

It maybe thought that, with the ending of the Cold War, freedom’s cause has been secured. It has not. The victims of persecution and repression remain legion, and they continue to count on those who enjoy the blessings of freedom to be their voice and public defender. The churches should relentlessly protest every infringement of freedom, especially of religious freedom. In protesting human rights violations, governments will of necessity take into account many considerations – political, diplomatic, military and economic. The ethics of the Church, however, are distinctively ecclesial. In witnessing to the transcendent dignity of the human person, the churches are bound not by reasons of state but by obedience to Christ. Therefore the witness of the churches should reflect an unwavering adherence to a single standard in the judgment of human rights. Whether the regime in question is repressive only in order to maintain itself in power or whether it aspires to totalitarian control over its people, whether it fashions itself as rightist or leftist, whether it is friend or foe or neutral toward us, to the extent that it violates the rights of people to be artisans of their own destiny, it blasphemes against the divine intent for human life. The churches dare never be apologists for such blasphemy in the name of some higher social good. Because every person is called to be fullness of humanity revealed in Our Lord Jesus Christ, there is not higher good than the human person. With particu- lar respect to the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human community, Christians insist that no human being is expendable.

Sustaining the Democratic Idea Today
In our radically imperfect world, the democracy and freedom which we affirm is always imperiled. As faith-filled realists, we reject the sentimental illusion that democracy is a natural product of the progress of an essentially good humanity. We likewise reject the determinist dogma that freedom can be advanced by the denial of freedom in a process of inevitable revolutionary change. Wherever it exists, democracy – which is both the product and protector of freedom – is a human enterprise and a divine gift. It does not exist in many of the nations of the world, and nowhere does it exist securely. Those of us who are blessed to live under relatively democratic governments are stewards of a possibility that is to be preserved for the whole world. Democracy is not an achievement secured by an experiment to be advanced. It is both gift and task. In helping to sustain the democratic experiment, the churches act not only in their own interest but in the interest of humankind.

The moral dilemma of statecraft is that policy choices must be made in a persistently dangerous world in which the margin for error is slim indeed. Among the nations and social systems of our time, the choice is never between absolute good and absolute evil. No nation perfectly embodies the democracy we would affirm, and no nation totally represses freedom from which democracy springs. Tragically, and despite freedom’s great victories over the past decade, the majority or our sisters and brothers throughout the world live under varying degrees of repression . We believe that the churches are obligated to act on their behalf. We are obligated to act on behalf of those struggling for freedom in the world’s remaining communist states. We are obliged to act on behalf of those who struggle for freedom under corrupt and despotic Third World authoritarianisms. We are obliged to act on behalf of those Christian minorities who are discriminated against in countries where their Christianity legally marks them as inferior citizens.

The great conflict over the dignity and destiny of the human person, and over the societal order appropriate to that dignity and that destiny, continues. In this conflict, in this continuing quest to secure a freedom that is worthy of a humanity made in God’s image and likeness, we believe that the United States of America is, on balance and considering the alternatives, a force for good. Ideals do not make their way in history except when they are carried by persons and institutions. The carriers inescapably fall short of the ideals to which they witness. This is most dramatically true of the Church as the bearer of the Gospel. It is also true in the realm of social and political change. Although it is the primary bearer of the democratic ideal today, America is far from having fully actualized that ideal in its own life. To say that America has a singular responsibility in this historical moment does not mean that America is God’s chosen nation, as, for instance, Israel was chosen by God. God has made no special covenant with America as such. God’s covenant is with His creation, with Israel, and with His Church. However, because America is a large and influential part of His creation, because America is the home of many of the heirs of Israel of old, and because this is a land in which His Church is vibrantly free to live and proclaim the Gospel to the world, we believe that America has a peculiar place in God’s promises and purposes. This is not a statement of nationalistic hubris but an acknowledgment that we bear a particular and grave respon- sibility. Beyond this, we are also mindful that this is the nation for which we are most immediately accountable.

In democracy Christian citizens are called upon to make judgments about the wisdom and morality of their country’s foreign policy. The Church – in the biblical sense of the Body of Christ – has neither competence nor responsibility to design or control the foreign policy of the United States. As we have said, the mission of the Church is to be the Church – to proclaim the saving Gospel of Christ and to embrace all persons in a sustaining community of caring discipleship. As part of that sustaining and caring activity, agencies and leaders of the churches should address foreign policy issues in order to help Christians exercise their responsibility as citizens, and in order to help America act in the world in a manner congruent with our most cherished values.

Democracy and the Witness of the Churches
We are keenly aware that not all Christians share our understanding of democracy and America’s role in the world. Especially is this true of some leadership circles in the churches, and most especially of many who are professionally involved in shaping the social witness of the churches. It is our purpose to illuminate the relationship between Christian faith and democratic governance. It is also our purpose to oppose policies and programs in the churches which ignore or deny that relationship. With the prayer that we may always speak the truth in love, we will not hesitate to specify policies, programs and persons when we believe they are demeaning the Church’s witness and obscuring or contributing to the sufferings of the poor and oppressed. We will speak privately when possible, publicly when necessary. We do not seek controversy, nor will we shrink from it. Basic questions about the meaning of freedom, of peace, and of justice must be examined anew. In these ways we would contribute to renewing the social witness of the churches.

Arguments for oppression in the name of putative higher goods were distressingly evident in many of our churches in recent decades, in some churches more than others. Those who advanced such arguments became, whatever their intent, apologists for oppression. These arguments were voiced at various levels of episcopal, administrative, journalistic and academic leadership. We believe that those who espoused these arguments did not, as a rule, act from design but from bureaucratic and intellectual habit. Their behavior did not constitute a conspiracy but reflected selective compassion for human suffering and indifference to the meaning of democracy in our kind of world. But however construed, these arguments (and the activities that derived from them) were a great sadness and, we believe, a betrayal of trust.

We in the IRD have consistently rejected apologies for oppression that presented themselves as “anti-communist.” We have consistently rejected apologies for oppression that excused injustice as necessary for the eventual creation of a new and more equitable social order. And so today we must reject that apology for oppression which asserts that any defense of our most cherished religious and political values constitutes an “imposition” of our values upon other. It is said that other peoples do not share our concern for democratic governance and human rights. This combination of lies and half-truths conceals a host of cultural and, more often than not, racial prejudices. It is monstrous to assert on behalf of others that they do not feel about their basic human rights as keenly as we feel about ours. It is disingenuous to say that other people must be free to choose their own form of government and, at the same time, to support precisely those forces that would deny them their freedom to choose.

Wherever the churches can influence situations of oppression, and whenever the churches address themselves to American foreign policy, we beg our leaders to heed and support the forces for democratic change. Whether we approve or disapprove of such influence, in many places American power and opinion can be decisive. Those Christian leaders who collaborate in the denial of freedom and justice to others bear an ominous moral responsibility.

Some, in the past and in the present, even excuse the denial of elementary religious freedom. This was and is the most contemptible betrayal of trust. By and large, our churches are largely past that unhappy point at which many of their leaders would maintain that securing social and economic rights requires the sacrifice of formal, “bourgeois” freedoms – including the freedom to assemble for worship without penalty, to proclaim the Gospel publicly, or even the freedom of parents to instruct their children in the faith. But even after the collapse of the Marxist-Leninist project in much of the world, religious freedom is being systematically denied in states that enforce religious conformity and that seek to make the civil law the embodiment of religious law. In these circumstances, Christians must insist, in and out of season, that God wishes to be adored by people who are free. To do so is not to engage in cultural “insensitivity.” It is to tell a necessary and, we believe, fundamental truth.

The Challenge Ahead
The achievement of democracy and justice require far more than the demise of communism. As noted earlier, a full-orbed understanding of democracy must go well beyond affirmations of elections and majority rule. Beyond necessary institutional and economic support structures, democracy required a virtuous citizenry. As James Madison warned in 1788, “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.” Indeed, democracy requires mutual respect, patience, the ability to compromise to achieve a common objective, a commitment to seek non-violent solutions to conflict, an affirmation of the common good which transcends narrow self-interest, and integrity which fosters trust. In short, freedom without responsibility will destroy both community and democracy.

Totalitarianism and authoritarianism systematically undermine the values upon which democracy depends. Such values cannot be created overnight. To the extent they have been eroded in regimes of oppression, they will need to be restored. To the extent they are endangered in our own country, the democratic experiment is imperiled. We believe that the Judeo-Christian tradition is a major, though not the sole, source of the values necessary to create and sustain democratic, free, and just societies.

The hard work of encouraging the consolidation of democratic regimes lies ahead. This is particularly the case for Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, but in Africa, Latin America, and Asia there are also societies in transition from authoritarianism toward democracy. They, too, demand our attention. Nor should we forget that in China and Cuba communist rulers have neither abandoned their ideology nor relinquished their power.

Finally, in the decades ahead Islamic countries may well be the arena for crucial debates about religious freedom and democracy. In this important conversation, we intend to foster inter-religious dialogue, knowing that such dialogue must include the question of religious freedom for people of all faiths.

Our Hope
Now we have explained, briefly and no doubt inadequately, the reasons for which the Institute on Religion and Democracy was created in 1981, and the reasons why its task remains an urgent one today. Though our views may at times coincide with the political judgments of others, the IRD independently derives its positions from its own commitments and analyses. The issues are not simple. Our answers are not infallible. We are prone to err and we live by forgiveness. The debate is not between liberals and conservatives, between left and right. The debate is between those who do believe and those who do not believe that there is a necessary linkage between Christian faith and human freedom. The debate is between those who do and those who do not believe that in this moment of history democracy is the necessary product and protector of freedom. And the debate is between those who do and those who do not believe that freedom, an end in itself, is also the surest way to a greater measure of that peace and justice which we are to seek.

The heartening events of recent years notwithstanding, democracy’s future is not secured. We have been profoundly moved to praise and thanksgiving by what we believe was the Spirit-led drama of the Revolution of 1989 in central and eastern Europe. We cannot help but see the hand of God in this singular revolution of the spirit, accomplished so largely through nonviolent means. Thanks be to God, we have met and prayed, wept and laughed, with many of the victims of communist oppression on whose behalf we once worked. May their witness to Christian fidelity help renew the life of the Church in our country, as it helps renew the life of society in their countries. And yet, amidst the rejoicing, we also know that the victims of freedom’s denial still number in the many millions. And we do know that one day, before the judgment throne of God, those who were voiceless will ask what we said on their behalf. What we say or do may seem to be of little moment. But in the face of every discouragement we will persist in hope because finally, as we said at the start, Jesus Christ is Lord.