"Christianity does not, repeat not, look forward to a gradual betterment of human behaviour and society or to the progressive spread of peace and justice upon earth. Still less does Christianity purport to offer a scheme or general outline for bringing that about. Quite the reverse, it uniformly teaches, as if to emphasize the point for good measure, that things will get worse rather than better before we are through. So far from it being the function of Gospel revelation to prevent that happening, the reversal which it promises is sudden, apocalyptic, external; something which irrupts into the world like a lightning flash ...
I have no wish to be unecumenical. Dear me, that would be too terribly unfashionable! Yet I cannot refrain from quoting the remarkable words which the Pope addressed to Harold Wilson on the occasion of the latter's recent visit to the Vatican. The Supreme Pontiff welcomed the accession of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community -- a provisional political arrangement, about which British electors are all entitled to hold their own opinion, and upon which I suppose the head of a foreign state may arguably be permitted to comment, though with due restraint. But what His Holiness said was astonishing:
[In joining the Community] not only will Great Britain be furthering the cause of the brotherhood of all men but she will be also bringing closer the day when the goal of universal peace and justice will finally be attained.
Nothing could be plainer or more emphatic. If the actions of politicians, such as the governments party to the Treaties of Rome and Brussels, can bring nearer the final establishment of peace and justice upon earth, then other similar actions can bring it nearer still and nearer, until eventually it must be attained through their agency. You cannot both believe this and be a Christian; for if this is true, then Christ died in vain, and mankind can be saved and glorified by its own prudent endeavours. Whatever such a belief is, it is not Christianity; and surely it is striking testimony to the compelling power of fashion that such language should be held, apparently without any sense of incongruity, by the successor of St Peter himself."
--- Enoch Powell, "Then Shall the End Come," Wrestling with the Angel (London: Sheldon Press, 1977).