the emperor and the boy scout

What was presented to [the young G. B.] Shaw as the Christian faith was not Christian but unitarian, the eternal religion of this world. The greater the social prestige and political and economic power of the Church, the greater must always be her temptation to ‘confound the Persons and divide the Substance,’ i.e. to make God the purely transcendent First Cause of the Greek philosophers, the absentee landlord of the universe, and herself His bailiff. The Word made Flesh must then be either safely imprisoned, like the Emperor of Japan, within the ecclesiastical organization — the danger for Catholicism — or safely ‘humanized’ and turned into a good boy scout — the danger for Protestantism. In either case the Christian faith has been abandoned for a political religion, more agreeable to the bourgeois Haves in society. Unfortunately, in attacking this heresy, the bohemian Have-nots are tempted to make God purely immanent, in a Great Man, a race, or a class, to deny the Father in the name of the Son.

But this too is a political religion and, moreover, only tenable so long as one is the opposition and therefore without positive political responsibility for human suffering, so long as one is not in a position to make good one’s promise of creating a heaven on and out of earth.

— Auden, review of a biography of George Bernard Shaw, 1942