The Federal Council of Churches recently created a "Commission to Study the Bases of a Just and Durable Peace." More recently (March 3-5, 1942) this commission convened at Ohio Wesleyan University in a National Study Conference on the Churches and a Just and Durable Peace. Delegates to the number of 377 attended. The meeting brought forth a "Statement of Guiding Principles," which is likely to become known as "The Church's Thirteen Points for World Peace."
Apparently believing that the divine commission to preach the gospel is not sufficient to command all their bthought and effort, these religio-politicians have presumed to tell the statesmen of the world how to run world affairs. Their apologetic for so doing they set forth in the preamble of their "Guiding Statement" as follows :
"In consequence of the prophetic tradition of Biblical religion, and in loyalty to the words of Jesus Christ Himself, it is the function of the church to 'discern' the times and the seasons, to 'decipher the meaning' of each succeeding era, and to bear witness to the word and will of God in each concrete situation. In doing so the church will issue a call to repentance in which both church and nation shall acknowledge their separate and corporate guilt before God."
The thirteen points are too long to be quoted in full. Summarized, they are the following:
1. Social and political institutions must be brought into conformity with moral law.
2. A mood of genuine penitence is demanded of all—individuals and nations alike—for indifference to, and violation of, moral law.
3. The spirit of revenge and retaliation must be abandoned.
4. A true community of nations is called for, under "a higher and more inclusive authority," to take the place of the present "world of irresponsible, competing, and unrestrained national sovereignties, whether acting alone or in coalition."
5. Some "international organization" must be provided to ensure economic security by "evenly" distributing the natural resources of all nations,
6. "International machinery" must be provided "to facilitate the easing of such economic and political tensions as are inevitably recurrent in a world which is living and therefore chano'ing."
7. A continuation of democratic forms of government is insisted on, and their extension until "autonomy for all subject and colonial peoples" is obtained.
8. International control of military establishments is suggested, and their subjection "to law under the community of nations," with restriction of individual nations in "the right of maintaining or expanding their military establishments."
9. There must be no limitation by reason of "race, color, or creed" on "the right of all men to pursue work of their own choosing and to enjoy security from want and oppression."
10. "Changes of national policy on the part of the United States" must be made so that this country shall assume the major responsibility for "bringing international relations into conformity with the moral law." Among these changes are mentioned "equal access to natural resourees, economic collaboration, equitable treatment of racial minorities, international control of tariffs, limitation of armaments, participation in world government." "The United States must accept the responsibility for constructive action commensurate with its power and opportunity."
11. The church, "now in reality a world community," must be used "to develop" the "spirit of righteousness and love in every race and nation and thus to make possible a just and durable peace." All Christians must now dedicate themselves to this task.
12. All Christians must now translate their "beliefs into practical realities" in order "to create a public opinion which will ensure that the United States shall play its full and essential part in the creation of a moral way of international living."
13. The belief must be maintained that "the eternal God revealed in Christ is the ruler of men and of nations" and "that the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of Christ and that He shall reign forever and ever."
An ambitious program, to say the least—especially for churchmen. It leaves us wondering when the church is to do its divinely commissioned work, that of preaching the gospel, which is not mentioned as one of the thirteen points. Or is that now to be abandoned for this new program? We also are made to wonder whether these modern churchmen are familiar with the pronouncement of the divine head of the chttroh--"My kingdom is not of this world!"
There is, however, another group of world churchmen who are inclined to view with some uneasiness this bid for world control on the part of Protestant leaders, perhaps as encroaching on their own precincts. Editorial comment in the Catholic weekly, America, of March 28, 1942, directs attention to the "representatives of some thirty Protestant denominations" at this meeting at Wesleyan University for a "duly constituted world government of delegated powers," equipped with international legislature, courts, police, army and navy control, even an international money system, and sternly admonishes that this "would seem to conflict with that principle which Pope Pius XII, in his Christmas, 5939, allocution, laid down as 'the fundamental condition of a just and honorable peace.' Such a peace, said the Pope, should 'assure the right to life and independence of all nations, large, small, strong or weak.'"
This Catholic journal goes on to declare that "if we scent the danger of collectivist theories behind some of the philosophy of the 'American Malvern,' it is for the Catholic students to clarify where we stand in the coming redistribution of the world's property and the world's government."
Thus both parties display a willingness to take charge of dividing up "the world's property and the world's government," setting a striking example of what the church ought not to be engaged in. All this but emphasizes anew the importance of God's people's taking advantage of an unparalleled opportunity for carrying out the great commission of preaching the gospel in all the world and getting men ready for the passing of all earthly kingdoms to give place to the eternal kingdom of peace.