Christians Shun Political Ambassadors
ON OCTOBER 20, 1951, the president of the United States appointed General Mark W. Clark ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the State of Vatican City.
Sharply reflecting public reaction were the thousands of letters that the White House, members of Congress and the public press received, protesting the appointment. Among the reasons given for protesting was that the appointment preferred the Roman Catholic Church above all others. A letter which made this point, but did so with a sense of humor, was published by the Washington Evening Star, October 25, 1951:
“Now that President Truman has appointed an Ambassador to the Vatican, I suggest that he also make the following appointments while Congress is in adjournment: Gen. Vaughan, Ambassador to the Methodist Church; Mr. Boyle, Ambassador to the Baptist Church; Mr. Finnegan, Ambassador to the Presbyterian Church; Mrs. Merle Young, Ambassador to the Church of Alaska (fur country); Senator McCarthy, Ambassador to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church; Gen. MacArthur, Ambassador to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church; Dr. Jessup, Ambassador to the Sons and Daughters of I Will Arise Church.”
Much has been and can be said and written regarding why the appointment of a United States ambassador to the Vatican has neither policy nor principle to support it.* Certainly informed circles do not attach much weight to the argument that the Vatican is a good “listening post”, and as for its aid in fighting communism, one only needs to look at Italy, where 99.6 per cent of the people are born and raised Catholics and where such Catholics are supporting the largest Communist party outside Russia itself.
The appointment’s being made to the State of Vatican City instead of to the Holy See surely was a mere subterfuge to make legal the preferring of one religion above the rest. Nor can the fact that the United States sends ambassadors to other nations whose rulers are also heads of religion justify the Vatican appointment, because such ambassadors are sent in spite of the fact that the political ruler is also a head of religion whereas the Vatican appointment was made solely because the ruler of Vatican City is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. And while the United States did have a representative to the Vatican up to 1868, the pope then was a bona fide political ruler of the Papal States consisting of some 16,000 square miles and of some three million inhabitants and at that time there was no other United States ambassador in Rome. And finally, the mere fact that other democratic nations send representatives to the Vatican does not justify the United States’ doing likewise, for they do not have a constitution which erects a ‘high and impregnable wall of separation between the church and state’, as does the United States.
THE SCRIPTURAL POSITION
But what is the Scriptural position regarding a religious organization having political ambassadors? Suppose the Constitution of the United States did not prohibit union of church and state, would the various religious organizations claiming to be Christian then be justified in having political relations with the government, as is the case in the democratic and Protestant countries of England and Finland?
According to the Scriptures, the true Christian congregation is a chaste virgin who has been promised in marriage to Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7, NW) She must therefore follow the example that He set regarding friendship and relations with the political rulers of the world. Christ Jesus refused the Devil’s offer of all the kingdoms of the world on the Devil’s terms; he refused to let the Jews forcibly make him their king; he said that he was not of the world and that neither were his followers; it had hated him and would hate them. Plainly he told the political ruler before whom he was being tried: “My kingdom is no part of this world.”—Matt. 4:8-10; John 6:15; 15:19; 17:16; 18:36, NW.
And the words of the apostles and other disciples of Jesus show that they clearly understood this matter. They admonished Christians not to be conformed to this wicked system of things; not to get entangled with it; not to become spotted by it, for this world is passing away. Friendly relations with the world they condemned as spiritual fornication and adultery. “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—Rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 2:3, 4; Jas. 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17, NW.
Besides, note the political, financial and moral corruption in the governments of the world. Particularly in recent months have investigations in Washington revealed a state of corruption that stinks to heaven. Why should Christians want to have anything to do with such an unclean organization? Counsel the Scriptures: “Get out from among them, and separate yourselves, . . . and quit touching the unclean thing.” Surely it would be folly for Christians to try to sew the new patch of Christian principles on that old garment of corrupt democracy. Christians, therefore, who understand God’s Word shun political ambassadors.—Matt. 9:16; 2 Cor. 6:17, NW.
Christians have something far more practical and fruitful and safer to do than to mix with the affairs of this world for the purpose of cleaning them up. Which is? Following in the footsteps of their Leader and Master. He said: “For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” He commanded: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—Matt. 28:19, 20; John 18:37, NW.
And Jesus’ followers obeyed that command. “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” “Those who had been scattered [because of persecution, did not stop preaching but] went through the land declaring the good news of the word.” Said Paul: “Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!” And he urged upon Timothy: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” Nor was this preaching to be done only by a select few. The Corinthian Christians were admonished to imitate Paul even as he imitated Christ, and the apostle Peter shows that Christians are given the light of truth that they may ‘declare abroad the excellencies of God’.—Acts 5:42; 8:4; 1 Cor. 9:16; 11:1; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Pet. 2:9, NW.
The present-day fulfillment of Bible prophecy shows that we are living in the “time of the end” of the world, the consummation of this system of things; that Jehovah has begun to rule as King through his Son who now rules in the midst of his enemies; that soon God’s patience with the wicked nations will run out, which will mean their destruction; and that following this destruction God will establish a new heavens and a new earth wherein righteousness will dwell. If it was necessary for Christ Jesus and his early followers to keep separate from the world back there, how much more important is it that Christians today keep separate from it in view of its impending doom? And if it was important to preach the good news regarding Jehovah God, Christ Jesus and the Kingdom then, how much more urgent is it now? Now, when “this good news of the kingdom [must] be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations”, before the accomplished end comes.—Ps. 2; Matt. 24; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 19:5, 6, NW.
The Scriptural position is clear. Christians have nothing in common with the wicked, doomed nations of the world. They will therefore shun having any political ambassadors. They will confine their activities to making known God’s purposes, and, like the apostle Paul, be ambassadors from God and for Christ Jesus to men of good will, showing them how they can be reconciled to God.—2 Cor. 5:20.
See Awake! January 8, 1952.