Insight on the News
Conscience or Jobs
Recently the 500 Roman Catholic workers at a nuclear weapons assembly plant in Amarillo, Texas, were faced with a difficult question of conscience. Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen urged all 2,400 workers at the plant to resign in protest over the American decision to stockpile the neutron bomb. As reported in the National Catholic Reporter, one church deacon who works at the plant said: “You know what your moral position would be if you were the guy to pull the trigger, but it is less clear if you are assembling parts. . . . If the church thought my work was immoral, why wasn’t something said seven years ago when I applied to the diaconate program?”
While any outcry against implements of war is commendable, the deacon’s question indicates that his bishop’s urgings were motivated more by neutron-bomb politics than conscientious qualms about making weapons. Instead of leaving one’s conscience in such a quandary, the Bible clearly foretold what can be expected from those who truly would be serving God in the “days to come.” Through the prophet Isaiah, God gave a preview of our day when “many peoples” among the nations “will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles” (rather than assemble weapons of war) and “there will be no more training for war” among them.—Isaiah 2:1-4, Catholic Jerusalem Bible.
Pope to ‘Save World’?
“A sense of divine mission thrusts the Pontiff ever more deeply into the politics of Poland,” declared a recent Newsweek article entitled “The Pope’s Divisions.” The article notes that “during his first return to Poland he declared that the Holy Spirit intended that ‘this Polish Pope, this Slav Pope should at this precise moment manifest the spiritual unity of Eastern Europe.’” And, in a recent address to European theologians, the pope contended that “the problem that assails us is really to save Europe and the world from the final catastrophe.”
In keeping with this goal, Newsweek notes, the pope has been spending a good deal of time with political figures, including “one of the longest audiences he has ever granted to a foreign official”—the Polish foreign minister. But is such politically oriented activity truly a “calling from God” to ‘save the world from final catastrophe’? Indeed, is it in keeping with God’s purpose at all to ‘save the world’ as we know it? “Saint” Peter, through whom the pope claims apostolic authority, answers No. Peter foretold that just as “the world that then was [before Noah’s flood], being overflowed with water, perished,” so too, “the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store” for God’s fiery judgment against “ungodly men.”—2 Peter 3:6, 7, Catholic Douay Version.
U.S. President on Armageddon
As reported in the New York Times, after a recent discussion with President Reagan, Alabama Senator Howell Heflin told newsmen: “We got off into the Bible a little bit. We were talking about the fact that the Middle East, according to the Bible, would be the place where Armageddon would start. . . . He interprets the Bible and Armageddon to mean that Russia is going to get involved in it.”
It is commendable that such high-ranking public officials do not dismiss lightly what the Bible says about Armageddon. However, is Armageddon actually a catastrophic final war between blocs of nations as these officials apparently believe? Well, the Bible’s reference to the word “Armageddon” includes not just the Eastern bloc of nations, but also the Western bloc when it depicts “the kings of the earth and of the whole world” all gathered on one side of the great battle. The forces on the other side are those of God himself, since the conflict is called “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Hence, the great war at the figurative “place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” will not be a nuclear holocaust between national groups. Rather, it is a selective war in which God will use his power to cleanse the earth of wickedness.—Revelation 16:14, 16, Authorized Version; compare Revelation 19:11-19.