The Kingdom of God Is Not America
Because of the short lifespan' of most men, there is a tendency to identify with "now" and ignore history. The U.S.A. has existed as a Republic for only two hundred years, but Christianity has been around just about ten times that long. Solomon said, "There is no remembrance of former things," and also that "Is there anything whereof it may be said, see, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us." (Ecc. 1: 10)
The United States is not the only nation that has called out love and respect from her people. "By the rivers Of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I forget thee let my tongue cleave to the top of my mouth; If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." (Psa. 137:1-6). The Jews, carried off into captivity, longed for the land that they had lived in and had grown to love so much. Every generation, in every home, in every time, clings to the land that gave them birth. This is only as it should be. The mistake for the Christian, though, is in -thinking that what we have in Christ and His Kingdom is as parochial in scope as we are. No land or people have a monopoly on the grace of God. "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him" (Acts 10:34, 35).
Unfortunately, some Christians do not view Christ's Kingdom as eternal and international; on the contrary these brethren are pitifully insular in their concept of God's people. During the Civil War a well known Gospel preacher, B. F. Hall, served as chaplain to a regiment of Texas Rangers who were then camped at Fayetteville, Arkansas. Some of his brethren paid him a visit and were shocked at his callous jesting concerning the bestiality of his men. When asked by one of the brethren how he could feel this way towards his brethren from the north he replied, "I have no brethren in the North, they are all infidels."
This attitude that "I have no brethren in the north" is not one that died with B. F. Hall. As late as 1967 Foy E. Wallace said in print, "Subjection for conscience sake does not require submission to usurpations of tyrannical governments (consider I Peter 2: 18, 19 JWK) which have given citizens cause through the centuries for the revolutions which have preserved true government among men of many nations" (Sermon on the Mount and the Civil State, p. 122.) Not only do Brother Wallace and men like him advocate rebellion and revolution, but go further to say, "Law enforcement is war on the local level, and our national defense in the recurrent international crises is war on the extended scale." (Ibid). This last statement makes a criminal out of every man, woman, and child in every nation with which our country decides to declare war. This seems quite incongruous in the Nuclear Age to classify all those killed in war on the "other side" as criminal.
The most serious moral accusation that we could level at war is that it is national murder, even though the normal justifications for war carefully separate the taking of life in war from any other circumstances under which it might be done. The defender of war considers it to be a form of police action, and the deaths that it produces are believed to be an aspect of capital punishment for political or social crimes. Such an analogy however makes a fundamental mistake. Police action is under law, while war is in a state of anarchy. War is like the old West range battles, which were carried out by self appointed vigilantes without any legal sanction. War is like Ku Klux Klan activity, and the deaths that result are more like Klan lynching than like executions at San Quentin. War presumes a double standard that is both atavistic and insolent, and this is part of the basis for the criticism that war is really a form of murder. What is banned for individuals outside the context of war is blessed when the individual performs them in wartime. What is banned for states within a federal union is blessed for states outside the federal union. Police after all are not to be expected to be praised for destroying the residents and their homes under the guise of rooting out local crime. A police force which was as careless and callous of human lives as an army is, would be investigated and abolished.
From the point of view of some endorsers of the martial spirit, it is a mistake to separate the military and civilian functions of government. "It must follow that if civil government is right, military government is of necessity right, for the civil cannot exist without the military to support it" (Sermon on the Mount and the Civil State, Wallace, p. 158). After all, the aims of military strategy ordinarily entail victory in the shortest possible time no matter what happens politically. Civilians may, because of their political reservations, obstruct the military commander who is simply trying to kill his opponents. The military leader has an end which he euphemistically calls "winning the war," while the political leader has an end which he calls "winning the peace." Indeed, the confusion has become so abysmal that military leaders themselves speak of their efforts as "peace offensives," and they designate their armies as "peace keeping forces."
This linguistic somersault reflects the tired analogy between armies and police forces. But armies function in the absence of law, while the police function within law. An army that increased the war tempo would ordinarily be praised for its success, while the police force that increased, the overt attacks of the criminal world might well be subjected to investigation. Where police brutality may incite a riot, this action is condemned. While the army incites the enemy to attack, this may be praised as sound strategy. Armies commonly increase the likelihood of war. Police forces on the contrary, would rarely be accused of increasing the crime rate.
We have fought our wars to "End war for all time," "to make the world safe for Democracy," to stop Communist aggression." Even at the cost of ninety million lost lives, and souls, all told the world over, man has not stopped war, made the world safe for Democracy or anything else, nor have we stopped Communism. One of the arguments brought against the Herald of Truth and other such unscriptural organizations is that it is not only unauthorized by God's word, but is a prodigal waste as well. Some would decry with tears the waste in money, lives, and severed relationships that institutionalism brings, but with a different glitter in their eyes, they send out their young men to learn how to efficiently kill his brethren in other lands. It is not a wide step for the followers of the Prince of Peace from sanction of war and abortion to elimination of any that cannot defend themselves or are of no use to the murderer. The U.S. is the richest nation on the face of this earth, a nation of the overfed when half the world is starving. "Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and have been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in the day of slaughter. You have killed and condemned the just; and he doth not resist you" (James 5:5, 6).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 15, pp. 5-7