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    August 14, 1889

    “An Unchristian Union” American Sentinel 4, 29.

    E. J. Waggoner

    At the State Convention of the Vermont Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, something over a year ago, the 170 delegates adopted by unanimous vote,AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.1

    Resolved, That we believe Christ, as the author and head of government, should be recognized in all political platforms, and by all societies, and we will rejoice to see the day when a political party distinctly gives such recognition.”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.2

    Miss Willard is reported as having said concerning this resolution, “There is not a W. C. T. U. in the land that will not echo this.”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.3

    This is sufficient of itself to settle the question as to whether or not the W. C. T. U. is an ally to the National Reform Association. But it was not especially for the purpose of commenting on this resolution that we quoted it, but to place before our readers some correspondence which took place in regard to it, and which, though old, will doubtless be new to a great majority of the readers of the AMERICAN SENTINEL, and will be of interest, as the principles are ever the same.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.4

    Shortly after the passage of this resolution, Mrs. Lucinda B. Chandler addressed an open letter to Miss Willard, which was deemed of sufficient value by the latter to merit what she termed “a reply.” After a brief introduction Mrs. Chandler proceeds as follows:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.5

    “It is impossible for me to understand the record of the teaching of Jesus so as to claim him as ‘the author and head of government.’ He emphatically declared that his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus of Nazareth neither established ecclesiastical nor civil government. He founded neither church nor State. The great burden of his teaching was to pronounce the relation of humanity to the Father as one of spirit, and the only worship he enjoined was to worship in spirit and in truth.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.6

    “How much would this true worship and love of the Spirit be promoted by grafting upon political platforms the name of Christ as ‘the author and head of government.’AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.7

    “With your fertile imagination I beg you to forecast the effect upon the native honesty and integrity of office-seekers and political partisans, of making the condition of a place in office and political power a religious test, and the subscribing to a claim that Jesus Christ is ‘the author and head’ of our national affairs. Have we not already enough of lying and hypocrisy in our land? Have we not enough of centralizing power already oppressing the people in mammom-bred monopoly? Shall we have added a religious test to the sycophancy, and hypocritical pretense?”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.8

    It would seem as though this should commend itself to everybody as just criticism. It is in-comprehensible how any one with any knowledge of American politics, or with any knowledge of human nature, should think that politics will be purified and human nature elevated by a political party having as the chief plank in its platform the recognition of Christ as “author and head of government.” When we see how ready men are to profess anything, in order that they may advance their own interests; when the history of the world contains scarcely anything else than the record of the time-serving policy of men, of how men have sold their influence and their honor and everything, to gain popularity and power; how men have professed one religion to-day and another to-morrow, according as one or the other had the greatest hold upon the masses of the people—it is as clear as noon-day that if a political party should base its platform chiefly on the recognition of Christ as “author and head of government” it would only make hypocritical followers of Christ. Just as soon as it should by any means,—and it could not do it by Christian methods,—begin to gain control of affairs, all the baser element, all those who intend to feed at the public crib at any cost, would turn and support it; and men who are gross and profane and licentious in private, if not in public, would shout themselves hoarse for Christ and his kingdom.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.9

    Again we quote:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.10

    “Religious tests as qualification for civic service would not develop a spirit of truth. Religious tests and a formal recognition of the name of God or Christ would inevitably become the fettering gyves of an assumptive hierarchy. The Protestant idea and principle having abnegated itself by adopting the method of hierarchial authority, would be swept into the abyss where liberty had already been cast, wounded unto death.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.11

    “No, no, my much-respected sister, I must hope that your more matured consideration will lead you to a different conclusion and determination. I cannot believe you wish religious liberty overthrown. I cannot think you would welcome the reign of hypocrisy and cant as an agency of political power. To enforce outward conduct by offering political preference would not advance either the spirit of truth or of love.”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.12

    We quote again:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.13

    “Righteousness, justice, truth, and above all ‘love which vaunteth not itself and is not puffed up,’ cannot be actualized in peoples or nations through legislative enactment.”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.14

    With this last paragraph everybody ought to agree. It is self-evident. Love is not a thing that can be forced. Who is there so foolish as to think that one person can be compelled to love another? Who is there that would think of using physical force to get a child to love its teacher? and yet the W. C. T. U. and other National Reform bodies think to promote love for Christ and his truth by legal enactments! The statement of their desire should be sufficient to show the folly of it.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.15

    The letter proceeds as follows:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.16

    “It is earnestly to be hoped that the W. C. T. U. will not lend its influence to any proposed political measures to destroy our constitutional liberties, religious or civil, but that they will continue to work diligently on the lines of education, toward a higher physiological, social, and moral standard of life on the comprehensive principle of temperance.”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.17

    We heartily second this wish. With the legitimate work of this W. C. T. U. as we have always been in sympathy. If they would ... they begun, to labor for the advancement of temperance by moral and intellectual thought they would never have a word of criticism from us. We heartily support them in their work to educate the children and all others in the principles of health and temperance and morality; but we cannot go with them when they depart from this reasonable and just method of work,—the only method which can accomplish any real results,—and adopt the unreasonable and unjust and wicked method of attempting to compel men to be Christlike.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.18

    We do not see how anyone can answer the following paragraph of the open letter to Miss Willard, except by endorsing it:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.19

    “Jesus said to Zebedee’s sons: ‘Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not he so among you. Whosoever would be chief among you, let him be your servant.’ The real followers of Christ will serve and minister unto humanity, and not seek to establish political power by means of religious test, even of the name of Christ.”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.20

    The following also is worthy of careful consideration:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.21

    “If the church under the constitutional freedom secured to it cannot leaven the people with a love of justice, and make itself a power against political corruption by its higher life, and the spirit of truth in its membership, it would surely fail of accomplishing it by platform dogmas or constitutional amendments.”AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.22

    This last paragraph strikes at the very root of the matter, and shows that such a course as is marked out by the National Reformers is derogatory to the Christian religion. It virtually says there is no power in the Spirit of Christ, and that God, working through his own divinely appointed ways, cannot accomplish the result that he designed; that if men work according to the rules he has laid down they will fail, and that therefore they must inaugurate a system of their own.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.23

    Further than this, it can be shown that a political party with such a platform as is desired by the W. C. T. U. can succeed only by stultifying itself. It can come to power only by going directly contrary to all the principles of Christ and his kingdom, which they profess to wish to establish. Thus, political parties have influence according to the number of votes that they can control. These alone count. Now why is there call for such a party as the W. C. T. U. desire to see? Why do they wish it? Simply because existing parties are corrupt. And why are existing parties corrupt? Because the men who control them are corrupt; and not only are those who control them corrupt, but the pen they control are corrupt. In other words, politics is corrupt because the good men, the Christian men, and the men of high moral principle in the government are in the minority. They are outvoted by those who have no principle but selfish policy. Now how is this reform party to secure the controlling influence? Only by meeting these corrupt elements on their own ground, by opposing policy to policy, and by wire-pulling and underhanded means, such as are now employed; and then if they ever get into power, what will constitute their strength? Simply the number of votes they can secure to back their principles? And from what ranks will these voters have been secured?—from the ranks of the existing corrupt parties, from professional politicians who will have taken their stand because they have been led to think that there is profit in it; and as they will have a party professing allegiance to Christ, but made up of the very same men who composed and controlled the old parties, and holding the very same principles; and, worse than all, these men will think themselves good Christians because they belong to the “Christian party.” We say that all good Christians ought to pray to be delivered from complicity with any such party as this.AMS August 14, 1889, page 226.24

    We say nothing concerning anyone’s personal Christianity, but we are sure that no one who is really and intelligently Christian can ever favor any such scheme.AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.1

    But how did Miss Willard reply to the letter from which we have quoted these strong, sensible paragraphs? She acknowledged the whole point in the questions so pertinently addressed to her, and simply reiterated her declaration in favor of a national Christianity. Here is a specimen:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.2

    “Can the heart of God beat anywhere more potently than in a party and a platform that allies itself to God as revealed in that Christ spirit which knows neither foreign nor native, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, but lifts humanity to one equal level of opportunity and hope?”AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.3

    It is indeed true that in Christ there is neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, and all are one; but does Miss Willard expect this state of things to be brought about by political action? Every Christian knows, both from observation and experience, that there is nothing but the personal work of the Spirit of Christ in the heart that can break down distinctions of race and personal peculiarities and preferences, so that different peoples may unite as one. But can party platforms control the Spirit of Christ and bring it into the hearts of men. The fact that written creeds do not make Christians is almost universally recognized; and what would a political party with a platform recognizing Christ be but a creed; and how can such a creed have any more effect in transforming the life and character than a creed which men may receive or reject voluntarily?AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.4

    There is indeed a party whose platform and all who compose it should be allied together by a tie that would break down distinctions of nationality and personal peculiarity, and that party is the church. Those only who are Christians can unite in the most perfect fellowship, but those who are Christians are members of this church, which is His body. It follows therefore that when Miss Willard desires a party that shall have this for its object she simply desires a political church, in other words, a union of Church and State. Of course, the object will fail of being achieved, and she will have simply a form, and such a church will not be the church of Christ.AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.5

    Here is Miss Willard’s idea of recognizing Christ. She says:—AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.6

    “Christ is to-day the great world force for righteousness, for gentleness, for purity; and I believe with all my heart the world can in no other way do itself so great a favor as by making much of his mission. He is so high as to be seen from everywhere; to whom else can the nations rally with such unanimity. He is so vast as to encompass us all in his plan and his record; shall we not let him gather us as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings? He is so universal as to be claimed by all, from Catholics to Spiritualists, and even agnostics and atheists say with Pilate, ‘I find no fault in the man.’ Can we not all then consent to be claimed by him as loyal, loving followers?”AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.7

    We are amazed that a woman of so much culture and presumably Christian experience as Miss Willard, can be so blinded as to think that a union of Catholics, Spiritualists, agnostics, and atheists, together with evangelical churches, upon a platform recognizing Christ, can be anything more than the most hollow and wicked sham.AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.8

    Here the reader may see that all we have charged upon the movement is just. There will be no Christianity in it whatever. He who says that there will be real Christianity in the union, must say that infidels, agnostics, and atheists are real Christians. We believe that these men can be good citizens, but we are certain that they are not Christians. It needs no argument to show that a man who denies Christ is not a Christian. If it is true, as Miss Willard says, that all the Christian Unions in the United States are in favor of this thing, and are working for it, it is true the National W. C. T. U. is working itself into a position where it will be not a Christian Union, but an un-Christian union.AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.9

    We do not know that we need to quote any more from this letter. It shows that the National Reform party, of which Miss Willard stands as the best representative, is visionary in the extreme. We are willing to grant that they desire a better state of things than now exists. They see that there is wickedness and corruption, and they desire to see a reversed state; but, they have dreamed an impossible thing. Their desires may be laudable, but their methods of work do not indicate a knowledge either of human nature or of the gospel of Christ.AMS August 14, 1889, page 227.10

    E. J. W.

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