THE country ought to be governed by the best men in it, and the best men are to be found in the Christian Church. Therefore, for the good of the Government and the people under it, the civil offices should be filled by Christians. So reason our friends, the Christian Endeavorers, and they have undertaken, no doubt in all honesty and sincerity, to put the theory into practice.
Or, what is a slightly different theory, but amounts to the same thing in the end, they believe that they themselves are best fitted to run the Government, by controlling the elections to public office, because they are Christians.
This reasoning is fallacious. The best men in the country are certainly Christians, but Christianity does not claim to qualify any person for public office. Christianity is designed to save people from their sins; and because a man is very pious and very good, it does not follow at all that he is better fitted than other people to hold office or to nominate men for office.
Christianity acquaints men with the governments of God; but the government of God and all human governments are totally dissimilar. The one is a government of love; the others are governments of force. The one brings to view the power of God unto salvation from sin; the others bring to view the power of man for the regulation of outward acts. The one is based upon a spiritual, divine law; the others upon the laws of man. The purpose of one is to maintain a perfect individual character; that of the others is to establish a prosperous State.
The very fact that a person is led to espouse the principles of the government of God, must have a tendency to unfit him for service in a government of a totally different character. The governments of earth know nothing of love; the theory is that the offender, if caught, must be punished. If he escapes it is not from any governmental recognition of the principle of pardon upon confession and repentance. No earthly government can recognize such a principle. It could not proceed a day if it should do so.
That country will be most prosperous in which there is the least need of government; and there will be the least need of government where the people are best fitted to govern themselves, as individuals, in harmony with the principle of respect for the rights of their neighbors. Christianity enables a person to do this; and the more real Christians there are in a community, the less need will there be there for the services of the sheriff, the fewer jails and poor houses will be needed, the less taxation will be required, and the less occasion will there be for enacting laws for their benefit. In this way, and this only, is Christianity a help to good government.
The qualifications for being a Christian are totally different from those required for statesmanship. Any person can be a Christian, because every person has the power and wisdom of God pledged to make him one, through faith in Christ. But not every person can be a statesman. Not every person can successfully fill a public office. Nor has God pledged his power or wisdom to qualify any person in this respect. The qualifications for eminence in public life are in the individual at his natural birth. The “new birth” has nothing to do with them.
And when a religious organization, such as that of the Christian Endeavorers, sets out to control the Government for any other purpose, it is inevitable that their views will have a religious coloring, and their actions be influenced by a religious bias. Their very nature being religious, and the object of their existence being the furtherance of religion, it can but follow that their exercise of civil power in their organized capacity will be guided by religious reasons. Their endeavors will be as distinctively “Christian” in the matter of running the Government, as in anything else.
As we have often said, the principle of the total separation of religion and the State is a Christian principle; but the endeavor to keep religion and the State separate is not Christian endeavor in the view of the Endeavorers. Their aim is in quite another direction.
The result will be that when the control of elections falls into their hands, men will be nominated and chosen to office on account of their religion, and religion will be connected with their administration of office. Thus religion will work its way into the Government, and with it will go the church; for where religion is there is also some church or church combination. Thus religion in the Government means the Church in the Government, which means a union of Church and State, which means an image of the papacy.
The religious people of this day who want to control the Government need not fancy that they alone of all religious people who in former times have grasped the civil  power, are upright and honest. The plan has always brought evil upon mankind in the past, this must be admitted. But we must give the religious people of past times credit for being honest, the same as we do those of to-day. They meant well, just as the Christian Endeavorers means well to-day. But the history of the papacy in Europe, and of the Puritans in America, testifies of the harm that resulted. It was so because it could not be otherwise. Christianity will not coalesce with a government of force; and it matters not how good and honest are the people who attempt to unite them, or how innocent and plausible is the appearance of things at the start. The only result that can possibly follow is that which has followed in the past—the establishment of a religious despotism.
As before stated, Christianity does not qualify any person for the administration of civil office. On the contrary, it separates a person from the world, and from that which is of the world. It gives him citizenship in a different country. It enrolls him under another government, while it teaches him to live peaceably with all men here, and to be in subjection to the powers that be. The governments of the earth are not the product of the wisdom and power of God, but of man; and God rules in them by overruling. The fit symbols of the divine government are the dove and the lamb; of human governments, the eagle and the lion. In the screaming and tearing of the eagle, and the roaring and rending of the lion, God has not called His people to participate.