Pacem in Terris
Peace on earth is a strange sound when one places it in the context of the sounds of national and international rivalry and insurrection. At a time of chanting mobs and of rebellion and unrest all over the world the world leaders and the intellectual great gathered in a convocation in New York City supported by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and the Johnson Foundation of Racine, Wisconsin. They came to “examine the requirements for peace” in the context of the encyclical of Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris”. “Pacem in Terris” was chosen as an appropriate starting point because the encyclical addressed itself to Roman Catholic and all other men concerned with the search for peace.
The convocation presented an imposing list of participants. The participants included political personages, religious figureheads and intellectually renowned individuals. Some of these participants were H.H. Humphrey, vice president of the U.S., UThant, United Nations Secretary General, Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, judge of the International Court of Justice and former president of U.N. General Assembly, J. William Fulbright, Rhodes scholar and U.S. senator, Adlai E. Stevenson, U.N. Ambassador from the U.S., Arnold J. Toynbee, renowned historian at Oxford University, theologian Paul Tillich, and other high government officials from the major nations of the world.
At least two periodicals have devoted space to this convocation. Life in the March 5, 1965, issue reported concerning the progress of the meeting and the Saturday Review in the February 13, 1965, edition produced a series of articles prior to the convocation which examined the basic ideas of the pope’s encyclical and the implications of these ideas for the establishment of world peace on a secular level.
Robert M. Hutchins, past president of the University of Chicago, editor of the Great Books of the Western World, and author of the Great Conversation was the host to this convocation. He is not the director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. The basic approach was to “explore the requirements of a durable world peace through panels covering the Rule of Law, peace-keeping institutions, a solution to Europe’s territorial dilemmas, the problems of neutralist and non-nuclear nations, the terms of coexistence, and the implications of the papal encyclical for U.N. policy.” Life, March 5, 1965.
Many were the proposed solutions to these problems and none differed from all the attempts of man to lift himself from the mire by his own boot-straps. All the cries were on the level of human rights, dignity of man, and the destiny of the world. Hubert Hortio Humphrey, vice president of the U.S., did not think that the goal of the convocation was too ambitious. He did not quite agree with the theologian Tillich who states that the goal of world peace was a nigh impossibility. Humphrey stated that the goals of the convocation “offer a public philosophy for a nuclear era.” Tillich, a prophet of modern anti-Christian religion, stated that he basic drive of man to war had to first be conquered. Almost everyone agreed that the nuclear bomb should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Israel’s Abba Eban, deputy prime minister, declared “that after millennia of national histories, mankind has now entered the ‘first era of global history’. Eban pleaded for a Great Society of Mankind and won a standing ovation from the audience.” Life.
The attempt of the nations and leaders of the world is to transcend the parochial interests which each have and to unite together. This has tremendous implications for the people of God and for the church of Jesus Christ. Such activities by the men of the world should not pass by unnoticed and un-critiqued by one who claims to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God. We live in an age when the world is rushing rapidly to unite to recreate Babel and the great anti-Christ state which is described by the Scriptures. We live in an age when all things are moving rapidly toward the final unification of the forces of evil against the church.
Our battle is not therefore against flesh and blood. As part of those who are caught up in the Battle of the Ages we need not be concerned with social betterment and world domination. Our battle is against principality and power; it is against wickedness in high places. It is necessary that we stand steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. This means that we look neither to the right nor to the left but with our eye fixed on the city that hath foundations we say no to the world and live our lives as a separate, distinct, God-glorifying people.
May we never be deceived by the siren-song of the world and look for peace on earth. They cry peace, peace and there is no peace. They look for peace apart from the saving blood of Jesus Christ and there is no peace except through the blood of Christ. They have not the peace that passeth understanding.
Pray too that church may never go into the political arena. The goal of the church is not at all in concord with the goals of the political idealist, whether he is professed fundamentalist or liberal.
“…and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Are these the days in which we live?
Do you read in these events and in the proposed solutions of men the signs of the coming of the anti-Christ, the man of sin?
“…But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”