Question [Excerpts from our archives]: You allow Pope Pius XII to take a hit for his lack of action on behalf of the Jews in the face of the Holocaust [but] defend your position for nonsocial action. In all honesty, do you really think that if you had lived in Nazi Germany you would have behaved any differently? Our Lord told the story of the good Samaritan to illustrate that we should help those who are victimized by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The distinction you make between the apostles “preaching the gospel” and “actively working toward improving morality and social justice” is specious. Biblical exemplars like Daniel did use the opportunity to exercise great moral influence over whole societies.... God is not content with personal devotion or individual righteousness (morality) but seeks people who also look out for the interests of others. John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking out against Herod’s choice of a wife, and I believe this is one supporting scripture that shows we can comment on political issues.
Response: Yes, we can “comment on political issues,” but that doesn’t mean we should. I am not dogmatic on this and not above correction, but I would like that correction to come from the clear teaching and example in the Scriptures, not opinion. John the Baptist rebuked an evil ruler, who then took off John’s head. If this had any influence for good upon the general populace of that day, we aren’t told of it. Is it possible that John made a mistake, causing his until-then fruitful ministry to be cut short? Hadn’t he just violated Christ’s wise counsel, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine” (Matthew:7:6)? Should we imagine that ungodly political leaders would welcome moral correction?
Jesus, who was alive and preaching throughout Israel at that very time, never once rebuked Herod (or Caesar, et al.)! Since Christ left us an example to follow (1 Peter:2:21) and told His disciples, “Follow me” (Matthew:4:19, etc.), shouldn’t we consider His total absence of political activism as an example that we are to follow?
Daniel is often mentioned as having exercised great “moral influence over whole societies.” But we certainly find no hint of that in Scripture. Nor did Joseph convert Pharaoh or anyone else in Egypt that we know of, except his own wife. There was no improvement in Egypt, either morally or spiritually, nor does the Bible indicate that Joseph even attempted that. Yes, it was likely through Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in God (Daniel:4:37), but that didn’t deliver Babylon from paganism; nor is there a hint that Daniel won any of the king’s other advisors or citizens to the Lord.... Darius always spoke to Daniel of “thy God, whom thou servest continually” (6:16, 20) and referred to “the God of Daniel” (6:26) without indication that he himself had come to know the true God. No scripture tells us that Joseph or Daniel wielded a powerful moral influence over either Egypt or Babylon. If anyone was in a position to lead a movement of social and political action it was these two, yet there is no hint that they did so. They had a personal testimony only, did not attempt to change the moral climate as a whole, and were in positions of leadership in order to protect God’s people, not to change either the politics or morals of the country.
We, too, should have a clear testimony and should stand true to our Lord and His Word as individuals, wherever we are. But as for organized political and social action, it isn’t mentioned in Scripture. Should we not take the lack of this on the part of Christ and both the Old Testament saints and the early church as an example for us to follow? As for the Good Samaritan, we too ought to help all those whom we encounter who are in need of our ability. We don’t read, however, that he campaigned to get others to do likewise, or set up an organization to seek out and help those in similar need across Israel, much less that he pressured the government to clean up its own behavior toward the needy. We are commanded to preach the gospel to everyone everywhere, but never are we told to engage in social action. As for your question of what I would have done had I been living in Germany at that time, the pope was not an ordinary citizen and his actions should not be judged as though he were. He was a moral leader with worldwide influence. Moreover, far from being an ordinary person the pope claims to be the Vicar of Christ. Yet he was silent in the face of the wholesale slaughter of Christ’s brethren, the Jews, God’s chosen people.... Do I speak out today against the evil in society? I certainly warn audiences, Christian and non-Christian, of the evils of society, with most emphasis upon the satanic traps that destroy the soul. The only real hope is for these men and women to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves.