The Clergyman In Politics—A Rejoinder -- By: Karl F. Geiser

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 071:284 (Oct 1914)
Article: The Clergyman In Politics—A Rejoinder
Author: Karl F. Geiser


The Clergyman In Politics—A Rejoinder

Karl F. Geiser

Oberlin, Ohio.

If the above note by Mr. Spence were not intended as a reply to my article entitled “The Minister in Politics “in a preceding number of this journal, it would elicit no comment from me. But since my position seems, to have been both misunderstood and misconstrued, I will briefly restate my original argument and point out what I consider the most obvious fallacies in “The Clergyman in Politics,” leaving the issue to the judgment of the readers.

A word as to the purpose of my original article may serve to direct our thought upon the issue in question. As every one knows, much has recently been written concerning the church in its relation to social service; and ministers themselves have differed as to the advisability of having the church enter many new activities. But, so far as I know, little attention has been given to the relation of the church to that field of activity which lies in the domain of politics, and especially that branch of politics which falls under the sphere of government. It was the relation of the church and the minister to this particular field that I attempted to discuss. I naturally assumed that my remarks were addressed to critical readers who had followed the current thought upon these questions, and who would distinguish between social and political action, between ends and means of attaining ends.

The writer of the above note, however, disregards the most elemental, as well as elementary and universally accepted, distinctions, and it is therefore extremely difficult to give an adequate reply without exceeding the proper limits of space as well as the patience of the reader.

Briefly summarized, the original -article calls attention to the fact of politics as a science and to the need of a more universal regard for it as such; it calls attention to the frequent confusion of ends and means in political discussion and political action, to the unfortunate attempt to legislate and regulate by legal means beyond the sphere of effective political action, and it asserts that the minister is often responsible for this confusion and ineffective legislation in so far as he insists upon a specific form of action to attain a moral end; it is argued that the means of attaining political action should be left to the expert or to those trained or experienced in legislation and administration if real and lasting progress is to be made. Nowhere in my article is the right of the minister to do as he pleases denied or even discussed; nowhere is the right of the people to govern themselves brought into question. In general, the article maintains that in politics, as in ever...

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