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Statement on our National Fate by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan - Motivation Based on Faith and Theology 1972
The leading article in the March 1972 issue of Tai-oan Kau-hoe Kong-Po (the then monthly, now weekly, magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan) was written by Rev. C. M. Kao, PCT Secretary-General (1970-1989), concerning the Statement on Our National Fate.
Statement on our National Fate by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan - Motivation Based on Faith and Theology
by Rev. C.M. Kao
After the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan published its Statement on Our National Fate on the 29 December 1971, we received responses from many quarters. In my capacity as Secretary-General of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, I would like to express deep gratitude to all those inside and outside the Church who have offered us their comments. In order that all our friends, who are concerned about the "National Fate" statement, may have a better understanding that the Church's motive in producing the Statement on Our National Fate was founded on faith and theology, I am taking this opportunity to report and explain several points:
1. We are extremely grateful to many friends, who, by their positive support of the Statement, have given us great encouragement and comfort. Certainly, Christians living in a time of national distress should be able to speak out in more than simply polite terms. In the past we have usually accepted "Thou shalt not offend anyone" as the first commandment, and have disregarded the responsibility which Christians ought to have to society and the nation. This Statement is founded on the conviction of our Christian faith that Christians have such a responsibility.
2. Should the Church get involved in political matters? After the Statement was issued it caused many people to raise this question. Since the Reformation, the development of modern history and the trend toward the separation of politics and religion, the Church has indeed not become bound up in politics again as it was in the Middle Ages. Except for a few extremely conservative groups, however, most orthodox Protestant churches have encouraged their members to be responsible citizens and to participate in constructive activities in society and politics, and thus to be "the light of the world" and "the salt of the earth." This shows that individual Christians do have a responsibility in the rise and fall of nations.
But should the corporate Church, which acts in the name of Christ, keep absolute silence on social and political issues? Not necessarily, as in the following two situations:
1. When political power from without violates the nature of the Church and the carrying out of her mission on earth, and
2. When, similarly, political power from without violates human rights, that is, the dignity of human existence.
Therefore, looking at it from the point of view of Christian faith and ethics, if the two situations cited above should occur (or even have the possibility of occurring), that is, if the Church's life and human rights are violated, then (i) the Church cannot but contend vigorously for the truth of the Gospel and its own life, and (ii) also fight to protect God-given human rights, for the origin of human rights lies in man's having been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). When the Church of Christ in either of these two cases produces a statement, this kind of statement is not basically political, but is a confession of faith. It is like the Bremen Declaration of the Confessing Church in Germany under the Hitler regime, and, more recently, the statements issued by Churches in South Africa and Rhodesia.
Even this proposal that the government "hold elections of all representatives to the highest government bodies" is motivated by the belief that human rights are given by God. For we believe that only in this way can there be any internal reforms. The government can then merit the respect of people at home and abroad, we can recover from our national decline, and so receive the blessing of God.
To sum up, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, in producing the Statement on Our National Fate in this present time of crisis, has done so from the standpoint of our Christian faith, and so it is essentially a confession of faith rather than a political action.
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