Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Kingship of all Believers

Those who are familiar with the perspective of this blog know I am interested in the restoration of monarchical government. My reasons for this go beyond the mere prudential arguments that monarchy actually functions best while democracy undermines legitimate authority and renders aimless leadership. My basic argument is theological: divine government is monarchical, and man was created to be a king.

If man was created to be king, then there is a sense in which the whole human race and especially the redeemed participate in kingship. Just because royal dynasties fall, the principle of monarchy remains a potentiality. Great figures can still arise from the common mass and may compel our respect and obedience.

The following paragraphs from Schmemann articulate the theo-anthropological basis for my thinking:

Christ "has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father" (Rev. 1:6); in Him we have become a "royal priesthood" (I Pet. 2:9). The question is: what does this mean for our life in the Church, in the world, in the concrete and personal mode of our existence?

The first and essential conotation of the idea of kingship is that of power and authority--but of power and authority bestowed from above, given by God and manifesting His power. In the Old Testament the symbol of the divine source of kingship is precisely the "anointment," which manifests the king as the bearer and the executor of divine decisions and authority. Through this anointment the king becomes the benefactor of those under his power, the one to whom their life is entrusted for protection, success, victory, welfare and happiness. But if this understanding and experience of the king is common to all "primitive" societies and to all "monarchies," the unique revelation of the Bible is that "kingship"--before it became the particular mana of particular men--belonged to man himself as his human calling and dignity. It is indeed royal power that God gives to the man He creates: He creates him in His own image, and this means in the image of the King of kings, of the One Who has all power and all authority. Hence the initial power given to man: "to subdue the earth and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" (Gen. 1:27-28).

Man was created as the king of creation: such then is the first and essential truth about man, the source and foundation of Christian "spirituality." To be king, to possess the gift of kingship, belongs to his very nature. He himself is from above, for it is from above that he receives the image of God and the power to make creation into that which God wants it to be and to become...

The second spiritual truth about man is that he is a fallen king. His fall is primarily the loss by him of his kingship. Instead of being the king of creation, he becomes its slave. And he becomes its slave because he rejects the power from above, abandons his "anointment." Rejecting the power from above, ceasing to be God's anointed, he is no longer the benefactor of creation; instead of leading it to its fulfillment, he wants to benefit from it, to have and to possess it for himself. And since neither he nor creation has life in himself, his fall inaugurates the reign of death. He becomes a mortal slave of the kingdom of death.

Hence, the third essential truth: man's redemption as king. In Christ, the Saviour and the Redeemer of the world, man is restored to his essential nature--and this means that he is made king again. We often forget that Christ's title as King--the title which He affirms when He makes His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and is greeted as "the King that comes in the name of the Lord," the title which He accepts when He stands before Pilate: "thou sayest that I am a king" (John 18:37)--is His human, and not only divine, title. He is the King, and He manifests Himself as King, because He is the New Adam, the Perfect Man--because He restores in Himself human nature in its ineffable glory and power...

If, in the baptismal mystery, our kingship is restored to us, it is restored on the Cross by a Crucified King; if, at the end of the entire history of salvation, a kingdom is "appointed unto us" (Luke 22:29), it is declared to be "not of this world," a kingdom to come.

It is precisely at this point, when challenged with the essential antinomy of Christ's Kingship and thus of our new kingship in Christ, that Christian spirituality is threatened by two mutually exclusive reductions: the reduction of this restored kingship only to this world, or its reduction only to the Kingdom to come. There are those who would gladly subscribe to all that was said above about the "royal," positive and cosmical inspiration of Christian spirituality yet would deduce from this that its primary concern is with the world, with the possibility given man to "develop" the world toward its fulfillment as God's Kingdom. And there are those who, stressing the "otherworldliness" of the Kingdom anounced and promised in the Gospel, reject as a temptation any spirituality of "involvement" and "action," who build a solid wall of separation between the "spiritual" and the "material." Two visions, two options, two "spiritualities," implying in fact two different understandings of the Church herself and of "Christian life."

Both, however, are revealed by the Cross of Christ as being precisely reductions, for ultimately
both consist in rejecting the Cross, in making it, in the words of St. Paul, "of none effect" (I Cor. 1:17). Indeed, if in Christ I am restored to kingship, yet if the Kingdom "appointed" unto me is not "of this world," the question on which my whole life as a Christian depends is: how can I hold together these two realities, these two affirmations which apply to a monk in the desert as much as to a Christian living in the "world" and having a "secular" vocation? How can I love the world which God has created and "loved so much," yet at the same time make mine the apostolic precept "not to love the world and the things that are in the world" (I John 2:15)? How can I affirm Christ's Lordship over all that exists, yet at the same time put my whole faith, hope and love in the Kingdom to come? How am I to assume my kingship and, at the same time, die to the world and have my life "hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3)?

On the level of human reasoning, in terms of neat logical categories, within our man-made "spiritualities," there can be no answer to this decisive question; the antinomy has no solution. This is why even our spiritual and religious options, in spite of the Christian appearances they so easily adopt, remain in fact pre-Christian or non-Christian and so frequently are reduced either to mere escapism or to mere activism. The only answer, always the same, yet radically new to each man comes to us from the mystery which constitutes the very depth, the very heart of Christian revelation; which--precisely because it is revealed to us only inasmuch as we accept it--can never be reduced to an idea, a prescription, a "passe partout" moral code; into which we ourselves must enter if we are to make ours its meaning and power: the mystery of the Cross.

The Kingship of Christ and our new kingship in Him not only cannot be understood and accepted apart from the mystery of the Cross: it is the Cross, and the Cross alone, that remains forever the only true symbol, i.e., both the epiphany and the gift, of that kingship, the revelation of its power and the communication of that power to us. It is the mystery of the Cross, and that mystery alone, that holds together the two affirmations which on the level of human reasoning cannot be reconciled: the one about man and his royal calling in God's creation, and the one about the Kingdom "not of this world." And it holds them together because it always reveals the Cross to be the way of life, the "invincible and ineffable and divine power" which fulfills faith as life and life as kingship.

How? By being, first of all, the true and the ultimate revelation of this world as the fallen world, whose fall, whose "wickedness" consists in the rejection by it of God and of His Kingship and thus of the true life given to it in creation. It is in the crucifixion of Christ that "this world" fully manifests itself, reveals its ultimate meaning. Golgotha is a truly unique event, but not in the sense in which each event, whatever its "importance," can be termed "unique": limited to those alone who took part in it, to one moment in time, to one point in space, and thus leaving "innocent" all other men and the rest of the world. It is unique precisely because it is the decisive and all-embracing expression, indeed the fulfillment of that rejection of God by man which, according to Scripture, began in Paradise and which made the world created by God into "this world," the dominion of sin, corruption, and death--which made the "lawless" rejection of God the very law of "this world's" existence. The Cross therefore reveals each and every sin--committed from the beginning and until the end of the world, in all times, in all places, by all men regardless of whether they lived before or after Christ, of whether they believed in Him or not--to be the rejection of God, the acceptance of and the surrender to the very reality of Evil, whose ultimate expression is the rejection and crucifixion of Christ...

But being the ultimate revelation of "this world" and its "wickedness," the Cross--and this is the second dimension of the mystery of the Cross--is therefore its decisive and final condemnation. For to manifest and reveal Evil as Evil is precisely to condemn it. By revealing "this world" as rejection of God and thus as sin, by revealing it as rejection of Life and thus as death, the Cross condemns it, for sin cannot be "corrected," death cannot be "redeemed." "This world" is condemned because by the Cross it condemns itself: it manifests itself as a dead end, as having nothing to offer, nothing to live by but the absurdity of mortal life and the absurdity of death. Thus the Cross of Christ reveals and signifies to "this world" its end and its death.

Now, however, we enter into the third--the joyful and glorious--dimension of the mystery of the Cross. In revealing "this world" to be sin and death, in condemning it to die, the Cross becomes the beginning of the Salvation of the world and the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. It saves the world by freeing it from "this world," by revealing "this world" to be not the essence or the "nature" of the world, but a "fashion" or form of its existence--a fashion whose "passing away" (I Cor. 7 :31) is indeed inaugurated by the Cross. And it inaugurates the Kingdom of God by revealing it to be not "another world," another creation "replacing" this one, but the same creation, though liberated from the "Prince of thes world," restored to its true nature and ultimate destiny--when God shall be all in all" (I Cor. 15:28).

(Of Water and the Spirit, 81-83, 86-89)

To be continued...


Steve Scott said...

I'm glad to hear somebody talk about the kingship of all believers. I think it has great warrant, and the lack of its discussion is to our hurt. As a Christian anarchist, this idea is central to my beliefs. I say "anarchist" as a relative term applied to human politics. I am convinced that just this lack of grasping the kingship of all believers has lead most modern Christians to become statists. They abdicate their own God given authority of dominion over His creation to the political state. The Western form of molech worship is democracy, the tyranny of the majority.

Looking forward to the "to be continued" part...

Andrew Matthews said...

It's good to hear from you, Mr. Scott. I've added your blog to my links and will be reading your stuff.

I was wondering if you make any distinction between what you call the "political state" and legitimate government.

Steve Scott said...

Andrew, you raise a good question on the distinction of the "political state" and legitimate gov't. When things quiet down for me I'll have more time to give an answer.

Patrick said...


About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You