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Archive for January, 2012

At least according to the headline in The Christian Post:

“Mom Gives Birth on Train to NYC”

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Amid a great deal of unity and agreement among the various sides of the NL2K (“natural law + two kingdoms”) discussion, the differences are becoming more clear. And more crucial.

Agreement: Jesus Christ is King of the church

Agreement: Jesus Christ will one day rule all the world

Difference: Jesus Christ is King of the cosmos. Not simply the Second Person of the Trinity, not simply the “Logos Asarkos,” not simply the Son of God. No—Jesus Christ, prophet and priest, is also King of the universe.

Difference: Jesus Christ is King of the cosmos today. Here and now. In this world, and in today’s history.

These are not quibbles. For now we are being introduced to a new terminological distinction (here) regarding Jesus’ essential reign as King and Jesus’ mediatorial reign as King. Note: not the essential reign of Jesus Christ, but merely the essential reign of Jesus as the Second Person of the Godhead.

*  *  *

Compare that with this newly translated “Preface” from Abraham Kuyper’s magisterial 3-volume opus, Pro Rege (For the King). All the bold typeface below has been added for emphasis.

Pro Rege is being written with the aim of removing the separation, which arose within our consciousness more sharply than was helpful, between our church life and our life outside the church. Within the domain of the church this could not be helped, since the confession of Christ as our Savior stands in the foreground. Naturally the Savior fixes the contrast between our being lost in guilt and sin, and the grace standing in opposition thereto; and it is precisely in the fluctuation between these two poles that church life must be lived. A church life that is conducted simply in terms of observing churchly duties becomes enervated, and if it aims principally at a lifestyle characterized by virtue, it exchanges its deeply religious character for a superficially moral character. The result has always been, and will always continue to be, that those who are spiritually engaged do not feel at home in their church, and once they join up with like-minded folk in a more intimate circle, they will cause the flowering of sectarianism.

For that reason, the Saviorship of Christ does not exclude his Kingship. Instead it has always been confessed within the arena of the church that the church is lost apart from the most holy preservation of its King, and that Christ rules in the midst of his own not least of all in the church. From the very beginning, then, our Reformed Churches have strongly sensed that need for the protection and regime of this King. At that point they were facing times of bitter persecution and uncommon confusion in every sphere. It could have been no different than that such people confessed with zeal that our King guarded his Church, and in the hour of distress saw to its salvation and preservation unto himself, the One clothed with all power in heaven and earth, the One seated at the right hand of the Father. Wherever, after the break with Rome, the church had to be regulated anew and the need was sensed on every side for a regime of a higher hand, people continued to honor in the person of the Savior also their King, to whose leading they surrendered without reservation. But change happened in this respect, when persecution ceased, when public religion received the Reformed imprint, and the Reformed Churches eventually acquired a more established order.

This explains why, despite continuing to be confessed, the kingship of Christ at that point nonetheless lost its exalted significance for living, and people heard almost no one talking any more about the King, but everyone heard almost exclusively about the Savior and Redeemer.

We interrupt Kuyper at this point to draw your attention to the next paragraph—the heart and core of the issue. Having just concluded his discussion of acknowledging Jesus Christ as King within and over the church, Kuyper now turns to acknowledging Jesus Christ as King outside the church, today:

Coupled with this was a change in another arena of living. As the ecclesiastical conflict was being waged, Reformed people were throwing themselves into public social life. For them there existed two kinds of living, one kind within the Church and another kind outside the Church, and justice was no longer being done to the unity of both. That rupture could have been prevented only if the confession of the Kingship of Christ, proceeding from the church, had been recognized within popular consciousness as the governing power for all of life. But this is precisely what did not happen. Instead the Kingship of Christ was pushed further into the background, and at that point naturally this caused the contrast between ecclesiastical life and public life to penetrate the consciousness of Reformed people in a most perilous way. Ultimately it was as though people dealt with Christ only in the church, and as though outside the church they did not have to take into account the exaltation of Christ. That opposition has functioned until late in the previous [nineteenth] century, at which point room was made for the first time for better harmony in Christian living. This is how we acquired our Christian press, our Christian science, our Christian art, our Christian literature, our Christian philanthropy, our Christian politics, our Christian labor organizations, etc. In short, the understanding that Christ laid claim also to life outside the church gradually became commonplace. At present we are already to the point that nobody among us wants it any differently anymore. The problem, however, is that people still seek [to locate] the Christian character of these various expressions of life too exclusively in Christian principles, and the understanding has not yet sufficiently permeated our thinking that Christ himself is the One who as our King must imprint this Christian stamp on our expressions of life. This explains the need for awakening and fortifying this understanding once again. It is this need that Pro Rege is attempting to satisfy.

One brief lesson from the Heidelberg Catechism. Our Mediator is called “Jesus” and “Christ.” “Jesus” means Savior. “Christ” means Anointed. Kuyper is clear: “The Saviorship of Christ does not exclude his Kingship.”

The heart of this discussion is all about Christology!

(To be continued.)

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“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

– Albert Einstein

I first heard this Einstein quote recently—on New Year’s eve, in fact—while enjoying an episode of the gripping TV series, White Collar. Neil Caffrey (Matt Bomer) was trading quips from famous people with his friend Mozzie (Willie Garson), and this one popped out.
I chuckled aloud, because it struck me as funny. My chuckling turned to pondering. And now to writing.
Here, then, a few sparse reflections about time.
As they say in cyberspeak: FWIW.
1. Because time is an element essential to creation, I’m convinced that the “end” of history (the “Last Day”) will not be the end of time.
2. Time matters. Which means: it matters to God. One Reformed theologian has even written a book about the history of heaven, clearly suggesting that God’s existence and heaven’s reality are not timeless (K. Schilder, Wat is de hemel?; English: What Is Heaven?).
3. Time and change are correlative. This means that they belong together, that one cannot exist without the other. Original creation, therefore, involved change. Which is not the same as decay. So it seems obvious that the new earth will also involve change. Hmmm, wonder what it’ll be like growing without growing old?
4. Speaking of the calendar, have you noticed that more often nowadays, printed calendars begin their weeks with Monday and end them with Sunday? What worldview lies embedded in that, do you think?
5. Oh, and you knew, of course, that Adam and Eve’s first day was a day of rest? Re-creation follows that pattern exactly! Grace / salvation / rest before . . . work / service. And that too is a worldview!
6. The quality of time will be altered, however, at the Last Day. I’m convinced of this by Ecclesiastes 3 (ESV):
A Time for Everything

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Alternatively, you might enjoy this reverie from the past:

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