Friday, December 14, 2007

The Glory and Empire of Christ

I have recently published a short article, "The Glory and Empire of Christ," in New Horizons, the denominational magazine of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

It starts this way. Follow the link to read the whole thing.

The sixteenth-century political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli turned the world upside down when he introduced the notion that man, through an astute understanding of his world, could rise above the vicissitudes of life and actually overcome fortune.

In chapter 25 of The Prince, the infamous author states that though people had previously thought that fortune and God govern the affairs of men, it is rather that fortune governs half and men the other half. (Machiavelli was no Calvinist.) In saying this, he implicitly identifies God with mere fortune. As his argument continues, he reduces the role of fortune to those circumstances in which men have not taken prudent measures to resist her. When "wise" princes heed this advice, they secure their power and glory. Machiavelli was not the first to think like this, but he was the first to state these principles openly and shamelessly with a view to making them respectable.

In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is one such prince who is ambitious to expand his empire. He delights in the vastness of his dominion and in the glory of his accomplishments: "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?" (Dan. 4:30). As the cultural descendants of Machiavelli and the spiritual descendants of Adam, we have similar ambitions. They may be petty from a political standpoint, but they are spiritually no less a rebellion against the kingdom and glory of Christ than Nebuchadnezzar's boast. ...

My family is very happy in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In an age of spiritual fluff and entertainment, they take the Bible seriously -- not just in general, in the abstract or in isolated passages, but as a whole and theologically. They take the Biblical gospel seriously. They take Biblical worship seriously. At my congregation on Long Island, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Franklin Square, that bears fruit in joyful and caring fellowship as well.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6). Later in the sermon, he added, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7). Men may lie. Men may fail. But God never breaks his word.

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