Archive for January 19th, 2018

One of the huge TV drama hits for the past two years has been “The Crown”, a dramatic narrative of the life of Queen Elizabeth II.  The prelude to the clip below is that Princess Elizabeth has just learned that her father, King George VI has died and she is now Queen.  She receives a letter from her Grandmother, Queen Mary, with this advice:

We live in an age in which personality is considered to be the main thing, what makes a man or woman ‘real’.  Personality and the self, as the all attractive nature of any public person, makes or breaks the one who holds any office, political or religious, in the public eye. This has only been the case for a short time. What is crucial is the executing of a public office in service to others where the person’s personal charms are just a nice addition.   This cult of personality is probably the result of living in a screen world of TV, computers, and smart phones, and before that movies, newspapers and magazines.   It is the world of image. Those in the public eye want their personal “crown”, their names in the marquee lights, to always win, to be powerful, even all powerful by their sheer person.  “The Lord of the Rings” movies portay this lust for power of the person alone:

I think one of the reasons for the popularity of “The Crown”  is the understanding that the office of monarchy must supersede personality.  It was not Elizabeth’s personality, her personal biases and even her political opinions (!) and such that Queen Mary said should win, but the office of the monarchy for sake of good order and people of the British Empire. This is the polar opposite of the current thinking and so we are amazed at the series counter-cultural message.  As Queen Mary says, there will a conflict in Elizabeth between the person and the crown, but the crown must always win. The ring of power is always a temptation.

We are in the Epiphany season.  The word “epiphany” means a revelation, a manifestation, a shining forth of another reality.  Biblical scholars have speculated on the personality of Jesus: was he compulsive, patient, charming etc.?  Based upon the authoritative Scriptures, the scholarly conclusions which I have read: it is very difficult, if not impossible to conclude what personality type did Jesus have.  Why?  The Crown won, the Crown must always win. If memory serves, in an episode of “The Crown”, Churchill says to the Queen, the crown must always shine. 

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

In the King who wore no “royal diadem”, the true Crown shone forth perfectly and still does. Even when he was 12 years of age it shown forth, but He subjected His royalty in obedience to His Step-Father and His Mother. 

What lessons can we draw from the Scriptural portrayal of the royal?

1. Jesus did count equality with God as something to be exploited for His own good, though He was sorely tempted to do so.  He was humble in His humanity so we can be humble. Knowing who one is, and the limitations of our flesh, is important for a ruler and the ruled.  We have the innate tendency to get “too big for our britches”.

2.Given our current President, and the previous President, the Office of President would shine forth more clearly.  This would take the elected occupant of the White House subverting his/her own personality to the Constitutional requirements of the office.  The Office must win, and as the Queen, for the good of the people. 

3.  Old Adam want “to be like God”(Genesis 3).  Those who do not have the demonstrable talents and ambition to be an idol, yet we all have the original sin to idolize. In the 1930s Germany, Lutheran Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, diagnosed this idolatry in an article, The Fuehrer Principle, as Adolf Hitler rose to power.  “Fuehrer” is the German word for “leader”:

 “This Leader, deriving from the concentrated will of the people, now appears as longingly awaited by the people, the one who is to fulfill their capabilities and their potentialities. Thus the originally matter-of-fact idea of political authority has become the political, messianic concept of the Leader as we know it today. Into it there also streams all the religious thought of its adherents. Where the spirit of the people is a divine, metaphysical factor, the Leader who embodies this spirit has religious functions, and is I the proper sense the messiah. With his appearance the fulfillment of the last hope has dawned. With the kingdom which he must bring with him the eternal kingdom has already drawn near….”

The result is idolatry:

“If he understands his function in any other way than as it is rooted in fact, if he does not continually tell his followers quite clearly of the limited nature of his task and of their own responsibility, if he allows himself to surrender to the wishes of his followers, who would always make him their idol—then the image of the Leader will pass over into the image of the mis-leader, and he will be acting in a criminal way not only towards those he leads, but also towards himself.” 

Queen Elizabeth was well schooled in what she could not do as sovereign, as should Presidents and those who elect them;  but Old Adam wants a leader who can do all things and this is messianic in an anti-Christ way. Man wants life,the Lord gives life. Man wants all life, the Lord gives us His life.  Dear Christians, we must be awake to the possibility of our own idolatrous lusts.  I think the Bonhoeffer quote is prophetic because the 20th and 21st centuries have become increasingly the centuries of personality and the self. We rejoice in the hope that the Crown has won upon the Cross and will win in the end, when He comes in the glory of His divine Majesty, but He first bore the Cross to win for us the crown of eternal glory. So, let us ever be aware of the lesser crowns and not to let their ‘light’ shine through as absolute.  

22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (St. Matthew 6)



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