“A Kingdom of minimal significance come”

The reason that the Hymns hold such a powerful and necessary place in the worship and life of the church is that like the liturgy (and yes every church has a liturgy) they serve as institutional memory and preserve faith and practice otherwise prone to the natural forgetfulness of a church advancing through generations.

Recently the Presbyterian Church of The United States of America removed “Onward Christian Soldiers” from their Hymnal (and has kept it out through revisions) because it reminds them too much of the almost exclusively Postmillenial and culturally transformative nature of Presbyterian and Reformed cultural theologies.

It’s not as if the same anti-effectualist theologies haven’t raised defeatist and pietistic banter in the Presbyterian Church of America or the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; both have learned  the cultural dominion of the World over the Church and the Kingdom of God as a nether-worldly ghost, that while having a visible manifestation in the world of men has an importance restricted to Heaven.

In the great works by J.R.R. Tolkien we see a constant searching between worlds as Frodo places the one ring on his finger and becomes invisible to the world, while walking through ghostly places where he can see things other men can’t see but cannot be seen by the world. By analogy a view of the church as a spiritual institution without a worldly manifestation makes it a ghost of light substance or meaningful effect in a world of real flesh and blood.

Is that the Church that Jesus came to save and bought with his very real flesh and blood that soaked the Earth at Calvary? Was he born of a virgin in the spiritual sense or in the birth-pains of all the daughters of Eve, screaming this worldly screams; echos of the fall in a garden of dirt and clay? Was Adam a man like us that would sweat when he tilled the ground or a buttery angel with painted chiffon wings that never knew hunger, or thirst, or labor?

We could just ask, “Was the fall a fall in this world and of this world requiring a Savior in this world and of this world, and did he succeed in saving all that was lost in both?”, because what was lost was more than angels and men; it was nations and empires and entire civilizations; it was the arts and music and literature and dance; it was medicine and science and law and mechanics; it was the world that was lost and the world regained.

It was too small a thing for the Son of God to save Heaven, not that Heaven was in need. The sins of man were thick in this world and Jesus’ stated intent was not just to save the souls of ghostly and otherworldly spirits but that our very bodies suffer the resurrection of our flesh and blood from the grave, and His promise was written in His own such resurrection, because the tomb was empty.

Jesus when asked by Pilate if he were a King, did not deny it but place his kingship within the proper context. “Pilate”, he seemed to say, “My Kingdom is as far above yours and Caesars and the little kingdom of the Jews as the stars are above the earth, and your kingdom is not mine, and mine is not yours.

That some have taken this denial of His wanting to be the small King of the Jews or the Romans with his denying that he would in a few short hours be crowned heir and King of the Universe, when he completed all that His Father in Heaven had given Him on Earth might be missing the impact and intent of the Great Commission. After all this He was seated at the right hand of his Father in Heaven to rule and to reign until all of His enemies are under His feet, an event unfinished, though advancing through time.  “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in Earth as it is in Heaven”

Accomplished in the cross-work of Christ was more than the atonement and keys to personal spirituality; just as the fall of Adam lost him the World and brought even Nature itself to futility Jesus regains all that was lost and brings a new reign of peace to the church… and the world.

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