The Savior or the State: Who is God?
(1Co 1:19) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
(1Co 1:20) Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
In a recent mid-week study I mentioned the struggle which developed in Western Civilization between the Renaissance/Enlightenment and the Gospel. The Enlightenment through “science” and “wisdom” sought to overcome the “superstition” of religion/the gospel. These two forces produced two streams of political revolution at about the same point in history, one which culminated in the American Revolution rooted deeply in the Bible and the other which culminated in the French Revolution rooted deeply in humanism. The former produced a strong nation of liberty under God where human rights were secured and the latter produced a Reign of Terror under Robespierre (and similar eggheads) where no man was safe. “Reign of Terror” is not simply a biased name concocted by later writers for a dark period in French history: Terror was the official policy decreed in law by the French government. The parallel with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in the early 20th C. which produced the Communist U.S.S.R. is obvious.
Both the American and French revolutions and their subsequent forms of government opposed the corrupt ecclesial-political fornication of church with state which were typical of European nations. The American system sought to overcome that by encouraging the free exercise of religion and liberty of conscience for all. The French system sought to overcome it by brutal force and terror against any who did not think “progressively,” making the State into God. At least 300,000 suspected “enemies of the State” were arrested, 17,000 officially executed, perhaps 10,000 died in prison or without trial (Encyclopedia Britannica).
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, these distinctions have special relevance.
In the wake of the French Revolution, the new government elevated Napoleon Bonaparte to prominence because of his military prowess. In 1799, though, he staged a bloodless coup, ousted that monstrous form of civil government, became First Consul of the Republic and Emperor a few years later. And the rest, as they say, is history. Having finally “met his Waterloo” in a decisive defeat at (you guessed it: Waterloo), he was captured and banished to the island of St. Helena. From his exile, he wrote:
“Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me… Truth should embrace the universe. Such is Christianity… Christ proved that He was the Son of the Eternal by His disregard of time. All His doctrines signify one only and the same thing—eternity. What a proof of the divinity of Christ! With an empire so absolute, he has but one single end—the spiritual melioration of individuals, the purity of the conscience, the union to that which is true, the holiness of the soul…If you [General Bertrand] do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, very well: then I did wrong to make you a general.”
To Count de Motholon (evidently to counter humanitarianism [the belief that Jesus was only a man]), he stated:
“I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity…His religion is a revelation from an intelligence which certainly is not of man…Jesus is not a philosopher, for His proofs are miracles, and from the first His disciples adored Him. Alexander, Caesar and Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but upon what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force! But Jesus Christ founded His upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him. I myself have inspired multitudes with such affection that they would die for me. But my presence was necessary. Now that I am in St. Helena, where are my friends? I am forgotten, soon to return to the earth, and become food for worms. What an abyss between my misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ; who is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is extending over all the earth. Is this death? I tell you, the death of Christ is the death of a God. I tell you, JESUS CHRIST IS GOD.”
“The nature of Christ’s existence is mysterious, I admit;…Reject it and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it and the history of our race is satisfactorily explained.”
Jesus Christ is indeed the Center of all things, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (REV 22:13), “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (COL 1:19) and we strain in vain to gain a fullness without Him as our Head: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (COL 2:10).