Editorials: America Needs Another King; America Needs Kingdom Leaven; Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Annual Meeting

America Needs Another King

True, America’s achievements have been stupendous.

Think of it! Americans have walked on the moon; and, America‘s Viking I spaceship has now made its scheduled landing on the planet Mars many millions of miles away. Nothing seems impossible. True, America has come a long, long way in 200 years.

But America also has needs—appalling needs! Significantly, Dr. G. Aiken Taylor, Editor of The Presbyterian Journal, entitles his first editorial in the issue of June 30, “Happy Birthday, America!” and the second—even more significantly—“Let’s Celebrate on Our Knees.”

What would our Lord say if He would be asked for a Bicentennial comment. We know what He once said to a self-satisfied church in Laodicea:

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold re6ned by fire, that thou mayest become rich . . .” (Rev. 3:17, 18).

A little Bicentennial soul-searching on our knees should leave us as Americans with little doubt that this same scathing denunciation that goes hand in hand with a gracious invitation is also aimed directly at us.

At times it seems as if everybody knows what America needs. At other times it seems as if nobody knows what America really needs. Our Bicentennial is a good time to think and also to agonize about this matter and not to give up until we see God‘s answer spelled out so clearly that even he who runs may read.

We need another King – Two hundred years ago, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. That the Colonies knew what they wanted and believed they needed is abundantly clear from a reading of that historic Declaration. They wanted to rid themselves once and for all of the rule of George III, the British king. The Declaration states:

The history of the present King of Great Britian is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.” And then follows a list of specific charges against George III.

“I know not,” said Patrick Henry, “what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Need number one, as those bold men or 1776 saw it, was to be done with their king. And now the paradox. The need that now surpasses all others for Americans of 200 years later is that we swear allegiance to another King.

No, not just any king.

The King whom America needs if there is to be a future for us is the One of whom His people sing:

Lead on, O King Eternal, We follow, not with fears; For gladness breaks like morning Where-e’er Thy face appears; Thy cross is lifted o’er us, We journey in its light; The crown awaits the conquest; Lead on, O God of might.

Thomas Huxley’s challenge – It was in 1876, one hundred years ago, that the English biologist, Thomas Huxley, visited America to speak at the new John Hopkins University and flung out a challenge that may well be recalled.

“I cannot say,” Huxley told his audience, “that I am in the slightest degrees impressed by your bigness or your material resources, as such. Size is not grandeur; territory does not make a nation. The great issue, about which hangs a true sublimity and the terror of overhanging fate, is, What are you going to do with all these things?”

That was a century ago and a lot of water has gone over the dam and American history made since that time. And now what does the record show?

On all our coins and currency we make a pious claim: “In God we trust.” But God is mocked. A million divorces in the U.S. in 1975 and a million “legal abortions” (sanctioned by the highest court in the land) should make us as Americans tremble and bring us to our knees to plead for mercy and to flee from the wrath to come.

Huxley’s challenge to America was good. However, so much of whatever else he had to say proved to be a curse instead of a blessing. A follower of Darwin, Huxley delivered lectures at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere on evolution. Huxley attacked Christianity, he did so much to gain acceptance of the theory of evolution by scientists and others, and the evil influence of him and so many others led men to renounce Christ as the King without whom America’s glory has so largely been turned to shame.

Hidden behind the facade of unprecedented affluence, military might, and the stupendous achievements of science, America as a nation, spiritually starved or starving, riddled with crime and corruption, woefully apostate, and (if honest) uncertain about the unknown tomorrow, is bound for disaster and has good reason to cry out, “Who will show us any good!”

As those who profess to be in and of the Kingdom of God and as those who lay claim to all its riches untold, we are called and duty bound to provide America with the answer without which the nation’s future is black as night. The gospel of the Kingdom is our only hope.

Christ or chaos – Writing elsewhere on the same matter that concerns us here, G. M. Robb calls attention to a recent observation made by President Giscard d’Estaing of France:

“The world is unhappy. It is unhappy because it doesn’t know where it is going and because it senses that if it knew, it would discover that it was heading for disaster . . . . The crisis the world knows today will be a long one. It is not a passing difficulty” (Covenanter Witness, Aug. 4, 1976).

The question back of all this need not go begging for an answer—that is, not unless one deliberately turns away from the Savior-King who is still saying to us in our time: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

No political party has a platform to offer and no presidential candidate has the know-how and statesmanship to usher in the new era, the bright future, 0r the golden age so glibly promised in campaign oratory but always eluding the grasp of a frustrated people. The pursuit of Utopia by any nation or individual inevitably ends in disillusion, disaster, and despair unless the new order is sought and found in the glorious Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Ultimately, the end is always either Christ or chaos.

The King and His Kingdom – The Kingdom of God in and over which Christ rules is mentioned so frequently by the gospel writers that it must be of the utmost importance.

Kingdom” is found 50 times in Matthew and 117 times in the four gospels. Moreover, our Lord spells out the importance of it so very clearly when He holds it before us as life‘s first priority: “But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

The Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is His gracious rule in the hearts and lives of His people. As Jesus made plain to Nicodemus, it is only through regeneration that one enters His Kingdom. There is no entrance to or enjoyment of the glorious riches of this Kingdom except in personal salvation through the one and only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This rule of Christ must permeate every area of our lives (home, church, school, business, science, art, labor, politics) even as leaven or yeast works through the whole lump or batch of dough.

This glorious Kingdom is a present reality—if not, how could we possibly seek it first? Jesus taught that His Kingdom is with us. It is also something future in the sense that the completion or consummation of it awaits the time of His final coming.

The blessings of this Kingdom are precisely those precious treasure that we cannot live or die without and which nil the wealth and power of this world arc unable to achieve: “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

Remember what Jesus said: “I must preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God . . . for therefore was I sent” (Luke 4:43). And let us remember also that He is now saying to us: “. . . as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).

In season and out of season, this must be our message to apostate and spiritually-bankrupt America. This is the message we are to radiate by kingdom living in every area of our lives, the message we are to proclaim in the spoken and in the written Kingdom word.

At Thessalonica, Paul and Silas were once accused of turning the world upside down and of “saying that there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:7, 8).

The news reports that one of the men now campaigning to occupy the White House once asked himself that, if he would ever be accused of being a Christian, whether there would be enough evidence to convict him. At a time like this, for every professing Christian that question may well be taken to heart.

America Needs Kingdom Leaven

In sharp contrast to Anabaptists, the Calvinist insists that true Christianity is totalitarian, that it reaches into every area of our lives, and that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God caUs for involvement also in the affairs of city, state, and nation. With good reason, America’s Bicentennial brings this to mind.

Anabaptists have kept their distance from civil affairs due to their erroneous religious convictions. To them it has been a matter of principle, and we can commend them for at least practising what they preach. However, when professing Calvinists shun involvement in civil affairs a very real possibility is that they do this because of lethargy, an inferiority complex fear, or a lack of honest commitment.

The Quaker George Fox is reported to have once said that every Quaker should light up the countryside for at least ten miles around. What an indictment it is if it must be said of us, who profess to be Calvinists and citizens in the Kingdom, that the world does not even know that we are around.

America’s Bicentennial is an excellent occasion for us to take stock of what we as citizens of God’s Kingdom are doing for this nation from which we have received so much.

In one of His parables Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened” (Matt. 13:33). Under God, our Kingdom citizenship, Kingdom gospel, and Kingdom life style are to be radiant throughout the land, contagious through the Lord’s blessing, and a powerful antidote to the kingdom of darkness.

No, God does not promise that the U. S. and Canada will become Christian nations if we afe zealous to seek first His Kingdom. But we do have reason to believe that, if we will go all out in preaching and in living out the Gospel of the Kingdom, strongholds of Satan will be cast down, our Lord’s righteousness will be promoted, and others will be gained for the service of our Savior-King.

It is well for us always to remember that the prospects of success or failure are not to determine the measure of our zeal in our Kingdom endeavors. Also, we may never forget that when at last you and I meet our Lord to give an account, He will not ask whether we were successful but rather if we have been faithful or not.

Inspiring examples of those whose Kingdom citizenship and commitment really made an impact readily come to mind. History records the examples of heroes of faith who struck out boldly by faith to meet the challenge also of the social implications of the Gospel they believed and professed. Their conviction that Christianity pertains not only to personal salvation but must also be a world-and-life view energized and activated them to accomplish tremendous feats in the service of their King and for His Kingdom.

Paul and Silas at Thessalonica preached a Gospel that “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17). Think of the hopeless odds the early Christians faced as they were persecuted and put to death by Roman tyrants. And then think also of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great who in 313 A,D. signed the Edict of Milan thereby according Christianity the status of a legal and official religion. Later, Constantine himself was admitted into full communion in the church. The leaven of the Kingdom proved to be powerful and effective beyond all expectations.

Although John Calvin is generally thought of as a religious reformer, his tremendous achievements as a statesman in Geneva are also familiar history. Rousseau, French philosopher, writer, and a forerunner of the French Revolution, had this to say about his fellow-countryman Calvin:

Those who consider Calvin only as a theologian fail to recognize the breadth of his genius. The editing of our wise laws in which he had a large share, does him as much honor as his Institutes. Whatever revolution time may bring in our religion, so long as the love of country and liberty is not extinct among us, the memory of this great man will be held in reverence” (Calvinism, H. H. Meeter, p. 93). Under his God, Calvin‘s Kingdom leaven burns as a bright and glorious example on the pages of history,

As we turn our thoughts to the Netherlands, there comes to mind the Christian political movement led by G. Groen van Prinsterer, the stupendous achievements God made possible by Abraham Kuyper, and Hendrik Colijn who also, as well as Kuyper, became Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The inspiring history of how God used these men to do for His Kingdom makes abundantly clear what He can and will use Kingdom leaven to achieve.

And finally, think also of the gifted British statesman William Gladstone, “the Great Commoner,” active in England’s political life for sixty-two years and Prime Minister four times. It is said of this brilliant man that he was “a devout Christian, an earnest student of the Bible, and a man of prayer” (Who Was Who in Church History, Elgin S. Moyer, p. 166). Kingdom leaven has been used of God to be phenomenal in its achievements.

You and I may try to excuse ourselves by saying: “O, that was Paul, Calvin, Abraham Kuyper, etc. but we are just ordinary mortals.” But that excuse won’t work. Why? Simply because the God of Paul, Calvin, Kuyper, and the others is as much alive today as He ever was. Remember they had no monopoly on God’s promises and His grace.

Kingdom leaven—how sorely the U.S., Canada, and every city, state, and nation need precisely this. And it is precisely this that you and I are called to contribute. We may not have the making to be Mayor, Governor, or President or Prime Minister. But we can become informed, we can vote, we can speak up for our King, and we can also pray fervently for His Kingdom to come.