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Driving a spoke into the wheel of injustice

By Dave Andrusko

dietrich-bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hillary Clinton made her first post-election public appearance yesterday and encouraged her followers to persevere after her unexpected (to the Clinton campaign and the media) defeat.

Unfortunately, rather than contribute to binding the wounds of November 8, Clinton not only chose not to mention Donald Trump in her 20-minute-long remarks but also mined the meme that a country that elects Trump really isn’t worthy of the likes of herself.

According to POLITICO:

“I know this isn’t easy, I know that over the last week a lot of people have asked themselves if America is the country we thought it was,” said the former secretary of state, bringing the midsize Newseum auditorium to a standstill with her emotional address that she capped off by imagining a conversation with her now-deceased mother. “Please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country. Fight for our values. And never, ever give up.”

Here are two quick additional thoughts about her remarks to the Children’s Defense Fund.

First, as reported by POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti

And as the doors opened to Clinton’s event, the song “Lean On Me” began playing, the sound of Bill Withers crooning, “Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow, but if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow” filling the room.

It is very, very difficult to lose a presidential contest, especially one as close as this battle proved to be. And, agreed, there is “always tomorrow” unless you are one of the one million unborn babies in America whose deaths Clinton would defend with her dying breath.

Second, as President Obama has done often, Clinton quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who wrote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Again, we would agree 100% in principle, but disagree on destination. Justice is not killing 59 million unborn babies, or trying to multiple the number by eliminating the Hyde Amendment, or working overtime to export the abortion plague overseas, or by mocking the values of people who value unborn life.

Justice is not, in other words, what the more powerful can do to the powerless. It is rather what the more powerful can do on behalf of the powerless.

For the rest of the post…

“You’re Hired!”

For many of us, it’s more a sigh of relief than a victory shout. We wanted him – largely, at least – because of who he wasn’t, voting him in like a kid settling for a prom date he wasn’t crazy about but, since he couldn’t take the girl he really wanted, he could at least avoid taking the other girl who he really disliked.

Kinda hard to get too excited under those circumstances. But relief provides its own sort of rush, the tired Thank You Lord! joy of realizing that your fears aren’t going to be realized; you’ve been given a reprieve. That’s how I felt, at least, when I saw the numbers change this morning to prove we’ve officially said “You’re hired!” to the man so closely associated with the opposite phrase.

That’s hard and even scary news to the many Americans who see Donald Trump as a symbol of our basest instincts. He deserves some of that. The strutting, blustery guy who elbowed his fellow Republicans out of the way during the primaries, then made his opponent look Presidential during the debates with his interruptions and bombast, has his own mouth to blame for many of the image problems he’s carting to the White House with him.

We can argue whether his policies are xenophobic or harsh as so many claim, an argument I’d side with him on. But his posturing did make most of us, whether supporters or detractors, wince and worry.

New Beginnings?

Yet the man I saw early this AM acknowledging his victory deflated a lot of those worries, prompting me to wonder if I’ve been wrong all along about his temperament, or whether the gravity of his position is sinking in and birthing new levels of calm and maturity in our new President Trump. This was less La Donald and more Commander in Chief, a man in control showing gratitude and grace, inspiring fresh confidence. May this be an upward trend we see continue.

As for us, I’m speculating that some of my Christian friends who couldn’t in good conscience vote for him are also quietly relieved today. He got in, after all, without them having to dirty their hands at the voting booth, which is something akin to win/win. Maybe I’m wrong; just guessing.

For my part, I positioned myself as a Trump voter a couple months ago because I supported the direction I felt he would take the country, along with the policies and appointments I expected to come with his presidency. I don’t regret my position, and would have defended it if he lost. God grant that I was right.

God also grant that Christian Americans make this a time of serious repentance, sober thinking, and recommitment.

We just came razor-sharp close to a systematic, ruthless dismantling of religious liberty, crippling our ability to express and enforce Biblical teaching. Not in the culture, mind you, but within our own congregations.

Our positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenders would have put us at odds with a government which would have, under a different administration, insisted it knew better than us. From our Christian universities to our Sunday services, we would have eventually heard Big Brother telling us how to manage our bathroom facilities, hiring policies, and sermon content. And that would have only been the beginning.

Our identity as a nation also came close to taking a huge and possibly fatal hit. The blurring of borders and the denigration of American exceptionalism would trend us away from independence and towards a collective identity more associated with the UN than the US.

And that’s not to mention the taxation and hyper-regulating that business and individuals would face under a system committed to broadening government powers domestically while weakening them internationally.

Those are the just some of concerns I had, disputable for sure, and I’m very aware of my friends and family who strongly disagree. But for my part, I feel the people chose rightly, and that God has given the American church and nation
another chance.

Repentance, Not Revelry

In response, I hope we’ll repent like zealots for every sin we’re rightfully accused of by our critics. Whether it’s the hypocrisy of the Christian man who opposes gay marriage but secretly gorges on porn, or the indifference of the comfortable believer to the homeless in her city, or the laziness of the church member who neglects prayer and Bible study but expects God’s blessing nonetheless, let’s grieve and wear the sackcloth for awhile  Not morbidly, but sincerely, thanking God for not giving up on us and beseeching Him to help us appreciate His “new every morning” mercies.

I also hope we’ll take seriously the concerns of fellow citizens and believers – and there are plenty – who are in real distress over the election results. Let’s consider their fears as we hoped ours would be considered if the outcome was different today. We can learn from them where the weaknesses in our positions are and, when they’re right, let’s admit it, then act on that admission. Where they’re wrong, let’s explain why and try to persuade them.

And for those of us who supported him, let’s pray at least as hard for Donald Trump’s growth as we prayed for his election.

For the rest of the post…

by

The Story: While preaching his way through the Gospel of Mark, Mark Dever came to the section where Jesus is questioned about paying taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13–17).

Despite standing in a pulpit five blocks from the Capitol, Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., doesn’t often plunge into politics from the pulpit. He doesn’t believe that to be his calling. The text that September 2010 morning, however, demanded reflection on how believers should think about and relate to the political realm.

Collin Hansen, who attended the service, later wrote that it was “the best sermon I know on Christianity and government.” Likewise, Thabiti Anyabwile described it as “a biblical theology of Christians and the state, at once full of unction, intellectually challenging, and affecting the heart. I’ve heard a lot of Mark’s preaching, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard him better.”

Dever offered three simple points. First, Christians are good citizens. Second, no earthly kingdom can be identified with God’s people. Third, Christians are finally accountable to God.

Why It Matters: With election day upon us, Dever’s message bears fresh relevance. By listening to the sermon and reading Hansen’s copious summary, you will be well served.

As Americans, it’s often helpful to be reminded that the epicenter of Christ’s kingdom is not located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And the purposes of God have never been thwarted at the hands of men—a streak that’s not about to end on November 8. Such a recognition isn’t quietism or escapism—just biblical Christianity.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are, like you and me, feeble creatures of dust. They’re worthy of our honor (Eccl. 10:20; 1 Pet. 2:17), but never our hope.

So pay your taxes, pick your candidate, and cast your vote (politics does matter, after all), but do so as one whose trust is anchored in another world.

For the rest of the post…

And so, next Tuesday the United States will elect a new president. Our choices this year are abysmal, but still, we have to choose. Amongst those of us whom you most read here, I am American, and I will vote for Trump. Why? To be sure, for me, it has been a long and very […]

via Bonhoeffer’s Dirty Hands and the Election — All Along the Watchtower

Recasting the Movie: Dietrich Bonhoeffer Edition

Today, we’ll look at how a dead German theologian came into a resurgence of popularity–only to play an unexpected role in the Christian Right’s ongoing love affair with its own ego.

Westminster Abbey's 20th Century Martyrs. (By photographer- T.Taylor - Public sculpture, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link.)

Westminster Abbey’s 20th-century martyrs.

The Hero They Wanted.

In case you’ve never even heard of the guy, please permit me to whisk through his bio. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 and became a pastor and theologian in Germany. He vocally opposed the Nazis and even was involved in a major plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He got caught, imprisoned in various concentration camps, and finally executed in 1945 by the Nazis, and he is now all but a venerated martyr in several Christian denominations. His ideas influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa (among many other folks and movements). And to many Christians, he remains a very charismatic and enigmatic figure.

He had some very firm ideas about the importance of living one’s faith in the real world as well as about pacifism, and also some piquant observations to make regarding what he called the “complete failure of the German Protestant church” to stop or even impede the rise of the Nazi regime. At one point he escaped to America and then returned to Germany at the last second to help with the fight against the Nazis. During the last part of his life, he was hassled constantly by the German government, forced to report to the police, and even forbidden to speak in public. Eventually he joined the underground resistance, fulfilling the spirit of a sermon he’d preached long before about how martyrs’ blood was being “demanded” by the events of his time. His death was apparently very brave–though also apparently slightly embellished in the way that many of these sorts of iconic martyrdom accounts often are.

You can probably already see why the Christian Right would adore the guy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer plays directly into their fascination with recasting themselves as the beleaguered, pure-hearted heroes fighting an unthinkably evil regime for ultimate global stakes–with martyrdom not only possible but inevitable.

Eric Metaxas, an evangelical-leaning Christian who is clearly frantic to break out of his limited circle of influence as a Veggie Tales scriptwriter and right-wing radio host, has been on a Bonhoeffer kick of late. He wrote a biography of the man a few years ago that his fundagelical tribe went wild for but which actual historians roundly criticized; one of these scholars proclaimed his version of the man a “counterfeit,” while another claimed he’d “hijacked Bonhoeffer.” The irony is that Mr. Metaxas himself appears to think that liberals have actually done the hijacking–and that now he’s taking back his hero for the conservatives.

Thanks to his biography, terms like “cheap grace” are in vogue in fundagelicalism now in a way I sure never heard when I myself stood among them; Christianity Today, in reviewing the book, gushes about Mr. Bonhoeffer’s plaintive plea asking “Who stands fast?” and his demand that Christians make their entire lives “an answer to the call of God.” This sold out/on fire/uncompromising* quality combines seamlessly with Mr. Bonhoeffer’s heroism during World War II and his very early death at the direct command of Adolf Hitler himself.

You might well wonder what prepared Eric Metaxas to write such a book. I certainly do.

His personal biography page doesn’t list any educational credentials for the man at all beyond graduation from Yale. We don’t even know what he studied there, but we do learn that he upstaged Dick Cavett at his commencement. Obviously his background in Christian entertainment makes him the perfect person to write a popular biography of one of the most influential and complex figures in modern Christianity even though he can’t even read or speak the language that his idol used in his work–which is one of the primary and most basic requirements we should expect to see out of someone trying to be an academic. Another is that the would-be academic should be extremely familiar with the basic scholarly work already done on whatever his or her topic is. And still another is that his work should at least be free of obvious mistakes.

Just like apologist David Marshall before him, Mr. Metaxas lacks these basic qualifications. He is a person claiming expertise who apparently has very little in actuality. He’s smart, that much is clear–and clever. He’s just not anywhere near as prepared to write a book of this nature as he pretends to be. But the inexpert expert is, itself, a trope that feeds into fundagelical delusions of grandeur. Ah kin do jus’ as good as them book-larned edumacated expurts! you can all but hear them muttering.

I know how it is; I was there myself once. More importantly, I figured out exactly why I was there, too.

The Movie in Their Heads.

Unmoored from simple considerations like how their ideas tie into reality, toxic Christians are free to conceptualize their lives as epic movies. They cast themselves as heroes, everyone opposing them as villains, and their cause as divinely-blessed–even divinely-mandated.

For many years now, Christians inhabiting the right-wing fringe of the religion have been styling themselves as the brave crusaders fighting for the soul of America in Earth’s final wretched days. Even back in my day, we saw ourselves that way. We fetishized the Rapture and Tribulation,** waiting eagerly as every predicted date came and went without even remembering all the past disappointments. We correlated world events in our various checklists of what had to happen before Jesus finally kick-started the end of the world. We created and devoured diagrams about Bible verses and how they matched up with this or that natural disaster or war. If Israel’s leaders burped, we gasped and raced back to our Bibles to figure out what it meant in terms of the predictions we thought had been given to us. It always meant something, too–usually “oh my god, we’re another step closer to the Endtimes.”

We thought we lived in “the last days.” Spiritual battles were erupting all around us–angels and demons vying for the souls of every person alive. Prayer was their ammunition; fasting charged their weapons’ power cells. So Christians were vitally necessary in this battle, because without our efforts demons would win countless souls for their gruesome master. (No, we didn’t realize how weak and useless we made our god look by acting this way.)

In such an environment, any Christian, no matter how lowly or uneducated or mocked, could become a Big Damn Hero–a Prayer Warrior who could save other people’s lives, fight evil princes and principalities, and gain the ultimate of all rewards: eternal life and an exalted place in the heavenly kingdom. But this warrior would only receive that reward if he or she stood perfectly steadfast and did not waver in faithfulness. The forces arrayed against such a warrior could be incredible, and the hardships endured both many and excruciating. In the end, though, only one outcome was possible for a truly faithful servant.

For the rest of the article…

Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal, red states and blue states—the political divides in our country tend to fall into binary structures. The ones we are most familiar with tend to be firmly established, and we often know, through intuition or experience, what side we align with.

But over the past few months there has been a new political divide, an intramural division within American social conservatism. And this discord has been felt most prominently within the evangelical wing of this movement.

Evangelicals are not a monolithic entity, and there have always been differences and disagreements on politics. Still, within the social conservative faction (which accounts for around 60 percent to 75 percent of evangelicalism) there has been a general sense of unity. At least there was before this election season. The candidacy of Donald Trump has caused a split within this group that has grown increasingly rancorous as we inch closer to the election.Even by the standard of partisan politics, Trump is a uniquely polarizing figure. Before this year few could have predicted he’d bisect socially conservative evangelicals into warring camps.

Witness vs. Justice

In an attempt to bridge this chasm I want to explain the reasoning of both sides (at least as I have observed the debates), examine their strengths and weaknesses, and propose a way forward. While the two sides may not agree on much before November 8, we can at least attempt to seek a modicum of understanding and reconciliation.

There are differences and disagreements within each group and just as many areas of overlap between the two sides. By painting their outlines with a broad brush we will miss many important aspects and nuances. Still, doing so will help us focus our eyes on a few of the most essential elements.

To give a label to each side, we can identify the division as between those focused on Witness and those foregrounding Justice. Let’s start with by explaining the Justice side.

Justice Side

The concern of this group can be summed up in two words: Supreme Court. Many of the issues they care about most are matters of justice that will likely be decided by the court—abortion, marriage, transgenderism, religious liberty, and so on. They’re legitimately worried that if the liberal party candidate, Hillary Clinton, is allowed to choose the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia it will set us back decades, and even push us to a point from which our country may never recover.

Although Trump might not have been their first choice of candidates, they see him as the lesser of two evils. They don’t necessarily know what he would do in office, but they are quite certain how Hillary will govern. For this reason they are willing to take a chance on Trump. To reverse an old saying, “Better the devil you don’t know than the one you do.”

The strength of this position is its clarity and simplicity. This group reasons that even if Clinton and Trump were to govern in the exact same way on every issue and differ only on Supreme Court nominations, we would be no worse off and would, in many ways, be much better off since the Court would be returned to its former status quo.

This is form of minimax strategy, which is often used in two-player, zero-sum games (like presidential elections). Minimax is a strategy of always minimizing the maximum possible loss that can result from a choice a player makes. The Justice side believes by supporting and voting for Trump they are minimizing the maximum possible loss of justice that would result from a Clinton presidency.

For the Justice side, the timeline we should be thinking on is decades, rather than the next four to eight years. My TGC colleague Bethany Jenkins summed up this rationale when she said, “As a lawyer who has read hundreds of cases, I’ve found one thing certain: Presidents come and go, but a SCOTUS Justice lasts a lifetime.” (NB: Bethany is not a Trump supporter, though she is sympathetic to the concerns of the Justice side.)

That is the main strength of the Justice position. The drawback is the trade-offs they have to make to endorse Trump, specifically sacrificing the “character issue” not only from this current presidential election but also from every election in the future.

A prime example of a champion on the Justice side is Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a member of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. After hearing Trump bragged about committing sexual assault, Jeffress said the comments were “lewd, offensive, and indefensible.” But he said he’d still support Trump for President. “I would not necessarily choose this man to be my child’s Sunday school teacher,” he said. “But that’s not what this election is about.”

The implication is that there is not even a minimal biblical standard of character for a man or woman seeking a leadership role in America’s government. While integrity and a reputable character might be preferred, it’s a luxury good, not a prerequisite to receive the political support of evangelicals.

The result of this decision to disregard character is likely to live longer than even the most robust Supreme Court Justice. No longer can we credibly claim a lack of character is a disqualifier from public office. If Hugh Hefner decides to run for president and chooses Larry Flynt as his running mate, they could credibly claim to be the candidates for evangelical “Values Voters,” so long as they promised to appoint conservative judges.

Witness Side

Now let’s examine the Witness side. This group is also concerned about the long-term threat that will result from allowing Clinton to choose Supreme Court justices. In fact, on this matter they share all of the same concerns as the Justice side. Where they differ is in fervently believing the damage done to our gospel witness in choosing Trump outweighs the potential devastation caused by a liberal Court.

This side rejects the concept of the “lesser of two evils” as being unbiblical since Scripture calls us to reject all evil. They believe the character of both candidates has made them unfit for the highest office in the land, and that voting for either to be President would violate their conscience. Additionally, they believe Trump has made comments that reveal him to be racist, sexist, and/or anti-life—all while claiming to be a Christian. For this group, turning a blind eye to Trump’s character for the sake of political expediency betrays our calling as Christians.

The strength of the Witness position is its integrity and faithfulness. They contend that by supporting Trump (or Clinton) evangelicals are sending the message that we’re willing to sacrifice our witness as ambassadors of Christ, and that we’re willing to choose evil on the chance it will lead to a good outcome.

For the rest of the post…

As a non-profit journalistic organization, Christianity Today is doubly committed to staying neutral regarding political campaigns—the law requires it, and we serve our readers best when we give them the information and analysis they need to make their own judgments.

We can never collude when idolatry becomes manifest, especially when it demands our public allegiance.

Just because we are neutral, however, does not mean we are indifferent. We are especially not indifferent when the gospel is at stake. The gospel is of infinitely greater importance than any campaign, and one good summary of the gospel is, “Jesus is Lord.”

The true Lord of the world reigns even now, far above any earthly ruler. His kingdom is not of this world, but glimpses of its power and grace can be found all over the world. One day his kingdom, and his only, will be the standard by which all earthly kingdoms are judged, and following that judgment day, every knee will bow, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, as his reign is fully realized in the renewal of all things.

The lordship of Christ places constraints on the way his followers involve themselves, or entangle themselves, with earthly rulers.

On the one hand, we pray for all rulers—and judging from the example of Old Testament exiles like Daniel and New Testament prisoners like Paul, we can even wholeheartedly pray for rulers who directly oppose our welfare. On the other hand, we recognize that all earthly governments partake, to a greater or lesser extent, in what the Bible calls idolatry: substituting the creation for the Creator and the earthly ruler for the true God.

No human being, including even the best rulers, is free of this temptation. But some rulers and regimes are especially outrageous in their God-substitution. After Augustus Caesar, the emperors of Rome became more and more elaborate in their claims of divinity with each generation—and more and more ineffective in their governance. Communism aimed not just to replace faith in anything that transcended the state, but to crush it. Such systems do not just dishonor God, they dishonor his image in persons, and in doing so they set themselves up for dramatic destruction. We can never collude when such idolatry becomes manifest, especially when it demands our public allegiance. Christians in every place and time must pray for the courage to stay standing when the alleged “voice of a god, not a man” commands us to kneel.

This year’s presidential election in the United States presents Christian voters with an especially difficult choice.

The Democratic nominee has pursued unaccountable power through secrecy—most evidently in the form of an email server designed to shield her communications while in public service, but also in lavishly compensated speeches, whose transcripts she refuses to release, to some of the most powerful representatives of the world system. She exemplifies the path to power preferred by the global technocratic elite—rooted in a rigorous control of one’s image and calculated disregard for norms that restrain less powerful actors. Such concentration of power, which is meant to shield the powerful from the vulnerability of accountability, actually creates far greater vulnerabilities, putting both the leader and the community in greater danger.

For the rest of the post…

Here’s The Simple Biblical Explanation.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

In the question of who’s the worst sinner, between Donald and Hillary… the answer is simple and straightforward… it’s you and me.. or whoever judges Donald and Hillary.

Jesus said it even better than Dietrich, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.” – Matthew 7 (The Message)

I’m attracted to the invitation of Jesus to focus on our issues (however big or small they are) as oppose to glorifying someone else’s (as big or small as their sins are).

It’s the “plank in our eye” approach, which really helps with living a happy sonship.

Christ came to save us from our sin, but also to save us from the idea that we could be saviors of ourselves, or anyone else.

He made it clear to the Pharisees (who loved to compare levels of sin) that lust was just as bad as adultery, and hatred was just as bad as murder.

So yeah, we are all as bad as Donald/Hillary.

And we need Jesus as much as they do.

I know, that you know, that both Donald and Hillary have clear and distinctive things that they need to repent for.

But so do you.

For the rest of the post…

 

The first presidential debate on September 26 attracted a record 84 million viewers. I was one of them.

Another sizable audience is predicted to watch the second presidential debate tonight. I will not be one of them — nor will my wife or my kids.

The lewdness factor of the election reached new heights this weekend, and it has been suggested that tonight’s debate should be rated R and prefaced with a parental advisory warning. Mud will be slung (and there’s never been more mud to sling). Ratings will be high again.

We are troubled by the personalities and we are troubled by their policies — and when you add those two features together, many Christians are simply withdrawing themselves from both major candidates and both major parties.

If it feels odd to withdraw support like this from such a major American institution, you’re not alone. Writer and hip-hop artist Sho Baraka recently opened a powerful op-ed piece by writing, “As a black Christian in an urban environment, I consciously struggle to give my allegiance to either political party. In this way, this election gives many white evangelicals a sense of what it’s like to be a black believer in America today.”

The 2016 election is giving a lot of us a taste of displacedness. Perhaps like never before in this country, for black and white evangelicals alike, there’s a new feeling of un-belonging. But it’s not a shrugging cynicism. Under the political disillusionment, we are all finding ways of voicing concerns for the welfare of our nation. We are displaced, yes, but we are not separatists.

Believers in Babylon

About 2,600 years ago, under the shadow of a pagan superpower, another believer felt this same pinch: Daniel, a godly man living in exile in the Babylonian empire, a nation which traced its origin back to the rebel egotropolis, Babel. Yet in spite of his disagreement with Babylon’s policies, Daniel gave his life to serve the nation.

The book of Daniel is thoroughly political, revealing the power of God’s sovereign undertow beneath the tides of world politics, and all for the sake of his chosen people. Even as his people endured exile in Babylon, God sovereignly governed the world’s political leaders — raising, dropping, and reordering political powers for millennia (Daniel 2:21).

Into this pagan society, Daniel fought to balance his loyal service to Babylon with his ultimate obedience to God. And what he needed was a transhistorical vision of God’s rule over the nations. He got it in the form of a dream from the restless sleep of Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar.

In Daniel 2:36–45, we read about a giant statue of a man that towered perhaps one-hundred feet in the air and glistened brilliantly in the noonday sun.

The dream was given to Nebuchadnezzar. The interpretive key was given to Daniel.

The statue was a stack of nations, said Daniel. The metal man was capped with Babylon (represented in the gold head), placed atop Medo-Persia (the silver torso and arms), placed atop Greece (the bronze belly and thighs), and placed atop Rome at the bottom (the legs of iron and feet of clay). This layered statue represented a succession of the world’s four great superpowers from Daniel’s day into the future, all stacked vertically and cemented together (Hamilton, 330).

Then it toppled.

The statue was targeted by a stone, which flew into the dream like a comet, smashed into the statue’s feet, and, on impact, shattered the entire statue like safety glass. With one blow, the statue exploded into a pile of rubble, pulverized into a heap of human superpower dust, barely hitting the ground before the wind blew it all away into oblivion.

The small meteoric stone, now on the ground, began to grow and expand into a mountain that covered the entire earth — the image of a new and unshakable kingdom now spread out over every continent, displacing all the world’s superpowers in history.

The fall of this giant man-statue is meant to remind us of David’s sling-whirling, Goliath-defeating precedent. In both cases, the world’s powers must fall before the reign of a Davidic king.

Return of the King

This theatrical dream triggers a future history: a new king will establish God’s global reign over creation (the mountain). Later in the book, God gave Daniel a dream of his own, ushering him into a divine throne room of stunning imagery to see “the Ancient of Days” presiding over a glorious coronation anointing, over “one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:9–13).

This king, this “son of man,” entered in to receive his Cosmic Commission: to reign over all the peoples and nations and languages of the earth, to be globally adored in glory, and to be obeyed by all peoples.

The Davidic symbolism of chapter two, and now the introduction of this “son of man” in Daniel 7, combine to reveal the connection to Christ. Jesus would use this “son of man” phrase about eighty times in the Gospels: to reference his own authority, to reference his own need to suffer and die, and most importantly, to communicate his future glorified majesty and authority (NDBT, 236).

Christ found ample opportunities to tie all the major features of his Messianic purposes back to the throne room scene in Daniel 7. His words remind us that God’s agenda reigns on debate night — and every night.

The Politics of Jesus

The throne-room coronation scene in Daniel 7:13–14 is striking for helping us understand Christ’s self-revelation, and for understanding our mission as Christians, in a world of confusion. To make the connections, we need to set the “Cosmic Commission” of Christ in Daniel 7:13–14 alongside the Great Commission of Christ in Matthew 28:18–20.

For the rest of the post…

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