At one point during the coronation ceremonies for King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II’s successor and her son, the camera focused on the king kissing the Holy Bible. Tears began to flow from my eyes at this tender affection for the Word of God being shown by the newly crowned king (he actually became king at the time when his mother passed away, before his actual coronation). While my tears were tears of joy at seeing the Word of God being reverenced in front of hundreds of millions of people on tv, they were also tears of sorrow because there is no evidence that the new king is a born-again believer, and because the Church of England continues to be mired in conflict with its clergy in Africa and Asia about the role of homosexuals as clergy in that church.
The reader of this article surely knows that the clergy in Great Britain’s former colonies see no role nor any approval of the homosexual lifestyle as part of Christian beliefs based on Biblical values. In fact, some of those prelates have said that any attempts to promote this in their countries is a type of updated, spiritual colonialism and thus an expression of false, exploitative values. The African Church of England view is the same as that of born-again churches in our USA. For the born-again believers, the Word of God is decisive on this issue.
Of course, the sexual identity of priests and higher officials is not the only issue at stake in questions of the Church of England’s legitimacy. They recognize all forms of baptism, including but not exclusively baptism by immersion. The members subscribe to the 39 Articles whereas there are different doctrinal statements among individual churches that consider the born-again experience and commitment to be the most essential part of salvation. At the same time, Reformed Baptist Churches in the USA also subscribe to certain reformation confessions such as the London Reformed Baptist Confession of 1689 or the Savoy Declaration or Heidelberg Confession as ways of understanding one’s born again experience and attendant duties in Christ.
In the Church of England, there is a church pastoral hierarchy of priests, bishops, and an archbishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of the church; yet, presumably, not as Vicar of Christ which is a claim made by every Pope. The Church of England is also the official church of England, although there is freedom of worship of other denominations. The Church of England does not affirm that one is saved by being born again even though Jesus expressly says this in John 3:3 and John 3:7.
This writer is not a member of the Church of England but has been a born again and baptized-by-immersion Christian for thirty-five years. The Lord Jesus Christ lifted me from a dark place of loneliness, failure, desperation, fear, and spiritual ignorance to a place of faith, love, and especially hope. My wife and I have been married for almost 29 years, and when I was in my mid-fifties my only child, a lovely baby girl, was born. She is my most cherished achievement and gift from God.
But coming back to the coronation ceremony for King Charles III, we see the name of Jesus Christ repeatedly invoked amidst a continuous flow of limousines, golden carriages, fabulous brocaded robes, magnificent archways, tuxedos and gowns worth thousands of dollars, and beautiful utterances from the Word of God and the Church of England Book of Common Prayer.
Yet, one presentation above all the other activities seemingly intended to glorify God as well as Charles III and Camilla, was a reading by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak. He read aloud (with perfect elocution) Colossians 1: 9-17. As he read, it seemed to me that the Lord was saying to me, “Build your ministry [I’ve been preaching for more than 25 years] around these verses.” Here was a brilliant man who graduated with a first [high honors] from Oxford University and then received his MBA from Stanford University which he attended on a Fulbright Scholarship. He married a billionaire’s daughter and is now Prime Minister although only 43 years of age. He is incredibly articulate, dark-skinned, and Hollywood handsome. Moreover, and this is the crucial point, he is a Hindu.
The Lord had this incredibly convicting and powerful word about the sufficiency and sovereignty of Christ read – and, I might add, read enthusiastically, i.e., not in a perfunctory manner – by a non-Christian!! Let that sink in. Then connect that fact with the cliché that mysterious are the ways of the Lord. Then link that with tens of millions all over the world watching these ceremonies where the white, robed, bespectacled Anglican priests are holding the Bible and are surrounded by remarkably well-dressed,
upper-class, impeccably dressed white people (with about three people of color among the gathered guests).
It is interesting that Mahatma Gandhi who led the Indian sub-continent to independence from the British in the decades before 1948, also frequently referred to and quoted Jesus Christ. However, when interviewers asked him if he had become a Christian (as a young man he had actually studied law and resided in the United Kingdom), he consistently answered that he was a Hindu. You see, in the context of Hinduism there are many figures to whom God-consciousness is attributed. Thus, for the Hindu who is intrigued by the miracles and teachings of Christ, Jesus is another of this body of spiritual leaders who are evolved in consciousness and are man-gods, whereas those of us who follow Christ in the West see Him as God-man. Even this writer once was being treated by an Indian cardiologist who took a copy of the Bhagavad Gita out of his pocket to show me presumably that being a Hindu was compatible [sic] with my Christian beliefs, especially my faith in Jesus Christ.
Armed, I believe, with the Gandhian view of Christ or possibly with the cynical view that it does not matter what he reads since he is merely doing his ceremonial duty as Prime Minister, Mr. Sunak read nine of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture affirming the sufficiency and sovereignty of Christ as Almighty God. Those words in Colossians were written in response to false teachers who were bombarding the church at Collose with Gnostic doctrine to the effect “that Jesus was not fully God and fully man, but merely one of the semidivine beings that bridged the chasm between God and the world. He therefore, was said to be lacking in authority and ability to meet the needs of the Colossians.”1
The words of those verses are going to be the cornerstone of my ministry work going forward. In these eternal verses, the Apostle Paul cries out to the saints gathered at Colossae “10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully please Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” These are only three of the nine verses read by the emissary of Truth – Our Lord and Savior – who used this innocent Hindu man to proclaim the Truth of God throughout the entire Earth. Christ alone stands above every kingdom and principality including the “principality” represented by the worldwide Anglican Church. That church at best is only a mere shadow of His reality and the hope and love emanating from His sovereignty.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are heirs of that royal hope stemming from being part of His royal priesthood. It is not mainly in the pomp and circumstance of worldwide tv with eminent persons in attendance that God lives and has His being. He lives in my heart and yours, and at the same time, He encompasses the universe as its Creator and Lord. He promises us eternal life with Him, and no handsome and brilliant public officials, and no beautiful, fascinating women of style and grace can mediate the truth and hope He offers.
1Spirit-Filled Life Bible, Jack W. Hayford, General Editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, p.1813
Photo: Hindustan Times
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