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What Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ Reveals About Christ and Culture

The following is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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I have been enjoying the new Netflix Original series “The Crown,” which vividly dramatizes the change experienced by Elizabeth II immediately after she became queen of England.

Before she received the news of her father the king’s death—at a lodge in Kenya—Elizabeth was treated as a distinguished but otherwise normal guest. After hearing the news over the radio, all the hotel staff members and other guests knelt in her presence.

And yet, it would take another 16 months before Elizabeth was formally crowned. During those 16 months, Elizabeth took up the heavy work of queen and was referred to by everyone as “The Queen.” Not the queen-elect, or the queen-in-waiting, or the queen-to-be, or any such already-not yet title. She was, during that entire 16 months, as fully queen as she was after the formal coronation ceremony.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

This is a helpful picture for how we should understand the kingship of Jesus Christ. It’s important because our […]

Us and Them

No one likes Genesis 19. It’s never contained anyone’s “life verse.” Sexual violence and widespread judgment don’t make for good greeting cards or bedtime stories. But God knows what he’s doing and included these gut-wrenching stories on purpose. By reading carefully, we come to see the story of Lot’s rescue from Sodom as an introduction into intercessory prayer on behalf of the church, following the example of Abraham. We come to see the justice of God and should delight to see how his justice magnifies the grace shown to Lot and his family in answer to Abraham’s prayer.

But Genesis 19 doesn’t end with Lot’s rescue. It doesn’t end with a “happily ever after.” It stumbles and trips over itself and leaves us feeling disgusted, questioning the point of telling stories that only make us uncomfortable. Was it really necessary to tell us of Lot’s drunkenness and his daughters’ desperate plunge into incest? 

Questioning Our Father

I love questions.  Want to know why?  Partly because of their power to reveal hearts.  The question I just asked revealed your heart toward me and this article. Though I and others may never know what it revealed, the question forced you to see things within you – good, kind, patient things, I hope!  Sometimes, questions are so powerful that they become heart-revealing statements.  For instance, “What’s your problem?”  That’s not so  much a question as a statement indicating irritation.  Yes, the sentence ends with a question mark, but the meaning often requires a period or an exclamation point to be properly understood.  Questions can reveal the hearts of those being interrogated, and they can reveal the hearts of the interrogators, too.  Scripture is full of heart-revealing questions, including some of the most powerful questions ever stated.  Let’s look at a few of them to see what’s going on in our souls.       

Happily Ever After

Most of us have grown up with a strong affection for books that finish well and fairytales that conclude with ‘and they lived happily ever after.’ Whether it’s ‘Beauty and Beast’ or ‘Snow White and her Handsome Prince’, we don’t enjoy reaching the final page, with a sense of the outcome left hanging or the future appearing bleak or mournful.

With its concrete hope of the future the bible does not disappoint. Though the plan of God starts brightly, the narrative of sin introduces a negative twist, meaning the long journey through the Old Testament, is bumpy at best, if not harrowing and heartbreaking at times. There are lamps to light the route, with bright promises of hope. After the holocaust of Calvary, light dawns at resurrection. From that time on the dimmer switch turns up. Along the New Testament path, there are, of course, tornadoes to hide from and cloud bursts to dampen spirits. As a general trend however, the Gospel beams blaze brighter, as we draw closer to the Day, and as wait in anticipation for the full revelation of glory at the appearing of King Jesus.

I’ve been doing a little research on ‘The End’ of the Kingdom of […]

To Condemn Surfing? Define Your Christianity.

“Protestant missionaries… had forced surfing deep into the shadows… To Calvinists, surfing was a sinful exercise, leading only to unbridled licentiousness and godless impiety. Go surfing they pronounced from their pulpits, and eternal flames awaited.” Pacific, 131.

Simon Winchester (one of my favorite authors) makes this passing statement  about surfing and 1820’s Hawaiian Calvinism. Calvinism is condemned in less than forty words in the midst of a 492 page book which concerns the ecological, international, and economic importance of the Pacific Ocean. Why did Calvinism get discredited in the midst of a discussion on the ocean? With no footnote or historical anecdote, the assertion was made that Calvinists believe that surfing leads to hell’s flame.

I am not arguing that such condemnations have never been made. Somewhere someone at some time has most-likely condemned wave riding, yet Winchester’s statement demonstrates that outside of the church people have presuppositions about what defines the Christian. People assume they know what is Christianity. That assumption is based on how we reflect Christianity; how we define it. To an unbelieving world, we define Christianity, not in our words only — but also in our actions.

What defines you?

What defines your Christianity?

Is it defined by a condemnation of surfing or some other lawful activity? Is […]

Preaching to the Mind

Sometimes we preachers fail in the pulpit simply because we forget what we are up against. We think if we are just pleasant enough or clever enough or loud enough, certainly we will be convincing to our hearers. Yet we must never forget that one of the impacts of the noetic effect of sin is that it causes the mind to be at war against the things of God. We can act as if we are training puppies when instead we are wrestling bears.

Fallen man at his fundamental level, at the core of his constituted being, sets his mind on the things of the flesh. In Romans 8:7-8, Paul states it this way: “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” That unconverted man sitting before you in the pew has a mind that dwells on how he can satisfy his own cravings for such things as pleasure, prestige, and power. So deeply do men suppress the truth, so fiercely do they hate God, that in the words of Dr. James Boice men become “morally insane.” […]

Browse Worthy: Trinitarianism and Complementarianism (Part 3)

As has been noted by this first list of articles then another post, a fascinating and important debate has been taking place about the doctrine of the Trinity in seeking to find support for complementarianism. The need for the church to be clear regarding the Godhead as revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot be overemphasized (as this post also reminded us).

Some further posts are shared below that help crystallize the issues. There is a world of difference between saying that the eternally generated Son submitted to the Father before the incarnation (resulting in God having more than one will) and saying that in their eternal counsel the Son as man would submit to the Father (the belief that Christ has both a divine and human will). I hope and pray that the truth of who God is and how He has chosen to reveal himself will triumph over desires to support in an unwarranted manner a lesser teaching of Scripture or, worse yet, to protect reputations. For there is no dishonor in being corrected and accepting it.

Sitting at Douglas Kelly’s Feet: Subordination and the Current Debate | Daniel F. Wells (June 26, 2016)
Heresy and Humility — Lessons from a Current Controversy | Al […]

Jesus’ Tears – No. 3

The hour is late. Christ has left Jerusalem with his disciples. They leave the warmth of the house and make their way out into the cold night, down into the Kidron valley and start to ascend the Mount of Olives. At its foot lies a small grove of olive trees with a press for crushing the olives. Gethsemane was a peaceful place where Jesus had spent time in prayer.

Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him into the garden. He begins to pray and soon his face is marked once more with tears. Why is he weeping? In these tears Jesus displays for us the agony he went through to win our salvation.

And these perhaps are the most precious tears, because in these tears we see what we have been spared from. We see the depths of Jesus’ love for us, and we see the awful price he paid that we might be forgiven. What do these tears tells us?

These tears speak of the intense sorrow Jesus felt

This sorrow is unusually real and deep. He was overwhelmed to the point of death, surrounded by grief and drowning in pain. Mark in his account says Jesus was “greatly distressed.” This word […]

“Beautiful Beyond Description”

I’m just back from a Jonathan Edwards conference in Durham. The last talk was superb and I thought I would share its outline with you [plus a few random thoughts of my own].
It called to mind an article I read on a BBC website some years ago on what makes a person beautiful. “True beauty”, said the author, “is about symmetry, balance and harmony”. He went on to illustrate this with precision line drawings and pencil sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci. “Every model” he asserted “when you look at their face, jaw, eyes and cheekbones, will have angles that are symmetrical and identical on both sides” [Just by the way, this is a dim, distant, paraphrase]. What depressed me the next morning, as I looked in the mirror, was a nose bent in the middle and one eye higher than the other – I decided I would settle for a little inner beauty!
Our conference speaker at Durham made exactly the same point. He illustrated balance, with all parts working harmoniously, in the abseiling activity of an arachnid descending from its thread, and spinning its silky web. ‘Thus’, he provisionally concluded, ‘we see the glory of divine beauty in nature through the […]

The Lord’s Supper is a Heavenly Meal

In the Lord’s Supper, we look back upon Christ’s sufferings. We know that communion is a memorial meal that we do, as Jesus instructed, “in remembrance of me.” We understand that the broken bread and poured wine represent the body and blood of Jesus, who died on the cross for his people. So we look back in remembrance in the Lord’s Supper.

Yet we must also look ahead. For the Lord’s Supper is an eschatological meal. Eschatology is the study of the last things. By using this word to describe the Lord’s Supper, we mean that when participating in it we are to be looking ahead to the end of earth’s history, the day of the Final Judgment, and the eternity of heaven. How do we know this? In the words of institution in the Lord’s Supper that Paul gives us, he tells the church that “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (I Cor. 11:26). Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we should be remembering he is coming again. We are saying in its observance, “He is coming! Jesus is coming back again!”

The book of Revelation helps us to understand this […]