Sunday, April 1, 2012

BALANCE OF POWER

The term ‘balance of power’ tends to speak of conflict. In Cartesian ‘dualism’ there supposedly is a tug-of-war between mind and matter or mind and body. In morality the supposed conflict is symbolised by Taoist ‘yin and yang’ representing good and evil. In Federalism the term ‘balance of power’ expresses the tension between the federation and the states or provinces, such as in America, Australia and Canada. Among other things, the American Civil War or The War Between the States illustrates this conflict. In physics we can watch magnets with positive and negative charges attract and repel iron filings. In Chemistry acids and alkalis illustrate the same. In Anthropology there is the male and female tension. And on it goes.

All conflict in every realm of existence is resolved by looking to God. ‘In the unity of the Godhead there are three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit’ (Westminster Confession of Faith). Notice that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal in unity. The Three are One and the One is Three. The One does not lord it over the Many, or the Many over the One. There is no conflicting dualism or ‘yin and yang’ in the Godhead. Theologians refer to this perfect balance of power as ‘equal ultimacy’. The One and the Many, Unity and Diversity, are kept in perfect balance in, by, and through the Triune God.

My old college professor, the late Dr Francis Nigel Lee, was fond of paraphrasing the opening verse of the Bible thus: ‘God Triune, at the beginning, created the tri-universe.’ Dr Lee would point to the fact that God created two heavens and one earth – a tri-unity! Indeed, the Triune God, the original One and Many, is reflected throughout creation. The Creator keeps everything in His creation in perfect tension. Therefore all dualistic conflict is resolved by introducing a third party, i.e., God. He holds the balance of power. As Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above’ John 19:11a. ‘Power’ is often used interchangeably with ‘authority’ in the New Testament.

Since His resurrection from the dead Jesus Christ now holds the balance of power. He says, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’ Matthew 28:18b. Jesus, as you know, is God and Man in one Divine Person forever. Therefore, His divine nature does not lord it over His human nature or vice versa. ‘Two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.’ (Westminster Confession of Faith). Notice the use of the word ‘distinct’ when describing the two natures of Christ. No dualism here. No conflict. This is because the two natures are distinct, not separate. For example, the current conflict over the so called ‘separation of Church and State’ in Western Society is resolved by exchanging the word ‘separation’ with the word ‘distinction’. Both are one, (i.e., one nation), under God. We make distinctions when discussing the Godhead, the two natures of Christ, or the nation. However, each distinction is sovereign in its own sphere. The State ought not lord it over the Church or vice versa. In Scripture the Church does not hold the sword of justice. The State does. The State does not hold the keys of the kingdom. The Church does. They are distinct. Yet both are one under God.

God holds the balance of power because God is the balance of power. Introduce the Triune God into the equation and all conflict, even between good and evil, light and darkness, Heaven and Hell, is resolved. For each of these, when distinguished, remains sovereign in its own sphere.  In other words, they derive their power or authority from God, which is to say that they serve the purpose for which they were designed by God. Yes, ‘The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever’ Deuteronomy 29:29a. Therefore, even when we struggle to understand suffering and evil in the ‘tri-universe’, we know that because God holds the balance of power ‘all things work together for good’ Romans 8:28a. 
(Excerpted from my upcoming book: LAST CALL & Other Contemplations)

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