When James VI of Scotland became King James I of Great Britain, among his efforts to unify his kingdom, which had broken from Rome, was commissioning a new translation of the Bible. The Church of England at the time was Anglican, but many of James’ subjects were entranced with democratic Presbyterianism. They represented two opposing worldviews: one hierarchical, the other democratic. The king, obviously, distrusted and feared Presbyterianism, thinking it was little more than a revolution waiting to happen.
And that is exactly what happened 170 years later.
Many of the earliest settlers in the New World were Calvinist Presbyterians, and they brought with them not only their theology of grace, but their suspicion of hierarchical political power. They came here to be free, and many, not all, but many became enthusiastic supporters of the colonial cause—so much so that one member of the British Parliament referred to the war raging in the colonies as “that Presbyterian revolt.”
Well, we’re not still protesting, are we? At least not many of us. In fact, many of us are quite comfortable with the power structure just as it is, thank you, and might even view those who do protest, who see something wrong with the power structure, as little more than malcontents.
Yes, scripture is filled with faithful people who engage in creative resistance to the power of the state. This weekend’s story is among the very best in the Bible, filled with intrigue, subterfuge and irony. It’s also a study of power, particularly the relationship of faith to political power. Take time to enjoy reading it here.
We’re fortunate to have the Rev. Dr. Jerry Cannon, Senior Minster of C.N. Jenkins Presbyterian Church (pictured above) joining me for this “dialogical sermon” in which we’ll interact about our thoughts on this passage. Together, we'll continue a sermon series called Guide My Feet While I Run This Race. We’ll also rejoice over a baptism and have some great music.
Join us, and invite a friend.