". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Christ Is King and Every Knee Shall Bend

March 26, 2024

Almost since the beginning of recorded history, men have sought power: Caesars and shahs, kings and sultans, princes and khans, presidents and prime ministers, emperors and generals. Kingdoms and empires, dynasties and nations have risen and fallen, memorialized in poems and art and the annals of history. Some dominated entire generations, others sprawled across centuries. Only one has stood the test of time, covering every continent and thriving over 2,000 years: Christianity.

Over the weekend, this well-chronicled historical fact became a subject of discontent and dispute for the armchair philosophers and amateur pundits of social media — many of them self-professed conservatives and even Christians. According to these self-appointed arbiters of theological, historical, and social truth, the admission “Christ is King” is clearly a hateful, anti-Semitic slur. That is to say, claiming that the Messiah foretold by centuries of Jewish prophets, born to a humble Jewish carpenter and his wife, who illuminated and fulfilled the Jewish Scriptures, could be the King of the world is … hateful towards Jews. Luckily for Christians, nearly two millennia ago, a Jew famous for prosecuting and executing Christians actually addressed this argument:

“Because of this, God greatly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

The chief argument against “Christ is King” is that the proclamation of the fact is offensive to those of the Jewish faith, and thus anti-Semitic, a slur against a race of persons. As for the racial component of this argument, Christianity necessarily holds that God does not create anything evil — evil is, rather, an absence or a perversion of good in something — and, since every person is not only made by God but is in fact made in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), no human can be created evil.

It is for this reason that Christianity has, from the beginning, served as the driving force of civilization. It was St. Patrick, himself sold as a slave in his boyhood, who first condemned the slave trade, some 1,400 years before the American Civil War was fought. It was St. Remigius of Reims who, after the fall of Rome, baptized Franks, Goths, Galls, and Celts, giving those who the Romans derided as “barbarians” a new name, “brother in Christ.” It was Christian missionaries who brought the gospel to Africa, Asia, and South America, establishing peace in regions which had previously been dominated by tribal and racial wars, often culminating in slavery and human sacrifice.

History baldly contradicts the argument that Christianity condemns any particular race, but especially the Jewish race. Christ Himself was ethnically Jewish, and his earthly father, Joseph, was descended from the line of the great King David, as affirmed by the Gospels of both Luke and Matthew. Declaring then that a humble carpenter’s son of the Jewish race is, in fact, the King of the entire world hardly seems to be a means of deriding the Jewish race. The first Christians were Jewish fishermen, so devoted to Christ and the gospel that, with the exception of John the Evangelist, they all willingly died for their faith. The first act of the apostles was to evangelize the Jews, to welcome thousands into the church, to call their own people to recognize the kingship of Christ.

By its very nature, Christianity demonstrably rebuffs the claim that Christ’s kingship — and its proclamation — is somehow an instrument of violence, hatred, or oppression towards any people, but especially the Jews. The fact that some vocal pundits and influencers have attempted to affix the phrase with their racially-charged messages does not alter or mitigate the truth that Christ is King, and it does not warrant the broad effort to suppress proclaiming Christ's Kingship regardless of intent. Instead, the real case against “Christ is King” is a theological one.

Christ did not come to end the Mosaic covenant, but to fulfill it. He Himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). In other words, He came that He might be the continuation of that covenant: not its death, but its fruition. The prophets of old predicted that a Messiah would come to save the world from its sins and eternal damnation. Christ is that Messiah. There is no longer the promise of a Messiah, there is not some other savior waiting in the wings like an understudy. This does not abolish the Mosaic covenant, but continues it, rather as a young boy maturing into a man does not kill the boy, but fulfills the promise of his youth. There is not now, though, the same boy running about playing while the grown man works and weds and raises his own children. Just so, there are not two extant covenants: an old one and a new one. Rather, the old covenant was made to mature into Christ, who is Himself the new covenant, just as the boy was made to mature into the man.

This point is an important one to understand, for if Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection were merely offering an alternative covenant to the Mosaic covenant, then what would be the point? If the Mosaic law were sufficient for one to attain Heaven and eternal salvation, perfect and beatific communion with God, then God becoming man, taking on the form of a mere creature, suffering an excruciating and ignominious death, and then conquering the grave would be rather superfluous.

Very well, but what if the Mosaic covenant was for the Jews and the new covenant established in Christ is for the Gentiles? Then Christ’s ministry, carried out entirely within the Jewish community, would have been fruitless. Christ was not born in Rome, fulfilling prophesies written hundreds of years before in Jupiter’s temples. He was not born in Athens, claiming to be the son of Kronos. He was not raised studying the sacred texts of the Persians or the Babylonians. He was born in Bethlehem to a Jewish carpenter whose royal lineage would mean nothing to a Gentile, He grew up studying the Jewish Scriptures, and He called Himself the Son of God. But He was rejected by those who, for centuries, awaited His coming.

Christ Himself acknowledges this throughout the gospels. In one instance, He tells a parable to the Pharisees and Jewish priests and leaders, of a landowner who leases his vineyard to tenants and sends numerous servants to ask them for his vintage. After the tenants beat and kill the servants and messengers, the vineyard owner sends his son. When he arrives, Christ says, “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him” (Matthew 21:33-39).

Christ rarely explained His parables to anyone other than the Apostles, but He did explain this one to the Pharisees and priests:

“Did you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit” (Matthew 21:42-43).

Matthew records, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them” (Matthew 21:45). Christ also knew the thoughts of the Pharisees and priests (Luke 5:22-23), which makes His summary of the tenants’ thoughts all the more damning. He knew, of course, that He would be rejected, and He knew why. Christ did not reject the Jews and God did not replace them with Christians. Rather, Christ brought the promise of the Mosaic covenant to fruition through His life, death, and resurrection, calling His chosen people to enter into the covenant which He Himself is.

The conclusion this argument against “Christ is King” reaches is, essentially, that Christ is not King. If He were King, of course, then there would be no harm in declaring Him thus — but if He is not, then boldly and proudly proclaiming His Kingship would be a sort of spiritual colonization of those who do not call Him a King, especially the Jews, since Christ claimed to be the Messiah their Scriptures prophesied. Instead, if this argument is accepted, Christ is relegated to merely one king among many. In short, the argument’s conclusion is that there are multiple avenues to what Christ offers: eternal salvation. Christians, of course, recognize that this is patently false.

Once again, Christ Himself declares, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father” (John 14:6-7). There is no other way, there is no other savior, there is no one else whose blood might wash away sin and whose life might conquer death itself. As St. John Chrysostom asks, “Could I produce a witness more trustworthy than the Son of God?” The campaign against Christ’s Kingship is nothing short of an overture to pantheism, an effort to declare that Christ is not only not King, but is not the way or the truth or the life.

Atheism is given pride of place among the social, political, and academic elites of the West: the declaration “God is dead” is met with smiles or applause and is ingratiated into Western nomenclature. The violent religion of Islam is endorsed and promulgated, with even those whom Muslims would deride as “infidels” serving as some of Islam’s most ardent evangelists. Judaism used to be more vigorously defended, with any critique of the religion instantly labeled racism and anti-Semitism. But the Kingship of Christ is denied, spurned, and rejected. The only One who truly is the way, the truth, and the life is silenced, as He was silenced upon a cross nearly 2,000 years ago.

Christians have a responsibility, a solemn commission, to proclaim that Christ is King. It is not anti-Semitic, it is not a slur, it is not a “dialectical trap,” as some have called it. It is a crucial tenet of the Christian faith. Our King commanded us not to shirk and shrink from name-calling, but to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), reminding us that the world will hate us for declaring that Christ is King, just as it first hated Christ our King (John 15:18-19).

Over the centuries, Christian martyrs have faced far worse than criticism, accusations of racism, and social ostracization in their efforts to preach the gospel and expand Christ’s kingdom. Let us not cower before the self-negating arguments of pantheism nor allow any smear to keep us from courageously proclaiming that truth in which both Heaven and earth rejoice: Christ is King.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.