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The Crucifixion Repudiates Earthly Powers

Malcolm Muggeridge was a journalist and contemporary of C.S. Lewis.  I have seen him quoted by Christian writers multiple times in recent days, which is particularly interesting since he is also much the skeptic. He wants to be all in, but he just can’t quite make it – like a believer who yet doesn’t believe the Scriptures themselves.  From his book “Jesus Rediscovered”:
What, then, does the Crucifixion signify in an age like ours?  I see it in the first place as a sublime mockery of all earthly authority and power.  The crown of thorns, the purple robe, the ironical title ‘King of the Jews,’ were intended to mock or parody Christ’s pretensions to be the Messiah; in fact, they rather hold up to ridicule and contempt all crowns, all robes, all kings that ever were.  It was a sick joke that back-fired.  No one, it seems to me, who has fully grasped the Crucifixion can ever again take seriously any expression or instrument of worldly power, however venerable, glittering or seemingly formidable.
 
When Christ was tempted in the wilderness he declined the Devil’s offer to give him sway over the kingdoms of the earth (a refusal which must be intensely irritating to those who believe that it is possible through Christian good-will to set up a kingdom of heaven on earth); the Crucifixion demonstrated why — because the Devil’s offer was bogus.  There are no kingdoms for him to bestow; only pseudo or notional ones presided over by mountebanks masquerading as emperors and kings and governments…
That’s a powerful statement about the nature of power. And this:
… Christ’s death on the cross may be seen as the exact converse of the next most famous death as far as our civilisation is concerned — that of Socrates.  Socrates obediently drank hemlock and died to support and enhance the State: Christ died on the cross in derisive defiance of all States, whether Roman, Judaic, or any other.
All this is from the chapter titled “The Crucifixion,” and originally appeared as an essay in The Observer on March 26, 1967. Christians take heart!

 

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