“Now is the judgement of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
John 12: 31
“The one essential condition of human existence is that man should always be able to bow down before something infinitely great.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Demons (1872)
None of those who disagreed with Scoot’s recent post are what St. Paul calls “children of disobedience.” They are sinners, no doubt, to a man; but St. Paul’s “children of disobedience” do not merely sin. They sin without guilt because men have blinded them to sin with “vain words.” The children of disobedience therefore call “fornication” love, “covetousness” ambition.” “Filthiness” and “foolish talk” they approve as unpretentious. When they sit down to sup and swill with a “whoremonger” or “unclean person,” the “children of disobedience” congratulate themselves for their liberal toleration (Ephesians 5: 1-7).
The “children of disobedience” glory in their disobedience. They identify with their sin. This is not, I daresay, what any of those who demurred at Scoot’s doctrine of docility are are all about.
Obedience is obviously good: the only question is, to whom.
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Scoot’s premise is that every nominal authority is an actual authority because every nominal authority is, in the last analysis, a deputy, agent or instrument of God. Thus obedience to God entails obedience to every nominal authority. Despite what you may have been told, it is God, Scoot tells us, and not Vladimir Putin, who controls the outcomes of our elections.
The greatest problem with Scoot’s doctrine is that this world is not the Kingdom of God. The “prince of this world” is the Devil, from which it follows that it is the Devil who controls the outcomes of our elections.
You may object that Jesus said that the “prince of this world” will be cast out “now,” and may suppose that “now” means at that moment or very shortly thereafter. What “now” means, however, is in the cosmic crisis that was about to begin. “The judgement of the world” means the crisis of the world—the great age of decision by the world.
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates coined the word crisis to denote the “hour of decision” in a terrible fever—the hour when the fever either breaks or the patient dies. Hippocrates made the word crisis from the Greek krinein, or judgment. The ”judgement of this world” is not Judgment Day. It is not God’s judgment of the world. It is the world’s judgement for or against God’s incarnate word.
It is the world’s great age of decision between darkness and light.
This “judgement of the world” has not ended, so the “now” to which Christ referred is ongoing and the Devil is still prince of this world. And lest you think that a prince is somehow subordinate to a king, and the Devil therefore subordinate to God, let me remind you that a prince is the principal—the Number One, the Head Honcho, the Big Guy. He is, until finally cast out of it, this world’s Ultimate Authority.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
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With that said, I will be the first to add that obedience is good when rightly directed. Indeed, it is supremely good because it is only by “bowing down,” as Dostoyevsky put it, “to something infinitely great,” that men have any goodness at all. As Dostoyevsky wrote in the very next line,
“If men are deprived of the infinitely great they will not go on living and will die of despair.”
“Now is the judgement of this world.” This means that now is the time when all men must bow down. The only question is, to whom. “The prince of this world” remains the Devil and one bows to him when one bows to his minions. But since the Devil is not “infinitely great,” those who bow to him (and his earthly minions) “deprive themselves of the infinitely great,” and therefore, as “children of disobedience,” they “will not go on living and will die of despair.”