The Lion and the Lamb

This post is prompted by Paul VanderKlay’s short video response to the conversation between Rod Dreher and Jonathan Pageau.

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Revelation 5: 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

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Genesis 49: 8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.

9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Both Matthew and Luke trace Jesus’s genealogy through Judah.  In one being, we have both the lion and the lamb.  How can this be?  GK Chesterton describes one of the many paradoxes of Christianity in his book Orthodoxy, where Christianity is blamed both for not fighting (the lamb) and for fighting (the lion):

It was the fault of poor old Christianity (somehow or other) both that Edward the Confessor did not fight and that Richard Coeur de Leon did.

He then makes reference to the lion and the lamb:

It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like.

To be clear, while we commonly picture the lion and the lamb lying together, I don’t believe the Biblical sources put it exactly this way.

Isaiah 11: 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

So, the lion and the lamb are at least in the same scene.  Continuing with Chesterton, and this image of the lion becoming lamb-like:

But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb.

Is this the point – for the lamb to now consume the lion?  Chesterton thinks not:

The real problem is—Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? THAT is the problem the Church attempted; THAT is the miracle she achieved.

Jesus achieved that miracle.

We are coming to a time where Christianity is being moved to the fringe of the society.  The center is being filled by something else.  Christianity has been at the center in the West, losing ground with the Enlightenment, and finally giving way in the First World War.  It has been living on fumes since then.

While Christianity was at the center, there was at least the objective of love, which left room at the margins.  Everything of love and respect to all in society can be found in Christianity and only in Christianity.  Sure, never perfect, never progressing fast enough, but undeniably so.

Something other than Christian love is moving to the center.  It is hate; there is no doubt about this.

I am troubled by this direction, as many are; the monologue by VanderKlay troubled me more.  For example, VanderKlay offers:

Don’t despair about being moved to the margin.  Christ didn’t belong there either, yet Christ always wins.

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Matthew 26: 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

I have often found myself wondering about the survival of Christianity over the centuries, under attack in Europe by the Vikings, the Huns, the Muslims.  For this, I consider Chesterton’s comments above: in Christianity (and in Christ) we find both a lion who retains his ferocity and a lamb who is ready to be sacrificed.

Where would Christianity be without a few lions: Charles Martel, King Otto I the Great, or King John III Sobieski?

Charles Martel led the Frankish forces at the Battle of Tours on 10 October 732.  Charles was victorious, stopping what had been to that point a continuous string of Muslim victories in Europe.  Had Charles fallen, many believe Europe would have been lost, for example:

The first wave of real “modern” historians, especially scholars on Rome and the medieval period, such as Edward Gibbon, contended that had Charles fallen, the Umayyad Caliphate would have easily conquered a divided Europe.

Gibbon was echoed a century later by the Belgian historian Godefroid Kurth, who wrote that the Battle of Poitiers “must ever remain one of the great events in the history of the world, as upon its issue depended whether Christian Civilization should continue or Islam prevail throughout Europe.”

German historians were especially ardent in their praise of Charles Martel; Schlegel speaks of this “mighty victory”, and tells how “the arm of Charles Martel saved and delivered the Christian nations of the West from the deadly grasp of all-destroying Islam.”

Next, King Otto I and the Battle of Lechfeld, in August 955.  By this point, Europe had suffered perhaps 150 years of Hungarian invasions:

The Battle of Lechfeld was a series of military engagements over the course of three days from 10–12 August 955 in which the German forces of King Otto I the Great annihilated a Hungarian army led by harka Bulcsú and the chieftains Lél and Súr. With this German victory, further invasions by the Magyars into Latin Europe were ended.

Finally, King John III Sobieski.  He led the Christian forces in the Battle of Vienna in September 1683.  The Ottoman Empire had been making advances into Europe and conquering much of southeastern Europe, looking to Vienna as a valuable prize.

The king of Poland, John III Sobieski, prepared a relief expedition to Vienna during the summer of 1683, so honoring his obligations to the treaty (he left his own nation virtually undefended when departing from Kraków on 15 August).

The European forces would be victorious, ultimately bringing an end to any further threat from the Ottomans:

The Ottomans fought on for another 16 years, losing control of Hungary and Transylvania in the process before finally desisting. The Holy Roman Empire signed the Treaty of Karlowitz with the Ottoman Empire in 1699. The battle marked the historic end of Ottoman imperial expansion into Europe.

A set of 2 18” F... Buy New $118.00 (as of 05:58 EST - Details) As Chesterton offers, the lion does not lose its ferocity.  The miracle is that he knows when his ferocity must be held back and when it must be brought forth.  Sure, we know “Christ always wins,” as VanderKlay offered.  What if Christ “won” in those times through Christians such as these?

Conclusion

Jonathan Pageau often speaks about the necessity of leaving room at the margin.  Christianity has done this, perhaps better than any other religion known on earth.  Christians do not fight wars against those who live on the margins of society: grain is left in the field for the poor; advice and counsel, not stoning, is offered to the adulteress; dinner is accepted with the tax collector.

VanderKlay suggests not to despair about being pushed to the margin.  I might not despair, if I knew that room would be left for me there.  Pageau also offers that the system which we are being driven toward does not offer anyone survival at the margins.  It is an attempt to form a totalizing system, a system of total inclusivity.  The only people to be excluded are those who do not accept total inclusivity.  Pageau considers that the mark of the beast is near.

I know Christ wins.  It doesn’t mean I have to like what is happening around me today; Christ certainly wasn’t looking forward to the experience of being sacrificed like a lamb.

There is no doubt that it takes more courage to go out like a lamb (who could be a lion if he chooses), than out like a lion (who is counseled to be like a lamb).

I doubt I will have enough courage to go out like that type of lamb.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.