Traitors or Loyal Subjects?

28 October 2020 by Wes Bredenhof

Imagine for a moment a powerful yet wise and good king ruling over his vast kingdom.  Years ago, there was a rebellion in the kingdom.  Subjects of the king revolted against his rule.  They continued to live in his kingdom, but they refused to acknowledge his rightful authority.  When these rebels had children, they trained them to likewise reject the king.   Eventually, the king took action to address the rebellion.  Rather than immediately punish all his defiant subjects, he graciously offered them the gift of pardon and forgiveness, if only they would only return to acknowledge him as rightful king.  Some of the subjects did.  They turned from being traitors to being loyal subjects of the king. 

This is broadly analogous to the way things are in this world.  God is that good and wise king.  Human beings have rebelled against his rule, irrationally acted as traitors.  Yet in the gospel, God has offered pardon and forgiveness.  He calls for faith in Jesus Christ, a turn from sin, and a return to acknowledging his kingship.  By his grace, some do.  Many others, however, don’t.  They continue to traitorously rebel against the wise and good King.    

This analogy highlights a key feature of a biblical worldview:  there is no neutrality among human beings.  Humanity divides into two black and white categories.  There are traitors and there are loyal subjects of the King.

This contrast is found throughout the Bible.  For example, Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  Loyal subjects are with Jesus Christ, on his side doing the work of gathering.  Traitors are against him, scattering as they go.  Similarly, in Matthew 25, Jesus speaks of the final judgment in terms of a separation between sheep and goats.  The sheep have been loyal subjects of the King, treating his brothers in a kind and compassionate way.  The goats have been traitors, acting selfishly in rebellion against the Lord.  There is, indeed, no neutrality among human beings.  Ever. 

This part of a biblical worldview has massive practical consequences.  Let me just briefly touch on two important areas.

Apologetics has to do with our defence and promotion of the Christian faith.  The biblical teaching about the impossibility of neutrality has to be taken into account.  The way we do that is by acknowledging what God says:  the unbeliever we’re speaking with is not neutral.  If he doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ and acknowledge God as king, he’s a rebel and a traitor in God’s kingdom.  You can’t pretend otherwise.  You can’t be silent about it.  Because you, as a Christian, are a loyal subject of the King you stand up for his crown rights.  Because you were previously a traitor yourself, but have experienced the pardon and forgiveness of this good King, you want the unbeliever to come to the same experience.  Therefore, in your apologetics, you have to speak about the reality of rebellion against the King.  You have to call the traitor to give up his treason.

For at least the past 200 years, Reformed believers have insisted that the Bible’s teaching on neutrality has a huge bearing on education.  Regardless of the type of school, the teachers are either traitors or loyal subjects of the King.  In their education, in the place of the parent (in loco parentis), they are going to train children to be either traitors or loyal subjects of the King.  This extends into educational philosophy as well.  A school is going to be guided by a philosophy that is either in rebellion against the King, or showing loyal submission to the King.  There is no neutrality in educational philosophy.  This is why, historically, we have argued for the necessity of Christian education.  Because there is no neutrality, we aim to have our children educated in a way that honours the King and seeks to create more loyal subjects for the King.

Every generation needs to be reminded of this biblical worldview cornerstone.  Why?  Because even as loyal subjects, even as Christians, we still have some of the rebel left in us.  That rebellious remnant tends to make us drift.  It tends to make us blur the lines and see neutrality where there is none.  When that happens and we don’t even see unbelief as an affront to the King anymore, we ourselves have been lured back to treason.  That would be tragic.