Kingdom of Heaven: Was Balian of Ibelin a Reformed? (3)
Now the Crusades themselves were in part motivated by the then prevalent understanding of the kingdom of heaven as a physical kingdom. Quoting Bruce L. Shelley in his article How Could Christians Crusade?,
“Pope Urban II and other preachers of the Crusades wanted to defend Christian society. In launching the First Crusade, Urban reportedly exhorted his listeners, ‘You must carry succor to your brethren dwelling in the East. … The Turks have attacked them, … occupying more and more the lands of those Christians.’ They have ‘destroyed the churches and devastated the kingdom of God.’ If Christians permitted them to go unchallenged, ‘they will extend their sway more widely over many faithful servants of the Lord.'”
It seemed that the kingdom of heaven was understood as a physical kingdom.
I came accross the following words by Confucius. I was surprised at how similar his idea was to the physical and social concept of the kingdom, which is similar to what was uttered by Godfrey of Ibelin, which I quoted in my previous post (Kingdom of Heaven: Was Balian of Ibelin a Reformed? (2)). Confucius says,
“When the Great Way prevailed, the world community was equally shared by all. The worthy and able were chosen as office-holders. Mutual confidence was fostered and good neighborliness cultivated. Therefore people did not regard as parents only their own parents, nor did they treat children only their own children. Provision was made for the aged till their death, the adult were given employment, and the young enabled to grow up. Old widows and widowers, the orphaned, the old and childless, as well as the sick and the disabled were all well taken care of. Men had their proper roles and women their homes. While they hated to see wealth lying about on the ground, they did not necessarily keep it for their own use. While they hated not to exert their effort, they did not necessarily devote it to their own ends. Thus evil schemings were repressed, and robbers, thieves and other lawless elements failed to arise, so that outer doors did not have to be shut. This was called the age of Great Harmony.”
Indeed, no mentions of kingdoms are found here, but how similar his ideas are to what Godfrey, Balian, and perhaps some others in the movie dreamt: a kingdom of concious, peace instead of war, love instead of hate – this is the kingdom of heaven.
I was also surprised to find that Friedrich Nietzsche (who probably is well-known for his remark: “God is dead.”) also has some say about the kingdom of heaven:
“The kingdom of heaven is a condition of the heart – not something that comes upon the earth or after death.”
This is quite similar to what Balian says, that the kingdom is in the heart and mind. But whether Balian agrees with the latter part of the sentence, hmm… I don’t know.
But what does the Bible say about the kingdom of heaven?
to be continued …
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- May 13, 2005 / 10:57