Kingdom of Heaven: Was Balian of Ibelin a Reformed? (8)
So, coming back to the question which is asked in the title, are we now ready to give an answer? Was Balian of Ibelin a Reformed? Was his concept of the kingdom of heaven in line with what is written in the Bible?
We recall that Balian says that the kingdom of heaven is in the heart and mind. In a sense, it is a spiritual kingdom. But how was the meaning of these words portrayed in the movie? Did Balian’s words really mean what Jesus had meant when He said that the kingdom of God is within us (or among us)? We should avoid making a hasty conclusion. After all, no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he is born again. I think the keyword is ‘born again’. That is the only way Christ rules our hearts and minds–when the heart, the core of the person, is regenerated and the mind is transformed into the mind of Christ. That is when God reigns in our hearts and minds. If we understood the kingdom of heaven in our hearts and minds as the reign of God in our hearts and minds, we would have no problem with Balian’s words. But Balian’s words could also be interpreted differently, and I am not sure what was the interpretation of the director or the script writer. They could mean that everyone, no matter who he/she is, has this kingdom of heaven in him/her. In other words, forget about God, the kingdom of heaven is something that is in you. I don’t want to speculate what the creators of this film had thought of behind the word ‘the kingdom of heaven’, but if it was defined as some sort of ‘peacefulness’, ‘conscience’, or worse still, ‘god’, or they had left it to the audience to define it themselves, then this could not have been any worse: the movie is promoting New Ageism. Indeed, the choice of the word ‘heaven’ is a clever one. The vagueness implies a seeking of spirituality without mentions of a personal God. It is a spirituality detached from a personal God. Indeed, the movie tells of a God who is silent, where His will is reduced to human sayings. I can imagine Balian saying to himself, “He is a God who is unknown, and therefore my conscience is my God.” Isn’t this the mark of New Ageism, the revolution of the self-seeking spirituality? Nothing can be further from the truth.
Another issue that Balian raises about the kingdom of heaven is that it is about people. People matter. And don’t forget peace. We should try to create a peaceful community, a peaceful world. If we recall, peace is one of the very essence of the kingdom. But it is not peace on its own. It is peace in the Holy Spirit. If we notice, the concept of the kingdom of heaven in the Bible is never detached from a personal God. God is the King. He is always the main figure. And the peace of the kingdom is eternal peace. It is peace of having been reconciled to God. It is an everlasting peace where the redeemed are reconciled forever with the Redeemer. But when we pursue peace on earth, with our own efforts, for the humanity’s (read: our) gain and glory, while forgetting God altogether, we must be careful for we are probably heading into secular humanism. What really matters for such is here and now. It is not enough, for it doesn’t have any connection with the eternal kingdom of God. When peace is defined in terms of a pluralistic society, it is not the real peace–it is just a superficial peace. People can be at peace now, but when the end comes, it will no longer be peace. The redeemed will be at eternal peace with God, but the condemned will be forever separated from Him.
As we probe into Balian’s heart, we can only guess. But for us who long for the fullness of the kingdom to be revealed, let us say, “… your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
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- June 7, 2005 / 11:24