by Elizabeth Oldfield
Saturday, 24
December 2022
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08:00

King Charles understands the Christian limits of his power

Even the monarch must bow to God's will
by Elizabeth Oldfield
A ruler who was born to serve.

Beyond the gaudier aspects of the Royal Soap Opera, you may have missed one more edifying detail. At the Royal Carol Service, King Charles requested the poem ‘Refugee’ by Malcolm Guite to be read. It’s a haunting, seasonally appropriate statement of God’s solidarity with the suffering:

Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower


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Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,

The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,

And death squads spread their curse across the world.

The poem reminds us of the strangeness of Christmas’s juxtapositions, and just how geo-politically turbulent, blood-stained, and un-tinselly are the biblical narratives on which all this is based. It also stood out to me because of the significance of a King choosing a poem which ends with the line:

But every Herod dies, and comes alone

To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.

He may be thinking, of course, of the tyrants that rage in the poem and in our time, but it can’t be possible to wear that crown without hearing it for himself.

The incarnation, which millions of Christians globally celebrate tomorrow, is a deeply politically subversive doctrine. Its claim is that a power exists under which tyrants and sovereigns will bow, and that power comes through the legs of a woman, wrapped in vulnerability and dependence. That woman, when she discovered her pregnancy, is recorded as singing that God has “cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly” like a teenage revolutionary. Of the tiny fragments of female speech which survive from the ancient world, it is among the most empowered. Mary, a person right at the bottom of the power pile, sounds triumphant, blazing, righteous.

Power is inescapable and coercive. I am no thoroughgoing royalist (though I hold out little hope that if we tore it all down we’d be better off), but the symbolic restraint of royal power baked into our own system feels important.

Nick Spencer, in his magisterial history of the influence of the Bible on British politics, Freedom and Order, traces how the theological doctrine of limited power has shaped both our conception of royalty and other forms of power down the centuries. From Anglo-Saxon times, “the principal way in which Church and Bible shaped kingship […] was to place it under judgement”. The church both legitimised royal authority, and limited it “by articulating what the [sovereign] needed to do to maintain [their] earthly legitimacy”. They were to be under the law themselves, to enact justice, to act morally, to seek peace and to protect the weak and vulnerable. If they did not, both God and the people could hold them to account.

This year we lost a woman who never forgot the responsibilities of her role or the limits of her power. Because of this, the world mourned her. In a context when political leaders seem to neither expect nor receive accountability for wielding their power against the most vulnerable, it seems we may have a King with a clearer, longer view. I hope we do. We need it.

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David D'Andrea
David D'Andrea
1 month ago

Beautifully expressed and quite right. Merry Christmas. May God save the King and us all

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 month ago
Reply to  David D'Andrea

I always like Charles, but then he is at the very top in the WEF and all about ‘The Great Reset’. And to keep up with things from a broader spectrum I do watch the occasional David Icke video on Rumble (the uncensored youtube) and he says the Royal Family are 5th dimensional Lizards who feed on our psychic energy, but then says all the global Elites are Lizards, and really – you can see it in Klaus Schwab.

”URGENT!!! THE SHADOW GOVERNMENT (Lizard People) NEW MESSAGE | David Icke – and better..DAVID ICKE VS THE REPTILIAN LIZARD PEOPLE
https://rumble.com/v1jbmic-david-icke-vs-the-reptilian-lizard-people.html

Just so you know what is going on…because me might well be right


B Emery
B Emery
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  B Emery

He’s a nutter….

B Emery
B Emery
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

100% nutter 🙂

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 month ago

“The incarnation is a deeply politically subversive doctrine.”
This is so true and to easily missed today. A faith which claims man has innate dignity. A faith in which master and servant, rich and poor, black and white, Jew and gentile are all equal before a divine judge. A God who demands allegiance higher than that of the king — nay, even allegiance of the king himself. All our modern talk of social-justice and woke-Jesus pales compared to the subversiveness of these ideas. Their familiarity has desensitized us to their revolutionary oddity.
Just like he was 2000 years ago, Jesus is political. But not the way people want him to be.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago

Since when was any child “born through the legs of a woman”? Aren’t women allowed to have vaginas now?
That silly bit of writing apart, the article seeks to make a point about the limits of Charles’ power as monarch – which through centuries of struggle, the British constitution has limited to that of a monarchy constrained by Parliament. Prior to that, our monarchs ruled “by the divine right of kings”, as did most others. It’s not Christianity at all that’s constrained the monarchy, but direct action, often at great personal cost, by the people who he or she serves.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Murray
Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

That incredibly bad bit of writing made it unreadable – so I skipped it – the writer is obviously not worth listening to if he writes such weird – is it Woke? But whatever it is – that was far enough for me…I came to comments to see if anyone else thought it just too strange a way to describe Jesus…..

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

It’s even worse than that Jonas – it was written by a woman.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Would, “… from between the legs of a woman,” help? Of course there’s always the Christmas carol reference to a, “womb.”

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I think you are over interpreting here, perhaps getting too flustered about the trans issue? Euphemism is constantly deployed by people for all sorts of reasons, and I’m not sure that the Bible and other religious writings were littered with anatomical and medical terms for human genitalia….

And if we want to call a spade a spade, why not ‘c**t’, which is a far more genuine Anglo Saxon term than the chilly Latin ‘vagina’ and ‘p***s’ etc.

(Algorithm – what the hell is wrong with ‘p***s’?!)

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 month ago

A lovely essay for a chilly Christmas Eve. Many of us in the States, even those with no sentimental interest, have nothing but the best wishes for King Charles.
Merry Christmas to him. And to everyone.

Jeremy Sansom
Jeremy Sansom
1 month ago

A great reflection for this special day. Thank you.

Chip Prehn
Chip Prehn
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Sansom

That a king must retreat to Mount Athos is very promising indeed.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

We don’t need any such thing. What we need is an end to government by self-selected elites, however well-intentioned they seem to be.

Dog Eared
Dog Eared
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Because republics work so well?

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Christian monarchies are really civilised countries, I’ve been to eight of them. Republics are dodgy, been to a dozen of them.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The monarch reigns, he does not rule. But I agree that the ruler of Russia and its self-selected elite should go. They are not even well-intentioned.

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Your (first) point is well made. I would like to think that it is a distinction appreciated by Charles, but I have my doubts. I hope I am wrong.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

You mean the governments people voted for but that you don’t like?

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 month ago

The world works on scientific principles that the ungodly ignore to everyone’s cost. You create, preserve or destroy reality by following these laws. The Queen followed them and preserved the Empire as best she could. We see in the disparity between Meghan and Harry’s approach and that of the UK, this difference. Europe is a more mature part of the world as America is infantile. We see it simplifying everything by destroying all barriers, just as kids destroy a mature household. They create a mess and we adults have to clear up the resulting chaos but this is the way of the world and again ‘how things work, or cease to work.’ Russia too under Putin is immature and runs on lies and subterfuge as we also saw with Trump. Again, like lumbering elephants in a China shop, they mess things up, not build them up or preserve what has been created.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Sandy

Queen Elizabeth II did not ‘preserve the Empire as best she could’ but instead her reign presided over its almost complete dissolution. She of course could not act politically and had very little formal power, but we have absolutely no reason to think she regretted this in any way. She does appear to be have been very supportive of the voluntary grouping of the Commonwealth, and this probably made the difference to its continued existence.

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 month ago

“the symbolic restraint of royal power……”
That restraint (I would prefer ‘restriction’) is not symbolic : it is real and fundamental to our constitution.

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
1 month ago

Nice article. And, of course (to me at least) totally circular.
In that the power of the god as described above is subservient at the end to those who believe.
One of the beauties of our Constitutional Monarchy is a similar circularity. The Monarch is there to support/defend the people against the “tyranny” of overlords. But the people choose the “tyrants” who are there, notionally, to support the people and at the whim of the Monarch.
Three strands all reliant on each other in dance of limiting the “power” of any of them.