Seeing Through Four Faces

Seeing Through Four Faces July 2, 2018

What kind of column title could be broad enough to encompass everything, but focused enough to suggest a thematic direction? I settled on this one: Four Faces, which may sound abstract at first, but is actually very rooted in reality. The four faces of ox, lion, eagle, and man—the four living creatures described in Ezekiel—are imprinted on the pattern of Scripture and life. They are the faces upon which Yahweh is enthroned. They describe the progress of humanity: from priest and guardian of the sanctuary, to monarch over the land, to prophet and junior member of the Divine Council, to new creation in Jesus Christ, the Man.

The four faces also uniquely describe the continuing human experience and its relationship to God and the Scripture. There are some who are priests, some who are kings, some who are prophets, and all new in Christ. Every individual expresses aspects of the four faces in their daily life.

The priestly aspect of life, represented by the sacrificial ox, is that of offering in worship. It is primary, and one must learn and engage in this sphere of life before being effective in the others. Mission begins with liturgy, in which we are fed by Word and sacrament, and then sent out into the world.

The kingly aspect is our cultural engagement in changing the world, redeeming it, and shaping it, taking the raw materials of the field and forming it into a garden city. It encompasses the rule and forming of culture and arts, beautifying and further glorifying the creation of which God has made us stewards.

The prophetic aspect is our intercession for the world and our declaration of the coming of the Kingdom, summoning the world back into the first aspect of cultic life. It is participation in the Divine Council, advising the High King and petitioning him as the sons of God to change the world by the Holy Spirit.

This is not to say that these aspects of life do not overlap. Priests are guardians and rulers of the sanctuary; kings bring music into the liturgy; prophets rule as a body in the heavenly Council. The faces are a matter of emphasis and general pattern. The big picture is the Man, Jesus Christ, and the new creation he is forming us to be.

So, essentially, the four faces give us a uniquely biblical view of the world. This is not a worldview that I came up with; the great fathers of the Church realized the significance of the four, and my application of it is largely influenced by the teaching I’ve received from mentors like James B. Jordan, whose writings and lectures and personal teaching have taught me to see the world through new eyes.

Four Faces is grandiose and far reaching, and I will never be able to live up to what the title speaks of, but perhaps I can offer my own small contribution to how we see the world. Besides, the title gives me fairly free rein to write about nearly anything that comes to mind, which is exactly what I intend to do. Welcome to this four-fold window to the world.

And hey . . . my other title option was “42.”

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