Christ the All-Ruler






















It is not uncommon for Orthodox Churches to have an icon of ‘Christ the Pantokrator’ painted into the dome, or cupola, at the top of their Churches. Thus, Christ is literally seen looking down on the Church and congregation, watching over His creation. 




Pantokrator is a Greek word literally meaning ‘All-Ruler’ or ‘All-Mighty’. It is a translation of the Hebrew name El Shaddai, also meaning God Almighty. But Pantokrator goes beyond simply meaning ‘All-Ruler’ or ‘All-Powerful. It implies a sense of Christ as the ‘Sustainer’ as the word ‘krator’ in Greek suggests ‘achievement’. It is a term for an active rather than a passive Christ – a Christ who is doing something not simply a Christ who can do something. And the Icon of the All-Ruler looking down on the world reminds us that He is with us and we are not alone. Importantly, it is Christ who is with us in the here and now. The risen and glorified Christ, the Cosmic Christ who is active in our world today.





As Pantokrator, He is sustaining the world that He has created. It is Christ sustaining the entire cosmos, holding the forces of chaos at bay and bringing forth order and creation. This concept reminds us of a central theme of our ancient mythology – the constant struggle of the Guardians against the forces of chaos seeking to reverse the forward progression of creation. Imagine, if you will, an army of our mighty Guardians with Christ at their head in a constant battle against evil and chaos. This is a struggle that takes place at all levels of reality, including the heavens and here in the Middle Earth.




Christ, as Sustainer, can also be seen as Christ the Teacher. Technically, an Icon is depicting Christ as Teacher where the book is open as in the picture above. But teacher is an important part of His role as Sustainer. He teaches us in the words we read in the Gospels from His time with us on this earth. But He also teaches us in our hearts in the present time. He teaches us so we can help and support Him in the cosmic battle to sustain and advance creation. Christ as healer is another aspect of the Sustainer. He heals us body and soul – again so we can work positively in this world to help sustain and advance creation. 




Our mythology tells us of evil embodied in beings such as Loki and Fenris wolf, the sworn enemies of the Holy Guardians. Traditional Christianity sees evil embodied in Satan and those angels that chose to side with him. But ‘evil’ is something that runs through creation – it is not confined to those characters we consider to be evil. It permeates through them, but is not restricted to them. We see evil all through creation. It is an imperfection resulting from the fact that creation is not yet finished. Even essentially good people can be affected by this imperfection and this is why we sometimes err or sin even though we are basically good and decent people. Some people are, of course, more affected or prone to this imperfection than others. And of course the imperfection can take many forms. And so the struggle against it will take many forms.




As Christians, we are called to join this battle and to fight alongside our Holy Guardians in the army of God the ‘All-Ruler’. Evil takes many forms, some more obvious than others. And it can be very subtle.




And this is a cosmic battle that needs to be understood on a bigger scale than simply whether we have fiddled our tax returns or been nasty to our neighbours. This is about forces that seek to undo creation, the very fabric of society and the ordered world. These forces often present themselves as positive and progressive. But they show themselves by their actions as they work against the Word of God and seek to undermine that which is good and godly. In our day, these are the forces that seek to undermine the family, traditional Christian values, communities, nations and our ways of life. This is an evil that permeates our modern world and manifests itself within people and institutions, including the mainstream Churches. Our role as Christians is to oppose these forces and fight alongside the Holy Guardians in the great army of Christ.





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