Saturday, September 27, 2008

How do we define the ‘kingdom of God’?

Scot McKnight points out the need for a clear definition in his article about Brian McLaren and the ‘emergent’ gospel in Christianity Today.

McLaren Emerging

[CHRISTIANITY TODAY] “Kingdom and Church Kingdom talk has become trendy and fashionable among emergents, and God be thanked that they are one group among many that are forcing us to reexamine what we think about Jesus' kingdom vision. But the lack of a thorough definition of kingdom is a major concern. On my blog, I spent several months slogging through what the Gospels say about the kingdom, text by text. I have discovered two points that cannot be denied: There is no kingdom without faith and attachment to Jesus Christ, and there is no kingdom without attachment to Jesus' followers. In other words, Jesus' kingdom vision is not that far from Paul's church vision, yet there is little ecclesiology in either Secret Message or Everything Must Change.

So my second question for McLaren is this: What is the relationship of kingdom to church? Can his emergent view of the kingdom lead to the New Testament picture of the church?”

[joseph] Here are two of my own favorite scriptures regarding the KoG:

Luke: 17:22 - "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

Romans 14:17 - "For the kingdom of God is … righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,"

I define the KoG as “The heavenly father’s loving leadership in our lives through the authority of Jesus and the daily guidance of the H.S. “ The kingdom becomes manifest in our lives through our moment-by-moment inner surrender to his life and initiative which inevitably result in inner righteousness, peace and joy which exercise a gravitational pull that changes the external world around us."

So .. .how do you define ‘the kingdom of God’?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Barn-builders or kingdom movements?

The following is a compressed version of some of Steve Humble's thoughts; any misrepresentations are due to Brian's editing!

The primary purpose of God has always been to have a people on earth who recognize him as king over their own lives, over all men, and over all things. This people of God are to be formed in God’s character and to live on earth the way God lives in heaven; that is they are to represent (re-present) their king and manifest his kingdom on earth.

After the Fall, God began to build this people when he called Abraham and made covenant with him and his descendants. God’s people, the children of Abraham, were called to be the blessing of God and his reign for all the nations. However, once God had dealt with Israel’s propensity to serve the gods of other peoples, most of Israel turned the focus inward, believing that they were the center and epitome of God’s interest.

But God’s purpose, unveiled in Christ, was to have a people—the followers of Jesus consisting of both Jews and Gentiles—who would represent God throughout the whole earth, a kingdom people dispersed into all nations, manifesting God’s kingdom in their individual lives and in their community with one another. This call to be communities of the king and his kingdom is the substance of the new covenant.

The people of the kingdom are to follow the pattern of life modeled by their King; that is, we are to lay down our lives individually and corporately for the life of the world (John 6). We, the sons of the kingdom, are seed. Seed does not exist to be stored in barns, at least beyond the short run. Some seed goes through death and resurrection like the First Seed and thus the seed is multiplied. Other seed serves as food, giving life to other creatures. The issue is not to build big barns but to sow out the seed.

Like Israel, “churches” can become ends in themselves, whether on the local or the denominational level, often times using their resources to build bigger and bigger barns. The “churches” tend to be self-focused to a great extent, rather than to offer themselves up (individually and corporate) as living sacrifices of worship. A kingdom movement is focused on giving life. A “church” movement tends to be a consumer of life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Manifesto II

Continuing our conversation on "An Evangelical Manifesto" (, here's the next section (from the Executive Summary of the full Manifesto):

Third, we are concerned that a generation of culture warring, reinforced by understandable reactions to religious extremism around the world, has created a powerful backlash against all religion in public life among many educated people. If this hardens into something like the European animosity toward religion in public life, the result would be disastrous for the American republic and would severely constrict liberty for people of all faiths. The striking intolerance shown by the new atheists is a warning sign. We call on all citizens of goodwill and believers of all faiths and none to join us in working for a civil public square and the restoration of a tough-minded civility that is in the interests of all.

Fourth, we are concerned that globalization and the emerging global public square have no matching vision of how to live with our deepest differences on the global stage. In the Internet era, everyone can listen to what we say even when we are not speaking to everyone. Global communication magnifies the challenges of living with our deepest differences.

As the global public square emerges, we warn of two equal and opposite errors: coercive secularism and religious extremism. We also repudiate the two other positions. First, those who believe their way is the only way and the way for everyone, and are therefore prepared to coerce them. This position leads inevitably to conflict. Second, those who believe that different values are relative to different cultures, and who therefore refuse to allow anyone to judge anyone else or any other culture. This position sounds tolerant at first, but it leads directly to the ills of complacency. In a world of such evils as genocide, slavery, female oppression, and assaults on the unborn, there are rights that must be defended, evils that must be resisted, and interventions into the affairs of others that are morally justified.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Discussing "An Evangelical Manifesto"

The following is excerpted from the "Executive Summary" of An Evangelical Manifesto ( I encourage you to read the whole document, if you can. After first staking out a theological understanding of the term "evangelical" ( a definition I found sound and unremarkable), the document goes on to say:

"Second, we wish to reposition ourselves in public life. To be Evangelical is to be faithful to the freedom, justice, peace, and well-being that are at the heart of the good news of Jesus. Fundamentalism was world-denying and politically disengaged at its outset, but Evangelicals have made a distinguished contribution to politics—attested by causes such the abolition of slavery and woman’s suffrage, and by names such as John Jay, John Witherspoon, Frances Willard, and Sojourner Truth in America and William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury in England. Today, however, enormous confusion surrounds Evangelicals in public life and we wish to clarify our stand through the following assertions:

"First, we repudiate two equal and opposite errors into which many Christians have fallen. One error is to privatize faith, applying it to the personal and spiritual realm only. Such dualism falsely divorces the spiritual from the secular and causes faith to lose its integrity. The other error, made by both the religious left and the religious right, is to politicize faith, using faith to express essentially political points that have lost touch with biblical truth. That way faith loses its independence, Christians become the “useful idiots” for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology. Christian beliefs become the weapons of political factions.
Called to an allegiance higher than party, ideology, economic system, and nationality, we Evangelicals see it our duty to engage with politics, but our equal duty never to be completely equated with any party, partisan ideology, or nationality. The politicization of faith is never a sign of strength but of weakness.
"Second, we repudiate the two extremes that define the present culture wars in the United States. On one side, we repudiate the partisans of a sacred public square, those who would continue to give one religion a preferred place in public life. In a diverse society, it will always be unjust and unworkable to privilege one religion. We are committed to religious liberty for people of all faiths. We are firmly opposed to theocracy. And we have no desire to coerce anyone or to impose beliefs and behavior on anyone. We believe in persuasion.
On the other side, we repudiate the partisans of a naked public square, those who would make all religious expression inviolably private and keep the public square inviolably secular. This position is even less just and workable because it excludes the overwhelming majority of citizens, who are still profoundly religious. Nothing is more illiberal than to invite people into the public square but insist that they be stripped of the faith that makes them who they are.
"We are committed to a civil public square – a vision of public life in which citizens of all faiths are free to enter and engage the public square on the basis of their faith, but within a framework of what is agreed to be just and free for other faiths as well. Every right we assert for ourselves as Christians is a right we defend for all others. "