5 out of 5 Stars
Editors: Christopher Morgan & Robert Peterson
Buy The Kingdom of God
Reading Level: Moderate
Kingdom of God is one of the hot theological buzz words today (see missional, gospel-centered, attractional as other examples). More than that it’s an important concept that often is either pigeon-holed or made so broad that it loses meaning. The collective authors of these essays are seeking to correct and define kingdom of God in a way which does justice to Scripture and is practical.
Stephen Nichols starts off by exploring usage of the term in historical and contemporary theology. At this point, he’s exploring not at how it’s used in Scripture but how theologians have used the term. He’s setting the table. Bruce Watke begins the biblical exploration of the term in the Old Testament. He does this in the framework of the unfolding salvation history. Robert Yarbrough provides a similar analysis for the kingdom of God in Matthew and Revelation and then in the next chapter for Mark and the other epistles. Clinton Arnold compares/contrasts the kingdom of God with miracles, Satan, and demons.
The final three chapters were my favorite and most helpful in the book. These chapters take all the biblical theology, history, and data unearthed and make application for the church, eschatology, and Christian living. Gregg Allison, first, explores the connection between the kingdom of God and the church. Says Allison,
Thus, the church, as the community of the kingdom, provides entrance into the kingdom through its untiring preaching of the gospel, and its newly born citizens live as kingdom people under the sovereignty of the king. (p. 190)
Allison also takes an indepth look at the relationship between the church and Israel (dispensational theology vs. covenant theology).
In chapter 8, Gerald Bray unpacks the relationship between the kingdom of God and eschatology. His is a non-millennial position. He argues for the development of a spiritual reality to the kingdom (see especially p. 210) due to “the coming of Jesus.” He also aptly warns against over-realized eschatologies by pointing out the dangers of C. H. Dodd’s realized eschatology,
In its more modern forms, realized eschatology suffers from essentially the same defect. The kingdom of God becomes a moral code that may be life--transforming, particularly in the case of people who have lived notoriously sinful lives, but it is all too likely to be assimilated to middle-class niceness. (p. 216)
Finally, Anthony Bradley hits a walk off homer in the final chapter “The Kingdom Today.” He compiles the full truth exposed through all of the essays and asks a simple question How should orthodoxy (particularly as it relates the theme of the kingdom of God) impact our orthopraxy (right living)? Or How should the kingdom of God impact our Christian living? He wraps the entire answer in God’s love. Love God and love your neighbor are the meat and potatoes. But what does that look like in our culture today? It’s one the best unfoldings of Neo-Calvinistic concepts of human dignity/image of God and sphere sovereignty I’ve read. In addition, he makes important points about the current movement towards racial reconciliation (Bradley counters with human solidarity). Bradley says,
[S]olidarity, from a kingdom perspective, reminds us that the truly disadvantaged are the disadvantaged for whom we are actually responsible because we long to see them liberated to be the women and men God created all human persons to be. (p. 239 see pp. 236-239)
and he closes by urging, “Our goal in the kingdom is to respond to God’s grace by putting his glory on display so that we may invite others to taste and see how good it is to be in covenant with the triune God” (p. 255).
I could go on and on about this chapter. Almost every page is riddle with marginalia of some kind. You should buy and read The Kingdom of God for this chapter alone. It’s on the more theological side but you won’t need any special training to get the main thrust of what’s being argued. It will require thoughtful reading but nothing you cannot handle with patience.