WHI-1258 | The Church & Kingdom of God

Sunday, 17 May 2015

This week on the White Horse Inn we discuss the relationship between the kingdom of God and the church. We are joined by Scot McKnight, a New Testament scholar and professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. He has written numerous books on topics such as interpretation, early Christianity, the historical Jesus, and current issues in practical theology. Most recently he has written the book, entitled Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church.

According to Scot McKnight, there is a great deal of emphasis today on social activism, outreach to the poor, and various kinds of programs which people refer to as “kingdom work.” And yet, if you try to get the same support for evangelism or the ordinary work of the local church, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of interest. “Kingdom” is a biblical term that has been abused by Christians. So how did we get here? Join us on the White Horse Inn as we seek to understand what the Old and New Testaments mean by “the kingdom of God” and how this should realign our vision of the church.

“Any culture that we’re making that is not church-oriented and church-centered is not the culture God wants to make in this world. What I am fixating on here is the idea of ‘culture’ as something good and ‘world’ as something bad. We have an increasing number of people who have abandoned a focus on the ‘world’ as a corrupted, evil, rebellion against God, and seeing our task largely as culture-making as a positive thing.
“I see a lot of discussion today about how to make the world a better place, and of course I don’t want to make the world a worse place, but I really like the statement of Stanley Hauerwas that the best thing the church can do, in respect to the world, is to show the world that it’s the world, or to demonstrate the worldliness of the world to the world; rather, than say we want to make this all a better place.”
– Scot McKnight
The Kingdom of God
The great future announced by Jesus is considered entirely from the standpoint of the divine kingship. And then it is not a question of a general timeless statement concerning God’s power and reign, but especially of its redemptive-historical effectuation which will one day be witnessed.
Jesus has nevertheless spoken of the coming of the kingdom as a present reality. This does not mean–and this also is an established fact–that there is no room for the future of the kingdom… but it means that the one great kingdom of the future has become present. Its fundamentally eschatological character is maintained as a matter of course. It is the great kingdom, the coming of God into the world for redemption and judgment. The future, as it were, penetrates into the present. The world of God’s redemption, the great whole of his concluding and consummative works pushes its way into the present time of the world.
We shall continue to hold fast to the terminology of the gospel including fulfillment and consummation. These terms have the advantage of qualifying the presence of Jesus’ coming and his work as well as the beginning of the great era of salvation, and, besides, they hold out the prospect of the definitive, final significance of the kingdom as something of the future.
(Adapted from Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, pp. 19, 55-56)

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