Kingdom theology

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Kingdom theology is a system of Christian thought that elaborates on inaugurated eschatology, which is a way of understanding the various teachings on the kingdom of God found throughout the New Testament. It is often associated with the Vineyard movement. Its emphasis is that the purpose of both individual Christians and the church as a whole is to manifest the kingdom of God on the earth, incorporating personal evangelism, social action, and foreign missions.

Theology

Kingdom theology distinguishes between the world ruled by Satan, the one we live in, and the world ruled by God, his kingdom. Kingdom theology holds the importance of the kingdom of God as a core value and teaches that the kingdom currently exists in the world, but not yet in its fullness. The theology maintains that the kingdom of God will come in fullness with Christ'ssecond coming. In the future fulfilment, evil and Satan will be destroyed and God's complete rule on Earth established. Theologian and director of the Vineyard Bible Institute Derek Morphew argued that the kingdom of God encompassed both signs and wonders and social justice. Although kingdom theology presents history as a struggle between God and Satan, there is an eschatological expectation that God will triumph over Satan, which is why suffering for the sake of the kingdom is accepted.

Eschatology

Kingdom theology is often paired with a rejection of the doctrine of the PretribulationRapture, which states that Christ will return to remove the church from the earth. George Eldon Ladd believed that the Bible taught of two ages: 'This Age' and 'The Age to Come'. In 'This Age', there will be hostility to Christianity but in the 'Age to Come' those who have followed Jesus will be free from oppression and given eternal life. He believed that 'The Age to Come' would be inaugurated by the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead. Ladd argued that there is an overlap between the two ages; he suggested that, although the 'Age to Come' is in the future, it can still be "tasted" now, and its power can penetrate 'This Age' The Vineyard movement's statement of faith states the belief that God's kingdom came through Jesus and continues to come through the Holy Spirit. They believe that, when Jesus comes again, Satan will be defeated, the dead will be raised, the final judgement will happen, and God's kingdom will be fully established.

History and influence

This theological concept of "already" and "not yet" was proposed by Princeton theologian Gerhardus Vos early in the 20th century, who believed that we live in the present age, the 'now', and await the 'age to come'. Kingdom theology was more fully examined in the 1950s by George Eldon Ladd, then a professor of biblical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He argued that there are two true meanings to the kingdom of God: Firstly, he proposed that the kingdom of God is God's authority and right to rule. Secondly, he argued that it also refers to the realm in which God exercises his authority, which is described in scripture both as a kingdom that is presently entered into and as one which will be entered in the future. He concluded that the kingdom of God is both present and future.

Doctrine of the kingdom of God caused controversy with Protestantism, regarding whether Christians should work to achieve the coming of the kingdom, or whether it is a divine gift from God. The evangelical movement regarded the extension of the kingdom of God as achieved through evangelism and missionary work. The philosophers Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher and Albrecht Ritschl believed that the kingdom of God referred to a world of ideal human relations and envisaged a perfect Christian society. This interpretation influenced the secularisation of the doctrine and the development of liberal theology in the 1930s, and the Social Gospel movement in the USA.

John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement, taught kingdom theology and emphasised signs and wonders as the coming of the kingdom of God, as well as Gordon Fee and Dallas Willard.  The theology has been influential among the more Charismatic elements of evangelical Christianity, for whom it provides a theological framework for believing in the present-day activity of the Holy Spirit. It is officially embraced by the Vineyard Churches, and underpins many of its teachings.

Dominion Theology

Dominion Theology is a grouping of theological systems with the common belief that society should be governed exclusively by the law of God, as codified in the Bible. The two main streams of Dominion Theology are

·        Christian Reconstructionism

·        Kingdom Now Theology.

Though these two differ greatly in their general theological orientation (the first is strongly Reformed and Neo-Calvinistic, the second is Charismatic), they share a postmillennial vision in which the Kingdom of God will be established on Earth through political and (in some cases) military means.

Christian Reconstructionism

An example of Dominionism in reformed theology is Christian Reconstructionism, which originated with the teachings of R. J. Rushdoony in the 1960s and 1970s. Rushdoony's theology focuses on theonomy (the rule of the Law of God), a belief that all of society should be ordered according to the laws that governed the Israelites in the Old Testament. His system is strongly Calvinistic, emphasizing the sovereignty of God over human freedom and action, and denying the operation of charismatic gifts in the present day (cessationism); both of these aspects are in direct opposition to Kingdom Now Theology.

Kingdom Now Theology

Kingdom Now Theology is a branch of Dominion Theology which has had a following within Pentecostalism. It attracted attention in the late 1980s.

Kingdom Now Theology states that although Satan has been in control of the world since the Fall, God is looking for people who will help him take back dominion. Those who yield themselves to the authority of God's apostles and prophets will take control of the kingdoms of this world, being defined as all social institutions, the "kingdom" of education, the "kingdom" of science, the "kingdom" of the arts, etc.

Kingdom Now theology should not be confused with Kingdom theology, which is related to inaugurated eschatology.  Inaugurated eschatology is the belief in Christian theology that the end times were inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and thus there are both "already" and "not yet" aspects to the Kingdom of God.


Other (emergent) expressions for The kingdom of God:
 
  • God's reconciling community
  • God's new way of living
  • God's dream (for creation)
  • God's mission in this world
  • God's healing of all creation
  • God's will being done on earth as in heaven
  • Creation 2.0
 

Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolder in Emerging Churches, p. 54: We have totally reprogrammed ourselves to recognize the good news as a means to an end—that the kingdom of God is here. We try to live into that reality and hope. We don't dismiss the cross; it is still a central part. But the good news is not that he died but that the kingdom has come.

Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolder in Emerging Churches, p. 96: Emerging churches utilize the kingdom as a tool to deconstruct all aspects of life including virtually all church practices. They understand that the kingdom gives rise to the church, not the other way around. ... Utilizing the kingdom of God paradigm as a tool of deconstruction, emerging churches dismantle many forms of church that, viable at one time, increasingly represent a bygone era.

E-mail:
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From Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p: 54-56:

Jesus kingship is portrayed by two thrones symbolizing His two kingdoms.

  • The throne of grace (Heb 4:16) represents the kingdom of grace.
  • The throne of His glory (Matt 25:31) stands for the kingdom of glory.

The kingdom of grace

Immediately after the first human had sinnes, the kingdom of grace was instituted.  It existed by the promise of God. Through faith people could bedome its citizens.  But it was not fully established until the death of Christ.  When He cried out on the cross, "It is finished", the requirements for the plan of redemption were met and the new covnant ratified (cf. Heb. 9:15-18).

Jesus' proclamation, "'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand'" (Mark 1:15) was a direct reference to the kingdom of grace soon to be established by His death. Founded on the work of redemption, not Creation, this kingdom receives its citizens through regeneration—the new birth. Jesus ruled, "'Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God'" (John 3:5; cf. 3:3). He compared its growth to the phenomenal development of a mustard seed and the effect of yeast on flour (Mark 4:22-31; Matt. 13:33).

The kingdom of grace is not seen in outward show, but by its effect on the heart of the believers. This kingdom, Jesus taught, "'does not come with observation; nor will they say, "See here!" or "See there!" For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you'" (Luke 17:20, 21). It is not a kingdom of this world, He said, but a kingdom of truth. "'I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears My voice'" (John 18:37). Paul said this kingdom is Christ's kingdom of "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" into which believers have been transferred (Rom. 14:17; Col. 1:13).

The establishment of this kingdom was an excruciating experience, affirming that there is no crown without a cross. At the close of His public ministry Jesus, the Messiah, the God-man, came to Jerusalem as the rightful heir to the throne of David. Seated on a donkey, as was the Jewish custom for a royal entry (Zech. 9:9), He accepted the masses' spontaneous, enthusiastic display of support. During His triumphal entry into the royal city "a very great multitude" spread their clothes to form a royal carpet, cutting down palm branches and shouting, "'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'" (Matt. 21:8, 9) thus fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy. Now Christ presented Himself as the Messianic king.

Unfortunately, His claim to the throne did not go unopposed. Satanic hatred against the "sinless One" reached its culmination. In a twelve-hour period the defenders of the faith, the Sanhedrin, had Him arrested secretly, put Him to trial, and condemned Him to death.

During His trial, Jesus publicly affirmed that He was the Son of God and King of His people (Luke 23:3; John 18:33-37). In response to His claim He was scornfully clothed in a royal robe and crowned, not with a crown of gold, but of thorns (John 19:2). His reception as king was sheer mockery. Beating Him up, the soldiers scoffed, "'Hail, King of the Jews!'" (John 19:3). And when the Roman governor, Pilate, presented Him to the nation, saying, "'Behold your King!'" His own people unanimously rejected Him, crying out, "'Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!'" (John 19:14, 15).

Through the deepest humiliation—death on the cross—Christ established the kingdom of grace. Soon afterward exaltation ended His humiliation. Upon His ascension He was enthroned in heaven as Priest and King, sharing His Father's throne (Ps. 2:7, 8; cf. Heb.1:3-5; Phil. 2:9-11; Eph.1:20-23). This enthronement did not give Him, as the divine Son of God, any power that was not already His. But now, as the divine-human Mediator, His human nature participated in the heavenly glory and power for the first time.

The kingdom of glory

A representation of the kingdom of the kingdom of glory was given at the Mount of Transfiguration.  There Christ presented Himself in His glory.  "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light" (Matt 17:2).  Moses and Elijah repreented those redeemed -  Moses representing those who have died in Christ and will be resurrected, and Elijah representing believers who will be taken to heaven without experiencing death at the Second Advent.

The kingsom of glory will be established with cataclysmic events at Christ's return (Matt. 24:27, 30, 31; 25:31, 32). Following the judgment, when the Son of man's mediatorial work in the heavenly sanctuary has ended, the "Ancient of Days"—God the Father—will bestow upon Him "dominion and glory and a kingdom" (Dan. 7:9, 10, 14). Then the "kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him" (Dan. 7:27).

The kingdom of glory will finally be established on earth at the end of the millennium, when the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven (Revelation 20, 21).
 


Kjos Ministries: Who defines the Kingdom of God? - A rebuttal to Brian McLaren's book The Secret Message of Jesus

Kjos Ministries:The Kingdom of God, a thematic enlisting.


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