On Behalf of “Kingdom Theology”

Perhaps it’s not until you’ve held a view that has been misrepresented or unfairly slurred that you really become sensitive to being careful not to engage in that kind of tactic with others, or appreciate the wrong that is done when other people are attacked in this way.

I can still remember when the internet was fairly new to me, browsing various Christian websites that purportedly fill the role of “warning” Christians about dangerous theological points of view that they need to stay away from. Looking back, it’s fairly obvious that all these sites really ended up doing was enshrining the viewpoint of the author as the only one that any serious thinking Christian can possibly hold, and labelling anything outside of this perspective as a dangerous aberration from the pit of hell (yes I exaggerate, but not much). I wish I could say that this was largely a phenomenon of the past when the internet was still fairly young, but that just isn’t so.

One of the targets of that sort of website is the term “kingdom theology,” and as someone who a) actually thinks that the ideas represented by that term are biblical and b) has a background in theology and feels a certain responsibility to promote good theological education among those who want to learn about it, I’ve decided to say a few things on behalf of kingdom theology.

One tactic that is fairly common in criticisms of kingdom theology is to associate it with as many theological camps and terms as possible – many or most of which those who actually believe in kingdom theology have never even heard of, and certainly have no connection with. Apart from polemical, reactionary websites that negatively characterise anyone who disagrees with them, have you ever actually personally been involved with groups that describe themselves using terms like “Joel’s Army,” “Manifest Sons of God” or “The Identity Movement”? Nor have I, and yet nearly every single online critique of kingdom theology that I have encountered has found a way to mention all of these terms, and this wee gem gives readers a neat little picture to suggest that they are really all just arms of the same thing. This is so grossly misleading that any respectable theological commentator would be embarrassed to think that anyone might accuse him of arguing this way. The allegation is made that kingdom theology is an invention of twentieth century Pentecostalism, and its proponents are those who want to seize political power in the name of the church, and by force if necessary, establish the political kingdom of God on earth.

Naturally, the more threatening and strange you can make a position sound, the better your chances of turning people away from it are. By selectively quoting from fringe theologians (I use that term loosely) who are associated with various weird and wonderful movements that the writer in question has decided should be associated with kingdom theology, the dots are connected. But it is not an honest way to try to convince people of something.

Kingdom theology is the Christian belief that Jesus is the king of kings, that he came into this world to save it, and through his life and saving work, the kingdom of God was established – a kingdom that really makes a difference in the world, a difference that we should seek to be a part of.

Never mind what kingdom theology isn’t then, what is it? Here’s the simplest summary that I can come up with: Kingdom theology is the Christian belief that Jesus is the king of kings, that he came into this world to save it, and through his life and saving work, the kingdom of God was established – a kingdom that really makes a difference in the world, a difference that we should seek to be a part of. The kingdom of God will continue to transform the world until Christ returns and its influence will increase rather than decrease until then, as the promises of God in Scripture about the difference that God’s rule makes are brought to pass.

It doesn’t sound nearly as bizarre as you might have expected, does it (unless of course, you’re someone who thinks that any claim about the existence of God and the person and work of Jesus is bizarre)? Not only do I think that kingdom theology has a clear biblical foundation, but it also has a very respectable history in Christian thought. I’ll offer a brief overview of each of these.

Biblical Foundations

The view that the kingdom of God is going to make a fundamental difference to the world, transforming and improving it, instead of dwindling within it until some day when Jesus steps in to rescue the church in some miraculous escape (as advocated by many of the critics of kingdom theology) has clear biblical foundations. I will be brief, and plenty will be left out.

The Old Testament messianic prophecies present an undoubtedly positive view of what would happen to the world when the Messiah comes. Isaiah 11 serves as a good example. Here we read that “a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse,” a son of David upon whom the Spirit of God will rest, one who will bring about justice for the needy of the earth, one who will judge the wicked (vv. 1-5). We read that “the nations will rally to Him,” he will “raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth” (vv. 10-12). In Micah 4:1 we learn that “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.” Perhaps the most graphic prophetic depiction of the coming of the kingdom of God appears in Daniel chapter 2. Here, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about a statue made up of various different materials. Then a rock, not cut out with human hands, strikes the statue, smashing it into pieces. The rock then begins to grow, until finally it is a mountain that fills the whole earth. Daniel interprets the dream, explaining that the different parts of the statue represent different world kingdoms that would rise on the earth. The rock represented God’s kingdom that would overcome these kingdoms:

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy. (vv. 44-46)

God was going to establish a kingdom on earth, and it would become so great that it fills the earth.

Consider the words of Micah, who said that the mountain of the LORD’s temple would be lifted up, and the all the peoples would stream to it. Put this alongside the words of Jesus in John 12:32, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” When Jesus said that He would rebuild the temple after it had been destroyed in John 2:19-20, John clarifies for us by telling us in verse 21 that “the temple he had spoken of was his body.” Or we might think of Hebrews 12:22, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.” Paul, in Ephesians 2:19-21 tells his readers that we have become part of the household of God, built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Jesus Himself as the cornerstone, and that this household is “a holy temple in the Lord.” The view expressed in the New Testament suggests that Micah 4:1 has indeed been fulfilled. Christ has been lifted up, and the nations are streaming to Him, becoming part of the household of God, a holy temple, the body of Christ.

The teaching of Jesus seems to confirm what the Old Testament prophesies about His coming. For example, he gives two parables about the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13:31-33, the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast:

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

The fairly natural impression we might get from sayings like this is that the kingdom, once planted, would continue to grow, transforming the whole “batch of dough” as it were.

Jesus proclaimed the “Good News of the kingdom.” He told his listeners that “the kingdom of God has come to you” (Mt 12:28). The idea of the kingdom of God was not new. It is a repetition of Old Testament language that the first century reader would have recognised. In short, the Old Testament anticipates a time when God’s kingdom will be established, and the result will be that all the nations come into it, until it subsumes the world. Further, the New Testament teaches that the Kingdom of God has in fact been established in Christ, and that Jesus anticipated its ultimate success in the world, transforming and filling it.

Historical Precedent

The early Christian document, the Epistle of Barnabas, has overtones of Kingdom theology where it says:

The Scripture says concerning us…: “Multiply and fill the Earth! … Have dominion over it!” … We, having been quickened and being kept alive by the faith of the promise and by the Word, shall live, ruling over the Earth…. To govern implies authority, so that one should command and rule…. Christ was the Son of David…. He says [Psalm 110], “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘You must keep on sitting at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool!’” And again, this is what Isaiah says: “The Lord said to Christ, ‘My Lord Whose right hand I have held so that the nations shall yield obedience before Him!’”

Epistle of Barnabas, chapters 6, 12.

Similar statements are found in Clement of Rome, who draws on similar parts of Scripture to the same effect in chapters 33 and 36 of his letter to the Corinthians.

Later Church Fathers like Augustine certainly had no time for the modern pessimism that we see among those who think that failure is inevitable for the church, whose only hope is to be yanked away at the last minute when Jesus returns before things finally fall to pieces on earth.

At the time of the Reformation, Luther declared:

In the beginning, the Church was victorious over… the Jews and the might of the Romans. In like manner, she will today and forever be victorious…over the Pope and the power of the Turk…. The Pope is the last blaze in the lamp which will go out, and ere long be extinguished…. But when he is struck with God’s Word – then the Pope is turned to a poppy and a frothy flower!

Matin Luther, Writngs, cited in Francis Nigel Lee, Always Victorious: The Early Church not Pre- but Post-Millennial (n.p., n.d.), 19.

You can probably detect in Luther’s words a similar view present in most modern “Left Behind” type writers, the view that we ourselves are living at the crisis point of history and it’s all about to be wound up. But setting that aside, it goes as virtually undisputed that the overwhelming majority of Protestant writers from the time of the Reformation until the rise of premillennialism in the 19th/20th century (including Luther) were what some would call “postmillennial,” that is, they had a strongly optimistic view of history. I have some quibbles about using that label, but the point is that they believed that God’s kingdom would increase in influence and transform the world in which we live.

A fundamentally important implication of this outlook is that we should not give up on interacting with society, surrendering it as utterly lost, and retreating to our Christian ghetto. God really does want to work not only in us, but through us in this world. This was not lost on thinkers like John Calvin.

Calvin understood Christianity as a faith that engages the realities of both personal and public life. He had considerable interest in the development of an authentic Christian theology, and was well aware of the importance of issues of personal piety and spirituality. Yet his vision of the Christian faith extended far beyond the piety of a privatized faith or the cerebral conundrums of an intellectualized theology. Theology for Calvin offered a framework for engaging with public life… He taught that the individual believer has a vocation to serve God in the world — in every sphere of human existence—lending a new dignity and meaning to ordinary work.

Alister McGrath, “Calvin and the Christian Calling,” First Things 94 (June/July 1999), 31-35.

Perhaps nowhere is this better illustrated than in the thought and lives of the Puritans. They have bequeathed to us a worldview wherein we worship God every day of the week by investing in God’s world in the lives we live and the work we do.

Erroll Hulse is right when he reflects on the Puritan view of history, saying:

This positive view of the future known as the eschatology of victory has tremendous implications because it inspires vision. It motivates effort and enterprise. If we believe that evil will overcome everything we will be subject to fear and despair. We will not be inclined to attempt very much. If the gospel is destined to prevail in all nations then we will be inspired to attempt great things for God. We will seek to win the nations for Christ.

Errol Hulse, The Example of the English Puritans

When you get time, have a browse through Iain Murray’s classic work on Puritan eschatology, The Puritan Hope, of which you can read the first four chapters online HERE. It surveys the way in which the eschatological view that I think deserves to be called kingdom theology served as the basis of so much of the good work done by the Puritan movement in terms of world mission.

It was not just in evangelism that the Puritans expressed their theological convictions about the difference that Christ makes to the world. The Protestant work ethic is identifiable as such precisely because industry was seen as a way of worshipping God in the role to which we are called, a way of improving the world by serving God. Similarly, accompanying the Puritan movements was a strong emphasis on the social dimension of the Gospel. Contrary to the impression some might have, the Christian “social justice” movement was not started by liberals in the 20th century. Puritan conservatives were up to the task centuries earlier. Social justice reform was important to Puritans. It was their job as servants of God to improve this world for God’s glory, and as such they advocated for education of the everyday person as well as the improvement of the economic well-being of their neighbour. As Benjamin Hart summarises:

The Puritans knew that conditions of political and economic well-being depended on an educated population. The American belief that every citizen must have a certain amount of education, and a certain degree of literacy and mathematical competency, is a Puritan legacy. In Europe, education, especially advanced education, was limited to the extreme upper crust of society. The lower classes, it was thought, were unfit to be put through schools. Education in Europe was to be reserved for the ruling class. Oxford and Cambridge were England’s only two universities.
In the Puritan mind literacy was important not only to ensure a reasonably informed electorate, essential for the survival of democratic government; but it also played an important role in the individual’s walk with the Lord. The Puritans stressed the individuals personal relationship with Jesus. To read the Bible or follow the logic of a sermon requires a certain familiarity with basic concepts. That a religious movement, which shunned philosophy, was strictly fundamentalist, and believed completely in the inerrancy of Scripture, produced the most educated nation of people the world had ever seen is one of the remarkable paradoxes, and lessons, of history.

Benjamin Hart, Faith and Freedom: The Christian Roots of American Liberty, chapter seven. Read online HERE.

Likewise Daniel Anderson-Little says:

One of the changes that the Puritans made from the laws in England was the vagrancy, the lack of working for three or more days, was decriminalized. Of course, the main reason people didn’t work for more than three days was that they were so poor and malnourished that they were sick much of the time. Instead the Puritans made care of the poor a moral issue for the community.

Dr Daniel Anderson Little, “Moral Values” in Light of the Resurrection: Poverty

For a fuller treatment of that subject, see W. Schenk, The Concern for Social Justice in the Puritan Revolution (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1948).

Kingdom theology, it has to be stressed, is a theological rather than a political movement. While it envisages a world transformed at every level including politically, this is not because, as some critics have carelessly claimed, advocates of kingdom theology hope for some sort of political takeover, coup or violent revolution. Anything but! Proponents of postmillennialism, dominion theology, kingdom theology – call it what you will – have always based their position (whether you think they’re right or not) on biblical arguments about the work of the Spirit of God in building God’s kingdom in the world as more people are brought into a relationship with God and are empowered by God to do God’s will. As Charles Hodge spelled it out:

As therefore the Scriptures teach that the kingdom of Christ is to extend over all the earth; that all nations are to serve Him; and that all people shall call Him blessed; it is to be inferred that these predictions refer to a state of things which is to exist before the second coming of Christ. This state is described as one of spiritual prosperity; God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh; knowledge shall everywhere abound; wars shall cease to the ends of the earth, and there shall be nothing to hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. This does not imply that there is to be neither sin nor sorrow in the world during this long period, or that all men are to be true Christians. The tares are to grow together with the wheat until the harvest. The means of grace will still be needed; conversion and sanctification will be then what they ever have been. It is only a higher measure of the good which the church has experienced in the past that we are taught to anticipate in the future. This however is not the end, After this and after the great apostasy which is to follow, comes the consummation.

From Hodge’s Systematic Theology, volume 3, available online HERE.

According to kingdom theology, it is the presence and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that makes any change possible, and not political might, force, overthrow or persecution.

In contemporary theology the basic tenets of kingdom theology (although not necessarily agreement at every point) can be found at the heart of Christianity that really wants to make a difference in the world. It’s crucial to appreciate that Kingdom theology does not commit to an exact model of what kind of reforms or changes really are good for the world. Nor does it require a specifically defined theological tradition, be it Calvinist, Arminian, Pentecostal, Catholic or Baptist. People who hold to the basic ideals of kingdom theology can differ over these things. Christian voices as politically or theologically diverse as Tony Campolo, N. T. Wright, Abraham Kuyper, Greg Bahnsen, G. E. Ladd, Gordon Fee and John Wimber are named among Christian theologians who advocate some form of Kingdom theology.

Serious reflection on the eschatological thought of historic Christianity, as well as the insight of contemporary theologians assure us that the fuss over “kingdom theology” is misplaced. It may well be that the only exposure you’ve ever had to the idea is via websites that were designed to warn you away from every error under the sun (websites, ironically, frequently created by those who inhabit the fringes of Christian theology themselves) including this one. If that’s the case, let me be the first to welcome you from the other side of the fence.

Glenn Peoples

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16 thoughts on “On Behalf of “Kingdom Theology”

  1. If you read the Boar’s Head Tavern right now, I think you would appreciate their current discussion on NT Wright’s lecture to a bunch of politicians. What are your thoughts on it? You might have to go back a few pages as of the time of this post, though. If you need a link to the starting post, let me know.

    boarsheadtavern.com is what I refer to.

  2. Kingdom Theology is the worst thing that has happened to the church in a long time. To assume that the HS will fix everything is not just naïve, it is also against everything Jesus presents. You might think it is not. Sure you are a great man, except your ideas are not. This concept is beyond hurtful. It stops the church from taking real action. And is used as an excuse to step out of the struggle when we need to push through. It divides and dismisses legitimate action that could have made a difference, it also assumes we should be pacifists, as that is the current ideal, and this theology does nothing to push back at it. It is a theology of submission to historical trends. It assumes God is taking care of history somehow. Sure in the end, yes, but going to this extreme, and this is what it is, is a poor excuse for being apathetic about actually having a voice and taking part in society.
    This of course does not define what voice that should be. I do not advocate to knowing all of that. That would actually be the job of theologians. Not spending their time convincing others not to take action, to accept what is happening, and not seeing it as an us and them, which sure is another popular opinion, but unless you are willing to endorse a true universalism, then perhaps it is time to kept quiet on this issue. Or perhaps to define exactly what the consequences you see happening from this doctrine. Maybe that is all that is the difference. Kingdom Theology might actually think that believing this provides less stress, less human knowledge, more reliance on God, etc. Which might result in a more enviroJesus, feminist Jesus, evolution Jesus, or whatever other Jesus you want. Not that I am arguing any of these is right or wrong. I am asking which one you want to come about? Because maybe Kingdom Theology is not the best theology to get us there. And no I do not necessarily agree with creating theology from what we want to happen, but one must ask that question. Where does this eventually lead us? What does it open us up to in thinking?
    This seems legit. I.e. who wouldn’t agree that the HS is working or that (and this is the most appalling use of the concept) that we should allow ourselves to be lead by the spirit, at any point someone is actually asked to define or back up what they are saying. It is a cowards way out. The method of people who try and use rhetoric in such a way they can always squirm their way out. Disgusting behaviour. (Although I can agree it is occasionally wise when used against those trying to truly destroy us; but when used just to hide what one thinks about a topic or fear of being found out in front of other Christians; especially when teaching, it is not just disgusting the person should be expelled from any teaching position again).
    The truth is that a psychological change equates to an actual biological one. The brain has certain synopsis and they are created permanently. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise…

  3. Hi Israel! It sounds like you’re a bit unsure of what Kingdom Theology is. You talk about letting the Holy Spirit do all the work and us doing nothing. But this just isn’t Kingdom Theology at all. The Holy Spirit works through people!

  4. That was my point. The HS working through people. Which makes a reliance on, as an articulated argument, meaningless. I could just as easily point out the lunies in a pyschiatric ward who hear voices as well. Who make meanings out of a series of coincidences, and put stock in the whole feelings are God concepts. You have even argued against this same thing before.
    While I am not suggesting God does not communicate with us. I am dismissing the idea that we hear from the HS as much as people claim they do. Or perhaps just some people.
    There are dangerous ideas here that have practical outcomes we don’t need nor desire.
    One could say if the HS told you to go to china but forgot to mention keep your legs closed so you don’t get pregnant one has to wonder where one hears the voice?
    So while I agree we must be aware of what God wants us to do the use of Kingdom Theology amongst the layman has become one of ‘let go and let God fix whatever we stuff up’. And is used as an easy answer to escape being pinned down to a belief or statement.
    So yes I agree that my Kingdom Theology is so limited, it just happens to be the consequences of it that I was discussing. And that is all at the end of the day what matters. Superlapsarian or arseallowing does not matter in the spirit of the matter, what matters is what happens to the troops on the ground. And right now they are fluffing around saying things like ‘but just listen to the HS’ and ‘restoration’ and ‘God controls history’ as if that matters. Whether I hold to predestination or not actually matters little as well in a practical sense, as what I have to do today is about me making those decisions. If I am empowered by making my feelings into God then all good, but if those feelings go wrong, or some outcome I did not like, or worse others do not like happens, the person is most likely traumatised at some level.
    But yeah a short answer is as good to brave men as a long. Right before a battle at least when everyone is worried about pissing their pants and really don’t want to hear some idiot going on for a long time. However when we have time to actually think we want to know the whole story.

  5. Read it a number of times. Liked it as I like most of your work. I simply disagree with the application and assumptions that follow from this thinking. Sure they might not be what you wanted to happen nor any other kingdom theologian. It is this which I am disputing. I actually follow all your blogs, and I enjoy them. I am not sure why you display the displeasure you do. Never have to be honest. I always get perplexed when someone on the one hand is willing to be harsh on one hand and then not engage when someone else is harsh themselves. Is it that the mirror is to hard to handle? Or does you mocking only apply to those who don’t met your predefined terms of rhetoric?
    I think the first thing wrong with kingdom theology as a whole is the very summary you made of it. “Kingdom theology is the Christian belief that Jesus is the king of kings, that he came into this world to save it, and through his life and saving work, the kingdom of God was established – a kingdom that really makes a difference in the world, a difference that we should seek to be a part of. The kingdom of God will continue to transform the world until Christ returns and its influence will increase rather than decrease until then, as the promises of God in Scripture about the difference that God’s rule makes are brought to pass.”
    I am not sure how you see this actually happening. How anyone can see this happening. I do admit that under certain Christian rule, and certainly thru the influence of Christianity that the west has some cultural advantages, I do not see a true kingdom come about? Where is the example that we see to show what a christian community could look like when perfected as much as possible on this earth?
    Wasn’t that the very issue that was wrong in the Jewish view of the coming messiah, that they expected a nationalistic type hero? If not don’t we need to start a real campaign of reeducation? And anything that came out of this belief should be considered faulty at least, and revised as soon as possible?
    I do not see any evidence where God transforms a person, or community, past its ability in psychological behaviours? And since psychological programming is biological, as in it is a physical brain function or chemical and synaptic connections, how do you see that changing? Or do we evolve into it as more and more people come to Christ? Making this generation and the next few thousand just stepping stones to a higher level of existence? How is this any different to evolutionary social theory of the past? Is it that it just actually gives us the means to explain why there is a direction in evolution and what an advanced state looks like?
    Or is it our definition of kingdom that differs?

    1. Israel, the reason for my comment about you not reading the article is that your criticisms seem not to connect with what I have said. It’s not that I can’t handle you being “harsh,” I just don’t see a serious argument here. I don’t see anything problematic following from what this article explains, yet you state that its implications are problematic. I don’t see it. You say “I am not sure how you see this actually happening.” So there’s no argument from you that this really isn’t what Scripture teaches. Instead, you’re expressing scepticism about how it could happen. What is this scepticism based on? Are you saying that this is something God is unable to bring about? Or are you simply saying that he will not?

      You talk about people expecting a “a nationalistic type hero,” but this seems to have no real relevance to the biblical case I have made here. I am not advocating a nationalistic hero. I am hoping for change over time, and I have tried to explain that this is what certain passages of Scripture seem to anticipate.

      “I do not see any evidence where God transforms a person, or community, past its ability in psychological behaviours?”

      Well let’s start at the beginning. Do you believe that God works in people’s lives?

  6. Was I meant to laugh or cry at that question?
    And Jesus knowing they where trying to ………..
    Really? lol… Ok so you actually are willing to start a discussion with such tactics? Nice.
    1. That is not the starting question.
    2. you have to define exactly what your vision of a world that is the poster girl for Kingdom Theology in its prime.
    3. No just no.. I think you need to join the manipulators anonymous club and fess up.
    4.. still just no.. what were you thinking?
    5. Just in case you actually are serious and can’t see how manipulative you just tried to be.. which means. 1. the kingdom you envision sucks. 2. manipulate each person so they ‘see’ things our way.
    5a: The question is irrelevant. Whether God has the power or not. Or wishes to or not. The only relevant question is whether He is planning too. It is also whether anything within our experience shows us that this is possible. Miracles included. Or that scripture can show us this. But since most theologians today do not hold to any ‘real’ sense of authority of scripture then that goes out the window and is just a dressing for already held beliefs. It also might be so due to contextual understandings, bias… ra ra rah….
    But that is just in case you were being serious, and since I don’t think you were, and having read and heard your sermons before I don’t think you were being funny either. A man of God you are, but a man of grace… well.. you might like to practice that virtue a little further. But that is ok. Since we are all meant to fit together while being different shapes. So no foul called against you. Actually what you are is what makes you interesting and relevant on so many issues, and fuels that enormous head of yours.
    If you can’t now see why what I said earlier fits exactly with this article or these concepts please ask again. But I don’t see why you would need to. I have literally seen you pull links out of the air for a dozen different concepts at once and shown how they all fit regardless of their apparent appearance of incohesion. And then bam everyone gets it..
    The very fact that a line of questioning had to be asked in such a manner shows the thinking within Kingdom Theology. It also either reveals the reasoning behind it, or what the image of what is being promoted as seen as being or stem from. Yet it is just another interpretation and I would like to know, in detail – case study type discussion, on how you see people behaving, polices working etc, or is it just a ‘general’ peace, and getting along that you envision, while nasty (not you personally, but I have only ever heard people hold to this theory who are so quick to jump on anyone with viciousness, absolute shaming tactics, and just plain secondary violence inducing speech -whether intended or not, in that last part, the first parts they do knowing full well and justify it blatantly).

  7. The only relevant question is whether He is planning too.
    But again thanks for showing how Kingdom Theology thinkers process ideas. The fact you seem proud of it astounds me on one hand. But not really on the other.

  8. Israel, there’s no need for this to be a hostile encounter. There’s nothing “proud” about my approach here. The question I asked was a relevant one, and if you share your answer we can actually discuss this issue, which seems to be important to you. All change starts somewhere, so I’m asking you: Do you believe that God works in people’s lives?

  9. Glen I am not being hostile at all. I am asking you to not use manipulative questioning techniques. If you are not aware that this is you could have said that. That would have been upfront and enquiring. Rather than appearing, and you might not have meant it this way, taking the high ground or teacher role.
    I am asking you to define what Kingdom Theology looks like in a person. What it looks like in a community if you like.
    Until that is done then how or what can asking whether I think God can transform people. It would also help to ask what this means to you if you do want to keep asking that question? What means and processes do you envision are used to accomplish any transformation that does or does not take place? You might have already written this up fully. Would you please provide a link if you have?

  10. Israel, there was nothing manipulative about the question. I do not understand why you would suggest that – I really don’t get your reaction. Obviously Kingdom theology is a view about the transformative power of God and how wide its impact will be.

    In light of this, it seems pretty important what you think of God’s transforming power. Since you take issue with Kingdom theology – in fact you seem incredulous at it – it actually matters whether or not you think God works in people’s lives, because that can open up a discussion about why you are so sceptical about this. I honestly don’t know why you’ve simply refused to reveal your view on that question.

    By contrast, very little stands or falls on whether or not I can clearly describe what a transformed society looks like. I’ve never lived in a place like that, so I certainly can’t speak from experience “in person,” as you say. If I say “it looks just,” you can just ask “well what does justice look like?” If I say “it looks civil,” you can ask “what does civility look like?” There is no end to how finely grained the questions could become. But none of that takes away from any of the biblical reasons to accept Kingdom Theology, the high-level claim about the impact of God in the world. I have offered some biblical descriptions, and that’s all I mean to offer.

    So if you don’t mind, I’d really like to turn, a third time, to my question: Do you believe that God works in people’s lives? And this time I insist that you answer or this conversation will be over. Sorry, but with respect, it really looks to me like you’re just evading the question now.

  11. Glen, they are the same reasons one cannot truly answer your initial question. If one is to say, yes, God transforms live, then the next logical step is to say ‘wouldn’t this then lead to a change in society, then it would to a ……. etc.” Therefore it cannot be your starting point. It would be better to ask how God transforms lives? As any belief in God would surely already assume a transformation. Otherwise how could anyone say they believe in a ‘born again’ mentality. Although that is just as big a question we are all facing now I think. Who is in, who is out. Without implying I can judge that.
    So that is why it is manipulative in my view. It sets an argument up to take a certain logical framework that would have the person denying something about God unless a lot more information is provided.
    I agree that my question poses problems. But without it what do we aim for? Do you propose that any transformation is the only because of God? That the means of this transformation does not lie in our personal decisions, choices, and sharing of knowledge and wisdom with one another, getting next to and truly starting to care for everyone in the church? So my question was not to box you, or to ask for a circular argument. Or to tear you apart. That is actually the very thing I thought you might do. I know bad assumption, but when you have been in these conversations before, for me not in particular on kingdom theology, but the whole a+b=c scenario, and perhaps leading questions, although by the sounds of it, you had good intent.
    But how can I know that? I had to assume it was just another leading question. So please, in the same vein of trust, answer mine. Because without a clear vision of what we are meant to look like, as individuals, a community, a nation, a globe, how can we achieve that? Or is this the trust in God bit? I would have to stop there though if it is. That reason is used right now as a ‘justifiable’ shut down to a lot of discussions, and a cowardly way out for people not to take responsibility or action. Tehy might not know it is cowardly. They might justify inside themselves at a very deep level that it is trusting in a God that powerful, or a God of renewal, and restoration, while our brothers and sisters in christ all around the world die. So if it is justice that defines our kingdom, then we are heading in the wrong direction. If it is courage, then we are failing. If it is niceness, then we are right on track. This does not mean to take away from the truly good work people are doing. It is just the overall generalised problems that are real though. And will have an effect of the future as they have had in the past. So yes I am asking what it looks like. Even if it is just your opinion. I don’t care. You must have dreamt about it. Thought about it. Felt it. I bet you could write a book about it if you let your mind go there. A clear definition is the very thing we need right now. But if you want this to be over ok.

  12. Glen, they are the same reasons one cannot truly answer your initial question. If one is to say, yes, God transforms live, then the next logical step is to say ‘wouldn’t this then lead to a change in society, then it would to a ……. etc.” Therefore it cannot be your starting point.

    That is exactly why it is the starting point. If indeed – as you say – the next logical step is to ask whether or not changed individuals lead to a changed society, then that should tell you just why this question matters.

    As I said, your own question simply doesn’t have the same relevance. A society transformed in the manner the Bible indicates would be good and just. There you have it.

    If you’re going to dig your heels in and refuse to answer, it makes me think that you can see where the answer leads and you just don’t wish to acknowledge it. So our conversation ends. I only ask – in fact I require – that if you choose to start up the conversation again in future, you do it by answering the question. At this point, having asked several times already, I will put your comments into moderation so that we don’t waste time having comments appear if they don’t answer the question. I will approve the first comment from you that contains an answer, I promise. I don’t like to do this, but it has become clear that you are intentionally not answering.

    PS, the name is Glenn.

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