Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kingdom of ?

The Emerging/ent church has been pivotal in bringing kingdom understanding back into the forefront of our thinking. This has been a necessary emphasis that I applaud, but have sometimes been uncomfortable with the implications that many have drawn from this. I was happy to see Brian McLaughlin quoting Scot McKnight on this subject. McKnight articulates some of the issues very well in this concise quote:

“It’s a bit of a hobby horse for me, but it will be until I get this kingdom series done. I see many today equating “kingdom” with “justice” and defining “justice” by freedom, rights, etc.. So that kingdom becomes working for what is good in this world. Fine. When God’s kingdom comes such things will be manifest. But, I believe kingdom is so tied to faith in Jesus that we are severing kingdom from church, kingdom from Jesus, kingdom from discipleship, and are left with nothing more than the social gospel of Protestant Liberalism. (I am hearing the ghosts of Troeltsch and Rauschenbusch.)”

Similarly, Pannenburg argues for the necessity of the church in directing people toward the eternal:

“The Church is necessary so long as the social and political life of man does not provide the ultimate human fulfillment that the Kingdom of God is to bring in human history. In this way we see that the Church is not eternal, but is necessary for the time this side of the Kingdom.” (W. Pannenberg, Theology and the Kingdom of God, 83 quoted in Bevans and Schroeder, Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today, 399)

4 comments:

Andrew Ford said...

The Brian you are quoting is Brian Mclaughlin, not Brian Mclaren of emergent fame although I think Brian Mclauglin will one day be a well known person in the church world. He's a smart guy and loves Christ's Church.

Andrew Ford (a fellow co-pastor with Brian Mclaughlin)

M Crane said...

Andrew, thanks for the clarification on which Brian Mcl I was quoting. That makes more sense. I'm sorry about the misrepresentation.

Jason said...

Well said. This too was one of my concerns with the Emerging(ent)churches. It seems that perhaps faith in Jesus was assumed when we talked about bringing justice and hope and freedom to our world. But when you assume something you never talk about it and I'm glad to see that Jesus is being talked about as the object of our faith and the subject who acts out the verbs of justice, righteousness, and goodwill for all men.

ThaiTopher said...

"But, I believe kingdom is so tied to faith in Jesus that we are severing kingdom from church, kingdom from Jesus, kingdom from discipleship, and are left with nothing more than the social gospel of Protestant Liberalism. (I am hearing the ghosts of Troeltsch and Rauschenbusch.)”
I guess I have never really understood the idea about how Kingdoms can be separated. Aren't we supposed to bring the kingdom of God to this world as much as possible? I mean Jesus actually said that the Kingdom of God is before you. I don't understand how the social gospel in any severs the kingdom from church, the kingdom from Jesus and the Kingdom from discipleship. Can't you bring the social gospel while connecting it to the church, to Christ, and to discipleship? I just don't necessarily understand why the two have to be separate. It seems to be that we should strive to meet both ends equally, because that would be what Christ desires of us.