the kingdom of God

So, the Sunday morning adult Bible class at my congo caused me to think:

Just what is the kingdom of God (or Christ)? Is it simply the Church, like I’ve always been taught? Or is there more to it than that?

Thoughts? Anyone?

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10 responses to “the kingdom of God

  1. I believe that the Kingdom of God is the Church, but also includes Heaven, or Paradise, and all that He has created.

  2. So, are those outside of Christ, in the kingdom? Are there different levels of “kingdom”?

  3. the kingdom is God’s rule. it is not just the “people” “in” it. It is the exerting of God’s dominion. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand… The kingdom of God is within you…

    dallas willard does a good treatment of this stuff in divine conspiracy…

  4. I do not know if those outside of Christ are necessarily in or out of the kingdom at first, but they could be led to it by us (Christians). As for levels, I am not sure, but it does make one wonder about these things.

  5. “The Church is the Kingdom, the Kingdom is the Church”.

    For the most part they are synonymous. However, I think in one of the “Kingdom” parables Jesus refers to the kingdom as a field and later calls that field the “world”.

    I think that the idea of the kingdom being the “rule” of Christ is a clever way of bypassing the inherent heresy of a “Great Apostasy” theory.

  6. Dan,

    I’ll definitely have to read the Divine Conspiracy now. I seem to remember Lee Camp saying something about the kingdom in Mere Discipleship, but the book doesn’t have an index and I don’t have time at the moment to go hunting.

    Ken,
    I’m intrigued by your last remark about a “clever way of bypassing…[the]’Great Apostasy’ theory.” I understand just how bankrupt the theory is, but could you elaborate?

    Anonymous,

    Thanks for your contribution. I think that my main concern is this: in Churches of Christ, it is often said (as Ken put it) that “The Church is the Kingdom, the Kingdom is the Church.” Agreed: the Church is the Kingdom. But I don’t think that the Church is the Kingdom in its fullness. Sin still exists; death, war, famine and disease still stalk the earth. Satan is still at work. So, might the Church be seen as an outpost of God’s Kingdomm with the Kingdom in its fullness being established on the last day when “every knee shall bow,” etc.?

  7. Good food for thought, indeed. Perhaps if I discussed where my faith tradition (a mainline protestant denomination) falls we might shed some light on the subject.

    The kingdom of God, as I understand it, is the fullness of God’s dominion and creation, thus naturally including His church and His people. However, thanks to Adam and Eve, we’re clearly not fulfilling God’s purposes for His kingdom (e.g., to bring glory to Himself). As you pointed out, sin runs rampant in all its guises (both what we traditionally think of as “sin” and also war, famine, disease, etc.). We are a sinning, fallen creation, and the only way we can be reconciled to God is through the blood of Jesus Christ. (I trust we’re all (most of us, anyway) on the same page at this point.)

    The Kingdom of God, in all its fullness and intent, can only be truly realized when we are reconciled* to God in the final days (put your favorite apocalyptic phrase here). Heaven, I believe, is the existence of this perfect Kingdom.

    ________________________________________________
    *I realize this brings up an entirely new conversation on being “reconciled” to God, e.g., are we reconciled to Him when we become a follower of Christ, or are we reconciled only after we are judged upon in the final days, etc., but that’s a bit out of the scope of this discussion.

  8. Chris,

    The short of it is that if one teaches that the “kingdom” started on Pentecost and teaches, for one reason or another, that the kingdom “fell away” one must explain why the gates of Hades prevailed for so long or why your concept of the Church is such a novelty.

    If, instead, one teaches that its Christ’s “rule” that started on Pentecost, one has a easier case to make. One could just say people were in rebellion against His rule (actually “rebellion” is a good description of apostasy), even though that rule has existed since Pentecost.

    One problem with the “rule” interpretation is that a king must have a kingdom. I, personally, can’t divide the concept of ruling from the concept of government and people ruled. The idea of the Church being the body of Christ with Him as the head is important here.

    Ken

  9. Chris,

    I fixed that link on Ratzinger and the Papacy on my blog. The link has the speech my Ratzinger on “Truth and Conscience”.

    Ken

  10. Sorry, late to the party on this.

    I think that simply viewing ‘kingdom’ and ‘church’ as synonymous expressions leads to a lot of confusion. As stated above, I think the kingdom is best understood as God’s rule, particularly the recognition of that rule. The kingdom parables make no sense if you simply insert the word ‘church’. If He had simply meant ‘church’ rather than ‘kingdom’ why didn’t he use that term? I think we’re too often ready to redact the Bible to meet a simple formula rather than trying to understand it on its own terms.

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