Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Kingdom is not Theocratic

The more that I think about it, the clearer it becomes that theocracy is not a good word for describing the Kingdom of God.

God’s kingdom is his will being done on earth as it is in heaven. To understand what this means, we have to think about how his will is done in heaven. The citizens of heaven do not do his will because the fear him or because they are forced to obey. The do God’s will because they respect him. They understand that his wisdom and his will are perfect, so doing his will is the natural thing to do.

God’s kingdom comes on earth in the same way. His will will be done, but that does not mean that people will be forced to do his will. It will not be done because people are afraid of him. God’s will will be done, because people with new hearts choose to love him. As those who love him begin to understand his will, they will realise that his ways are perfect. They will freely choose to do his will out of respect for him.

Just as there is no fear or force in heaven, there is no room for fear or force in his Kingdom. This means that any word that ends with “ocracy” does not fit with the kingdom of God.

There is only one situation where God will permit humans to use force against other humans in his Kingdom. He allows the punishment of theft, assault and murder to be enforced by human judges. That is the limit on the use of force. And even when punishing these sins, human force must be tempered by mercy.

Almost all humans would accept that force is justified for dealing with theft, assault and murder. Therefore, even the most ardent anti-theocrat would be hard pressed to find anything objectionable about the Kingdom of God.

The other “ocracies” involve far more force being used for a wider range of purposes. For example, democracy allows the majority to force a minority to bow to the will of the majority. Those who fear being forced to do things against their will should fear democracy far more than they fear the Kingdom of God.


Aaron said...

Another excellent post Ron. Our views on this are aligning more and more.

I would just question the reference to capital punishment and suggest that enforcing civil justice is beyond the jurisdiction of the church - the kingdom of God.

As Paul asks rhetorically - almost parenthetically - in 1 Corinthians 5:

"For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

But them that are without God judgeth."

Ron McK said...

Thanks Aaron
I think the main difference is that you seem to equate the kingdom of God and the church. I see the Kingdom as being much broader. Judges can be part of the kingdom of God if they do God's will.

Aaron said...

That's an interesting distinction, and one that I will have to chew on.

At present I equate the kingdom of God with the Church; I believe Jesus used the concepts interchangeably. (Matthew 16:18, Luke 7:28, Luke 16:16, Luke 17:20-21, John 18:36...)

The fullness of the Kingdom is yet in the future. For now, it is a scattered, spiritual thing - like the wind.

Ron McK said...

This a very important issue. I have written more on this here.