Thursday, January 29, 2015

KC (4) Comparing Church and Kingdom

In chapter 12, Scot McKnight summaries the themes of Kingdom Conspiracy in fifteen theses. In the second and third, he notes that many Christians compare the present church and the future kingdom, and concludes that the Kingdom is greater. This is an unfair comparison.

Thesis 3

Kingdom is “eschatological”: both present and future. The kingdom’s future entails a flourishing fellowship of people following final judgment and the establishment of righteousness, and that kingdom sets the tone for kingdom living now. Church is also eschatological: both present and future. The church’s future is also one of a flourishing fellowship forever according to the plan of God in history.

Thesis 4

When comparing kingdom to church, most people make fundamental logical errors. The most common is to compare future kingdom and present church. Kingdom is a both-and, a now and a not yet. The church also is a both-and, a now and not yet. The church, then, is an eschatological reality. To compare kingdom to church, one must compare now-kingdom with now-church and not-yet-kingdom with not-yet-church. When we compare present kingdom and present church, or future kingdom and future church, we come out with near-identical identities. This means it is reasonable to say that the kingdom is the church, and the church is the kingdom—that they are the same even if they are not identical. They are the same in that it is the same people under the same King Jesus even if each term— kingdom, church— gives off slightly different suggestions. In particular, “kingdom” emphasizes royalty while “church” emphasizes fellowship. Slight differences aside, the evidence I have presented in this book leads me to the conclusion that we should see the terms as synonyms.
Scot is right about this. The weakness is that he does not explain how the future church will change enough to make the future kingdom glorious. I describe how this will happen in Kingdom Authority.

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