Thursday, February 26, 2015

KC (17) Socio-Political Church

This is my final comment on Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight.

Scot McKnight asks if the Kingdom is different from the church. He concludes that there is no kingdom outside the 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.
Making the Kingdom synonymous with the Church allows Scot to show that political action for Christian purposes is not kingdom work, because it is an attempt to use the world system of power to achieve God’s purposes, which is impossible.

The danger of approaching the problem in this way is that it pushes the kingdom back into church, when we really need to be pushing the church into being a kingdom. The church needs to become more like a kingdom. A kingdom is a political entity. The Old Testament people of God was a society with a system government. Israel was a political entity.

The New Testament describes the church using political words, like kingdom and citizen. There has been a tendency to tone this down by translation. For example, the Greek word ekklesia is translated as church. This is wrong, because the English word church is a transliteration of the Greek work kuriakos, which means “of the Lord” This word is used for Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:20) and Lord’s day (Rev 1:10) in the New Testament and later for the Lord’s House.. the word use for the church in the New Testament. Ekklesia is a political word. It is a “gathering of citizens of a town or city called out in a public place”. When Paul was arrested in Ephesus, the town clerk appeared before the ekklesia responsible for the city (Acts 19).

Toning down the political aspects the of word church, turns the church into an NGO (non-government organisation) that operates under the authority of the civil government. This prevents it from being a threat to the political powers.

This is wrong. The church is an alternative society with an alternative government flowing from an alternative political system. It is a threat to political elites, because it will eventually replace them.

Scot seems to gets this.

To say the church is a politic is not to say the church needs to be more political by becoming more active and aggressive in the political process. The kingdom is the people under King Jesus who fellowship with one another and form churches. These churches are the politic of Jesus in this world. That is, a local church embodies— or is designed by God to embody— the kingdom vision of Jesus in such a way that it tells the kingdom story. That is a politic, a witness to the world of a new worship, a new law, a new king, a new social order, a new peace, a new justice, a new economics, and a new way of life.... Christians have failed to embody the church as an alternative politic and have instead opted for influencing and improving Caesar or transforming culture or using the political process to accomplish their wishes.
The church is the politic of Jesus in the world. It must embody a new social order, a new social order a new justice and a new law. Unfortunately does not explain how the church can become an alternative poltic.

Both kingdom an church are socio-political terms. This leads to an important question. How can the church becomes a socio-political reality, without colluding with the existing political powers that are controlled by the spiritual powers of evil? How can the church become more like a kingdom?

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