Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Kingdom of God

One of the many theologians that students love to love here at Fuller is John Yoder. Until recently I haven't read much of him, but glad I finally did. I recently read an essay entitled The Original Revolution. It was rewritten from a sermon he preached in November of 1968. The bulk of the essay is talking about the (wrong) ways we typically deal with injustice in the world. Yoder says that we are either too passive, we use violence to stop violence, we retreat, or we remain in the world but segregated from it. The way of Jesus brings a new way of living together where we incarnate our values in the way we live our lives among the world, all because we are expectant of the coming kingdom (or rule) of God.

Towards the end of the essay, he talks about a danger in evangelicalism of confusing the benefits of the kingdom with the kingdom itself. I thought it was spot on and worth sharing:
"Protestantism, and perhaps especially evangelical Protestantism, in its concern for helping every individual to make his own authentic choice in full awareness and sincerity, is in constant danger of confusing the kingdom itself with the benefits of the kingdom. If anyone repents, if anyone turns around to follow Jesus in his new way of life, this will do something for the aimlessness of his life. It will do something for his loneliness by giving him fellowship. It will do something for his anxiety and guilt by giving him a good conscience. So the Bultmanns and the Grahams whose 'evangelism' is to proclaim the offer of restored selfhood, liberation from anxiety and guilt, are not wrong. If anyone repents, it will do something for his intellectual confusion, by giving him doctrinal meat to digest, a heritage to appreciate, and a conscience about telling it all as it is.

So 'evangelicalism' with its concern for hallowed truth and reasoned communication is not wrong; it is right. If a man repents it will do something for his moral weakness by giving him the focus for wholesome self-discipline, it will deep him from immorality and get him to work on time. So the Peales and the Robertses who promise that God cares about helping me squeeze through the tight spots of life are not wring; they have their place. BUT ALL OF THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL. This is just the bonus, the wrapping paper thrown in when you but the meat, the ‘everything’ which will be added, without our taking thought for it, if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness!”

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