The Great Mistake: Thinking Christ’s Kingdom is Here Now (A Dialogue)…part 2

The following is from a friend of mine, we'll call him BP.
He was responding to my previous post on The Great Mistake
I thought this would be of interest because he does well articulate the view I don't hold to!
What you see is his letter (Italics) to me punctuated with my responses / thoughts (Bold).  I'm publishing this with his permission.

…………………………………………………………………

Hey BP…as always good to hear from you!

On 3/22/2010 7:25 PM, BP wrote:   >  Read your blog on kingdom. Those 3 uses of kingdom in John are a >  problem, aren’t they?

I DON’T SEE WHY THEY’D BE A ‘PROBLEM’…ENTERING THE KINGDOM, SEEING THE KINGDOM, AND MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD— THEY ALL FIT A FUTURE COMING KINGDOM IN WHICH THE LORD REIGNS ON EARTH.  WHY DO YOU THINK THEY ARE A PROBLEM? WHEN ONE IS BORN AGAIN IT DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN THEY THEN SEE AND ENTER THE KINGDOM RIGHT THEN DOES IT?  AND, HIS KINGDOM (FUTURE ESPECIALLY) IS DEFINITELY NOT OF THIS WORLD.

What do you think the meaning of the kingdom >  of god is at hand means?  I like Willard’s definition of rural America >  when electricity became available.  He says, “Electricity is at >  hand!”. It is here. It is available.

YOU AND I BOTH KNOW THAT RURAL ENGLISH AND THE GREEK ARE NOT QUITE THE SAME.  IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ‘AT HAND’ CLEARLY MEANS ‘NEAR’ OR ‘CLOSE’. IF DALLAS IS SAYING THAT IT MEANS IT IS ‘HERE’, THEN (WITH ALL DUE RESPECT) HE MIGHT NEED TO GO BACK AND RECONSIDER THE LEXICONS AND THE CONTEXTS OF THE PASSAGES. HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES:

He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.(Mt 26:18–19).

You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.(Jas 5:8). The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. ESV (1 Pe 4:7).

HIS TIME WASN’T ‘HERE’ NOR IS HIS COMING ‘HERE’ NOR IS THE END OF ALL THINGS ‘HERE’—THEY ARE NEAR, BUT NOT HERE.  WHEN CHRIST SHOWED UP AS THE KING-TO-BE…HE OFFERED THE KINGDOM (LEGITIMATELY).  IT WAS NEAR, IT WAS OFFERED…BUT IT DIDN’T MAKE IT (HENCE ACTS 1…IS IT AT THIS TIME THAT YOU WILL RESTORE THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL?)  DEFINITELY OLD TESTAMENT INFORMATION.

Check out what Paul was >  preaching in Acts 28:31. Kingdom is not heaven.

I SURE AGREE, NEVER HAVE THOUGHT IT WAS HEAVEN…BUT EARTHLY MILLENNIAL…AND FUTURE.  LUKE’S VIEW OF THE KINGDOM IS CLEARLY FUTURE AND EARTHLY (FOR ISRAEL) IN ACTS…SEE ACTS 1 AND 14 AS I MENTION IN THE BLOG.

Kingdom is rooted in >  Old Testament theology. AMEN…ROOTED IN OT THEOLOGY AS IT CONCERNS ISRAEL PRIMARILY AND CENTRALLY. You should read McClaren’s Secret Message of >  Jesus. Fred, partial fulfillment is all throughout the Bible. Even new >  covenant promise found in Jeremiah 31:31-33 is not completely >  fulfilled. Joel prophecy of Holy Spirit not completely, fully >  fulfilled.

ABSOLUTELY THERE CAN BE PARTIAL FULFILLMENTS OF THINGS…AND IF IT APPLIES TO THE KINGDOM, THEN THAT IS FINE (A DIFFERENT DEBATE).  MY POINT IS THAT FOLKS ARE NOT ACTUALLY TALKING IN THESE TERMS…THEY ARE TALKING IN THE INCONGRUENT ALREADY/NOT YET LINGO.  IF YOU THINK THE KINGDOM IS PARTLY HERE THEN SAY THAT…BUT DON’T SAY THE KINGDOM IS HERE (IT IS MISLEADING).  WHY NOT SAY THE KINGDOM IS PARTIALLY/FULLY (EXCEPT IT WON’T MAKE SENSE)?  I GUESS IT COULD BE PARTIALLY / NOT PARTIALLY…NO, STILL DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.  OH, HOW ABOUT ALREADY / NOT YET?  🙂 JUST STAY THE KINGDOM IS PARTIALLY HERE, BUT NOT FULLY HERE…THEN I’LL BE HAPPIER 🙂 🙂 🙂 IT IS LIKE SAYING CHRIST HAS RETURNED BUT HE HASN’T RETURNED…WELL, ‘YES’…BUT BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT KIND OF RETURN YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.  I ESPECIALLY MEAN THIS AS IT CONCERNS THE THE PASSAGE ONE IS EXPOSITING IN THE MOMENT.  TAKING A THEOLOGICAL IDEA AN IMPOSING IT ON THE PASSAGE IS A BIG NO NO THAT IS HAPPENING ALL THE TIME. IF A VERSE TALKS ABOUT HIS RETURN, BE CLEAR ON WHICH ONE IS IN VIEW.  IF A VERSE TALKS ABOUT THE KINGDOM, BE SURE WHICH ASPECT (IN YOUR OWN VIEW) THE TEXT ITSELF IS REFERENCING.

I think it is possible to have aspects of the kingdom in >  play but the completion to take place in full in the future. OK, MAYBE…WHERE IS THE VERSE WHERE THIS IS HAPPENING? Just some >  food for thought. I believe Jesus’ message was the gospel of the kingdom >   which includes forgiveness of sins but is much broader including >  political and social change.  check out Luke 1:52-53 >  Check out Luke 4:18-19. We often skip over these very important >  verses.

YOUR GOING TO HAVE TO HELP ME ON THESE VERSES (I DON’T SEE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN THEM).  ALSO, WHY CAN THE POLITICAL PARTS BE FULFILLED IN THE EARTHLY KINGDOM (FUTURE)? LUKE 13:1-5 SEEMS TO ARGUE THAT JESUS WASN’T CONCERNED ABOUT SOCIAL INJUSTICE COMPARED TO THE SPIRITUAL FUTURE OF INDIVIDUALS.

Seems like your argument about Kingdom is all or nothing. It >  is either fully present or not present at all.

YOU ARE RIGHT…EXCEPT I SEE IT AS AN ISSUE THAT MUST BE DISCUSSED ONE VERSE AT A TIME.  OF COURSE, I DO THINK MATTHEW IS REFERRING TO THE FUTURE KINGDOM THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH (I’M NOT COMMENTING ON OTHER AUTHORS HERE). I AM SAYING THE KINGDOM IS EITHER HERE OR IT IS NOT…OR…I’M SAYING YOU SHOULD SAY SOME ASPECT IS PRESENT OR NOT.  TO SAY AN ASPECT OF THE KINGDOM BEING PRESENT IS THE SAME AS THE KINGDOM BEING PRESENT FOULS UP OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORD (ESPECIALLY SPECIFIC PASSAGES). FURTHER, I’D SAY I LOSE NOTHING IF THE KINGDOM IS ENTIRELY FUTURE…MY LIFE, WALK, AND INTERPRETATIONS MAKE PLENTY OF SENSE.  BUT IF I THINK THE KINGDOM IS HERE NOW, I’M GOING TO WIND UP A BIT GOOFY ON SOME PASSAGES (WHY PRAY FOR THE KINGDOM TO COME IF IT IS HERE?), AND I’M GOING TO NEED TO BECOME POST-MIL AND BRING THE KINGDOM IN. I DO NOT BELIEVE THE EARTHLY KINGDOM IS HERE.  IF WE SAY THE KINGDOM (SPIRITUAL) IS HERE BUT THE KINGDOM (EARTHLY) IS COMING, THEN WE ARE TALKING ABOUT TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. THAT IS MY CONCERN…IT IS AN EXERCISE IN EQUIVOCATION (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation).  THE EARTHLY KINGDOM IS NOT ALREADY.  I’M GUESSING YOU’D SAY THE SPIRITUAL KINGDOM IS NOT ‘NOT YET’ TOO.

I think Matthew 6 has it >  in the right order kingdom comes and God’s will gets done, but it is >  not complete like new covenant, outpouring of Holy Spirit.

SO, WHY DID JESUS INSTRUCT THE PEOPLE TO PRAY FOR THE KINGDOM TO COME IF IT WAS ALREADY THERE? IF IT HADN’T COME YET (BUT IS HERE NOW), THEN WHEN EXACTLY DID THE KINGDOM THAT IS HERE NOW COME? THANKS (I’M STARTING TO GET CONVINCED about my view! 😉

FRED

………………………………………………………………….

BP’s Response:

Feel free to post it.  I think your understanding of the kingdom leads exactly to the kind of separation of social and political from the spiritual.   Both Mary and Zechariah saw the gospel in terms of rich/poor, social upheaval and change.   Luke 4:18-19 is about Jesus and his fulfillment of this Isaiah passage which involves poor, oppression etc.   What I mean by rooted in Old Testament is that Kingdom involved social, political and not just spiritual.   If you make kingdom all about the future, then I think you miss the gospel that Paul was preaching in Acts 28:31.  I don’t think he is preaching a future gospel.  He is preaching a now gospel.   I believe the kingdom exists whenever and where ever the reign and rule of God exists.    Jesus had us to pray for the kingdom to come because the gospel is about the reign and rule of God right now, not just in the future.   Don’t see how your argument about the order of Matthew 6 affects meaning at all.   Kingdom comes and the will of God gets done.  That’s what God wants to happen right now.   Will it happen completely –no.   The completion of this prayer will take place in the future in Israel.   You didn’t respond to the paritial nature of new covenant, Holy Spirit.    Love that you are wrestling with key issues and sourcing your arguments from the Word.

Sincerely,

BP

…………………………………………………………….

Fred Lybrand Response:

BP,

I agree…thanks for the wrestling!

First, I did respond to the partial nature of the new covenant, etc.  Here’s what I said,

ABSOLUTELY THERE CAN BE PARTIAL FULFILLMENTS OF THINGS...AND IF IT APPLIES TO THE KINGDOM, THEN THAT IS FINE (A DIFFERENT DEBATE).  MY POINT IS THAT
FOLKS ARE NOT ACTUALLY TALKING IN THESE TERMS...THEY ARE TALKING IN THE INCONGRUENT ALREADY/NOT YET LINGO.  IF YOU THINK THE KINGDOM IS PARTLY HERE
THEN SAY THAT...BUT DON'T SAY THE KINGDOM IS HERE (IT IS MISLEADING).  WHY NOT SAY THE KINGDOM IS PARTIALLY/FULLY (EXCEPT IT WON'T MAKE SENSE)?  I GUESS IT COULD BE
PARTIALLY / NOT PARTIALLY...NO, STILL DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.  OH, HOW ABOUT ALREADY / NOT YET?  :-

Second, I really don’t understand what you think Acts 28:31 definitively says about the gospel Paul preached.  Here’s the Bible Knowledge Commentary…which fits my point nicely, I think.  There is nothing in the verse that tells us what God’s Kingdom is according to Paul…but Acts 1 sure tells us (it is a Kingdom for Israel).  I honestly see that you believe these things, but I don’t see scripture that supports it…nor have I seen an explanation of the irrationality of the already / not yet (I really need to know what I’m missing on that one).  It isn’t a future gospel I believe, it is a now gospel that especially looks to the future (fear of death is gone (Hebrews 2), etc.).

28:30-31. These verses are Luke’s final “progress report” (cf. 2:47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20). 
With freedom in his own rented quarters Paul … preached God’s kingdom.
This eschatological expression indicates not only that Jews and Gentiles alike are justified by faith but also that 
Gentiles with Jews will participate in the millennial kingdom (cf. comments on 28:23).
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-).
The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ac 28:30–31). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Third, what if it leads to a kind of separation of social and political from the spiritual?  Why is that a big deal?  So what?  Would you mind that distinction if God meant for it to be there?  Are you assuming that the social, political, and spiritual are joined…so it tempts you to look for ‘how’?  I don’t think it is a given, but I need scriptures not convictions :-).  Of course, I do think that this division you mention is correct for the church and her purposes, but not for the individual.  All of us can be involved in all manner of things by our calling…but when the social justice etc is made the call of the church…the church will die (I came out of Methodism and the social gospel, so I’ve already seen it happen).

The Matthew 6 issues especially concerns why Christ would be inviting them to ask for the kingdom to come if it is already there…but it also has in it the issue of ‘which kingdom’.  He didn’t invite them to pray for the kingdom to grow.  The order is significant because the working out of God’s will follows from the arrival of the kingdom…it isn’t a means to it (Post Mill…are you PostMill now?).  Of course, we both agree the kingdom needs to be defined from the text and not for the text.

If you believe “I believe the kingdom exists whenever and where ever the reign and rule of God exists”

Then when was the kingdom ever not on earth?  Why can’t there be a kingdom with rebels in it (God isn’t ruling them)?  When or where is God not ruling and reigning according to this view?  If I quit letting Him rule in my heart did His kingdom shrink?

Peace bro,

Fred

www.fredlybrand.org

5 Free Writing lessons

www.advanced-writing-resources.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.