14 November 2007

The Second Mistake?

by Frank Turk

OK – so we have started answering the 12 mistakes from last week’s post, and here’s the second mistake from the list:

The Mistake of Only "Salvation in Heaven," not "Kingdom on Earth"

And you’d think I could keep it brief this week because Phil has already unloaded on this one pretty well over the course of the last month or so. But I really haven’t been blogging much since my so-called hiatus (for which many of you are grateful, right?), and I have a couple of things to say on this subject which I think are worth airing out.

Let's start here: we have to understand the importance of the word "only" in this affirmation. If you omit that word, and the statement goes, "The Mistake of ‘Salvation in Heaven,’ not ‘Kingdom on Earth’," (comma on the inside, Dan, but on the outside of the original quote marks) we get the emergent/liberal/social gospel gripe that Jesus was preaching a kingdom of this world rather than something which requires a plan, as they say, from before the foundation of the world.

What I read this complaint to mean, then, is that it is not either/or – it is not only "salvation in Heaven", nor is it "only" "kingdom on earth". It is both salvation and kingdom. So as we assess the critique as a so-called "mistake", we need to frame it as the complainer frames it and not like the fish in the barrel we intend to shoot.

And in that complaint, there is on the one hand, a lot to complain about. For example, part of the "salvation + kingdom" model is local church. Another part is doer of the word and not hearer only. Stuff like love one another and cup of cold water. Being a saved person doesn’t just make a "not yet" promise, but also an "already" promise and implies some "already" responsibilities.

The question is at what place have we replaced the Gospel – the proclamation of what God has done, in Jesus Christ, for His own purposes – with cultural idolatry? In spite of some real kvetching lately in some circles about Mark Driscoll’s sermon which kicked off his current series on Philippians, he makes a great point in his prologue there which is summed up in this way: in our search for joy, we often fill in with stuff, people and religion when in fact we need to be filled in with Jesus. As another wise man has said, the Gospel is the solution to Culture and not a slave to culture.

So when we start making a big deal out of the Kingdom matters – the "already" matters – of the Gospel, we have to be certain we aren’t confusing a result with the cause.

You know: saved people will act differently – because they are new on the one hand, declared righteous, and because they are, on the other hand, grateful for being new and declared righteous.

So maybe a better way of making this objection is to say The Mistake of "Salvation in Heaven," without "Kingdom on Earth". It speaks to the matter of both/and more clearly without rejecting, for example, the eternal nature of God’s plan, the transcendent nature of God Himself, and the metaphysical nature of man’s plight (that is, a problem which is not merely a symptom but actually a disease).

And here's the thing: a metaphysical problem requires a metaphysical solution. What that doesn't mean is that the problem is non-corporeal and therefore some kind of invisible pixie dust is necessary to solve it. What it does mean is that the the fundamental nature of who and what we are requires more than a band aid, more than a witty saying or a slogan. What it requires is some kind of solution by the Creator to turn it from car wreck to Chrysler 300.

And that solution is wrapped up in the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is not a dualistic solution, but a holistic solution for mankind. It covers all the bases.

I tell my adult Sunday school class that Paul himself hangs pretty much everything on the Resurrection – the whole Gospel is in the balance of whether Jesus really left an empty tomb. He says it this way in Romans 1 (ESV):

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ
Notice, without violating and conciliar affirmations which we agree with and also affirm, that Paul doesn’t say that the virgin birth is what declares Jesus to be the Son of God: it’s the resurrection which declares this of Him in power.

No resurrection: no Jesus who can give grace and apostleship or fulfillment of the holy Scriptures.

But we say that to say this: the resurrection doesn’t just point to a future state or a future fulfillment. It points to bringing "the obedience of faith among all the nations". That’s something that has to happen now.

But how that happens now is not hardly for the sake of becoming a better you, or by obtaining your best life now. It’s not about being rich or healthy. In fact, it is often presented most vividly when we are afflicted or unable to manifest what the world would call "success".

Paul ended his life chained to a pillar in a cave or a dungeon, and he told his dear friend Timothy not to be ashamed of his own afflictions, nor of the cross, nor of the persecutions all who lead a Godly life must experience. He said, instead, that this is how and when the Gospel is preached – in faith in spite of trials.

And this, dear readers, is the meaning of "Kingdom on Earth". Our sovereign is Lord of All, and we ought to act like his subjects when we are in all circumstances. Yes: preach a salvation from sin which delivers from the final judgment, but live here and now for the sake of demonstrating that Kingdom which is to come.

If missionary agencies aren't delivering this message, using these means, they are definitely wrong. The Gospel is not either salvation or kingdom: it is both. And may Jesus come quickly.







49 comments:

stratagem said...

Good, thought-provoking post.

A personal observation: Kingdom on Earth and in Heaven is not particularly useful for the advancement of the left-wing political agenda of the PAC known as the Emergent (Submergent) "church". So, while it is legit to critique certain sects as being light on the Kingdom on Earth part, it is also legit to critique Emergent (Submerging) sects or cults as being light on the Heaven part (and the Hell part). The balance is critical, as you rightly implied.

My second observation is that since Jesus was bodily resurrected, and yet isn't visible anymore bodily, he must have gone to a place. (This realization, according to Doug Pagitt, makes me a neo-Platonist). Your article this morning implies why the idea that heaven or hell are places, is suddenly such a controversy to the Emergents like Pagitt: Heaven is a distraction from their real, this-world-only agenda.

Thanks!

Even So... said...

This post is eminently quotable...

So maybe a better way of making this objection is to say The Mistake of "Salvation in Heaven," without "Kingdom on Earth".

Agreed…

And that solution is wrapped up in the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is not a dualistic solution, but a holistic solution for mankind. It covers all the bases.

Exactly…

The resurrection doesn’t just point to a future state or a future fulfillment. It points to bringing "the obedience of faith among all the nations". That’s something that has to happen now.

Indeed...applying the Gospel to all of life...what a novel idea...well, my friends, that is what is known as, wait for it…discipleship, and we are supposed to be making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)…

Well done, cent…

donsands said...

Good point, or points.

The Father seeks people to worship Him in Spirit and truth, and that's for now in every sinful and ungodly nation, so that we can be light and salt for the Father's glory, and in the world to come in perfect righteousness without any sin whatsoever, for the great glory of our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lewis Jr. said...

First, thank you gentlemen so much for the blog. I became aware of it due to some of your Emergent Posters and now have it tabbed in Firefox when I boot up my Ubuntu system. I cannot underscore the real danger of the Emergent issue due to the fact that I am a recent graduate of Cedarville University and have seen what this ideology does to people, so please continue blogging.

Second, back to topic, could you please explain just a little more clearly what you see as the kingdom 'here'. I have always thought that Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, or this armies would fight (John 18). I understand that Jesus is responding to Pilate about His kingship, however Jesus does ignore then change the topic when the disciples ask Him at His ascension about the kingdom here. I always understood our 'good works' to be done not for the setting up of an earthly kingdom but 'so they will glorify your father which is in heaven.' (Mat. 5:16)

Let me know what you guys think!

Lou +

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Franklin, this just goes to show how much eschatology determines much in the Christian life. It baffles me to hear people say that eschatology is irrelevant to the here and now.

P.S. I just quoted that Romans 1 passage to a friend yesterday, not with your point, but to show the trinitarian nature of the Gospel. You find the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit there.

Stefan said...

So we are called to be servants of Christ in all that we do: not only in our local body of Christ; but for example, also in our homes as husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers; and in our places of employment as workers. We are to allow the Holy Spirit to do its sanctifying work in us, so that God can work out His purposes through us. David lived out the Kingdom "already": not simply by virtue of his being King, viceregent under God (Jehoram and Ahaziah were kings in the Davidic line, too*); but because he sought to follow God's precepts, and repented when he strayed, and in his calling (kingship), sought to be a Godly disciple, exercising faith and obedience.

*By the grace of God, I finished 2 Chronicles last night! Whoo-hoo!

Tim said...

Thank you so much for that post. It will be a good vaccination against one of the worst excesses in the Emerging movement: The liberal social gospel tendency that you identified.

I was just speaking Friday with a friend named Joel, a college student from my current church. He came out of a Baptist background in Texas--a youth group that tended to meet the negative Baptist stereotypes of shallow, hollow religion. He was craving more, and was given A New Kind of Christian, by Brian McClaren. Some of it bothered him, but some of it also really "resonated" with him.

Then he came to college and got involved with our present church--a fairly healthy church in terms of love, fruit, evangelism (out of love), and commitment to Scripture. And he said that if he'd grown up in this church, he never would have been tempted by what he read in McClaren.

Some of the Emerging problems come from going too far in addressing real problems that exist in (at least some) Evangelical churches. "The Mistake of 'Salvation in Heaven,' without 'Kingdom on Earth'" is one of them. If we make sure that we're correcting those problems well, we can help prevent people from following teachers who correct those problems poorly.

Glenn said...

From "Hath God really said"
to
"Christianity much change or die"
to
"A New Kind of Christian"

Mike Riccardi said...

I agree heartily with Jonathan. Our eschatology is extremely significant in how we live "here and now."

I think this should be fleshed out more thoroughly among the daily posts. Is the kingdom here, or is it to come? If it's both, in what ways is it here and in what ways is it a future kingdom. And then, what impact do the answers to those questions have on how we live?

centuri0n said...

Lewis Jr. said/asked:

│ I always understood our
│ 'good works' to be done not
│ for the setting up of an
│ earthly kingdom but 'so they
│ will glorify your father
│ which is in heaven.'

I think that's actually right – except that you cannot avoid the fact that we are sojourners as believers, people who belong to another kingdom. When we do what our Lord calls us to do, we are demonstrating His kingdom and our citizenship there.

Demonstrating the kingdom and establishing the kingdom or somehow installing the kingdom are different things.

centuri0n said...

Warhead:

[note to readers -- my kids met Jonathan Moorhead and his boys this summer and I told them his name was "Dr. Moorhead". My son said he should change his name to "Dr. Warhead" because it would be cooler. He's right, of course.]

I think you're right -- but any orthodox eschatology renders the "already"/"not yet" paradox we get so clearly in Heb 11:

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

S.J. Walker said...

Thanks brother,

Another tent stake moment here at Pyro

Daryl said...

"Demonstrating the kingdom and establishing the kingdom or somehow installing the kingdom are different things."


Thanks Cent, that really clarifies this for me.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Amen, Cent!

Benjamin Nitu said...

Amen, Cent!

This is the kind of answer people expect here at Pyro., not some semantic remarks or ad hominem type of arguments.

Thank you.

centuri0n said...

Everybody needs a little ad-hom now and again just to keep one's skin thick. It's like steak sauce: nobody eats steak sauce by itself, but everybody likes that tang on a nice piece of meat.

Or meat chub, as the case may be.

DJP said...

You're just saying that because you're... you're... you know, the way you are.

Benjamin Nitu said...

@ Cent & @ djp

In general, the quality is excellent here at Pyro.
But, I honestly believe you guys can do even better; this post and others are the living example of that.

Tim said...

It took me a moment of parsing to figure out whether that was a back-handed insult.

centuri0n said...

djp:
-----
Don't taze me, bro.

Benjamin Nitu said...

yes tim, djp is a funny guy.

And there's nothing wrong in general with little insults. They're wrong when you used them as arguments to discredit what people are saying.

In Denny's Greene words "they are who we thought they are"!

Johnny Dialectic said...

Cent, you don't chug steak sauce? You haven't lived. Definitely dissolves the ol' fuzz ball.

SolaMeanie said...

A-2 Meat Chub Sauce manufactured by Pyroincorporated, Santa Clarita, CA . . .

"Yeah, it's that important."

However, I can't see our beloved Centurion trashing a restaurant or sticking his tongue on a grill to get the last drop. He'd just put the old bottle upside down on a new bottle of sauce.

Silliness aside, excellent post Sir Frank! Isn't it interesting how -- no matter what subject we choose to bring up in blogdom -- somehow it all ends up going back to the Emergent Church. They must be the Black Hole of modern Christendom, sucking everything into itself with total destruction. Time for a new Disney film if Ernie Borgnine is up for it.

David said...

Excellent post, Frank.

Jesus Christ bought me with a purpose in mind, not just so He could hang out with me in heaven.

Stefan said...

Tent stakes? Hmmm.... I prefer to think of these as Tabernacle stakes, helping to lift up the Tent of Meeting, the House of God.

lordodamanor said...

Matthew 10:5-15

Mark 6:7-12

Luke 9:1-6

Matthew 10:40-42

Maybe you can interact with the mercy vs gospel ideas in these Scriptures and elswhere.

To what extent, I guess is the question, to which we are to demonstrate the Kingdom? The above verses would seem to indicate that there are limits. When Jesus fed the five-thousand, he set limits. My first faltering sermon was based upon Mat 10-42. My main point was that I had no hope of emptying the dam with one cup. That cup was what I was given, however. It was not my job to empty the dam, though I was commanded to do so, one cup at a time. Too often it appears that we do not understand the delimiters. When the Lord's says that if we have two cloaks give one to him who has none, there are built in limitations. The balance then would seem to fall along the lines that first importance is given to the Gospel, secondly to the care of the needs immediate. To the extent that it can be accomplished we may, having the world's goods do for the poor(world) as we will. It is not like an assembly diagram, if and when followed will produce a tricycle (if all the parts are there). There are no diagrams. Still, we must count the cost and clearly define the purpose of any out reach for the spread of the Gospel.

Thanks to those who pointed out that vocation is not just outreach programs and missions but the full gammut of life occupations. It is our job to carry our cup whereever we go.

Preson said...

I think that what you might possibly be missing, is that the word "salvation" in the scriptures does not always refer to "saving from hell (or even separation from God)". Many times it is referring to salvation from an enemy, or oppression, or being in bondage...etc.
We often read the word "salvation" as simply our modern view of being saved from hell, but quite often we misinterpret the scriptures when we do that.
I've read Most of Mclarens works, as well as Mcarthur. Both sides take things to extremes, one side saying that Jesus cared primarily about life here, and the other saying "Jesus never tackled ANY social issues while he was here" (I still can't believe Mcarthur would say something like that).
I choose to take my "Citizen of the kingdom of the Lord" status to disassociate myself with either political side because neither side will really further Gods kingdom in any way, and I hold no dual citizenship. Let's not get too "entangled with the affairs of this world", and that's just what many of the politicos on both sides of the christian religion are doing.
peace!

Kristine said...

"Yes: preach a salvation from sin which delivers from the final judgment, but live here and now for the sake of demonstrating that Kingdom which is to come."

I liked this closing thought, in particular.

stratagem said...

Common "Bunny Trails" pursued by the Kingdom in Heaven Only crowd:
*Heaven

Common "Bunny Trails" pursued by the Kingdom-on-Earth crowd:
*Pacifism
*Environmentalism (w/the emphasis on "mental")
*Socialism
*Tolerance (actually, standing for as little as possible)
*mysticism

...I think I'd rather err on being in the first group.

philness said...

preson,

Gods people are saved from Gods wrath period. What are you saved from?

centuri0n said...

preson:

I'm not sure you disagree with what I actually wrote -- I think you just want to be contrary.

Let me ask this as specifically as possible: given that what you say about "salvation" is true -- that there is all kinds of saving in Christ -- how does that overturn the idea that missionary agencies ought to not preach a salvation to heaven without a kingdom on Earth?

Mike Riccardi said...

Stratagem, that was great. You got a good chuckle out of me, and it's a wonderful point.

lordodamanor said...

If you have time: http://timmybrister.com/2007/11/14/ajith-fernando-on-evangelism-and-social-action/

Tim said...

Benjamin,

Actually, I meant that it took me a moment of parsing to figure out whether your comment was an insult:

"In general, the quality is excellent here at Pyro. But, I honestly believe you guys can do even better; this post and others are the living example of that."

I guess I'm slow; my mind saw "in general, the quality is good, but..." and "you can do better". :)

MadTownGuy said...

Ralph Winter’s “Kingdom on earth” is a defined term in the parlance of the promoters of the New Apostolic Reformation, and Ralph Winter‘s connection to that movement is clearly known. It is taken by him to mean a government, both in the ecclesiastical and political senses of the word, and it is the chief aim of Winter and his close associate from Fuller Seminary, C. Peter Wagner. So when he uses that term he means the establishment of a hierarchical structure of apostles in the church and in the marketplace, along with prophets who do vision casting and spiritual warriors à la Joel’s Army who will promote their agenda in each apostle’s territorial or professional sphere of influence. Their highest goal is not the salvation of souls but the transformation of society. The living out of Christ’s life in us is done only as a means to an end, to promote the establishment of the kingdom, without which (in their view) the end time revival, and the return of Christ, will be delayed. This is what drives their methods which include spiritual mapping, intercessory prayer (as they define it), city-church movements and calls to unity while disregarding, or overtly disrespecting, sound doctrine.

Winter’s emphasis is on not merely reaching individuals for Christ but people groups, on its face not a bad approach; but when you put it into the context of “kingdom” as defined in Winter’s missiological view the actual goal is to influence the culture (=society) - and at that, by placing strategic people in strategic places so that when decisions are made they go the way of the apostolic organization.

Here is one of Winter’s statements on the purpose of Christians in the world (emphasis added):
“The Genesis mandate to man to care for life would thus seem to include serious human efforts in collaboration with God to work with Him to restore (to redeem) all perversions of disease or violence in the various forms of life. In this activity we can "Let our light so shine among men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven." (Matt 5:16). This is part of "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Source: http://www.ralphwinter.org/A/view.htm?id=9§ion=4&part=1

In Winter’s view, disease and death are created by Satan to harass God’s creation:
“Thus, the "works of the devil"would seem to include the perversion of the very structure of life at DNA levels. The discovery of thousands of defective genes in the human genome is possibly evidence of demonic activity at the DNA level. Even the violent traits of animals and man may exhibit the same kind of distorting influence at that level.
To do this we may understand the possibility that Satan's angels of darkness, some of them, may be so small as to be capable of tinkering directly with the DNA molecule.”
Source: http://www.ralphwinter.org/A/view.htm?id=9§ion=4&part=1

The upshot is that we must understand how Winter defines his terms to really understand his intent...

centuri0n said...

MadTown:

Let's stipulate that all the real nuttiness in Winter's thinking like "spiritual mapping" is in fact nuttiness.

I'm pretty sure I didn't endorse any of the nuttiness in my post -- you might be able to show me where I did since I was careful to define what I was talking about as I wrote.

How does what I wrote about "Kingdom on Earth" relate to Winter's view of the term? Isn't it actually possible that what Winter does is corrupt useful and vital truths -- and if we define the terms right, we can actually learn something from how those terms ought to be used?

Terry Rayburn said...

Frank,

Not to speak for MadTown -- but I will :) -- I believe he is merely pointing to a perversion of the "now" Kingdom of God which is a fast-growing aberration, the New Apostolic Reformation, which does seek to "establish" or "install" the Kingdom (Dominion Theology).

Contrary to that false teaching, your comment is right on:

*Demonstrating* the kingdom and *establishing* the kingdom or somehow *installing* the kingdom are different things.

We are to *demonstrate* that spiritual kingdom of which we are a part, which Jesus clearly said is "not of this world" (John 18:36). But we are not to "take control" over the earth "for Christ".

MadTownGuy said...

tunmkrnsuHey Centuri0n,

My point in the first post was to point out that Ralph Winter means something totally different than what you were proposing - his aim is much closer to what Terry described in his post.

I absolutely agree with you that living as Kingdom subjects in the here and now is our business as Christians. The pastor of the first church I went to, lo these many years ago, derided any organized efforts by Christians to meet people's physical needs as "painting the railing of a sinking ship." I didn't buy that then nor do I now. But I also don't think it is the church's assigned task to reform society; rather, as souls are redeemed, we all serve Christ and reflect His character as we grow in grace and knowledge. I think that is what you were getting at; I wanted to make it clear that Ralph Winter and his ilk mean something other than that.

Benjamin Nitu said...

@tim

neah, I didn't try to insult them.
Not this time anyway :)

stratagem said...

Not to speak for MadTown -- but I will :) -- I believe he is merely pointing to a perversion of the "now" Kingdom of God which is a fast-growing aberration, the New Apostolic Reformation, which does seek to "establish" or "install" the Kingdom (Dominion Theology).

Nothing new there - just like the Bob Mumford 'kingdom now' hierarchy of the 1970s. Always ends the same way, with abuse of power, resulting disillusionment, and collapse. I watched that one first-hand. This one may be fast-growing, but it will suffer the same fate; has to, in fact.

There are lots of 'Kingdom Now' nuts out there - such as the blowhard revisionists at this website: http://www.kingdomnow.org/95Theses.html
and this one : Ekklesiaproject.org

Stick those in your browser if you'd like an eye-opener with how naive and stupid people can become, with the wrong theology.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Not to be contrary here, but what exactly does Jesus mean when He teaches us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven"? Unless the prayer was for His disciples until His resurrection / ascension only (and if so, why do we still pray it?) we are asking God to conform earth to heaven in some tangible way.

Are we asking for this to be done through the Church, in addition to the Church, or (shudder) despite the Church?

Is this achieved purely through the transformation of individuals, or is there a corporate element beyond the individual? (Remember, for most of Christian history, conversion has typically been by household or tribe, not a purely individual thing.)

What I am trying to get at here is that we sometimes too glibly dismiss the lack of actual, this-worldly change in those that call themselves believers - and in their larger structures (churches, towns, etc.)

Daryl said...

Mark,

You forgot a crucial line in your quote from the Lord's prayer.
"They kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
not "Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven"

Big difference.

The prayer does not imply that God is intending to make earth like heaven, only that his will for earth would be done just as his will for heaven is done.
We have no reason to imagine that, even should the earth get continually worse (as Jesus clearliy indicated it would) and not better, God's will is not being done right now, every day.

We don't need to believe the God's will for heaven is the same as his will for earth in order to believe that his will is being done equally well in both places.

No God will not do his kingdom work without the church (in spite of, no doubt, but that's different). Perhaps without a given apostate denomination, but not without his Church.

As Frank said, our call is to demonstrate the kingdom, not to make it happen. The kingdom comes to lives, and is demonstrated as those lives are lived. The kingdom, being not of this world, does not come to municipalities and corporations.

centuri0n said...

Mark --

What you just posted made me cringe, dude.

┤ Not to be contrary here, but
┤ what exactly does Jesus mean
┤ when He teaches us to pray,
┤ "Thy kingdom come, on earth
┤ as it is in heaven"?

What Jesus taught, Mark, was "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven". That's not presented in a context of restoring Israel or ending the exile: that's presented as a supplication to God as a proper prayer and it points to one's own personal submission to God as sovereign.

Be careful not to overlook context or you'll wind up just like the fundies.

┤ Unless the
┤ prayer was for His disciples
┤ until His resurrection /
┤ ascension only (and if so, why
┤ do we still pray it?) we are
┤ asking God to conform earth to
┤ heaven in some tangible way.

The prayer was, as Jesus said, for "thou", which is to say, "each of you" – so it's not a corporate prayer but a model for private prayer – and this is one of the major difficulties with what you are saying below.

Jesus expresses, in the Scripture, a faith which is both public and private, both individual and corporate, and when we get His statements out of the context of which bellows to which class, we fall apart.

So when "thou" prays "thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven," "thou" art talking about personal obedience and personal confession of God's sovereignty. Any right-minded person who claims to have the faith of Abraham ought to be able to do that much without seeming to invoke ...

... I have a word I want to use here, but it will require a whole post to unravel, so for now I'm going to say "war metaphors".

┤ Are we asking for this to be
┤ done through the Church, in
┤ addition to the Church, or
┤ (shudder) despite the Church?

It's that last one, dude, which really makes me skeert.

┤ Is this achieved purely through
┤ the transformation of
┤ individuals, or is there a
┤ corporate element beyond the
┤ individual? (Remember, for
┤ most of Christian history,
┤ conversion has typically been
┤ by household or tribe, not a
┤ purely individual thing.)

I think that's hogwash – it's a assumption, not a fact, that ancient conversions were implicitly "household" conversations. What do you do with Paul's conversion? How about Timothy's conversion? How about the baptisms at Pentecost? How about what Paul says to Titus about the personal responsibilities of believers? How about the way Paul appeals to personal conversion and change of heart throughout the NT?

Your presupposition is faulty at best. Reconsider it.

┤ What I am trying to get at here
┤ is that we sometimes too glibly
┤ dismiss the lack of actual, this-
┤ worldly change in those that
┤ call themselves believers - and
┤ in their larger structures
┤ (churches, towns, etc.)

I think the other side of that, Mark, is the failure to see that that's not the point of the Gospel. The point of the Gospel is not saving the Roman Empire, or the United States Government, or the EU, or China: the point of the Gospel is to save men who are in the image of God. No culture has a soul. No government is in the Lamb's book of Life. All governments are going to fall before Christ in the final account and the government shall rest on His shoulders.

Does regeneration make men who turn away from sin and toward God? Absolutely. Do those men therefore live justified lives which demonstrate sanctification? No question. Does that mean they have to take over the pinch-points of cultural power to win it over for Christ's use? Where does the Bible say that? It says, in fact, that we are going to look stupid, foolish and disreputable to the world.

There is a consequence of being saved, but it is costly. I think it's dangerous to say that just because some cultures have had great artists who expressed their faith that this is the mandatory result of the Gospel. The first 500 years of the faith changed the world more than those artists did, and those early Christians were paying the price of faith – not living in an alleged "Christendom".

Be careful in over-incorporating the way faith works. It's a mistake that is hard to get over.

Stefan said...

There were enough individual, non-household conversions in the early church (at least in Corinth) for Paul to write a fair bit about the resulting "mixed" (believing/non-believing) marriages in 1 Corinthians 7.

As for postmillenialism, it seems to lead to some serious diversions from the Gospel. Apart from Reconstructionism and Dominionism on the right, there's also a century of the social gospel movement and something tantamount to works-based salvation on the left.

lordodamanor said...

The Our Father states that He is in heaven. Now get this Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Who's in heaven, Our Father whose will is not separate from Him. These are not petitional statements. They are doxology, perfect word of praise. So as it was said, this could be paraphrased, Thy Kingdom will come on Earth as it is in heaven, or Thy Will of Thy Kindom comes on Earth just as it does in Heaven.

As to the second query of individual versus corporate salvation, I think you mix two distinct ideas. First there is the corporate body of Christ which is elect as the Church, but it is made up of individual members. The other corporate or tribal, salvation that you mention, I only know of in a Classical Dispensational sense. The Scripture does not grant national salvation of Israel, and Paul divides Israel between the "not all are," and Israel with the circumcision of the heart not made by human hands, Truel Israel. Beyond that we have OT testimony and New that everyman stands individually accountable:

2 Corinthians 5:10

Ezekiel 33

Mark B. Hanson said...

Mea culpa on the misquote (2x + maxima).

Rick Potter said...

CenturiØn,

Concerning this post (and maybe some of the thoughts you've had in some of you Church series posts), I'm wondering what you think would happen (concerning Kingdom perspectives) if we, as a people, aligned ourselves to the commitment aspect of our faith such as David (and the assembly) in 1 Chronicles 29 (especially vs. 10 and beyond). I'm not sure my thoughts are correct here but it seems to me that this is one of the strongest places in the Old Testament that adds insight (intertextuality, if you will) to this current subject.

And, I agree with "even so" and have saved and bookmarked a few of the quotes in the notes section of my Libronix (Dan).

Rick

Melissa said...

I would only add Ascension to your death and resurrection language. Christ did not dematerialize, and Hebrews lays out Christ's continual high priestly duty, without the ongoing sacrifice. One cannot deal with the Kingdom on earth unless one looks to heaven for help.

I think the egoism involved with bringing-in-the-Kingdom theology makes for programmatic religion and self-reliant doctrine. Our strength is from the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom is God's prerogative.

Saint Christopher said...

Right on. If we could only get that! To balance the Great Commission as the "ultimate priority" (MacArthurite- guilty as charged), while not abandoning but embracing the Great Commandment as a lifestyle...

How our faith would "adorne the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect."