In sitting down to write this post, I’m beginning to realize that “Theology 101′ is something of a misnomer. In the first place, basic classes tend to shy away from controversial topics, at least in theory. If I actually taught a class with that title, I’d probably work through the Apostle’s Creed or something else with which (for the most part) all Christians would agree. Maybe I’ll do that someday, but it’s not what I’m thinking about right now. What’s more, the title implies a sort of authoritative seat of judgment, from which I proclaim disconnected theological truths. As I’ve said before, if you came to listen at my feet as I made such proclamations, we would both be fools.
However, there are certain theological convictions I have arrived at which are extremely important for how I approach God and His Word. As I’ve been thinking a lot about them, I’d love the opportunity to put them in writing and help explain and explore their impact. The kingdom of God is one such topic; the way we understand the distinction of law and gospel is another. So with that clarified, I’d like to offer some thoughts on this oft-debated topic. Continue reading
Note: This is the first of what may become a series of posts on basic Christian doctrine.
I was visiting with my mother today, and as is her wont, she asked me an off-the-cuff theological question: what is the kingdom of God. Those of you who know me realize that I think this is a huge theme in the Bible, especially the gospels, but her question made me realize that I spend far more time talking about its importance and centrality than actually defining what it is. So, without further ado, here’s as simple an explanation as I can give to an enormous (and controversial) topic.
The easiest place to start is with the word kingdom itself. The English here can be misleading, because when we hear the word “kingdom” we immediately think about a place. However, in greek, the word for kingdom is a verbal noun. That is, it is a noun derived from the Greek verb “to rule” or “to reign.” Thus we could accurately translate “the kingdom of God” as “the reign of God.” I realize I just made one of my least-favorite ploys and went for the greek, but this is one of those times I really think it clarifies a lot for us. The kingdom of God is all that over which God rules and reigns. Continue reading