Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Myth of a Christian Nation, Part 4

Chapter 3 of The Myth of a Christian Nation is a very biblical look at the Kingdom of God, which is at the heart of Jesus' teaching. Here is how Greg summarizes the Kingdom of God:

Though the world as a whole was and remains part of the domain in which Satan is king, in Jesus the domain in which God is king has been introduced into the world. The central goal of Jesus’ life was to plant the seed of this new kingdom so that, like a mustard seed, it would gradually expand. Eventually that kingdom would end the rule of Satan and reestablish God, the Creator of the world, as its rightful ruler (Matt. 13:31-31). In other words, Jesus came to destroy the cosmic “power over” lord and establish the kingdom of God upon the earth (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). Jesus planted the seed of the kingdom of God with his ministry, death, and resurrection and then gave to the church, the body of all who submit to his lordship, the task of embodying and living out this distinct kingdom…We collectively are his “second” body, as it were, through which he continues to do what he did in his “first” body…As we allow Christ’s character to be formed in us—as we think and act like Jesus—others come under the loving influence of the kingdom and eventually their own hearts are won over to the King of Kings. The reign of God is thus established in their hearts, and the kingdom of God expands. That process…will culminate in the return of the King accompanied by legions of angels, at which time Satan’s rule will end, the earth will be purged of all that is inconsistent with God’s rule, and his kingdom of love will be established once and for all.”
pp 29-30

Boyd writes a long chapter talking about the intricacies of this kingdom and shares several stories and illustrations from scripture to make his point. His presentation of the Kingdom of God is quite beautiful. The only other thing I'll say, though, to wrap up this chapter, is to post the list that Boyd ends the chapter with, of the primary contrasts between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the world.

1. "A Contrast of Trusts: The kingdom of the world trusts the power of the sword, while the kingdom of God trusts the power of the cross." It is "power over" vs "power under."

2. "A Contrast of Aims: The kingdom of the world seeks to control behavior, while the kingdom of God seeks to transform lives from the inside out."

3. "A Contrast of Scopes: The kingdom of the world is intrinsically tribal in nature, and is heavily invested in defending, if not advancing, one's own people-group, one's nation, one's ethnicity, one's state, one's religion, one's ideologies, or one's political agendas. That is why it is a kingdom characterized by perpetual conflict. The kingdom of God, however, is intrinsically universal, for it is centered on simply loving as God loves...The kingdom-of-God participant has by love transcended the tribal and nationalistic parameters of whatever version of the kingdom of the world they find themselves in."

4. "A Contrast of Responses: The kingdom of the world is intrinsically a tit-for-tat kingdom; its motto is 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'...But kingdom-of-God participants carry the cross, not the sword. We, thus, aren't ever to return evil with evil, violence with violence...Far from seeking retaliation, we seek the well being of our enemy."

5. "A Contrast of Battles: The kingdom of the world has earthly enemies and, thus, fights earthly battles; the kingdom of God, however, by definition has no earthly enemies, for its disciples are committed to loving 'their enemies,' thereby treating them as friends, their 'neighbors'." There is warfare in the kingdom of God, but it is against powers and principalities and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12) *Quotations from this list come from pages 47 and 48 of Myth...

Now that we have the contrast adequately outlined, we will continue on with chapter 3 and the rest of the argument next time.

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