Does Kingdom = Church?
Great question…and far too deep to tackle in a comment. But I would say this, God’s kingdom permeates every sphere of live, both cult and culture, but the primary locus of the kingdom, the actual spiritual-geographical boundaries of the empire, the place where soldiers are trained and sent, is the Church. Of course, the very place we’re sent is outside the walls as ambassadors, realizing the kingdom of God, his rule and reign on earth, visible everywhere. However, I would contend that the special operation of God’s spirit through his word and sacrament happens when the Church is assembled. There would be not such entity as a ‘Christian used car salesman,’ but instead a loving and trust worthy used car salesman who’s life as a believer is governed by the kingdom principals outworked in the church. What do the rest of you say??? This is really an area where I need to study more.
A quick answer, without really thinking long about it (that’s what we’re supposed to do, right?):
Not exactly. The visible Church is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God in this age. It is not identical with his kingdom and rule, since ‘kingdom’ is mainly denoting the rule of a sovereign. Yes, God is reigning over the church, i.e. the spiritual kingdom, and the world, i.e. the kingdom of men/earthly kingdoms, right now. We just need to be sure to say that he rules over each differently and for different ends, and that to confuse the ways in which he governs each realm is incredibly dangerous for both church and state, Christian and non-Christian.
With that, back to work.
Matt and Greg,
I think I would say that the kingdom of God is not the visible church. Invisible church? Yes. Wherever Jesus reigns with spiritual authority, there the kingdom is. We all know there is a now and not yet tension here that is all over the NT. He reigns over all sovereignly… yes. But there is a distinction between this reigning and those who are participants in the kingdom of God. We have to admit that there are many in our visible church who are not members or participants in this kingdom.
Jesus speaks so much about the kingdom of God in the Gospels. This issues seems like a pretty big deal. But for some reason it seems like we don’t talk about it that much in the church circles I have been exposed to.
I could be totally wack here. These thoughts are just want I have been thinking about lately in light of having to read through the NT in large chunks for a class I am taking. Derek Webb brought this up in the interview I linked to on my personal blog. Check it out.
I think that the Church is a foretaste of the currently coming Kingdom.
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