Kingdoms of our age...


So I have been doing some thinking lately about some of the things Greg Boyd has articulated recently. I have also been teaching the last couple of months on reformation and Geneva. As one might assume, reflecting on reformation today makes you ask all kinds of questions about the Kingdom of God. In this context, I offer these reflections with links to some additional context.

a. Boyd's interview with CNN back in August seemed to communicate to me something of a removal of Christianity from within politics in America (and abroad). While I know Greg didn't think Jesus told people how to vote, Greg would also have to acknowledge that Jesus most certainly had a political message for the people of his day and how this informed their lives in the kingdom of God and of Caesar.

b. The reformers in Geneva were very much about placing reformation at the heart of the city. And I think, living in a day and age of pre- rapture thinking, the reformers were very centered on getting the good news of the kingdom of God into every sector of society. People's work became their way of serving God; church became one of the biggest advocates of not merely salvation, but education, and personal responsibility for neighbor and family. For sure, Calvin and others were interpreting for their age what the kingdom of God would look like in Geneva; thus, the way that the reformation happened was shaped by the context they were in. It was about nation and city building, not merely 'church' building. For them, the church was meant to be the heart of the society and this was meant to be good news.

c. Recently, I watched the movie, 'Kingdom of Heaven' staring Orlando Bloom. It was a very interesting movie with some good themes. One of the themes that seemed to be prevalent through out the movie was this wresting with doing the 'will of God'. Much like my recent 'Tuesday is for Thomas' post, Bloom, his Priest, and his father all seemed to understand the doing of the 'will of God' in terms of what made sense, 'to head and heart'. That if what they perceived with their eyes was a vast wasteland, where the people had no water, to 'do what is right' was to get water for the people and to resotre the land to health.

However, as the movie deals with the Crusades in a little different way, it also brought up the theme of religious exchange between Christians and Muslims. On the one side, you have a group who believe the world is full of different religions and therefore, the 'kingdom of heaven' (or as the movie keeps pointing out=Jersusalem) looks like those groups living together in peace no matter which group (Christian or Muslim) is in power. On the other hand, you have the voices of those who think that the Christian or Muslim worldview is the most pure view and that all others should be suppressed in the name of that rule. For these people, this is the way that the 'kingdom of heaven' should be ruled. Sound familiar? And I am not just talking about Jerusalem..

For me, all three of these things seem to bring together major elements of a real wrestling which I believe many of us are doing in concern to the Kingodm of God (as opposed to the kingdom of Heaven or Jerusalem). For Greg, I hear 'take Christianity to the outer edges of politics', and yet, something in me (and many of us) believes that at the heart of Christianity there is, as Rob Bell says, 'good news for everyone'. I read the polarizing thoughts of many on the need for Christianity (or Islam) to run to the center of politics in order to preserve the history of countries and i think, but does your view include space for the now diversity of people and faith or, does it impose a uniform(ed) way of being? And while i can not speak for the Muslim world, I must also think and believe that not all leaders want a strickly Muslim state. There are some who think that the kingdom of God established on earth must have boundaries which are porous. That in some way, the kingdom of God being established here on earth must be the central force in society in order to restore order to the chaos which is called the world in 2007.

At the end of the day, the people of this restoration must in some way seek to love differently regardless of their faith. To lead differently. To be open and responsible, and courageous to defend the hopeless and helpless of every religion and people group. To seek the best for all humanity, to love their neighbor, and to proclaim freedom to the captives. To say to abusive, mono-cultural regimes, 'look into the faces of your society, are your policies good news for all? Look into the faces of the sick, have your policies given them hope? Look at the wayfarer, those who have gone astray, do you have good news for them about life in the age to come? Does your Christianity, (or Islam) give them a path for restoration of their whole self, including their neighbor. Is it good news?'

These are our challenges...this is our age...let us reflect together and restore the good news to the Good Kingdom!

Joshua Case