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Nov 07, 2007

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Peggy

It seems to me that the "already" things we do today are the seeds of the "not yet" things that continue on until that final "city" becomes reality.

This reminds me greatly of J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful perspective of humanity as "sub-creators" under God being the key way we represent the "imago Dei." It makes sense that the "imago Dei" would "work" itself out materially as well as spiritually (wholistically, that is) as the unified manifestation of the "missio Dei."

It's a package deal....

Michael W. Kruse

Well said!

RonMcK

Michael
Ladd said that the Kingdom of God is "already, but not yet".
Jesus said the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Jesus never said the kingdom is not yet.
Ron

Michael W. Kruse

Now Ron, which authority are you going to trust? Ladd or Jesus? :)

Seriously, I think the "already, not yet" language is based on more than Jesus' words. Sort of like the idea of Trinity seems to be present but not explicitly stated, I think others see this a valid formualtion of NT teaching.

Do you have a different take?

RonMck

Michael
The view that the Kingdom is “not yet” and will come when Jesus returns in power is the last residue of dispensationalism. The truth is that the kingdom described in the New Testament can be established by returning in power, because there are only two ways that he could do it.
1. Human nature could be changed so that we lose the freedom to sin, but it would become a kingdom of automatons.
2. Jesus could use force to coerce unwilling men to accept his authority, but it would cease to be the voluntary kingdom.
In either case, the resulting kingdom would be much diminished from the Kingdom described in the New Testament.

The only way for this kingdom to come is for people to freely choose to accept Jesus authority. That can only happen through the Holy Spirit renewing human hearts. God has set things up so that can happen now. Jesus had to go away so that could happen.

(This is the same contrast as the one between the free market and the socialist forcing people to be good.)

The accepted view that the Kingdom is not yet, is actually a belief (unbelief) that the Holy Spirit cannot do it, but Jesus can. This is a distorted form of Trinitarianism, where there is one God in two and half persons.

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks for the elaboration Ron.

My context for "already, not yet" is historic Reformed Christianity. I don't know if he originated it but Walter Rauschenbusch of "social gospel" fame is who the phrase is often associated with. I've always heard it in the sense that Kingdom is here, and like yeast in the dough, it is filling all creation. The early 20th century Rauschenbusch crowd were convined they would fully usher in the reign of Christ. This was going to be the Chrisitan Century as in "Christian Century" magazine. Historially, Reformed theology has held that there would be a growing infusion of the Kingdom of God but there would be sharp juncture at which time Christ would enter to make establish his reign. Something akin to these two perspectives has always been implicit in the "already, not yet framing" I've heard. It is Dispensationalist who I find are usually the most adamantly opposed to such a framing.

I don't see anything in the "already, not yet" that says God will not accomplish what he set out to do.

samlcarr

Michael, I have some questions on your sense of an overall flow from garden/forest eventually to city. First the reading of 'dominion' and of 'subdue', the meanings that we can ascribe to these ideas seem to come from an agrarian setting rather than from a forest/garden/orchard setting which is what we would need to seek to be sure that we were not being diachronic in our understanding.

Secondly, the instructions originally given to mankind are strongly modified by the fall and by the set of provisos that God then pronounced.

A clear implication is that while we may still desire to have dominion and to subdue as originally intended, our actual ability to fulfil these desires must now be quite limited or even corrupted by our falleness.

I think it's dangerous to then draw out a realised eschatology based on this.

We have indeed continued to fill, and perhaps even overfill the earth and at the same time we have wrested some control over this entropy-filled existence by harnessing science and converting this control into mechanical and now knowledge driven technologies.

The result is that we have lost contact with the ground and have mostly moved into cities. Now, cities are amazing things, they always have been, but is this really the direction that eschatology tells us that we have to go? Are we not here in danger of replacing what we are, what we were created to be, with a vision based on our own proud progress? Are we not tending again to Babel?

Travel this course for much longer and there will come a time when our creations in turn make us redundant. What will happen then?

samlcarr

Apologies - sorry for the double post!

Michael W. Kruse

Don’t worry about the double posts. Sometimes my own blog gets into a wrestling match with me over whether I’m human or machine. I can’t tell myself half the time whether I posted or not.

I understand the mandates to rule and have dominion in Gen. 1 to be mandates that implicitly but strongly teach that the earth is God’s and our rule and dominion is as subjects of the one true Lord. As his subjects we would have the heart and mind of God in all we do. To be the imago Dei means to think and act in complete accord with the authentic one who’s image we bear. So pre-fall dominion was not absolute and I don’t see a change in our call from pre-fall to post-fall. What I see is a prophecy that our attempts to be over creation, even in a righteous sense, will be continually frustrated. Holistic human redemption and sanctification means the recovery of co-creative productive stewardship.

I’m struggling against very common tendency to gravitate two one of two poles. One pole is humanity as supreme and justified in doing whatsoever they please with material world entrusted to them. The other extreme is humanity as pure caretakers placed here to keep everything as absolutely pristine as possible with minimal or no disturbance. The natural world is both the object of our work and our habitat. Humanity is part of nature and therefore what we create is part of nature. In that, sense cities are a “natural” occurrence. Yet as part of nature we most be integrated with nature both for nature’s well being and ours.

As to cities, cities are evolving and continuing to do so. I have a friend who as an urban developer who is passionate about creating living and working facilities that don’t dwarf the human scale and incorporate the natural world into their design. The New Jerusalem image is of a garden-city. I’ve been emphasizing the fact that the narrative ends in a city here because of the tendency I see to deprecate human labor and contributions to the material world. I’m pressing those who are inclined to be dismissive of human economic enterprise to reconsider. Ultimately what I’m inviting us to do is fully embrace the garden and the city, and live within the tension that creates for our considerations of stewardship.

Peggy

Sorry to be late to the conversation...but I had a thought on Ron's already/not yet concern. He stated: "The only way for this kingdom to come is for people to freely choose to accept Jesus authority." This is precisely how I understand already/not yet as it concerns the Kingdom. It is already here in those who freely choose Christ as Lord...but not yet fully realized in that there are still those who have yet to hear and choose.

Not being dispensationalist myself, I don't presume to know exactly how the end of the story will play...but I do know that Christ is Victor and God's plan is accomplished.

Michael W. Kruse

I'd agree that the kingdom is here and now but I think even if every person on the planet became a Christian the Kingdom would not have fully arrived. I think the Kingdom of God is about a King, a dominion (both in terms of a place and a people), and as a way of being/relating. That last issue is a big one. My take is that there must be a transformation performed by God that will complete the Kingdom.

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