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For the love of God and the love of others, read this book
on December 28, 2012
Morgan and Peterson's newest installment in the Theology in Community series is a comprehensive look at one of the most prominent themes in the Bible--much of the Old Testament is in the context of kings and kingdoms, but God is the King of kings, and when God the Son comes into the `domain of Satan,' his chief message is the proclamation of the Kingdom of God (heaven). This book is highly accessible: technical language is kept to a minimum and explained whenever used. The perspectives of the authors are varying in context (OT, NT, Ethics, etc.) but unified in overall vision of what the Kingdom of God is and how it necessarily impacts the daily lives of all people (not just believers).
(Series Thesis: Theology in community aims to promote clear thinking on and godly responses to historic and contemporary theological issues....Theology in community also seeks to demonstrate that theology should be done in teams.)
Book thesis: It seeks to capture a fuller understanding of the kingdom of God than any one of the five conceptions above [classic liberal, social gospel, liberation theology, reconstructionist, postmodernist]. How? By adopting historical, biblical, theological, and ethical perspectives, it attempts to move closer to a comprehensive exposition of the kingdom.
Does the book fit in with the series thesis? Undoubtedly. Does it accomplish its own thesis? Most certainly. After reading this book, I have a foundational understanding of the kingdom of God and its vast-reaching implications. I can look at each of the five views surveyed in the introduction (named briefly above) , and explain to you what I think they have right and why as well as what I think they have wrong and why. This book is more than just a critique of other views of the kingdom, however--in fact, criticism is nearly absent. The authors are much more focused on constructive argumentation--building from the ground of Scripture to a theology for the church today. This demeanor is encouraging for learning theology as well as living out the kingdom ethic espoused by the book. As with all books in this series, there is an historical overview of the issue at hand, a great deal of writing given to Scripture itself in both Old and New Testament, discussion of related theological issues (herein miracles and eschatology), and how this informs our life in the church.
Compared to other books in the Theology in Community series, a bit more practical
Compared to other books on "Kingdom," more comprehensive, less polemic
The possible improvements are few:
1. There are some moments that are a bit redundant, but the little that was present is remarkable for the number of contributors; on the other hand, if there was no repetition, one might wonder if the contributors were even aware of the full presentation given by the book as a whole. The amount in this volume then is easily forgivable.
2. Each of the authors uses a different way of outlining/heading each section. This would probably not matter at all to many, but as I outline books as I read them, it gave me pause as I considered how to outline each chapter.
If formatting and slight repetition are the only areas for improvement, it is needless to say that I can recommend this book without reserved to any thoughtful Christian, and more specifically to Pastors, Parachurch Leaders, Government leaders, and anyone given to a particular eschatological or cultural position. However, allow me to end my review with particular examples of things I have learned or developed because of this book:
The Kingdom of God is a robust theme throughout all of Scripture, but it is not only an esoteric theological topic, but it has great implications on my life today. First, Jesus is King and will bring his kingdom fully upon the earth in the end; I can trust and rest assured in his loving and wise rule. Second, I have great responsibility as a member in God's kingdom: I must behave with kingdom ethic toward others, seeking to foster the image of God in them by the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom and by creating contexts in which they flourish as humans in the image of God; the external kingdom of God (peace on earth and recognition of God's reign) expands everywhere the internal kingdom of God grows (in righteousness, justice, faith, love). Third, although the Kingdom is both already, and not yet, Christ the King exists in eternity and is to him that I pray and ask even for proleptic blessings of the kingdom--he is mighty and able to answer my requests, though he may not for the sake of his Kingdom (for he will not forsake his kingdom).