- Paperback: 142 pages
- Publisher: Eerdmans; Revised edition (May 8, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802839967
- ISBN-13: 978-0802839961
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem Paperback – May 8, 2002
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"This book is a stimulus to Christian faithfulness in this present world"
From the Back Cover
Widely respected for his perspectives on faith in the modern world, Richard J. Mouw stands at the forefront of the Christ and culture debate. In "When the Kings Come Marching In here revised and updated Mouw explores the religious transformation of culture as it is powerfully pictured in Isaiah 60.
In Isaiah 60 the prophet envisions the future transformation of the city of Jerusalem, a portrayal of the Holy City that bears important similarities to the John's vision of the future in Revelation 21 and 22. Mouw examines these and other key passages of the Bible, showing how they provide a proper pattern for cultural involvement in the present.
Mouw identifies and discusses four main features of the Holy City: (1) the wealth of the nations is gathered into the city; (2) the kings of the earth march into the city; (3) people from many nations are drawn to the city; and (4) light pervades the city. In drawing out the implications of these striking features, Mouw treats a number of relevant cultural issues, including Christian attitudes toward the processes and products of commerce, technology, and art; the nature of political authority; race relations; and the scope of the redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ.
The volume culminates in an invaluable discussion of how Christians should live in the modern world. Mouw argues that believers must go beyond a narrow understanding of the individual pilgrim's progress to a view of the Christian pilgrimage wherein believers work together toward solving the difficult political, social, and economic problems of our day.
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As a signal of his (and this world’s) destination, Mouw writes early on that …
‘Isaiah 60 records a vision of a magnificent city. In it the prophet is speaking to the city, calling attention to various aspects of its appearance. His tone is joyful, his mood excited. This city is not like any other that he has seen among the products of human efforts at urbanization; it is a city built by God. Sometimes Isaiah addresses the city in the present tense; at other points he employs the language of future fulfillment. Though the city has not yet been established, he is certain that it will someday arrive. It is clearly a transformed city. Many of the people and objects from Isaiah’s own day appear within its walls, but they have assumed different roles, they perform new functions.’
'Transformation' of what God has made and what has fallen from its intended purpose is a core feature of Mouw’s vision of history’s destiny. His argument broadens out beyond exposition of one chapter of an Old Testament book’s sixty-six to offer a richly traced counterproposal to skinny Christian views of human fulfillment as ‘dying and going to heaven’.
Mouw wants to know—as apparently did the Isaianic tradition—what will become of all of this, not just of me and of people who believe things like the ones I believe.
The result, in this reader’s assessment, is a stirring vision in which all nations bring their best stuff, the cultural, religious and existential product to the beautification of a city that is resplendent in both beauty and justice.
Mouw sees the walled but gates-flung-open city of Isaianic vision as something of a metaphor for this world when it has been duly refined, purged—again, transformed. It stands along more familiar descriptions of the same that travel under the title ‘new heavens and new earth’. The author avoids narrow definitions of ‘how things will be’ that fail to recognize the vivid power of imagistic description. Yet for all this Mouw never distances himself from the vision’s concreteness, whether in its beauty, its justice, its joyfulness, or its inclusion of surprising agents and elements.
This delightfully readable book has retained its value since its genesis in the early 1970s and its revision at the onset of a new century. It deserves strong recommendation still, particularly to potential readers who are interested in Old Testament prophetic vision, biblical theology, missional eschatology, or hope in a context of hopelessness.
The heart of the book is an exposition of Isaiah 60 and the hopeful expectations of the prophet, not only for his people, but for the whole world. As many have noted, the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. And Isaiah 60 sits right in the middle of that developmental journey: the transformation of culture.
It reminds us, firstly, of the scope of God's redemption: that it is broad and all-encompassing. Against pietistic, spiritualistic views that "only things with `souls'" matter in salvation - views better seen as "incomplete" rather than blatantly "false" - Mouw affirms God's care for the totality of human culture (21, 120). However sinful they might be, all the "languages, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organizations, inherited artifacts, technical processes, and values" of human civilizations comprise "the fullness of the cosmos for which Christ died" (113). What Christ is reconciling to himself in the present and the future is nothing less than the Imago Dei itself, "parceled out" among and "collectively possessed" by all the peoples of the world (84).
Secondly, "When the Kings Come Marching In" deepens our understanding of the restorative or reformative manner of God's redemptive work in culture. In light of the "cheap grace" that simplistic "Christ of Culture" positions may sometimes smack of, as a good Reformed theologian of culture Mouw wisely emphasizes both the "radicality of sin" presently pervading human relations and institutions, as well as on the judgment that pagan culture stands under as a result (68, 31). This judgment, however, is a "purifying," rather than "annihilating" one: what is destroyed are not the "ships of Tarshish" or the "cedars of Lebanon" per se, but their "former function" (29, 30). Once employed for idolatrous, rebellious, or vainglorious ends, "the wealth of the nations" is to be "cleansed" and "healed" through God's work both now and in the future, that they might be "freed for service to the Lord and his people" (32, 30). In this light, the book can help us develop a more holistic appreciation of Christ's tripartite role in culture: as source, judge, and healer (114).
The third and perhaps most important thing we can learn concerns the provisional and even restrained nature of God's redemptive work in culture in the present, and how this informs the Christian's attitude towards participation in cultural activity. Though somewhat surprising given the cultural mandate theme underlying the book, two points that Mouw concludes with presented a challenge to my existing theology of culture (42). Firstly, even as the Christian community "ought to function as a model of, a pointer to, what life will be like in the Eternal City of God" as it "[shares] in "God's restless yearning for the renewal of the cosmos," Mouw takes care to stress that "there is no clear biblical command to Christians to `transform culture' in any general way" (93, 111, 129). Whatever cultural reformation attempted must not be done in any "grandiose or triumphalistic manner," but ought rather to be the secondary, natural corollary of obeying what the Bible does plainly command: to alleviate and identify with the suffering of the afflicted, the same suffering that Christ himself bore when he was rejected and despised "outside the camp" (129, 130, 125).
And this is the second corrective that the closing paragraphs of the book offers. If Mouw's tone seems characterized by a certain reservation towards the unequivocal embrace of cultural engagement, it can be traced to a fidelity towards not only the general witness of Scripture, but also the very genre of Isaiah 60 itself: it is a "fore-telling prophecy," with its third stage of fulfillment (with the first two already accomplished in the Old and New Testaments times) remaining necessarily incomplete during this present evil age (9, 87-88). Contrary to any premature or over-realized eschatological idealism, we see that "God's ownership over the `filling' must be vindicated," but only "at the end of history" (37). Until then, Christians are still called to "diligent activity" and labor, while finding comfort (especially when "efforts are less than completely successful - as they usually are") in the trust that God will fulfill the vision of Isaiah 60 "in his own time" (45, 131). Besides reminding Christians of the fact that they are ultimately citizens of a city that is to come, Mouw's conclusions affirm the need for a humble, patient awareness of divine sovereignty in all cultural activity. Paraphrasing Paul, we might say that we ought continue working in culture with reverent "fear and trembling," for it is God who works and wills in our enculturated lives "according to his good purpose," whether now or in the future (Philippians 2:13).