Friday, January 25, 2008

A Footnote

On my last post, I made the statement, "We must face facts. We will never impose the Kingdom of God on this world by force, and if it ever happens that we could actually do it by the democratic process and majority vote, we would find that we hardly needed to." I am concerned that the phrase, "We will never impose the Kingdom of God on this world by force," could be taken to mean, "I wish that we could impose the Kingdom of God by force, but alas, that is an unfortunate impossibility." That desire is certainly attributed to Evangelical Christians by many (Margaret Atwood is a prime example). Not only do I repudiate that idea, but I think that it is incomprehensible if one has a proper understanding of the Kingdom.

I'll leave a thoroughgoing analysis of the Kingdom to Scot McKnight. The most important thing is that God's Kingdom is not a set of laws or social conditions that could ever be imposed. The Kingdom is composed of people who freely receive Jesus' grace and are transformed by it. While it is true that a mass of people who were transformed by Jesus' grace would have profound effects on the society of which they were a part (witness the Christianizing of the Roman Empire), the reverse attempt to transform society by fiat, without the inward work of Jesus' grace on individuals, would merely create a cruel facade resembling only slightly the effects that true inward transformation of people would produce (uh, witness the Christianizing of the Roman Empire). Indeed, the world described by Atwood would be as horrifying to most Evangelicals--more so, in some ways--as it would to non-Christians.

So not only cannot the Kingdom be imposed by force; the Kingdom by its very nature is antithetical to the idea of imposition by force. The King, after all, had force imposed on Him, with tragic, if temporary, results. Our job is not to emulate the crucifiers, but rather the Crucified.

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