“…while there is an inseparable relationship between the Kingdom and the church, they are not to be identified…The Kingdom is God’s reign and the realm in which the blessings of his reign are experienced; the church is the fellowship of those who have experienced God’s reign and entered into the enjoyment of its blessings. The Kingdom creates the church, works through the church, and is proclaimed in the world by the church. There can be no Kingdom without a church – those who have acknowledged God’s rule – and there can be no church without God’s Kingdom; but they remain two distinguishable concepts: the rule of God and the fellowship of men and women.” George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament

This point is probably redundant by now considering I’ve pointed to Ridderbos and Vos on it, but as Ladd suggests as well the Kingdom of God and the Church share a close, inextricable relationship but not an identical one.

The main point of focus for this blog post I wanted to look at was this part of Ladd’s statement, “The Kingdom creates the church, works through the church, and is proclaimed in the world by the church.” In order to look at this I will try and answer these two questions; What does it mean that the Kingdom of God is proclaimed in the world by the Church? and just what is the nature of the Proclamation?

The Kingdom of God as the focal point of the Churches proclamation:

  • What the world ought to be hearing from the Church is her retelling of the redemptive-historical story of scripture more than just (but also) a gospel message focused upon individual sin or personal responsibility. In other words there must be both a corporate and individual telling of the good news of the Kingdom, rather than merely an individual challenge to repent and believe.
  • The Church ought to have a cosmic concern in her application of the Kingdom of God theology in the social and cultural sphere’s she exists within. In other words the old adage, “Don’t discuss religion or politics at the dinner table.” Can’t be lived out by the church. Culture, politics, society, religion, etc. are all Kingdom relevant topics. Yet there ought to be a Christo-telic deminsion to the churches handlings of these topics.
  • Since the Kingdom of God is theocentric and not anthropocentric the Churches message must be centered around the person and work of Jesus Christ, and how he as the King of the Kingdom inaugurated its reign.
  • Since the reign of the Kingdom of God is gradually being brought to bear upon the world and will cataclysmically be brought upon all creation at the end of days there is a missiological necessity to continue to push outward to the ends of creation itself the glad tidings of the Kingdom coming.
  • Lastly, because the Kingdom of God combated the kingdom of Satan there must be a highten sense of supernatural realism where the Spirit once again comes to feature large in the individual’s battle with sin, temptation, and worldliness.

The nature of the Churches’ proclamation:

  • Living beyond the emergence of the speech-act theory the old dichotomy between word and deed ministry or the old theology of “the spirituality of the church” needs to be re-evaluated. Proclamation is not merely a matter of words alone, words are themselves locutionary actions.
  • Which in turn means the separation between evangelism as proclamation & mercy as action needs to be rethought by the Church at local levels. Simply put we cannot always and everywhere say we have shared the good news of the Kingdom if there has been no prophetic, eschatological enactment of the Kingdom’s presence. Now of course not every evangelistic opportunity affords us this, but the mentality between the two needs to be challenged by this.
  • Since the Kingdom of God is cosmic in shape the nature of the Churches proclamation ought to be cosmic as well, directed both inside the covenant community and outside. Which is itself inclusive to cultural transformation, as well as psychological transformation, social reconciliation, and ecological stewardship.
  • Because the Kingdom of God has an already/not yet reality to it the Churches proclamation will be one that may be clothed in humiliation and weakness but will one day, in an eschatological manner issue in the resurrection life of Christ who is the hope of her resurrection and the consummation of all creation.

Of course these thoughts are my own placed on top of Ladd’s but in my mind this is a serious and truthful expression of what the Kingdom of God means to the life of the Church universal and the local church.

(Photographic art by A. Guandalini from Capri, Italy)