The Kingdom V – A Response to Jacob

Written by Danny Kam

I hope that one of my partners here at “kingdom conversations” will not be too upset that I am attempting to respond to his last post on the kingdom.  This site attempts to promote effective dialogue that promotes a sense of community within the church.  In the spirit of such dialogue, I also ask graciously for anything that seems foolish, and that another member of our community might graciously point out where I may be mistaken.

The first is that Jacob suggests our lives now are not “real life,” and that only the one coming after (i.e. heaven or hell) is real.  I would ask, first, that Jacob describes what he means by “real” life.  I happen to think I am alive and living in this moment here and now.  Perhaps he mean a “better” life is still to come?  In a broad sense, he may be correct.  Paul himself says that we must eagerly await for our adoption as sons and that all creation waits as though it were in childbirth for the return of the Lord.  But this life lived, in the hope that Jesus’ return is indeed iminent, is real enough for me.  If this life is not “real,” then what is it?  Is it only a Platonic shadow of a “real” life when Christ rescues out of our allegorical cave?  If this is the case, we seem to serve a very platonic God.  When I last remembered, Yahweh, the only God of the Bible, emerged from a Jewish context.  Such a concept of life is more Greek that Semitic.

Jacob is right on the money when he refers so eloquently to the distance that many equate God with, and the relativity that the media has put into our schools and our public arenas. Peter Enns has written an important piece talking about how we really seem to live in a post-religious world.  Jesus is no longer one option among many other competing religions.  He is simply not an option at all.  Kids, with their iPhones and iMacs, can get along just fine without him in a cyber world where, content to play in mindless online videogames, children need no great deity.  The problem used to be that Christians were fighting against a type of Deism that distanced God from our everyday lives, but nowadays it seems much more serious.  The divine watchmaker is not just on vacation.  He never existed at all.  The concerns Jacob brought up in the last post are, I would argue, even more serious than he originally made them out to be.

I would also like to see Jacob expand his idea that he thinks preachers are being too “compassionate” on sinners.  I can’t really comment on this until he further points out what he means by this.  While he is doing that, I would also like to see him lay out clearly what he believes the gospel to be in light of the kingdom of God.

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2 Responses

  1. First on the ‘real’ life. When we hardly know each other it is easy to wonder what the other means. Of course I don’t subscribe to the heresy that was once prevalent in the early centuries that this life on earth is not ‘real’. Some eastern religions also teach that everything here is an illusion. I don’t mean that. We know that we are ‘pilgrims and strangers’ on this earth and that we are here only for a short while. The Bible talks of godly men looking for a ‘heavenly city’. I mean life there is the real one we should have our eyes on. The essential point I am trying to convey is that we should not live our life on earth as if that is all there is to life.

    On preachers being ‘compassionate’ on sinners. This is succumbing to a worldwide pressure to show kindness to the wrongdoer, rather than say that what he has done is wrong and to take action for it. Certainly we have to be compassionate to the wrongdoer because he does not really know what he has done, and also we remember that we are essentially no better than him, but for the grace of God. But to extend this kindness to the extent that we downplay the wrongness of what he has done is not good.

    My understanding of the gospel? You can see that on my web site.

  2. You have made many suggestions on what we should not do. I hope that for your next blog post you would look into for us what it means to be “looking for a ‘heavenly city.'” I am interested to hear what that might look like. Perhaps you could write a post, “Kingdom of God VI – Looking Towards the Heavenly City.”

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