Here are a couple great explanations of the Kingdom of God and its accompanying theology:
“The [kingdom of God] is the abstract or dynamic idea of reign, rule, or dominion…” – George Eldon Ladd
“… the kingdom of God is the central theological motif that gives definition to all that we believe.” – Phil Strout
“… the Vineyard is a movement distinctively centered in a renewed understanding of the centrality of the kingdom of God in biblical thought… [we understand] the kingdom of God as the overarching and integrating theme of the Bible.” – Vineyard Core Values
So a basic summary of Kingdom Theology might be:
- Inaugurated, not consummated.
- Both now and not yet.
- The kingdom has come, comes, and is coming (breaking in).
- The reign and rule of God (cf. Matt. 6:10).
But why does kingdom theology matter? Why is having a solid kingdom of God framework vitally important? Here are four simple answers to that question:
- Kingdom theology is the same message that Jesus and the apostles preached (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Acts 8:12; 14:22; 20:25; 28:23-31).
- Kingdom theology centers our theology and praxis on King Jesus and his kingdom versus our own kingdom (Matt. 26:39; Col. 13).
- Kingdom theology is the only way to explain why miracles happen and why we continue to pray for God to break in, for heaven to come to earth. (Matt. 12:28).
- Kingdom theology is the only way to somewhat explain why miracles don’t happen and why everyone isn’t healed (Rev. 21:4).
Those are four quick ways in which I think kingdom theology matters.
What would you add?
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
My sense is that the words “King” and “Kingdom” are the transcendent theme of the entire Bible. The Bible is a book about King/Kingdom. It is a book about who made the world, and who gets to rule the world (as King) — Ps. 24 (All the land and everything upon it is the Lords!). In scripture, God announces himself as creator, and therefore, King of the world. He also appoints a king (little k) to rule on his behalf. Thus, I am not surprised at all, and I find it encouraging and helpful that Jesus’ message is (as N.T. Wright puts it), “God’s in charge now” or — God is King through me. Jesus’ message is The Kingdom of God because that is the message of the entire word of God. Inaugurated eschatology is vital, as you pointed out, to understanding what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen now that the Kingdom has come, is now continuously coming, and will come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
I’m having so much fun right now preaching through our series “King and Kingdom!” I think it is very important to back up from time to time in our preaching and show the ‘big picture,’ helping people see how the books of the Bible are connected, relate to each other, flow in the stream of redemptive history, and are unified in their message.
I would also add to your 4 reasons why this matters (though really it falls under your 4th reason this is important – when miracles and healing do not come): HOPE IN SUFFERING! Because the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God has begun with Christ’s first coming, and will be seen in all its fullness and glory at his triumphant return, we have solid ground for hope and joy as we continue to see brokenness and suffering around us (and within). When we see injustice, rebellion and pain in this world, our hearts begin to yearn for the King and his visible reign! We cry out, Let your kingdom come!