Friday, May 27, 2005

Confusion musing

I'm still recovering from a debate this morning with a young pastor here in Folsom, Calif. While interviewing him for a story for my newspaper, he was stunned to learn I was a Christian. His skepticism inspired him to flip the roles of the interview to find out exactly what I believed.

Things were going OK until I told him I shy away from wholesale systematic theology (because I'm not very knowledgable), but my views can best be explained in Kingdom Theology. His church staff must've been running for the doors and gasping for air because the pastor sucked all the air out of that building. The problem is the assumptions he made based on his own misunderstanding of Kingdom Theology. He assumed I was a Dominionist, or worse, a Word-Faither.

I don't blame him. What used to be termed Kingdom Theology, as espoused by Latter Rainers and other abbherant movements from the mid-20th Century, is more commonly known today at Kingdom Now Theology. The older phrase of Kingdom Theology is now more commonly associated with George Eldon Ladd, John Wimber, and Wayne Grudem.

Kingdom Now Theology states we have God's kingdom in its fullness on Earth today. Kingdom Theology, as proscribed by Ladd in "Gospel of the Kingdom" (and borrowed heavily from Karl Barth and Albert Schweitzer), is simple enough: We can have a taste of God's kingdom via the Holy Spirit today in the Age of Mercy, but the fullness of the kingdom will not be experienced here until after parousia and the advent of the Age of Judgement. Hence, Ladd draws the now-very-familiar eschatological graph of the "already" and the "not-yet" kingdom of God.

Kingdom Now Theology is an essential apology for the word-faith doctorine, one which is far beyond the reach of orthopraxy, if not fully escaping orthodoxy. I'll let you decide. I have a hard time totally wiping people from God's sovereign grace who still profess a Biblical salvation, however egregiously wrong I find their doctorine. I certainly would attempt to talk someone out of a word-faith practice.

Kingdom Theology, to me, is just a better Evangelical apology for the presence of God's power today. While it is eschatological in nature, it does not neccesarily confine one to a specific eschatalogical interpretation. I'm told Kingdom Theologists are considered "progressive dispensationlists," although again I find the that kind of terminology more confusing than helpful in categorizing what one believes. I consider myself neither a progressive nor a dispensationalist. I do not believe you have to deny a literal rapture (Ladd did no such thing) or subscribe to a dominionist point of view to accept at least the very basic tenents of KT. I feel a basic understanding of Ladd's view of the Kingdom is a very comfortable fit within a Reformed theology.

For more on the confusion of KT and the confusion over terminology, check out this dialogue between Vineyard pastors.

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