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Kingdom Quotes From Others

  

The ideas about the Kingdom of God expressed on this and other related sites are not new or radical, nor are they the result of any individual’s solitary study or contemplation. They are not the result of anyone claiming to have “special anointing” from the Lord to understand the Scriptures. These ideas are widely recognized by many Biblical scholars, and have often been written about by ministers from varying backgrounds. As an example, the following is from a book entitled The Theocratic Kingdom, written in 1884 by a minister in Springfield, Ohio, named George Peters.

“It is a fact, lamented by some of our ablest divines, that there must be something radically wrong in our prevailing interpretation of the Bible, which allows such a diversity of antagonistic exegesis [interpretation] and doctrine, and by which the truth is weakened and humbled, so that Revelation [the Word of God] itself, by its means, becomes the object of Rationalistic and Infidel ridicule and attack, and is even sorely wounded in the house of its friends by its stumbling, conceding, but well-meaning apologetic defenders. … Dr. Auberlen quotes Rothe as saying respecting the defects of exegesis:

‘Our key does not open – the right key is lost, and till we are put in possession of it again, our exposition will never succeed. The system of biblical ideas is not that of our schools; and so long as we attempt exegesis without it, the Bible will remain a half-closed book. We must enter upon it with other conceptions than those which we have been accustomed to think the only possible ones; and whatever these may be, this one thing at least is certain, from the whole tenor of the melody of Scripture in its natural fulness, that they must be more realistic and massive.

This is a sad confession after the voluminous labors of centuries, and yet true as it is sorrowful. We may be allowed to suggest that the only way in which this key can be obtained is to return to the principles of interpretation adopted and prevailing in the very early history of the Christian Church, by which, if consistently carried out, the kingdom of God in its ‘realistic and massive’ form appears as the reliable interpreter of the Word. In other words, we have no suitable key to unlock Revelation [the Scriptures] if we do not seize that provided for us in the revealed Will of God respecting the ultimate end that He has in view in the plan of redemption and history of the world. A way is only known when the beginning and terminus [end] are considered; a human plan can only be properly appreciated when the results of it are fully weighed: so with God’s way and God’s plan, it can only be fully known when the end intended is duly regarded.”

There have been many other Biblical scholars who have seen these truths throughout the years. Unfortunately because they went against established doctrine, they have often been ignored, ridiculed, or worse, persecuted. Nevertheless there has been a growing recognition of the truth of their statements. The following quotes are just a sampling of what some other Biblical scholars, from a wide variety of backgrounds, have seen in the Bible.

“The Kingdom of God was at the center not only of Jesus’ proclamation but also of his teaching, his healing, even his death and resurrection… one has to conclude that the kingdom of God was central to the historical ministry of Jesus … Astounding as it may seem, however, neither in the church, nor in academic circles has the kingdom of God been assigned the political significance its derivation and its consequences demand.”

R. David Kaylor (Presbyterian Professor)
Jesus the Prophet, pp.70,71, 1994

“As a teacher of New Testament literature, and particularly as an interpreter of the synoptic gospels, it early became obvious to me that the central theme of the preaching of the historical Jesus of Nazareth was the near approach of the kingdom of God. Yet, to my amazement, this theme played hardly any role in the systematic theology I had been taught in the seminary. Upon further investigation I realized that this theme had in many ways been largely ignored in the theology and spirituality and liturgy of the church in the past 2000 years, and when not ignored, often distorted beyond recognition. How could this be?”

Benedict T. Viviano (Roman Catholic Priest)
The Kingdom of God in History, p.9, 1988

“In few, if any, instances of the use of the word ‘heaven’ in the synoptic gospels is there any parallel with modem usage. The gospel records of our Lord’s life and teachings do not speak of ‘going to heaven’, as a modern believer so naturally does. Rather is the emphasis on that which is ‘heavenly’ coming down to man, when any movement is thought of. Again, our modern way of speaking of life with God as being life ‘in heaven’ is not the way the gospels speak of the matter. Especially is there no suggestion that Jesus is offering to his disciples the certainty of ‘heaven’ after this life.”

William Strawson (Methodist Minister)
Jesus and the Future Life, p.38, 1959

“The Christian attitude in relation to Messianism is rather strange. Christians believe in a personal Messiah. Notwithstanding this belief, they are far less Messianically-minded than the Jews. Their lack of Messianic consciousness takes two forms. They have largely lost the sense of Jesus’ Messiahship. And they have, largely also, lost the Messianic vision. The Greek name Christos means “anointed” and is the literal translation of the Hebrew Meschiah. Now the idea of the Anointed is a specifically Jewish idea. It fell decidedly into the background when Christianity left its Palestinian home and became a Gentile religion…Christians who think or speak of Christ almost always forget the Semitic word and the ideas which this name translates; in fact, they forget that Jesus is primarily the Messiah. The very idea of Jesus’ Messiahship has passed away from their minds…Having lost the original sense of the word “Christ”, Christians (or, to be exact, most of them) have also lost the Messianic vision, i.e., the expectation of the divine future, the orientation towards ‘what is coming.'”

Lev Gillet (Russian Orthodox Priest)
Communion in the Messiah, pp.104,105, 1941

“It is… clear that in Christian usage the word [Christ]… lost all real meaning, and became simply a proper name like ‘Jesus’ itself. [This] development was all but inevitable among [second century] Greek-speaking Gentile Christians, who were not interested in a ‘Christ’ who should restore the kingdom to Israel, and who did not understand the literal meaning of the word”

Alan Richardson (Anglican Canon)
A Theological Word Book of the Bible, p.46, 1950

“The church has not usually in practice (whatever it may have claimed to be doing in theory) based its christology exclusively on the witness of the New Testament.. . Christological doctrine has never in practice been derived simply by way of logical inference from the statements of Scripture.”

Maurice Wiles (Oxford Professor)
The Remaking of Christian Doctrine, pp.54,55, 1974

“Interpreters of Christian persuasion ordinarily have not been especially interested in what Jesus intended and did in his own time. Usually they have been concerned with the meaning of Jesus and his message for faith and life in their own times … Christian interpreters tend to suppose that Jesus set out to establish the kind of Christianity they experience as familiar and meaningful… It has been less than a century since a few biblical scholars first began to realize that the historical Jesus proclaimed to his contemporaries as of the first importance something quite unfamiliar to either modern Christianity or modern thought: the Kingdom of God. The significance of that recognition has not yet been grasped by many who have written about Jesus and his message in the intervening years.”

Richard H. Hiers (Professor of Religion, U. of Florida)
Jesus and the Future, p.1, 1981

“Nearly all schools [of interpretation] seem agreed that Jesus’ futuristic expectations, if permitted to stand, would be an embarrassment, if not a disaster, for contemporary faith. Consequently, critics evidently are willing to read into Jesus’ mind all sorts of modernizing reinterpretations. Often interpreters suggest that Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God symbolically; therefore no one need suppose that he really looked for it to come as eschatological event, unless perhaps in some psychological or ‘spiritual’ sense.”

Richard H. Hiers
Jesus and the Future, p.10, 1981

“The mainstream churches are committed to a certain doctrine about Jesus, but specialists in early Christian thought are questioning the arguments by which that doctrine was reached. New Testament scholars ask if the New Testament teaches it at all, and historians wonder at the gulf between Jesus himself and fully-developed Christianity. These questions are very unsettling, for they imply that Christianity may be in a worse condition than was thought. It is perhaps not a basically sound structure that needs only to be modernized, but may be in need of radical reconstruction.”

Don Cupitt (Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge)
The Debate About Christ, p.vii, 1979

So one can easily see that these ideas are not some new “radical” theology, but were observed by scholars of many different backgrounds, even though they did not represent the “official” position of their denominations. This of course does not make them true. They are true because Scripture declares them to be true. But if many different people have seen the same things when they honestly examine the Bible without preconceived notions, perhaps to be true to God’s Word we should examine it in a similar fashion.

  

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