Part One: The Big Picture
It is ironic that the largest North American religious group to prominently feature kingdom theology in its official doctrinal statements is neither Christian in its convictions nor biblical in its theology. Kingdom theology figures prominently in the official doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses, but it is scarcely mentioned in the doctrinal statements of the largest Christian denominations in North America.
This is especially puzzling because the doctrine of the Kingdom is the theological center of the Old and New Testaments and the exegetical key that both illuminates and links even the most puzzling texts from Genesis to Revelation.
This is evident, for example, in the apostle Paul's self-awareness. He identified himself as a minister of the new covenant (2 Co 3:6) and summarized his apostolic ministry as "preaching the kingdom" (Acts 20:25); a summation echoed by Luke's retrospective look at the end his written record of Paul's work (Acts 28:31).
Within the epistolary literature more than 150 texts of various lengths link the Church to God's kingdom plan. Exegesis of these passages reveals that the Church serves at least two purposes in God's kingdom program: it produces kingdom citizens of all nations by means of gospel proclamation and it trains kingdom administrators by means of disciple making. Although the Church is neither the kingdom nor will it usher in the kingdom, it fulfills theocratic purposes that appear first in the creation narratives in Genesis.1
The Pastoral Epistles in particular explain what a Transition Pastor must do to complete the unfinished work of repairing dysfunctional churches so their kingdom functions are restored. Paul tells us that troubled churches need skilled pastors capable of solving problems, confronting disruptive behaviors, gently correcting false teaching and preparing new leadership. Although the concept of a "Transition Pastor" would have been foreign to Paul's thinking, his Pastoral letters - particularly Titus - outline the steps required to return a church to full functionality.
In our day and age the Transition Pastor plays a vital role in God's kingdom program by guiding churches through transition so that they are poised to participate in God's mission. What follows in Part One is an abridged survey of God's kingdom plan and God's mission. This will not be an academic analysis; it is intended to be an helpful overview that will furnish the Transition Pastor with a few tools he can use to bring the church up to speed on what God is doing in the world today.
(c) 2012, All Rights Reserved, L. E. Brown
- I realize that this paragraph bites off more than I can chew in a book of this sort, so I won't attempt to mount a rigorous defense of these kingdom propositions. They will be unfolded in the material that follows. For the benefit of those who are dying to know, let me say two things. First, I approach the scripture with a dispensational hermeneutic and second, I do not subscribe to the "now but not yet" view of the kingdom. In my opinion the kingdom is not here now in any form, nor will it be until Christ is seated upon the throne of David in Jerusalem. At this time he sits on the throne which he always had at his Father's right hand. â†©