There were four sessions at talking points where the speakers presented their views on "What is the Gospel?" Then at the very end there was a brief (very brief) question and answer session. All three speakers, Scot McKnight, David Turner, and Ruth Tucker got up each with microphones, and answered questions that were submitted by those in attendance. I was quite disappointed with this portion.
For one thing, I had submitted four questions, one of which I mentioned in my post concerning Ruth Tucker’s session. I had the chance to speak with her about the issue and I submitted the question. Here is what I mentioned in that post:
I had a very practical question for her. "If Scot’s thesis is correct, and the gospel of the kingdom is the establishment of a society or community of those who do the will of God, and the New Testament Church was a manifestation of that, and your thesis is correct, that God wants us to reject materialism, then what are the pragmatic ramifications for an individualistic society such as ours in putting these two themes together? Do we create a "communistic" society? Do we do away with personal property? How far do we carry it?"
This wasn’t all I had said to Ruth. I mentioned the mindset of most Christians when choosing a church. When people choose a church they will choose a place to attend where they can associate with people of the same race, class, and social status as themselves. I pointed out myself as an example. I’m a middle class "white" man. I will most likely choose a church where most of those in attendance are middle class. African-Americans are most likely to choose a church where most of those in attendance are African-Americans like themselves. Now this is another question I asked Ruth. "When does the "rich" person who believes in Christ ever get together with the former crack addict who becomes a Christian and talk about how good it is to be brothers in Christ?"
My question directed at Ruth and the others were not read. The moderator mentioned that they had tried to narrow down the questions choosing only one that represented the theme of other questions that were related. My questions were not even remotely related to the questions that were asked. I’m pretty sure it was because the speakers wanted to go home, and I can’t say as I blame them.
As the questions were asked, I was disappointed by two major sidestep moves that David Turner and Scot McKnight did. The question concerning how Jesus and the kingdom looked without the Pauline lens was directed toward David who completely sidestepped the question. Ruth Tucker caught on that he hadn’t really answered the question and directed it toward him again, but his answer, once again, was a simple dodge of the question. I thought it may have just been me who thought his answer really had nothing to do with the question, but everyone in our group said the exact same thing on the ride home.
The sidestep move by Scot McKnight involves a little more information. During Scot’s second session, he gave us the phrase, "The Apostle Paul didn’t give a rip about the kingdom." He went on to say that Paul didn’t talk about the kingdom in any of his works which was a radical departure from the way Jesus taught. It was hard to tell if McKnight was trying to reinstate dispensationalism, destroy it in a new way, or reinstate it for the purpose of demolishing it all over again. During the question and answer session, David Turner directed a little tidbit toward Scot stating, "I think Paul was concerned about the kingdom and wrote about it," then cited Colossians 1:13. At this point, Scot backtracked on his position and simply stated that the main way Christ spoke was in terms of the kingdom and that the main way Paul spoke was in terms of the church. Then Scot gets to how he sums up his previous statement in light of David’s comments and says, "Why wouldn’t Paul speak of the kingdom like Jesus did? Why wouldn’t he continue the same teachings that Christ had given us? Paul used different terminology and it bugs me." That’s sort of a paraphrase, but encapsulates what Scot said. This also was a sidestep from the previous bold statement that Paul didn’t give a rip about the kingdom.
But now, let’s have a little fun. Did Paul "give a rip" about the kingdom? Paul uses the word 14 times in his epistles. Romans 14:17, I Corinthians 4:20, 6:9, 6:10, 15:24, 15:50, Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 1:13, 4:11, I Thessalonians 2:12, II Thessalonians 1:5, II Timothy 4:1, 4:18. And in true "fulfillment without consummation" form, some of these references refer to the kingdom into which we have been brought (sometimes completely synonymous with the church), some refer to the future kingdom of the LORD Jesus, some to both. This word is Strong’s #932. Paul used other words closely related to this.
#935 referring to Christ as King is used in I Timothy 1:17 and 6:15.
#936 referring to Christ’s Kingly reign is used in Romans 5:17 and 5:21 and note that the other two times it is used in reference to the reign of sin and death (5:14, 6:12) it is set in contrast to the reign of Christ in the first two references that I quoted. I Corinthians 4:8, I Corinthians 15:25 (referring to His Millennial Reign), and I Timothy 6:15.
The Apostle Paul not only cared about the kingdom, but taught about it in his epistles. Without sounding too much like the solution is too simple that perhaps it eludes some people, the Apostle Paul wrote primarily concerning the church, because He was writing primarily concerning the church. The foundation had already been laid that the church is the people of God over whom the LORD Jesus is exercising His reign because they have voluntarily submitted to it. Those who belonged to Christ knew they were in the kingdom of God and therefore a part of His church, a part of His body. Paul was revealing the character of the kingdom of God within the called out assembly which was visible in the Old Testament, but not fully understood. Here was a new demonstration of what true love was within a community of believers where there was no slave or free, no Jew or Gentile, no rich or poor, no educated and non-educated, (insert Scot’s Pentecost points here).
If the Apostle Paul didn’t give a rip about the kingdom, why is he teaching about it in Acts? Yes, the good old book of Acts gives the modus operandi of the 12 apostles and the Apostle Paul as well. The book starts off with the LORD Jesus instructing His disciples concerning the Kingdom of God, 1:3, this theme is held throughout the book, 8:12, 14:22; the Apostle Paul made the Kingdom of God his main theme, 19:8, 20:25, the Thessalonians understood Paul was preaching about a King named Jesus, 17:7, and Paul ended his ministry pounding the pulpit concerning the Kingdom of God, 28:23, 31.
The Apostle Paul preached the gospel of the kingdom. The Apostle Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, but shows an amazing understanding of Israel’s place in the kingdom of God (Romans 9-11). Paul’s main concern was Gentile believers being brought into the kingdom of God through what we know as the church. So Paul wrote primarily concerning the church. Remember, as Jesus taught, that the Spirit had not yet been poured out. There were many things that the disciples would not have been able to understand if the LORD Jesus had expounded on them before Pentecost. The truths revealed in the letters of Paul would have been wasted if Christ had spent time teaching on these things. The disciples were not ready until after Pentecost. Then these truths could be revealed and written down.
Sorry, Scot. I don’t buy that point. The apostle Paul’s main theme was the kingdom of God as revealed through the church.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman