BEN: I enjoyed the clarity of the chapter on Kingdom and Church. I don’t agree that ekklesia simply refers to the local church. Even in Gal. 1 when Paul says he persecuted ‘the ekklesia of God’ he is referring to multiple local assemblies in Judaea and also in Damascus, for example. In fact I would say that the term ‘ekklesia’ only becomes a reference to a specific local assembly when you have appended the phrase ‘in Corinth’ or ‘in Ephesus’ etc. Ekklesia is not inherently local. I was a little surprised you didn’t mention the actual Greek use of ekklesia to refer to the democratic assembly meetings in the golden age of Greece. I would suggest this affects the way Paul uses the term. He is envisioning a assembly where people discuss and even debate their future, an assembly which they are a part of through freedom of choice, in other words a voluntary assembly.
I think that it is wiser to say there is overlap between kingdom and church, rather than trying to make the terms synonyms when they are not. If there are places where kingdom refers to God’s saving activity, what sense would it make for Paul to say I persecuted the ‘kingdom’. None, that I can think of. I thought it was excellent that you emphasized the already and not yet dimension of church and also kingdom, and you’re right, it’s a mistake to compare future kingdom with present church— not a fair comparison.
I found p.92 confusing. You cannot inherit yourself! You cannot enter yourself either. Nor can you obtain yourself, and yet these are the three verbs Jesus and Paul use when referring to the future kingdom. The church doesn’t inherit/obtain/enter the church. So again, I would say church is where one can see kingdom happening, and kingdom work is clearly church work, but the two are not simply synonymous. They shouldn’t be divided, but they shouldn’t be simply identified without remainder either. Jesus came to build his community/ assembly…. but this involved both local communities and a structure involving apostles etc. which was translocal, so that when Jesus turns the keys over to Peter, he’s not just the head of this or that local assembly, he’s the head of the church. Period. And this involves both the translocal leadership structures and the local assemblies. In other words, Jesus was no Baptist or low church Protestant on ecclesiology.
I like the illustration of what kingdom work in the local church looks like. I believe strongly in that. But I also believe most definitely that UMCOR is doing church and kingdom work. It is the UM committee on relief, and every UM church supports it. Unlike most relief agencies, the church absorbs all the overhead so that every penny of every dollar given can go to the church helping the victims in Haiti, or being there for weeks and months for Katrina relief. Having these hierarchial structures as hands and feet of the local churches, employing local church members from all over the country doing good works, which we’re created in Christ to do, is a marvelous thing. It’s both church and kingdom work.
SCOT:I agree though I focus my stuff on the local church. I have a section referring to Trebilco’s stuff where I should say that.
But Ben the big issue is recognizing there are five elements with here and there different themes representing the whole.
I suspect in the end you have a pleated pants emphasis with a stronger ecclesial focus than many in that camp. To inherit the kingdom for me means we inherit entrance into the king’s redemption and people and place and future. By the way, Tom Schreiner’s son has just done a dissertation that is very close to where I am.
And it is for the common good I’d continue to say it is “good work” but not necessarily kingdom work. Kingdom is the king’s people living under the king.