BEN: I just finished Chapter 9, which I enjoyed and I think agreed with almost without exception. Obviously kingdom is about human redemption, and it has been that way since the time of Jesus. There is a necessary spiritual and social dimension to it. But of course during the ministry of Jesus, there was not yet a church, not yet a community of the gathered followers of Jesus, so back then healing, exorcism etc. did not happen in the locus of the church. Now I am content if all you are arguing is that it happens first and foremost in the locus of the church since Pentecost. But sometimes you seem to be pushing the envelope further than that. This gives me pause because: 1) I know of plenty of missionary situations where you have, for example a medical missionary like Fred Douglas Sheppard and he is ministering where there is no local church, and yet people are being saved and healed and redeemed etc. I have a friend who is a tour guide in Turkey and almost all the time and anywhere she goes, there is no local church to participate in. None. Yet she gave her life to Christ, and got baptized in the Jordan by me. Is the Kingdom really not coming in her life at least? I would say it is. and then 2) there is the issue about people who come to church healing services, get healed, and do not become Christians. Yes, it happened in the context of the local church and as a ministry of the local church, but was it kingdom mission if she isn’t saved?
I don’t mean to belabor this, but I think your case is weakened by some of the globalizing rhetoric, and you are a good rhetorician. This book is well written and effective. So, my wisdom would be stick with the formula that says that kingdom mission and redemption with it first and foremost happens in the context of the local church, and even if it happens elsewhere, it happens as an extension of the ministry of the local church. Does that work for you?
SCOT: We’re back at it.
Kingdom for me has five elements and at times one is ahead of the others etc. So, Yes, when God is at work redemptively (mind you, drawing people to himself in Christ, not just doing good and leaving it there), kingdom redemption is unleashed but it is incomplete kingdom to drop it there and say that is kingdom. I go back to the meaning of “kingdom”: it means a people governed by a king. (Empire is a people governed by an emperor.)
No local church to participate in simply a tragic reality of a fallen world so there is an incomplete kingdom work there but there remains the universal church.
BEN: O.K. But it seems an odd thing to me to argue that God’s salvific work, whether in the context or outside the context of the local church is NOT kingdom work. Does the kingdom normally involve the local church and those five elements you mention— O.K. fair enough. But since neither the church nor the world is perfect, and since we even have churches where the five elements don’t all show up, I’ll take any kingdom activity wherever I can find it. Maybe you could make a proper distinction between God’s saving work, and his being king, but of course when God saves someone he becomes their lord.