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Generous (evangelical) Orthodoxy: Kingdom

The place to begin in mapping a generous orthodoxy is the Kingdom of God as the vision Jesus gave to us for God’s redemptive work on this earth. As I said before, this map of mine is preciptiated by Brian McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy, and I guess the subtitle for this little effort is “Why I am Kingdom-al.” But it does no good to the Christian story unless that Kingdom is understood in both terms of Orthodoxy and Generosity.

Orthodoxy

Now I’ve blogged aplenty on Kingdom of God, beginning here, and won’t repeat myself. The Kingdom of God is the society where the will of God, as taught by Jesus, is done. And that Kingdom is a redemptive work in the triune God designed to restore humans to union with God and communion with one another, for the good of others and the world. Nothing less will do. I am working my understanding of the gospel in Jesus Creed and in Embracing Grace which is due out this fall.

Beginning with Kingdom of God is beginning with the “plan of God.” Our summons is to join God in God’s Kingdom work. If you read my blogs on Kingdom, you will also know that the Kingdom of God cannot be divorced from the Church: the Church is designed to be the alternative society of Jesus in this world that transcends its “alternative status” by being a missional community of faith.

Generosity

As a missional community of Jesus, each local community is designed to be a Kingdom missional community. Missional communities are not so much “buildings” and “places to go” but a community of faith where a society brushes up against the grace of God because the community of faith is a presence of grace. The singular grace the community of faith has to offer to society is Jesus Christ and this grace is “performed” by the local community of faith.

This means that the missional community is essentially generous: it is the “gift” of God of humans who are filled with grace and minister the grace of reconciliation and justice and peace and love to the local society. It is essentially “for others” and ministering “to others” and serving others.

Kingdom work that is marked by Generosity is manifested in the five “Ls” of Love: a missional community mediates the love of God (God’s grace) to others by Looking into the neighborhood, Listening to the needs of that neighborhood, Learning about the needs and how to meet the needs, Linking to the neighborhood in concrete ways, and doing so in a Local context. This is what it means to be a missional community in the Kingdom of God. It is not enough to listen and learn about the Bible as it is preached, nor is it enough to sit in a local church and ingest the Sacraments. Word and Sacrament are designed to create Missional communities of faith that aim at the Kingdom of God.

Generous (evangelical) orthodoxy begins right here: Kingdom of God.

Generous (evangelical) orthodoxy is for the whole Church because it is for the whole world — because God is for the whole world.

I do think there is a way to push forward to a genuine ecumenical place for all Christians where we can have churches that transcend the old differences that prevent Kingdom of God from being little more than “denominational persuasion”. But, it can’t be done without very, very careful and lengthy work by folks who can see the past and map the future in light of that past. That past begins with Kingdom of God.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/8111113 Scot McKnight

    Sorry J.B.,I’ve not caught on to many acronyms (I do use pomo at times and EM for Emerging Movement). G(e)O would probably take more time than it is worth.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/4226999 Jamie Arpin-Ricci

    Scot, thank you so much for this very helpful (and moving) explanation. Living and ministering in an inner city community, myself, my wife and our little “missional community” have been seeking an understanding on what it means to be just that.From this context, I can see all the more how Anabaptism in-forms this generous (evangelical) orthodoxy in its engagement and transformation of culture.I am extremely excited to read more, as, for me, it is very practical to the daily context in which I live.Peace,Jamie

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/8606359 Aly H.

    “It is not enough to listen and learn about the Bible as it is preached, nor is it enough to sit in a local church and ingest the Sacraments.”Argh. This seems to be the bit we have a hard time getting right. Listening, learning about the Bible, and sitting around to ingest the Sacraments are the favorite pastimes in my local church community. They’ve been told for so long that THAT’S what the Church is all about…they have a hard time believing anything else. Double argh.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/9548318 John Frye

    Scot, perhaps I’ve said it before, your use of the term “society” for “kingdom” is huge. Reminds me of Mark Twain’s comment, “The difference between the right word and just the right word is like the difference between lightning and lightning bug.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3452528 Bob Robinson

    FYI folks,You can read Scot’s entire series on the Kingdom of God in pdf format here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/8111113 Scot McKnight

    John,Anyone who talks about Mark Twain has my ear. I love Hannibal, and reading him. What a nut, though.Ever read Pudd’nhead Wilson?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/6927773 Stan F.

    Great posts, ScotNow if I can only figure out a way to sneak into your college courses.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/7272764 RonMcK

    The Kingdom of God is a great place to begin.You talk quite a bit about neighbourhoods. That also seems to be important. Are you going to develop this theme futher???


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