Perfect storms and kingdom theology
For a brief, shining moment sometime early last Saturday afternoon the entire Wilder family was at home. Valerie and I had returned from running camp and Westminster (respectively), John had come home a day early from Boy Scout camp with a stomach bug or food poisoning, Tom had just arrived from the same camp with a newly-broken foot, and Anna Lena had flown up from spending some time with her godmother in Alabama. The rendezvous didn't last long... Nicolien was off to what became a double shift at the hospital (a night-shift nurse didn't show up) and John (now recovered from his stomach issues) was off to visit his cousin in northern Virginia the next day. Valerie left for another running camp on Monday.
If it sounds to you like we may have, uh, overscheduled our summer, I would be inclined to agree. But with four children a camp here and a visit there for each child has a way of swirling and converging into a perfect storm of activity. We define family vacations (and summers) not so much as a change in velocity as a change in venues. After this week we reel everyone back in, though, ready even for the fall to begin and routine (more or less) to return.
This Wilder way of hardly finishing one thing before moving to the next thing is NOT what scholars mean by "already" and the "not yet," however. For that (and to continue my discussion from previous posts) I'll pass along a few choice quotes from Russell Moore's The Kingdom of Christ. First, Russell summarizes the position taken by Carl Henry in his 1947 book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. That book "grappled head-on with the foremost obstacle to evangelical social and political action--namely, the lack of a consensus on the nature of the Kingdom" (pp. 25-26). I've already outlined the difference between dispensationalists, who tended to emphasize the "not yet" aspect of the Kingdom, and the covenantalists, who tended to emphasize the "already" apect (see immediately previous post).
Carl Henry responded to this impasse by maintaining that "evangelical theology must deal with the biblical data, which seems to indicate a Kingdom that has already been inaugurated and yet awaits a future consummation. 'No study of the kingdom teaching of Jesus is adequate unless it recognizes His implication both that the kingdom is here and that is not here'" (p. 30). Thus, Henry "combined the 'already' kingdom emphasis of the covenant theologians with the 'not yet' kingdom expectancy of the dispensationalists, all within an explicit appeal to the kind of inaugurated eschatological framework already being discussed within New Testament theology by biblical scholars such as Oscar Cullman" (p. 31). "Inaugurated eschatology," by the way, is just a fancy way of referring to the way in which things generally considered to be "not yet" (eschatology=last things) have been begun in the present (inaugurated).
Carl Henry did much of his thinking and writing in conversation with another great evangelical scholar of the mid-twentieth century, George Ladd. Here's how Ladd began to put it all together, according to Moore:
Against the debates between the dispensationalists and covenantalists on whether the reign of Christ was best understood as present within the life of the church or the heart of the believer, or future in the millennial Kingdom from a restored Davidic throne, Ladd posited his proposal: the Kingdom has arrived "already" in the person of Jesus and awaits a "not yet" consummation in the millennial Kingdom and in the eternal state. For Ladd, this understanding represented more than just a mediating approach between dispensationalism and covenantal amillennialism. It represented instead an attempt to forge a full-fledged evangelical theology of the Kingdom.This "already" and "not yet" (inaugurated eschatological) approach has huge implications for how we understand what Christ has already accomplished, how he will finish what he has begun, and how we are to live our lives in the meantime. But all that will have to wait for future posts.
Categories: Eschatology, Moore