Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Religion or Revolution? 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Boyd.jpgGreg Boyd, in his newest book, The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution
, begins with this: “Once upon a time I embraced the Christian religion… [which he lost and that was] “a tremendous blessing. Because when I lost my religion, I discovered a beautiful revolution.”

The reason there are Greg Boyds in this world is because American evangelicalism has been a thin remix of Romans, a religion shaped too much by a simplistic gospel and too rarely shaped by the robust kingdom vision of Jesus that itself gave rise to a much more robust gospel in Paul. 

How much kingdom did you hear when you grew into the faith? (Provide decade please.) I heard nothing. In fact, I heard the Sermon on the Mount was for Jews and not for Christians. What are the central elements in mind when Boyd speaks of “religion”?

What have you read of Boyd? What are his best ideas for you?
“Jesus is not the founder of the Christian religion… [but that religion, which did develop centuries later] “was antithetical to what Jesus was about.” And he thinks that Christian religion is itself a myth.
Instead, “What Jesus was about was starting a revolution. He called this revolution ‘the Kingdom of God’” (9). What is this kingdom?

It is centered on only one thing: “manifesting the beauty of God’s character and thus revolting against everything that is inconsistent with this beauty” (9-10). So Boyd calls this a beautiful revolution. 
The ultimate revelation of this revolution is the Cross where instead of violence God did kingdom work through suffering — for his enemies. This Cross becomes the paradigm for the revolution of sacrificial living for others. That kind of life involves revolting against everything that keeps us self-centered, greedy and apathetic. Which means revolting against society. 
“So you see, the Kingdom has nothing to do with religion — ‘Christian’ or otherwise. It’s rather about following the example of Jesus, manifesting the beauty of God’s reign while revolting against all that is ugly” (10).


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J Ben

posted November 2, 2009 at 3:30 am


Let me see if I can answer your questions:
I don’t recall hearing much of anything about the Kingdom of God. I think I always just assumed Jesus were talking about heaven. I grew up in the 90′s. It was not until a few years ago that I really began to understand what this Kingdom of God was all about. Since then, it has radically reshaped my faith and what I think following Jesus is all about.
I have read and heard only a little from Boyd but most of it I have enjoyed, though I find that I am not a huge fan of his writing style for some reason. I like what he says, just not how he says it.
He has some great things to say about how the Kingdom is all about “power under” (sacrificial love and service even to your enemies) vs. “power over.” (using power, might, the sword, in order to control others) I think the series of sermons he preached on the cross and the sword were very important and timely. He lost a quarter of his church because of them.



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angusj

posted November 2, 2009 at 5:20 am


“How much kingdom did you hear when you grew into the faith?”
The earliest I remember hearing about God’s kingdom was in my last year or two at university – about the time Graeme Goldsworthy published “Gospel and Kingdom” (1981). Graeme used to preach fairly regularly at our uni church (in Sydney Australia) and I’m pretty sure the theme of God’s kingdom was woven into a number of his sermons, which I always really enjoyed. Sadly for us Graeme now lives and teaches in the US.



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don bryant

posted November 2, 2009 at 6:41 am


No “kingdom of God” teaching anywhere in my background – of any shape, at any time, in any way. You’re right – Romans without larger context. I need to read Boyd more because he represents a larger movement. But I have always been uncomfortable with the assertion that Christianity is not a religion. This has always seemed to me a backdoor way of saying that it does not submit to critical analysis (like the age old phrase “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship”) The Buddhist can say this, the Hindu, etc. It just doesn’t mean much at the end. Christianity (Christ) makes claims, assertions – it teaches. It asks for a place at the table and has something to say. I understand what Boyd is trying to say. Saying it this way doesn’t seem to own up to the fact that Christianity is a religion



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RJS

posted November 2, 2009 at 7:11 am


Don,
How would you – or Boyd, or anyone else define religion?
If religion is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe” then Christianity is absolutely a religion. But the point, in my mind any way, is that belief is not enough and if that belief doesn’t lead to action in accord with the cause, nature and purpose of the universe – then it is fatally flawed.
This is, I think, where we see importance of kingdom and love and relationship in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Interesting – it has gotten me thinking.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 2, 2009 at 7:15 am


Don, I agree. I haven’t yet seen a solid definition of “religion” in this book, and that annoys me a bit. However, I think I know what he’s getting at: institutionalism, compromise with empire and Caesar, self-justification, Sunday-morning-only stuff… which need to be critiqued.



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Diane

posted November 2, 2009 at 7:18 am


1970s–no kingdom teaching at all. Salvation through church membership or salvation through entering into a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. Salvation meant of my individual life after death, in heaven.
I have not read Boyd, but I think I will. He seems to me to be practicing Christianity but not calling it that. “The ultimate revelation of this revolution is the Cross where instead of violence God did kingdom work through suffering — for his enemies. This Cross becomes the paradigm for the revolution of sacrificial living for others. That kind of life involves revolting against everything that keeps us self-centered, greedy and apathetic.” Yes–I would agree that is what Jesus is about.
The problem that keeps coming up here and elsewhere–over and over– is parsing out of “state Christianity”–that form which is used to oppress and uphold the power of the powerful, most notably in Hitler, and what I would call “real” Christianity but the two get intertwined.



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RJS

posted November 2, 2009 at 7:43 am


David,
The most basic question is not “does God exist?” – the most basic questions are who am I? who are you? and Why are we? God and his purposes are the answer to these questions.



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Jim

posted November 2, 2009 at 7:53 am


No kingdom talk for sure for me. 1950s-1960s. Deep south; no mention even of racisim. Mostly the 5 finger exercise “hear,believe, repent, confess, be baptized” and why we were right and everybody else was wrong.



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brambonius

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:03 am


I don’t remember hearing much about the Kingdom as a kid in the belgian pentecostel circles. But that may be becaiuse later on I heard a lot of it. My father became a Vineyard Church planter when I was a teenager (I’m 29 now), and the Kingdom is very prominent in vineyard theology…
So the Kingdom of God here and now (both already and not yet) has always since been a logical part of my theological worldview, and every time when I notice that the idea is totally alien for Christians, I’m surprised again….
So the emerging church emphasis on the Kingdom is nothing new to me, even if the emphasis may be different in how the Kingdom is present.
I read the Boyd book and I liked it. For me it is in the same line as “Jesus for president” (Shane Claiborne/Chris Haw) and some Jacques Ellul, only contextualised in a more megachurch evangelical context.
Living out the Kingdom in a life of Radical discipleship is something I need to live towards…
shalom
Bram



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Dan

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:06 am


OK. I’ll bite. Went to a fairly conservative Bible College around 1980. Heard quite a bit about the kingdom, defined as “the rule of Christ as King in our hearts”. Had no political agenda. The Kingdom was just about our personal allegiance to Christ as our King and sovereign. That seems to make a lot more sense to me. Seems like Boyd is pushing a subtle political agenda by eschewing a different political agenda.
Heard Boyd speak once during a college visit with my son. Boyd seems to represent the Constantinian captivity of the church on steroids. Made a number of good points and then extended them way too far. Misrepresented conservatives I thought. He was one primary reason my son decided not to go to that particular Christian College.



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John W Frye

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:31 am


I came to faith in the early 60′s and like Scot was taught that the kingdom = heaven by and by, and the Sermon on the Mount was not applicable to the church. No kingdom theology at all…not too much in Bible college or seminary either (!). I was introduced in the late 80′s and early 90′s to a working theology of kingdom through the Vineyard and so-called “third wave.”
I’ve read a lot of Boyd and believe his book *God at War* is one of the best on open theism (yikes) versus classical determinism. I have not read his latest book, but liked his *The Myth of a Christian Nation.*



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T

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:32 am


I echo many here. The only time I ever heard “kingdom” was as an assumed synonym for heaven. But the overwhelming pattern was, as with most here, not mentioning it at all. I grew up in the 70′s, went to Lutheran and non-denom evangelical schools up through highschool (bible class every day, chapel at least once a week) and Southern Baptist church on Sundays, not to mention whatever sunday school and, later, youth group activities.
Scot, Amen to this: “American evangelicalism has been a thin remix of Romans, a religion shaped too much by a simplistic gospel and too rarely shaped by the robust kingdom vision of Jesus that itself gave rise to a much more robust gospel in Paul.” I still see this going on, thankfully much, much less, but now everyone at least puts a kingdom spin on their gospel.
Dan, I get what you’re saying (kingdom doesn’t equal democrat policies), but this is an oxymoron, and an anachronism, and that’s part of the problem: “the kingdom, defined as ‘the rule of Christ as King in our hearts’ . . . Had no political agenda.”



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Mark Heath

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:44 am


I grew up in a church that was part of the British Restorationist House Church movement (70s/80s), strongly influenced by people like Ern Baxter. “Kingdom” was very central to our theology. We weren’t very politically minded though, except encouraging writing letters to MPs on issues like Sunday trading and abortion. There was more focus on things like how we raise/educate our children. Also a strong belief that the gospel should radically impact everything about the way we live, with tendencies towards specifying a “Christian” way of doing everything.



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T

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:45 am


I’ve not read much of Boyd (maybe now I will), but re: “the central elements” of what he calls Christian “religion”: it seems just from what is said here that Christian religion is about the formula to get into heaven after death; it’s about justification, where the earth goes the way of Satan (increasingly evil, eventually burning forever), but some of the evil-doers are forgiven and snatched away. Christian religion isn’t really about “let your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven” unless that will is limited to getting souls “saved.” (A horrible narrowing of the biblical concept, BTW, that lies at the root of this issue).
I like how Todd Hunter has phrased this: “Many Christians have a religion for death, but what about this life?” The gospel of the kingdom is a gospel for life and death.



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Patrick

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:56 am


I didn’t hear anything much about Jesus and the kingdom of God until studying theology in an evangelical college [= seminary] in my 20s during the 1980s. Will never forget the thrill of seeing how it connected to just about everything Jesus said and did – God bless you Steve Motyer & Dick France! However, I also give thanks for wonderful mentors, excellent Bible teachers and deeply godly Christians who had showed me what Christianity was up until then. It was not as if grasping the kingdom was a totally new gospel, rather it helped me enormously in understanding Jesus’ mission within the overall story of the Bible and I’m still figuring out the implications. Scot’s writing has been fantastically helpful here.
I admire Boyd’s stance against fusing Christianity and nationalism. Very much less enthusiastic and convinced about God the master chess player who does not precisely know what move comes next.
PS is it just me or is Beliefnet getting more intrusive and annoying? I use Firefox but still get ads popping up and a bottom bar now automatically appears that needs closing.



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Ed Gentry

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:57 am


I’ve been in the vineyard tradition (if you can call a denomination this young a tradition)for almost twenty year now. Kingdom of God theology is at the very heart of this tradition. It was initially connected with manifestations of the power of God often in dramatic healing. The vineyard also has always had a deep concern for the poor but I’m not sure if early usage kingdom language was connected with this or not.



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dopderbeck

posted November 2, 2009 at 8:58 am


I grew up in Plymouth Brethren / independent dispensational churches in the 1970′s. The “kingdom” in that theology was something entirely future, so it was never really discussed that I can recall.
Re: Boyd: Honestly, I’m getting a bit weary of this sort of a-historical hyperbole. Jesus, in fact, started a Church, giving authority to the apostles and particularly to Peter, all of which was confirmed at Pentecost and carried through in the first and second centuries. We can certainly discuss the bad aspects of Constantinism, of which there were many, but the notion that the institutional church represented a radical rejection of Jesus’ ideals is rubbish.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted November 2, 2009 at 9:05 am


I grew up in the conservative evangelical subculture during the 80s and 90s, when everything was about apologetics – “always be ready to give an answer.” The letters of Paul took priority over the teachings of Jesus, and folks who taught Kingdom theology were considered liberals. The Gospels were basically presented as backstory to Jesus’ death on the cross and Paul’s atonement theology. I learned that the point of the Sermon on the Mount was to show us that we could not possibly earn our own salvation, that it was hyperbolic, and not to be taken too seriously.
Thanks for featuring Boyd, Scot. I’m a HUGE Boyd fan. “The Myth of a Christian Nation” was really pivotal in changing my attitude about politics. (I think it should be required reading for all Christian college students!) Also read “Satan and the Problem of Evil,” which was a bit heady for me, but fascinating. I’m still trying to decide what I think about that one! :-)
Don, I think you made a good point about religion. It does seem like Christians use the term when it’s convenient and ditch it when it’s not convenient. As I understand it, Boyd is simply trying to deconstruct our notion of what Christianity is all about – working on some of that Romans remix to which Scot referred. But I have noticed that it annoys my non-Christian friends when Christians act like we are “above” religion.



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Travis Greene

posted November 2, 2009 at 9:14 am


Grew up SBC in the 90′s (graduated high school 2002). No kingdom. Very little mention of the Sermon on the Mount. The gospels were mainly for the passion narratives and maybe a few parables.
dopderbeck, I agree the idea of a “churchless” Christianity is bogus. I suspect (or maybe just hope) that’s not what Boyd means by “religion”.



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Don Heatley

posted November 2, 2009 at 9:31 am


I grew up in a Reformed tradition that rarely spoke about Jesus’s parables or the Kingdom. The first time I can remember hearing them was when I was in 5th grade and played Jesus in a public school production of “Godspell”. Ironic.



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Carmen

posted November 2, 2009 at 9:37 am


I grew up Annabaptist in the 1970s-80s, and while I don’t remember hearing much in church (ironically–or maybe not), I constantly heard my parents & their friends talk about & wrestle with the kingdom and kingdom-living. In my early 20s, I read J.H. Yoder & the like in college and devoured Willard, Foster, etc in my late 20s, but it wasn’t until my 30s that I read Kraybill’s Upside-Down kingdom (even after over four years in Anabaptist colleges, go figure). I guess because I grew up at least with the language (the reality and concepts filled out later), it’s always been a bit odd to me how little the kingdom played out in the church in America at large. It’s been wonderful to watch kingdom talk and wrestling seep into our larger community.



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David B. Johnson

posted November 2, 2009 at 9:54 am


Grew up in the 80s and 90s in independent Baptist and Bible churches. I heard religious right. Kingdom was entirely future. Paul wanted us to pray the sinner’s prayer. I don’t remember Jesus ever wanting me to ask him into my heart though?!
What I have been wondering lately is if the relegation of the Kingdom to the future is at least partly to blame for a gospel that is overly individualistic and does not include participation in community. Halter and Smay say this much in The Tangible Kingdom. “The idea of God’s Kingdom is now relegated to the realm of heaven, the afterlife, and we just assume that we won’t get to see God and his beautiful redemptive plan until we pass over. The church therefore becomes something we may not need anymore, something that at best is worth only our recreational enjoyment” (xviii).
My reformed brethren (intentional non-inclusive use of the masculine) warned me against reading Boyd. I read his Myth of a Christian Nation and was pushed over the edge toward an emphasis on Kingdom proclamation! That book helped me understand the internal angst I always felt when American soldiers are treated like missionaries and when we only pray for our troops and never for our “enemies.” Unlike a childhood in Fundamentalism, unlike Bible college, unlike Seminary, Greg Boyd along with others like N.T. Wright and Scot McKnight, have provided me with the necessary tools to proclaim Jesus and his message to God’s people.



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John W Frye

posted November 2, 2009 at 10:03 am


A comment on the term “revolution.” Dr George Peters was my theology of missions prof in seminary. His parents and he fled Russia during the revolution of 1917. They made it to Canada. I was in seminary a few years after the turmoil in the US in the late 60s–those alleged revolutionary days. Dr Peters recoiled at cavalier or trendy uses of the term revolution because he and his parents saw revolution for what it really is. While I think Jesus was radical (i.e., going to the root), I don’t think he was a revolutionary as is often popularly portrayed.



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pam w

posted November 2, 2009 at 10:22 am


I grew up in the 70′s and did not hear about the Kingdom of God as I understand it now. After college on staff with Crusade and in seminary we talked about ‘Kingdom work’: who was doing it and who wasn’t. There ‘Kingdom work’ meant getting decisions and getting people active inside the church. Leaving ‘full time ministry’, and going out in the corporate world to do spiritual formation with leaders and organizations is what finally opened my eyes to the Kingdom of God and the call on our lives to live into the subversive Kingdom. Yoder, Newbigin, Foster reading helped shape a larger picture of the ‘Kingdom work’ in which I was engabged outside of the ecclesial structures.
I love Boyd as he helped my sanity in ’03 while I was was working with the Bush White House. My theology was in line with ‘the myth of a Christan nation’, but all of my friends were convinced I had lost my faith in Jesus because I was making the same points. He was the first Pastor I heard being willing to challenge our lockstep march as an EV Church with the powers of this world rather than the Kingdom of God.
Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I also agree with your statement: “American evangelicalism has been a thin remix of Romans, a religion shaped too much by a simplistic gospel and too rarely shaped by the robust kingdom vision of Jesus that itself gave rise to a much more robust gospel in Paul.” Amen and Amen



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Michael Bauman

posted November 2, 2009 at 10:26 am


I agree with John Frye.
Jesus wasn’t a revolutionary in any normal sense of the word. He was an ancient Jew who practiced Judaism the way it was meant to be practiced.



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Patrick O

posted November 2, 2009 at 10:35 am


For Christ and His Kingdom



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Joshua Dean

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:00 am


I have not read Boyd, but I have heard him speak. It seems that, while Boyd wants to draw out certain aspects of the “Jesus revolution” or whatever you want to call it, his importation of modern categories of thought on his reading of the New Testament causes him to miss other aspects. For instance, the separation of Jesus’ “revolutionary” ideas and the religious practices of a community who held these ideas does not hold salt in the first century….or the fourth….or really the 21st. For early Christians (and I might add for most of subsequent Christian history), these “revolutionary” ideas were not abstract, Enlightenment-style concepts, but rather they were lived out in the particular practices and structures of the church. Christ’s suffering and death were recalled in the Eucharist. The teaching of Jesus were carried on through the apostolic successors. The example of Christ was followed by the martyrs who were committed to the total life of the church, not merely to some abstract ideal about the “beauty of God.” This is not to say that Christians throughout history failed to appreciate certain aspects of the gospel, but it is to say that our own historical situation does not have a particular advantage over any other. What is needed is to work within the framework of our own prejudices, not an attempt to totally escape them (or lord them over another era’s prejudices). This brings me to my second point. Boyd’s reading of history (if I am understanding him correctly) is along the same lines as that of Brian McLaren: subsequent Christianity got Jesus wrong. THe reason for this is, I think, clear. Boyd’s and McLaren’s experience with the narrowness of American evangelicalism cause them to read this narrow perspective into the whole history of Christianity. They do not acknowledge that the meaning of words is very fluid, and hence they fail to realize that terms like “heaven” and “salvation” have not meant the exact same thing throughout Christian history. In other words, Boyd and McLaren cannot help but see all of Christianity after Paul as some version or another of narrow, evangelical, “get to heaven” Christianity, when in fact this is simply not the case. If Boyd wants to talk about suffering, he should read the medieval mystics. If he wants to talk about revolting against society, have him study the development of monasticism. If he wants to talk about a radical social gospel, St. John Chrysostom might have some insight for him. These “post-Christian” thinkers just need to realize that their own bias may prevent them from seeing the fullness of Jesus’ message, as well as the value of subsequent Christian practice throughout history. In short, they need to take history seriously, both in the name of intellectual honesty and an honesty to their own heritage. And one more point. If we understand religion to be a community adhering to a certain set of beliefs that they live out in concrete practices, then, by golly, Jesus did come to start a religion, not just a “revolution.”



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andy W.

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:02 am


I know this to be true; Jesus was considered “Irreligious” to the religious folk in his day and they killed him for it! I have not read Boyd, but this sounds similar to a book I thoroughly enjoyed called “The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus”, by a Canadian Pastor named Bruxy Cavey. Being someone who has never felt at home in the “culture of Church”, I resonate with this type of thinking and would probably enjoy this book by Boyd.



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ellen Haroutunian

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:03 am


The 1970′s. Conservative baptist turned independent. It was all about towing the line and “kingdom” meant sharing the 4 spiritual laws (bringing them to be like us). No sinners allowed. Any sense of ecological responsibility or social justice was considered “worldly”.
That sounds very negative but these were actually very sincere people who thought they were following Christ to the best of their ability. I agree with Joshua – we are a forgetful people, often not knowing our own history. But thank God for this new reformation. :-)



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ellen Haroutunian

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:04 am


The 1970′s. Conservative baptist turned independent. It was all about towing the line and “kingdom” meant sharing the 4 spiritual laws (bringing them to be like us). No sinners allowed. Any sense of ecological responsibility or social justice was considered “worldly”.
That sounds very negative but these were actually very sincere people who thought they were following Christ to the best of their ability. I agree with Joshua – we are a forgetful people, often not knowing our own history. But thank God for this new reformation. :-)



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Karl

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:06 am


I grew up in 1970?s and 1980?s evangelicalism, with significant input from several quite different streams ? Pentecostal, fundamentalist Baptist and evangelical-but-mainline Presbyterian (PCUSA). The concept of a Kingdom vision was at least implicit in the Presbyterian church I grew up in, under a very well read and ecumenically minded evangelical pastor. Enough so that when I encountered it more explicitly later on, it sounded/smelled/felt familiar. But Kingdom emphasis was totally absent from the fundamentalist Baptist (private X?ian school) and Pentecostal (my extended family) circles in which I interacted. It wasn?t until Wheaton College in the early 90?s that I began to get a broader exposure to a more kingdom oriented view of what Jesus? mission was all about. Reading Dallas Willard?s Divine Conspiracy was another turning point for me, followed by getting into N.T. Wright.
I do have a question, or set of related questions, for Boyd and those for whom ?it’s rather about following the example of Jesus, manifesting the beauty of God’s reign while revolting against all that is ugly.” My question is- what about Jesus? resurrection and ascension? What about individual sin and atonement and being made right with God on a personal level ? regardless of your pet theory of how that happens? What about the fact that we realize we *can?t* perfectly follow the example of Jesus and are faced daily with our own internal brokenness and sinfulness and often have a sense of guilt before a just God? Don?t we need a both-and approach, rather than an either-or?
I am all for a Kingdom focus and for a renewed emphasis on being ?apprentices of Jesus? to use Dallas Willard?s term for following Jesus? example. But if Jesus is *only* a good example to follow and the cross is *just* a paradigm of unselfishness and a final symbol of nonviolent revolution, then I?m not clear on why this revolution is any different or better or likely to succeed, than any number of other ones. That?s no more satisfying to me than the shallow fire-insurance, walk-the-aisle-and-pray-the-prayer approach on the other end of the spectrum. Or am I missing something that Boyd is saying? I admit I haven’t read him, and may be reacting to what I’ve picked up from people I’ve interacted with online who seem to have taken Kingdom/Revolution and run with it to the exclusion of everything else in historic Christianity.



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Rick

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:24 am


Karl-
“My question is- what about Jesus? resurrection and ascension? What about individual sin and atonement and being made right with God on a personal level ? regardless of your pet theory of how that happens? What about the fact that we realize we *can?t* perfectly follow the example of Jesus and are faced daily with our own internal brokenness and sinfulness and often have a sense of guilt before a just God? Don?t we need a both-and approach, rather than an either-or?”
I agree. I was not sure if those issues were not included in Boyd’s points, or just not clarified.



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MattR

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:26 am


I grew up in the 80s & early 90s… Baptist.
Like most others here, no kingdom… I heard a lot of 4 spiritual laws, kingdom = heaven in the afterlife. The world is all just gonna burn! What McLaren calls ‘escape theology.’
Boyd is an important voice for evangelicals especially.
His ‘Cross & the Sword’ sermon series is already becoming a classic… and ‘Myth of a Christian Nation’ translates what some in more ‘progressive’ conversations have been saying about power, kingdom, the idolatry of nationalism, and non-violence for a more mainstream evangelical audience.



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Derek Leman

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:26 am


Dopderdeck #17:
Let me suggest a tweak to what you said. Jesus did not start a church per se. Church translates the basic word for congregation (kehillah in Hebrew) and there had been a kehillat Yisrael (congregation of Israel) for centuries.
Jesus started a renewal movement in Judaism, appointed the apostles as the leaders of the renewal movement and (in a sense) of Israel), and ordained at last the spread of the kingdom to all nations and tribes and tongues (without conversion to Judaism or joining Israel). This new community was both continuous and discontinuous with the old.
Scot:
I wish Boyd wouldn’t jump on the “not a religion” thing. It is poor rhetoric. The fact is, the New Testament uses threskos (James 1:26) meaning how to act toward God (the gods). Piety might be a better translation than religion. But I think Boyd, who is more than smart and articulate enough, should, instead of going lowbrow with the “religion” bashing, should have chosen another tagline.



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Barb

posted November 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm


Grew up in the 50s-60s. Raised Presbyterian, came to personal faith through Young Life in 60s. Christian college education and a dab of very conservative seminary. Remember no “Kingdom” teaching.
Now, Elder in PC(USA)–learning about the Kindgom all the time. Heard a podcast of Boyd and then read “Myth of a Christian Nation” which gave me much to discuss with others in my church who thought otherwise.
Also, I think I’ve come from being disparaging of religion in the 60s to understanding that Christianity is religion now and not worrying about that word anymore. Most influential writer to me on Kingdom and the churches mission to exhibit the Kingdom is Darrel Guder.
Now I much more fully embrace my own tradition and it’s historical views on the Kingdom of God.



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Brad

posted November 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm


I was born in the mid-sixties and became a believer in the SBC in the late 70′s. I never heard any kingdom talk other than referring to heaven. The sermon on the mount was rarely preached or taught and when it was it received a dispensational slant.
The main things I’ve heard about Boyd regard open theism and have come mostly from his detractors.



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Jeremy Berg

posted November 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm


Thanks for featuring Boyd at Jesus Creed. I had Greg Boyd as a professor at Bethel University and know him personally (a bit). I am semi-connected to his great Kingdom-centered church and his Jesus-centered theology has had enormous influence on my thinking — especially my political views.
Everyone should engage his “Myth of a Christian Nation” (prequel to this book) which came out of his sermon series “The Cross and the Sword” which led to a mass exodus of some 2,000 people leaving his church because he would not endorse the republican party in the 2004 election.
I’m glad to see that people aren’t fixating on Boyd’s controversial “Open View” of God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge here. Sadly, many folks only know Boyd via that debate and never get to see his other great contributions to Kingdom theology.
I would commend to the Jesus Creed community the global online community of Greg’s teaching ministry at http://bridge.whchurch.org.
Blessings all!



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Jeremy Berg

posted November 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm


To answer the question:
I first encountered robust “kingdom thinking” in the teaching of Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy) around 1998.
Two influential megachurches in the Twin Cities I attended teach the Bible through the lenses of the Kingdom — Church of the Open Door (David Johnson) and Woodland Hills Church (Greg Boyd).
I have no idea when or if I would have heard such Kingdom-thinking had I lived elsewhere. But I agree with Scot that there seems to be a tension between Paul’s Gospel and Jesus’ Kingdom Gospel which shape various churches. Need I mention a third prominent church in Minneapolis that has a slightly different theological emphasis? Yes, I’m referring to Bethlehem Baptist (John Piper).
Interestingly, during my days at Bethel University all the students (tragically) could basically be labelled either “of Boyd” or “of Piper”. Both Boyd and Piper lament this reality, but behind it lies the fact that part of what differentiates their teaching seems to be the question: Paul-shaped gospel steeped in Romans vs. Kingdom-shaped Gospel steeped in the Gospels.
I have sought to find a third way forward — a “both-and” solution to this tension.
Any other Twin Cities readers here who can relate to my experience here in good ole MN?



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Andy

posted November 2, 2009 at 5:06 pm


I’m glad we’re talking about Greg Boyd here. He has definitely had an influence on my thinking. I also first encountered a lot of “Kingdom of God” theology from Dallas Willard. I grew up in the midwest in the UMC in the 90′s. It seems that churches like mine were so worried about “doing” church that the messiness of the Gospel and the Kingdom were too inconvenient for the average church-goer and especially inconvenient for the church if seeking the true message of Gospel’s meant possibly upsetting congregation members with big checkbooks.
Nonetheless, Boyd has taught me a lot about being an authentic Jesus follower, and what is actaully expected of us. I am especially looking forward to Boyd’s new book on the Hebrew Bible’s violence.



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Andy

posted November 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm


Sorry – forgot to post my url…



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Jim Martin

posted November 3, 2009 at 4:13 am


I don’t remember hearing very much at all about the kingdom of God when I was growing up (1960′s). What I do remember hearing (1970′s) had to do with countering some premillennial issues. I recall some sermons in which preachers expressed concerns regarding the premill view of the timing of the kingdom. There was much stress on the idea that the church and the kingdom were the same. This kingdom/church has already been established. Consequently, we should not expect that one day Jesus will one day set up his kingdom and physically reign from Jerusalem, etc.)
I do not remember hearing anything about the kingdom that went beyond this. I don’t remember anything regarding a kingdom lifestyle, kingdom priorities etc. More may have been said, but I sure don’t remember it.



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Percival

posted November 3, 2009 at 12:15 pm


I have listened to perhaps 50 sermons of Boyd’s during the past three years as what he terms a “pod-rishoner.”
First, when he talks about “religion” in negative terms, he means people getting their life and self-worth from what they practice, where they go to church, and what doctrines they hold to.
I’ve never found him that radical. (Except when he goes after my carnivorous habits – He’s a vegetarian.) When I say, not that “radical” I mean he’s not reinventing Christianity. It’s similar to what I grew up with. Social action, pietism, enthusiastic worship, countercultural lifestyle, empowering women and the poor, etc.
I grew up in a sort of methodist/holiness/charismatic family in the 70′s.
Also, one of my best friends is from John Piper’s church (20 years now) and he respects Boyd’s ministry without agreeing with a lot of it. I think that’s great and it’s one of the reasons he is such a respected friend.



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Steven McDade

posted November 3, 2009 at 2:05 pm


Raise in the Late 60′s to the mid 80′s.
Methodism never mentioned the Kingdom but Jesus was King. i sang songs about “My Father’s World” but didn’t think that the earth was God’s, but the afterlife.
The more I read about the history of the time of Jesus, the more I really think that we need a perception shift, focus on doing what Jesus did to really experience God in our lives.



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