Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bringin' in the Kingdom!

So...can we bring in the kingdom of God by our own efforts? Or, can we 'direct' the 'structures' to faithfully be participating in the kingdom? Where does human effort fall in the progressive outworking of the kingdom? What questions! Obviously, many answers have been proffered, but few have ever come to any consensus. It almost seems to be a Christian phobia to insinuate anything close to human effort bringing in the kingdom, where would Christ be in that--wouldn't we basically be bowing to Pelagius and the Divine Sparks (a great name for a rockband)? Maybe we need to rethink our way of viewing the world...

Uhoh...he used 'view' and 'world' in the same sentence! Is this another 'worldview' post? I'm getting so tired of those. In fact, if he continues on this track, I'm going to take his blog out of my favorites and spit on the ashes.

Be assured reader, that this is no ordinary 'worldview' post. Oh no, it is more about a posttheoretical aspect of human cognition (if only I understood what those words mean!). It is well known, thanks to Francis Schaeffer, that the Enlightenment finished building the humanist firmament--the division between Heaven and Earth; Faith and Science; Religion and Philosophy. It was a long time in coming, that pesky Judeo-Christian tradition stymied its effects for a long time. But eventually, we were able to kick God (or, as was more fashionable to say, the 'divine') out of our cosmos and relegate him to some Platonic nowhere. Then, we just got rid of God--even far away is too close. What about those "good ol' days" where God was intimately involved in His Creation, those wacky premodern days where YHWH controlled the winds, seas, and everything under the sun? If we don't go back to that sort of thought, the divine and the 'earthy' being woven in tightly (but still distinct), we won't know how to deal with human action in our messed-up world.

Thinking about it recently, I wonder what the impact of 'the Spirit' has on the Church's life. It certainly seems that we act out of a different Spirit, depending on which denomination or even which church in the same denomination (which is a scary thought). There is no unity, no brotherhood, no community--just Baptists and Catholics, Orthodox and Presbyterian. I think that a good view of the Spirit might help us understand the 'kingdom question' and bring renewed community.

What is the Spirit? I don't mean in the metaphysical, trinitarian sense, but in the practical sense. Cal Seerveld, in almost an offhand comment here at Geneva, equated the Spirit with Wisdom in the Old Testament. I think that this is a helpful way to look at things: the Spirit is Wisdom, God's Wisdom, which He gives to man freely upon asking. Every time Paul prays for the Spirit to come on an individual church, he is essentially praying that they would have Wisdom to resolve their problems, become unified, and press the kingdom onward in their communities. Which brings me back to above...

Since the realm of the divine and human are so closely knit (especially since the human Jesus, the incarnation of the divine Spirit-Wisdom-Word, see below about Rereading John 1), our work in the kingdom must be Spirit-driven. All our efforts to discern (Spiritually discern) culture, work, faith, or anything must be guided by Wisdom. So, all our efforts in the kingdom aren't 'bringin in the kingdom' but instead are the work of the Spirit to bring about the kingdom through chosen vessels. However, you might ask, why all the division in the Church? Unfortunately, I think that I have to say that is because the Church has sold itself under different 'spirits' or 'principalities and powers' and not to the true Spirit. We need to pray and think and work and pray some more for God to unify us under the One Spirit of Jesus so that our kingdom work won't be our own (or someone against God) efforts, but the very outworking of the Spirit to bring about God's wise plans.

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