Kingdom Theology

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Kingdom theology grows out of the dominion concept. In fact, the terms are often used interchangeably. The phrase kingdom theology is widely used in certain charismatic circles. It has not been used by those who advocate a dominion theology, although there are many points of agreement. Basically, kingdom theology deals with the timing and nature of the kingdom. Is the kingdom

only future? Or is the kingdom both now and future? Does the kingdom only have reference to heaven? Or does the kingdom manifest itself on earth? Is the kingdom solely internal? Or does the kingdom manifest itself externally as well?

These questions may sound technical. To clarify them, let us ask them in a personal way. Is your personal salvation only future? Or is it both now and future? Does your personal salvation only have reference to heaven? Or does it manifest itself on earth? Is your personal salvation solely internal? Or does it manifest itself externally?

All of a sudden, the light dawns. These are false choices, aren't they? Well, it's an equally false choice regarding the kingdom of God. Mr. Hunt has created an unnecessary choice between the kingdom of God in heaven and the kingdom of God on earth, between the kingdom of God in people's hearts and the kingdom of God in people's behavior.

The first chapter of Colossians describes God's reign as including things "visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities" (Col. 1:16). Jesus has reconciled "all things to Himself . . . whether things on earth or things in heaven" (v. 20). This is not something that will happen; it ha-s happened.

The Reduction of Christianity seeks to explain the issues raised by proponents and opponents of dominion and kingdom theology. Much of the discussion in this book will center on the timing and nature of the kingdom. It is enough to say at this point that the kingdom is both present and future, internal and external, visible and invisible. 26

Christian Reconstruction

Christian reconstruction is not a movement in a strict sense.27

26. For a helpful discussion on the kingdom see Greg L. Bahnsen, 'This World and the Kingdom of God." Appendix D.

27. 'The term 'Christian Reconstruction'was coined by Gary North for use with the Journal of Christian Reconstruction, which began publication in 1974." James B. Jordan, "The "Reconstructionist Movement;" The Geneva Review, No. 18 (March 1985), p. 1. This essay is available from Geneva Ministries, RO. Box 131300, Tyler, TX 75713.

There is no central director, no overall, tightly controlled strategy. What unites "reconstructionists" is their commitment to certain distinctive doctrines. There are several "think tanks" that promote reconstructionist distinctive, including Geneva Ministries, the Chalcedon Foundation, and the Institute for Christian Economics. Several of these institutions have publishing wings. The "reconstructionist movement" embraces numerous scholars and writers as well as many pastors and teachers who are also sympathetic to the main thrust of Christian reconstruction. Many of the teachings of "Christian reconstructionists" are developments of particular Reformed doctrines that find their best expression in the confessional standards of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

In particular, reconstructionists believe in the sovereignty of God as it relates to personal salvation and all aspects of the created order,28 hold to the old Puritan belief in the continuing significance of the Old Testament case laws29 and a victorious view of the future progress of the kingdom of God,30 and advocate

28. Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Faith (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1983); The ReformedDoctrine of Predestination (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969); R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God (Wheaton, IL: Tyn-dale, 1986); Michael Scott Horton, Mission Accomplished (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1986); Robert A. Morey, The Saving Work of Christ: Studies in the Atonement (Sterling, VA: Grace Abounding Ministries, 1980); Arthur C. Custance, The Sovereignty of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979); Wafter J. Chantry, Today's Gospel:Authentic orSynthetic (London: Banner ofTruth Trust, 1970); A. W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (rev. ed.; London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968); J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973).

29. Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics (rev. ed.; Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, [1977] 1984); By This Standard: The Authority of God's Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1986); R. J. Rush-doony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1973); James B. Jordan, The Low of the Covenant (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984).

30. David Chilton, Paradise Restored: ABiblicai Theology of Dominion (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1985) and The Days ofVengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987).

the presuppositional apologetic methodology and philosophy of the late Cornelius Van Til (who was not a "reconstructionist").31 Moreover, "reconstructionists" have a broad understanding of the church's mission in the world. They believe that the gospel commission involves not only saving individuals, which is fundamental and primary, but also the "discipline" of the nations, bringing the nations under the authority of Christ through sacrificial service and the application of Scripture (Matt. 28:18-20).

have drawn from a rich history of thought in the development of their ideas. Some of these distinctive elements can be found in the literature of the early church fathers, although in a less systematic form. The reconstructionist emphasis on a biblically-based view of life goes back at least to the Puritans. Leland Ryken notes that the Puritans held firmly to the inerrancy of Scripture and trusted its authority in every area of Me.

According to William Perkins, the Bible "comprehendeth many holy sciences," and when he began to list them, they included "ethics . . . , economics (a doctrine of governing a family) ..., politics (a doctrine of the right administration of a common weal) . . . , academy (the doctrine of governing schools well)." According to another source, the Bible is so broad in its application that all subjects "in schools and universities" can be related to it.32

For the Puritans, all work was holy, because it was done in

31. The Defense of the Faith (3rd rev. ed.; Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, [1955] 1967). Van Til did show appreciation for R. J. Rushdoony's work: "Your continued interest in all my works is atways encouraging." Van Til's response to Rushdoony's "Van Til and the One and the Many," Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van TU, ed., E. R. Geehan(Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971), p. 348.

32. Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986), p. 143.

obedience to the Lord and for His glory, The American Puritan preacher John Cotton said,

A true believing Christian . . . lives in his vocation by his faith. Not only my spiritual life but even my civil life in this world, and all the life I live, is by the faith of the Son of God: He exempts no life from the agency of his faith.33

The Puritans were not, however, abstract theorists who sat idly in their towers spinning abstract philosophies.

Puritanism was a reform movement. Its identity was determined by its attempts to change something that already existed. At the heart of Puritanism was the conviction that things needed to be changed and that "business as usual" was not an option. . . . Of all the key terms used by the Puritans, the foremost were reform, reformation, or the adjective reformed. These terms were not the coinage of later historians but were the words on everyone's lips during the Puritan era itself. It was an age in which rulers were urged "to reform their countries," churchmen to effect "the reformation of religion," and fathers "to reform [their] families." At a more personal level, the Puritan impulse was to "reform the life from ungodliness and unrighteous dealing."3*

The Puritans' vision 'was nothing less than a totally re-formed society based on biblical principles." In short, the Puritans "were activists to the very core of their being."35 Significantly, as we shall see in detail in chapter 13, the Puritans were confident that their efforts would succeed.

Thus, we find in the Puritans many of the distinctive qualities of the "reconstruction movement": commitment to the authority

of Scripture in every area of life, an emphasis on the importance and significance of work and service, an activist, reformist spirit, and optimism about the future.

These emphases were not lost with the Puritans. They reappeared in a somewhat different form and in a very different cultural context in 19th-century America. Like the Puritans, American Calvinists of the last century believed that the Bible should be used in every area of life and thought. In political theory, for example, they rejected the theories of popular and State sovereignty and insisted instead that God was sovereign over all nations.

Though they supported the separation of church and state, Calvinists and many other evangelical living in the late nineteenth century proclaimed that religion should not and could not be divorced from politics. Underlying all governments were central presuppositions that either supported or undermined Christianity; there was no intermediate option.36

They also insisted that the Bible be central to all education. They argued "that religious substance could not simply be tacked on to a neutral curriculum by Bible reading and prayer; rather, a biblical world and life view must undergird and inform the study of all subjects in the public schools."37

Again like the Puritans, American Calvinists worked for comprehensive reform. The Calvinist understanding of the kingship of Christ was especially important.

William Greene [professor at Atwater and Princeton Seminaries] emphasized that the doctrine of God's sovereignty in history and salvation stimulated Christians to serve God through their vocations, homes, and statecraft in order to bring the affairs of society under the rule of Christ. Calvinists, who believed that

36. Gary Scott Smith, The Seeds of Secularization: Calvinism, Culture, and Pluralism in America, 1870-1915 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian University Press/Eerd-mans, 1985), pp. 55-56.

biblical principles should guide all human activities, denounced efforts to confine the influence of Christianity to the church and family life.38

Some Reformed groups, such as the National Reform Association, sought to implement Christ% rule through legislation. Most, however, believed that evangelism and service were more important for reforming American society according to biblical principles.39

Many of these teachings, particularly the idea that Christianity applies to every area of life, found a brilliant expositor in the 19th-century Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). Two writers have said that Kuyper's brand of Calvinism was the "only modem exception"40 to the tendency of Christians either to abandon social action in favor of piety or to abandon piety in favor of social action. Kuyper himself was an incredibly active and prolific figure. After earning a doctorate in theology from the University of Leiden in 1862, Kuyper held pastorates in Beesd, Utrecht, and Amsterdam. During his Amsterdam pastorate, Kuyper also edited a church newspaper and became increasingly involved in politics. Together with a group of politically active Christians, Kuyper helped to organize and strengthen the Anti-revolutionary Party, which had been started a few years earlier by Guillaume Green van Prinsterer. Kuyper was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 1873 and eventually rose to the position of Prime Minister (1901-1905). Meanwhile, he edited a political journal and wrote editorials that eventually numbered over 16,000. In the late 1870s, Kuyper devoted his vast energies to the founding of the Free University of Amsterdam, where he also taught several diverse subjects.41

40. Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe, Understanding Cults and New Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), p. 126.

41. Frank vanden Berg, Abraham Kuyper: A Biography (Ontario, Canada Paideia Press, 1978).

Kuyper was obviously a man of action, but he was also a significant scholar and theologian. In 1898, Kuyper gave a series of lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary.42 These lectures on Calvinism developed Kuyper's thesis that Calvinism is more than a system of doctrine. It is a full-orbed world and life view. Calvinism provides distinctive teachings on man's three-fold relationship: to God, to other men, and to the world. Kuyper showed how the principles of Calvinism worked out in the church, in politics, science, and art, and insisted that only Calvinism could provide an antidote to the life-system of modernism.43 Kuyper's ideas formed much of the basis for Henry Van Til's The Calvinistic Concept of Culture,** and was one of the inspirations behind the apologetic works of Cornelius Van Til. And, it is from Cornelius Van Til that reconstructionists derive their basic philosophical position. Of course, Kuyper's original ideas were modified over the decades, but reconstructionists still look to Kuyper as one of their key intellectual forefathers.

The "Kuyperian" tradition "was at once pious and socially influential."45 But there is one significant difference between Kuyper and reconstructionists. Kuyper was an amillennialist; he really did not believe that Christian efforts at reform would prove successful. In fact, he believed that all ideologies, including atheism, should be considered as viable options for the nation. All views should be allowed to compete without any single view claiming the only right and true view. There can be no earthly victory for the gospel because the game is rigged in favor of the other guy. In time, Christianity was squeezed out by the competing options. When we consider that Amsterdam has become a major

42. Gary Smith, Seeds of Secularization, pp. 42-49.

43. Abraham Kuyper, Christianity as a Life System: The Witness of a World- View, abridged from the Kuyper Stone Lectures, (Memphis, TN: Christian Studies Center, 1980). Available for $4.00 from American Vision, P.O. Box 720515, Atlanta, GA, 30328.

44. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, (1959) 1972.

45. Hexham and Poewe, Understanding Cults and New Religions, p. 126.

European center for drugs and pornography, we can begin to better understand that ideas, especially eschatological ideas, have consequences.

This brief historical overview helps to place the Christian re-constructionists in historical perspective and shows that their ideas have a rich and broad heritage in the Reformed churches.

Millennial Views

This book focuses on the "eschatological" issues that Dave Hunt raises in his books. Eschatology is that part of theology that deals with the end times. The question is: The "end times" of Old Testament Israel? The Church Age? The great tribulation? The restored Israel of the millennium? We believe that this is one of the most significant differences between ourselves and Mr. Hunt. In order to help the reader understand the terms that will be used throughout the book, let us briefly describe different general views of the "end times."

Traditionally, eschatological views have been categorized according to different views of the thousand year period of Revelation 20. Each of these views has been held by orthodox and conservative theologians. All three have coexisted in the church, often in the same congregation. Though some denominations hold to a particular millennial position, the various denominations are not agreed on eschatology, as they are, for example, on the doctrine of the Trinity.

Using one text of Scripture to categorize one's eschatology is clearly not the best way to describe the differences between various positions. After all, in a sense the entire New Testament is about eschatology.46 Also, the terms are of fairly recent origin and were not used by the theologians of earlier centuries. Thus, it is somewhat anachronistic to talk about the millennial position of, say, Luther or Augustine.

46. See Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, [1930] 1986).

Finally, there are numerous variations of these views. Not every premillennialist will agree with every other premillennialist. In fact, not every dispensational premillennialist agrees with all other premillennial dispensationalists.47 Therefore, any insistence on making millennial views a test of orthodoxy will only create greater divisions in the church. Still, these categories help to distinguish in a general way the different positions that Christians have taken with respect to the future.


The "premillennial" view,48 as the name suggests, says that Christ will return physically before the millennium begins. Christ's return will be preceded by "the preaching of the gospel to all nations, a great apostasy, wars, farnines, earthquakes, the appearance of the Antichrist and a great tribulation."* Thus, Christ returns physically to a world in turmoil and sets up His kingdom on earth for a thousand years. At the end of the millennium, there will be a final, cataclysmic battle, followed by the final judgment

47. Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Paul D. Feinburg, Douglas J. Moo, and Richard R. Reiter, The Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulational? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Acadamie, 1984).

48. The historic premillennial position was supported by many of the early church fathers, including Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. There is a distinction between "historic* premillennialism and "dispensational" premillennial-ism. Prior to the 20th century nearly all premillennialist were historicpremillen-nialists. Francis A. Schaeffer, Carl F. H. Henry, George Eldon Ladd, Alan Johnson, Carl Mclntire, and J. Barton Payne would be classified as historic premil-lennialists. When dispensationalists claim the Mathers, for example, they often fail to mention that their 17th-century brand of premillennialism is not the 20th-century dispensational variety. One of the elements that distinguishes historic premillennialism from dispensational premillennialism is the timing of the rapture. For the dispensational premillennialist, the rapture occurs before a period of intense persecution of the church known as the Great Tabulation. In effect, Jesus actually comes two times: for His saints before the Tribulation and then with His saints after the Tribulation. For the historic premillennialist, Jesus will return in a single event after a period of intense persecution of the church known as the Great Tribulation.

49. Robert G. Clouse, ed., The Millennium: Four Views (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977), pp. 7-8.

and the resurrection. In broad terms, the premillennialist does not believe that Christianity will triumph over all other systems on earth without Christ's sudden intervention.

One particular brand of premillennialism has been called "dis-pensational premillennialism ,"50 As a general system, dispensa-tionalism is distinguished by several emphases. First, dispensa-rely on what they consider to be a literal interpretation of the text of Scripture. Second, the dispensationalist distinguishes sharply between Israel and the church. They are two separate peoples of God. God has different purposes for these two peoples. The church is God's "heavenly people," while Israel remains, even after Christ's first advent, God's "earthly people."51 In addition to these more general differences, the dispensa-tional premillennialist differs from the historic premillennialist on several details of the "end times." Dispensationalists, for example, relying on a literal interpretation of Ezekiel 40-48, conclude that "in the millennium, the Jewish temple will be rebuilt and the entire sacrificial system re instituted ."52 Furthermore, the dispensa-interpreter has a clear idea of God's purposes for ethnic Israel during the millennium. On the other hand, there are some overriding similarities between the two forms of premillennialism. Like historic premillennialism, dispensationalism teaches that Christ will return physically to establish His millennial kingdom on earth. Both, furthermore, believe that the church will be vic-

50. In the past century, most popular American premillennialist have been dispensationalists, including William E. Blacks[one, Dwight L. Moody, C. I. Scofield, Alva J. McClain, Herman A. Hoyt, Charles Ryrie, Dwight Pentecost, Hal Lindsey, H. A. Ironside, and John Walvoord,

51. Charles Ryrie,Dispensationalism.Today (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1965), pp. 44-47. Ryrie lists a third distinctive feature of dispensationalism: that the underlying purpose of God is His own glory. He compares this to what he perceives to be covenant theology's emphasis on salvation. It is hard to see how Ryrie might come to this conclusion about covenant theology. Thecovenantal Westminster Shorter Catechism's first question says that man's chief end is "to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." It has always been a hallmark of covenant theology to emphasize the centrality of bringing glory to God.

52. Clouse, Meaning of the Millennium, p. 26.

ordy by direct divine intervention and thus are pessimistic about the church's future during the present age.

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