May 15, 2013

The Kingdom and Pluralism

I'll continue today with my third proposition on the topic of "Justice, Pluralism, and the Kingdom."

Third, Jesus is King over the whole world, even in the realm of public law and civil justice in every society.

This kingship is not yet fully realized of course, but it must inform our desire to live in the context of plural conceptions of the good. Quoting Lesslie Newbigin once more:
To call men and women into discipleship of Jesus Christ is and must always be central in the life of the Church.  But we must be clear about what discipleship will mean.  It cannot mean that one accepts the lordship of Christ as governing personal and domestic life, and the life of the Church, while another sovereignty is acknowledged for the public life of society.  (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 220).
Jesus is at work to reconcile all things to himself, and in that process, anything in creation can be directed toward or away from God’s Kingship—that is, directed either in obedience or disobedience to his law. This “double direction” (to use to Albert Wolters’ framework) can be applied not only to human beings, but also to cultural phenomena and social institutions, such as legal systems, governments, and law practices.

Legal institutions, courts, families, corporations, human souls, science, technology, sexuality are disputed. This is a spiritual battle, in quite a literal sense. The “direction” (again, using Wolters’ framework) of these institutions, people, and entities may be toward the true King, in the process of redemption, or toward the powers that oppose Him—continuing in the disobedience begun at the fall. Our cultural task is a redemptive one, working to direct people, institutions, and entities toward the King. Wolters puts it this way:
[W]e have a redemptive task wherever our vocation places us in his world. No invisible dividing line within creation limits the applicability of such basic biblical concepts as reconciliation , redemption, salvation, sanctification, renewal, the kingdom of God, and so on. In the name of Christ, distortion must be opposed everywhere—in the kitchen and the bedroom, in city councils and corporate boardrooms, on the stage and in the air, in the classroom and in the workshop. . . . 
What was formed in creation has been historically deformed by sin and must be reformed in Christ. (Albert M. Wolters,Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, 73, 91).
We are not ever called to abruptly eradicate every aspect of the established system and replace it with a totally new one. Instead, our calling requires us to understand that no societal order is absolutely corrupt, and to see first what is good within the societal order.

We also understand that progress is NOT the expectation, but suffering as well as victory and proclamation and endurance and waiting and seeing and loving—not a cycle, not continuous progress, but a redemptive matrix of perichoretic relationships in which we give and receive the love and power of God, one to another as a reflection of the Triune God.

Some helpful resources on this topic for further study:

Paul Marshall, Thine is the Kingdom: A Biblical Perspective on the Nature of Government and Politics Today (1984). 

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