A wrong paradigm of the church and the kingdom of God
There is much confusion and misunderstanding about God, truth, Christianity, the church and the broader kingdom. Consequently, growing out of that confusion, we have shortchanged those things. We have gone to several extremes such as: truth is for the church and the church’s role is described as spiritual and should not focus on the issues that are confronting our lives every day-politics, science, economics, art, history and so it goes. Those are what we call kingdom of God issues which are not part of the “spirituality of the church.” This creates the misunderstanding that the church has nothing to say about those things. Not long after we formed our denomination (the PCA), we adopted a position on abortion. I remember one of my older minister friends saying to me, “I thought we were not going to deal with those kinds of social issues.” You might guess my response to him.
The opposite of that extreme is that the church should be involved in every kind of activity possible, building hospitals, focusing on politics, duplicating the university’s curriculum, and getting involved in every kind of social cause. Such a dualistic model represents part of Bill’s problem. He is really confused. Part of him belongs to the church and he must do certain things that are church related such as pray, read the Bible, worship, and share the Gospel, while there is another part of his life that involves his law career which cannot be connected with the church because the church focuses only on the spiritual part of life.
Believing Christ’s great commission was given to his church, we therefore believe the church has a major role in the entire genre of Christian education by teaching the people to observe all things Christ has commanded. That is what we call “kingdom education” and kingdom education equips us for all of life.
We believe that it is both urgent and crucial for us to revisit this area of truth, the church and the kingdom, in order to think or rethink the assignments, roles, and spheres in making disciples. This of course assumes that discipleship presents a far greater challenge than simply focusing on the individual and his or her relationship to Christ in a saving sense. While all of Christian education must have the person and work of Christ as its nucleus, it must also include the Great Commission in Matthew 28: 19, 20, coupled with the first commission in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heaven and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (ESV). Those two assignments are not antithetical nor should one replace the other. In looking at both commissions from the Lord, we realize that Christianity has a broader application than mere Bible study, though studying God’s Word is at the heart of the discipleship process. And while we would never attempt to demean the importance of Bible study, because the Bible actually gives us the foundation for all truth, simply studying the content of the Bible alone does not accomplish what we call kingdom education. We must not only understand the Word, we must also understand the world. However, our understanding of the world must be in light of understanding the Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105.
To understand the whole concept of Christian education as kingdom discipleship (we use those two terms interchangeably), we must understand something of the relation of the church’s role and position within the broader kingdom. This is what we will address in this pr