A recently published word study was not exactly revelatory for me, yet it did guide me back to that type of investigation in the Kingdom sphere. (Here is my follow-up inquiry on the word frequency data.). Quite a bit of dialogue—or, more accurately, a series of solitary interjections—came later. On the whole, it seems to me that the comments indicate a kind of regressive awareness of the nature of the Kingdom, not to mention an all-over-the-map set of vantage points from which people approach it.
Comments below this line may be edited for format or truncated in spots. We’ll start with a word from Larry, who chimed in to inform readers of a book.
Larry: The Theocratic Kingdom, by George N. H. Peters, thoroughly addresses all of the issues brought up here and much more. Unfortunately, Logos markets this 1860s work as “Dispensational,” which probably scares off many who would benefit from it. Also unfortunately, Peters is apparently seldom read and people continue to take up this topic as if they are breaking new ground. . . .
Me: I appreciate knowing of the Peters work and suspect you are at least partially correct as to why the work has been (recently, at least) ignored. I have a sizable bibliography of works on this topic and have never come across this one — or any reference to it. I have just put it on my shopping list. Another work that should not go unread for any serious pursuer of Kingdom is John Bright’s The Kingdom of God. A student of noted historian William Foxwell Albright, Bright treats Kingdom thoroughly and astutely through the periods of believing history.
As for my own work, I have not been under any impression that I’ve been breaking new ground. I do have some evidence, including this Peters work and other works of the 19th and early 20th centuries, that some really well-plowed ground has been covered by sand and silt for decades, though!
Commentary: in academic scholarly pursuits, it is often considered important to start at the edge of the tilled acreage, so to speak, and then continue plowing ground from there. Despite the fact that the initial impetus for discussion was academic, and acknowledging the contributions of academic inquiry to most discussions, Kingdom must never be confined to academics or academia. Even if it is not explicitly understood or stated, Kingdom is an essential sphere for the Christian, and it should not be thought of as only an academic pursuit, although academics may certainly make worthwhile contributions.
Based on observations in my travels, I would assert that, regardless of research and writing, general Christian awareness of Kingdom thinking and implications has not advanced. Little new ground has been plowed recently, and I’m not sure there are many tillable acres left. Although many write and speak of Kingdom, it is not that the contributions are new, nor is it that more apt understandings are being reached. I would argue In some ways, the “advancement” of Christendom (and I use that term both advisedly and pejoratively) has shrouded the Kingdom, resulting more in a regressive awareness than a deeper understanding. Sigh.
If I were researching for academic purposes, the Peters tome would surely be requisite reading. A later commenter referred readers to a YouTube video serial presentation on the Peters work, so I checked that out, hoping to find a sort of précis. Based on a few minutes spent with that presentation, and, really, based solely on the video’s subtitle (“Proving the Physical Nature of the Kingdom” or some such malarkey), I no longer think the Peters work warrants my time. Even though physical aspects may be greater than I think they are, these need little emphasis. Anyone who sets out to “prove” the kingdom is purely physical has got to have his head examined. Or be talked into actually reading the documents in the New Testament. Or both.
In the next installment, I’ll share a comment from Daniel, relating to an unyielding view that pays tribute to the Tribulation theory.