I began reading The Kingdom of Christ (TKoC) about two years ago, and was throughly enjoying the book at the time, but for some reason (that I can no longer remember), I failed to finish it in its entirety. Currently however, I am in one of those modes where I’m enthralled by reading, learning, and synthesizing, so I just finished rereading the entire book.
The Kingdom of Christ is a deeply theological book that is not an easy read, but is well worth the endeavor. One of the reasons that this is a hard read is the length of the chapters. The entire book is only five chapters long, actually four chapters, because the fifth chapter is only a brief conclusion. The four main chapters are lengthy and technical, which makes reading individual chapters a little-at-a-time a bad idea, because it’s hard to reenter the author’s flow of thought if your reading has paused for a significant amount of time. The book also assumes that its readers have a basic understanding of things like covenant theology, dispensational theology, the Kingdom of God, the social gospel, and the evangelical movement. These issues: the length of chapters, technicality of the language, and assumed pre-knowledge of the reader are the only real negatives of the book. And honestly, these aren’t negatives as much as they are just factors that narrow the book’s audience. And let’s be honest, not every book is for every person.
In TKoC Moore does an unparalleled job of tracing the theological concept of the “Kingdom of God” as it has evolved in both the dispensational and covenant theological camps. In each chapter, Moore unpacks how “Kingdom of God” theological construct has had profound implications on: eschatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology. In all of these theological areas, covenantal and dispensational theologians have developed wider agreement due to a deeper understanding of Bible’s teaching about the Kingdom of God. Moore’s intent is to question the social and political ramifications of evangelical action within the public sphere based on this wider theological agreement. The book asserts that modern evangelicalism’s discussion of social and political action began with the publication of Carl F. Henry’s, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. In chapter one, Moore delves into Henry’s writings, and then traces the theological history of the Kingdom of God to the current time. According to Moore’s conclusion, though larger evangelicalism now agrees more wholeheartedly on “Kingdom of God” theology, it now faces larger theological disagreements on perhaps even more primary issues such as epistemology, inerrancy, and the sovereignty of God. This is evidenced by the increasing influence of movements such as evangelical feminism and open theism.
I walked away from TKoC with a much deeper understanding of covenantal theology, dispensational theology, the writings of Carl F. Henry, the Bible’s teaching about the Kingdom of God, and the mission of the church in society. This book is profoundly relevant to the questions now being addressed by the modern church. In many ways, the emerging church movement is repeating the mistakes of the social gospel liberation theology of the 1960’s. And most likely, this is in part a reaction to the unhealthy politicization of Christianity by the Religious Right. Church leaders need to continually assess how to be the “city on the hill” that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount. TKoC is an important read in that assessment. Having read TKoC, I yearn for a practical book dealing with how churches can be salt and light in the public sphere, that takes into account Moore’s research, but is geared to a larger audience. I would love to hear any suggestions about books of this nature.