Culture and the Kingdom of God

*Posted by Joe Wooddell

Theres a lot of talk in theological circles today about King Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and about Jesus message being anti-imperial. Such talk rightly endorses the notion that Jesus is King over all. Christ is King, not Caesar. This is a great and important message. Proponents, however, should be very careful not to endorse a hands-off mentality for believers with respect to pop culture, politics, economics, business and entrepreneurship, the sciences, professional sports, etc., focusing instead merely on biblical studies. Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) correctly maintained, There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine! If Jesus is, in fact, King over all, then believers should be interested in learning about, participating in, and redeeming all of culture for King Jesus (without sinning, of course). Believers should create new and better products, start businesses, serve in elected office, become physicists, mathematicians, soldiers, trade workers, policemen, artists, journalists, and professional athletes, making as much money and gaining as much influence as possible, and using those resources shrewdly and benevolently (i.e., Christianly). They should create legitimate private sector jobs, which in turn lifts whole societies out of poverty and enhances human dignity. (Mere handouts do neither, only creating dependency.) They should bring Judeo-Christian values to bear on society, improving it, engaging it, redeeming it; and Christian theologians, philosophers, and Bible scholars should encourage and support them.

None of this is an attempt to usher in the Kingdom of God (only Christ will do that upon His return), or to endorse theocracy, dominion theology, or a restored Christian America. And it certainly shouldnt involve forcing anyone toward conversion. It is, rather, to put the truth, goodness, and beauty of the faith on display, to be salt and light, and to have influence on every area of human life and activity. Would it be easier to leave politics, sports, business, and the arts to the world? Yes. Will it be difficult for Christian politicians not to be seduced by power, for Christian businessmen not to succumb to greed, or for the Christian stage actor, model, musician, or athlete not to compromise his sexual purity? Of course it will. But the answer does not lie in retreat, sitting in our Christian bubble house churches, mega-churches, or ivory towers smugly deriding fellow believers who cant read Greek and dont know N. T. Wright, but who are up to their necks in worldly filth trying to clean it up and make a real, concrete difference one soul at a time.

Suggested reading: Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible; Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning; Joseph D. Wooddell, The Beauty of the Faith: Using Aesthetics for Christian Apologetics.

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