“Scripture teaches that history does not degenerate from life to death but is translated from the reign of death into the reign of life.”
~ Peter J. Leithart, Deep Comedy: Trinity, Tragedy, and Hope in Western Literature (Moscow, Id.; Canon Press, 2006), xiii.
Aside from the use of the word “rebuilding” in this quote, I like what it says about the claims that the Kingdom of God makes upon our lives. I think the grace of the gospel through the church will have transformative influence in the world, but I don’t see “rebuilding” the good creation as a Kingdom mandate or possibility. When Jesus returns, the creation will be more than rebuilt – it will be transformed! Re-creation, rather than rebuilding, is what the future holds for this groaning world.
Christians seek to live their whole lives in continuity with Christ, taking on his mind and affections, acting as his body in the world, sharing his sufferings and his victories in the project of overcoming misery and rebuilding God’s good creation. Christians gladly join this project out of gratitude to Christ, out of obedience to Christ, and out of an enkindled desire to work within the Kingdom of Christ. As faithful workers within this Kingdom, Christians struggle to align themselves with the redemptive purposes of God in this world.
~ Preface to “An Engagement with God’s World: A Statement of Purpose for the Core Curriculum of Calvin College” quoted by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. in Engaging God’s World (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2002), 124.
“The meaning of this ‘overlap of the ages’ on which we live, the time between the coming of Christ and his coming again, is that it is the time given for the witness of the apostolic church to the ends of the earth. The end of all things, which has been revealed in Christ, is — so to say — held back until the witness has been borne to the whole world concerning the judgment and salvation revealed in Christ. The implications of a true eschatological perspective will be missionary obedience, and the eschatology which does not issue in such obedience is a false eschatology.”
– Lesslie Newbigin, Household of God: Lectures on the Nature of the CHurch (New York, NY: Friendship Press, 1954), 153.
“The Kingdom of God is God’s dynamic rule, breaking into human history through Jesus, confronting, combating and overcoming evil, spreading the wholeness of personal and communal wellbeing, taking possession of his people in total blessing and total demand. The church is meant to be the Kingdom community, a model of what human community looks like when it comes under the rule of God, and a challenging alternative to secular society.”
– John Stott, New Issues Facing Christians Today (London, UK; Marshall Pickering, 1999), 28.
“Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics. Believers now assert by faith what one day will be manifest to the sight of all: every earthly sovereignty is subordinate to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. The Church is the bearer of that claim. Because the Church is pledged to the Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus, it must maintain a critical distance from all the kingdoms of the world, whether actual or proposed. Christians betray their Lord if, in theory or practice, they equate the Kingdom of God with any political, social or economic order of this passing time. At best, such orders permit the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom and approximate, in small part, the freedom, peace, and justice for which we hope.”
~ Richard John Neuhaus, quoted by D. A. Carson in Christ & Culture Revisited (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 203.
“We see then that the two cities were created by two kinds of love: the earthly city was created by self-love reaching the point of contempt for God, the Heavenly City by the love of God carried as far as contempt of self. In fact, the earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in the Lord. The former looks for glory from men, the latter finds its highest glory in God. . . . In the former, the lust for domination lords it over princes as over the nations it subjugates; in the other both those put in authority and those subject to them serve one another in love, the rulers by their counsel, the subjects by obedience. The one city loves its own strength shown in its powerful leaders; the other says to it God: ‘I will love you, my Lord, my strength.’
Consequently, in the earthly city its wise men who live by men’s standards have pursued the goods of the body or of their own mind, or of both. . . . In the Heavenly City . . . man’s only wisdom is the devotion which rightly worships the true God. . . .”
~ Augustine, The City of God, quoted by David Naugle in Reordered Love, Reordered Lives (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 52-53.
“Christians can never seek refuge in a ghetto where their faith is not proclaimed as public truth for all.”
~ Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 1986), 114.