Russell Moore's Kingdom of Christ
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Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 02:48:13 PM EST
In several posts here I have quoted and briefly commented on the writings of Russell Moore and Brian McLaren. Moore writes from the perspective of the evangelical right and McLaren from the evangelical center-left. Connecting these two perspectives in a thoughtful way is New Testament scholar Scot McKnight. McKnight reviews Moore's book on the Kingdom of Christ in his blog, Jesus Creed.
McKnight appears to be more sympathetic to McLaren and the emerging church movement, but this does not keep him from engaging with Moore's book. This sort of cross-ideological engagement is a healthy development and it would be good to see more efforts along these lines. If academics can have substantive conversations across political and theological lines, perhaps this will encourage a wider group of Christians to do the same. Some excerpts from McKnight's review:

From part 1:

What do Russell D. Moore, a professor at Southern Seminary, and Brian McLaren, a major voice in the emerging church movement, have in common? A lot I will suggest today — and it that “a lot” has to do with three words: “Kingdom of God.” They differ, rather markedly it will be seen, on what these three words mean. But this series will look at what I think may become a watershed book in conservative evangelicalism’s interaction of Church and State.

There are three major moments in the development of conservative evangelicalism’s theory of Church and State. The first is Carl Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947), the second (which I’m not sure Moore gives quite enough attention to) is the impact of Francis Schaeffer, especially his A Christian Manifesto and his project What Then Shall We Do?, and the third is Russell Moore’s 2004 book, The Kingdom of the Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective.

The opening salvo contends that the rise of the Moral Majority was social activism without an adequate theology, the re-entering of politics and agenda into the evangelical movement without sufficient foundations for knowing why, how, and to what end such engagement is to take place. In some sense, then, this book is an indictment of previous attempts by evangelicals to enter the public forum.

From part 2:

I want to say that I think Moore is right here; and I think this is the sort of thing that the emerging movement is also trying to do; and I hope many of my friends in the emerging movement will engage Russell Moore, even if they disagree with some of his proposals. What he wants is what they want: a robust theology of the kingdom shaping the Church.

Last, I wish Moore would address the moderate and left evangelical view of these matters, for not only is there a consensus now among conservative evangelicals, but with moderates there is also one: we, too, think of eschatology as both now and not yet. What I would say is that much of what Moore has done so far — and his own themes of the meaning of “kingdom now” will surely vary from what I’m about to say — is consistent with what he calls the evangelical left, and he points here to Sider and Wallis (and I’d not put Sider on the left; Wallis is left; Sider is a moderate on this issue).

From part 3:

Let me begin by provoking with a question: Is Russell Moore’s proposal in chp 3 an emerging proposal? Is his proposal that there is a way beyond traditionist dispensationalism and traditionist covenant theologians a “purple” theology? Is it post-dispensational and post-covenantal? Probably not an emerging theology, but I do think Moore’s proposals in this chp can pave the way for many in the emerging movement on seeing a macroscopic kingdom vision for Christians today.

From part 4:

Carl Henry knew that the protest of evangelicals against modernism led to a significant sense of interdenominational cooperation and parachurch proliferation — which continued to aggravate its sense of what the church is. Readers of this blog will know that I have at times claimed that evangelicalism has no ecclesiology. Moore zeroes in this very issue in this chp. What the evangelical movement had to do was figure out the relationship of Church and Kingdom in order to differentiate itself from the Social Gospel and Fundamentalism.

The most important issue, theologically speaking, in the emerging movement is the relationship of the Church to the kingdom. Hence, Brian McLaren’s new book on the kingdom of God; hence the critique so many of us have of the Church (in its current form); hence, the concern in the emerging movement for social justice. Just what is the relationship of Church and kingdom? Russell Moore’s chp deals with this issue.

From part 5:

Moore’s book is the most important book there is today on a conservative evangelical theological perspective on kingdom and its interface with socio-political issues. It stance is very clearly on the conservative side of the political spectrum. It is, in this sense, an alternative to thinkers like Hauerwas and Yoder.




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by Carlos on Fri Jun 23, 2006 at 03:59:42 PM EST


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