Justin Taylor posts The Kingdom of God: A Multi-Scholar Interview which a Q&A with the editors and authors of The Kingdom of God volume of the Theology in Community series were asked a series of questions relative to the book. Here are a few:
In your essays on the kingdom of God in the Old Testament, you refer to the “external emerging kingdom of God” and the “internal emerging kingdom of God.” What do you mean by these terms, and why have you found this distinction helpful?
By God’s external (i.e., universal) kingdom is meant the activity of God (‘elohim [Hebrew]: “the transcendent, omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of all things”) in exercising his sovereignty over all things. God parcels out to the nations their lands (Deut. 2:5, 9; 32:8), rules over their kings (Deut. 2:30), and even gives them their [false] gods (Deut. 4:19; 29:25-26).
By God’s internal (i.e., particular) kingdom is meant God’s activity in exercising his authority over his subjects who, out of their faith in him and love for him, serve only him.
By emerging I mean that both kingdoms become more and more clearly defined. It is now clear that Satan rules the universal kingdom and that Christ rules the Church in the particular kingdom.
The distinction exhibits more clearly how both kingdoms bring glory to God.
In the universal kingdom he shows his sovereignty over all things—he created and sustains all things, even the gods opposed to him. There is nothing outside of his purview. The creation, for example, exhibits his incommunicable attributes: omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.
The particular kingdom exhibits his communicable attributes: mercy, love, patience, unfailing kindness, justice, and truth. The distinction, moreover, makes clear the nature of the war between the subjects of Satan and his kingdom and of Christ and his kingdom.
What questions about the kingdom arose for you or still linger for you?
What emerges more clearly for me and still remains something a tension is the reality that God has so designed history that his particular kingdom wars against the spiritual darkness of Satan’s kingdom that is a part of God’s universal kingdom.
In your chapter on “The Kingdom, Miracles, Satan, and Demons,” you state that miracles signify and demonstrate the arrival of the kingdom. Please explain.
Jesus himself declared, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28; see also Luke 11:20). Jesus invites all of those who marvel at his exorcisms to grasp what they really signify: that the Kingdom of God has arrived with him. The miracles of Jesus are also evidence that God’s Spirit was powerfully at work in and through him. This work of the Spirit heralds the arrival of the new covenant age and stands in continuity with the scriptural testimony of God working powerfully to bring redemption to his people. Jesus, empowered by the gentle Dove who descended at his baptism, would work to overthrow the dominion of the adversary. The new insight is that the Romans were not the enemy; the true enemies were the power of sin and the power of the evil one.
What questions about the kingdom still linger for you?
The nature of the relationship between the Kingdom of God and ethnic/national Israel remains a live issue for me. The evidence seems to suggest that God still has promises to fulfill to ethnic/national Israel. This is expressed most clearly for me in the apostle Paul’s explanation that “a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way [or, 'thus/so'] all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25-26). In spite of the interpretational difficulties of this passage, it seems clear enough that something big has yet to take place among the Jewish people.