The Kingdom of God is a Monarchy

Shane Raynor just posted on this again, reposting his response to Brian McLaren’s article from 2006.

I went back and checked out the article I wrote back in 2006 on this and found out that it got mangled in one or another of the moves this blog has undergone.

I agree with Shane on this. I am all for finding new language and new metaphors. I accept gender appropriate (in my view) language in modern translations. I like engagement with the culture. But your new metaphors need to convey the right information, and the replacement metaphors for “kingdom” do not do so. Like Shane, I appreciate many of the things Brian McLaren has written on those topics.

The nature of human kingdoms may give a negative impression of God’s kingdom, especially if one fails to look at the precise ways in which God’s rule can be compared to a kingdom. But any metaphor for God’s rule is likely to fall short.

Quoth McLaren:

In addition, for many today, kingdom language evokes patriarchy, chauvinism, imperialism, domination, and a regime without freedom—the opposite of the liberating, barrier-breaking, domination-shattering, reconciling movement the kingdom of God was intended to be! …

But let me ask this? In what way does God’s rule not resemble a kingdom or a dictatorship? With whom does God share sovereignty? Certainly, I believe God ordains freedom, but he doesn’t do that by agreement with someone else. God, the imperial, royal, absolute, and final dictator ordains that the people under his rule shall have freedom. The dictator may be benevolent, but he is still a dictator.

McLaren suggests six metaphors: the dream of God, the revolution of God, the mission of God, the party of God, the network of God, and the dance of God. All of these are good metaphors for some portion of what God is doing in the world.

But when all is said and done, God’s dream has him in charge, God’s revolution brings us to acknowledge that he is in charge, God’ mission is to reach us and let us know that he is in charge, it’s God’s party and he can rule if he wants to (and he does), it’s God’s network and he’s in the center, and it’s God’s dance and he leads.

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