Friday, August 7, 2009

Leithart on the Kingdom of God

Some really good stuff on the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Church in Peter Leithart's The Kingdom and the Power: Rediscovering the Centrality of the Church.
I have emphasized in this chapter that Jesus rules as the Son of David and the Last Adam over all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. At the same time, however, I will insist equally strongly that His rule has a particular focus and center. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that Christ has been exalted far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and has been made head of all things for the church (Eph. 1:20-23). Paul did not deny that Christ rules all things. On the contrary, he stretched the limits of language to express the absolutely comprehensive dimensions of Christ's rule. But Paul also recognized that the central concern of Christ's rule is the church, the assembly of God's people. . . . (60-61)

Scripture explicitly teaches that Jesus Christ rules all things as well as the church. He is "Head" over all things (v. 22), as well as over the church (Eph. 5:23). Headship implies authority and rule. Christ is also said to "fill all things in every way" (1:23); in fulfillment of God's command to Adam, He "fills" the whole creation with His presence. At the same time, the church is called the "fullness" of Christ (1:23). Christ is present among His people in a way that He is not present in the whole creation, and His headship over the church is different from His headship over all things. There is a headship over the church, and there is a headship over the world; there is a filling appropriate to the church, and a filling appropriate to the creation as a whole. We distort the Scriptures if either of these truths is denied, or if either is subordinated to the other.

Jesus, moreover, does not rule the church merely to perfect and build the church. The church exists for the life of the world. Thus the two dimensions of Christ's rule circle back on each other: Christ rules the world for the sake of the church, and He rules the church for the sake of the world. And He rules both to bring honor and glory to His heavenly Father. (62-63)
Immanence and transcendence held in proper balance. This is the same principle at work in a high ecclesiology and in sacramental theology. Does it sound so "un-biblical" now?

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