Knowing that I read some…um…strange books, I’m always on the look out for books that simplify the Kingdom message of Jesus. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of books out there talking about the ‘here and not yet’ of the Kingdom – instead, most Christian books tend to be of the self-help variety; or some kind of cheesy Christian romance (which is why I HATE going into Christian book stores!!)
Today though, I would like to introduce you to Allen Wakabayashi. Allen is the Associate Pastor at Twin City Bible Church and the Teaching Specialist for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana. More importantly for our purposes, he is the author of “Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World.”
This is a book that seeks to “bridge the gap from the scholarly literature about the kingdom to the normal Christian who is not familiar with the academic material.”
Hands down, Allen pulls it off.
“Kingdom Come” is a great introduction book to Kingdom Theology – i.e. the theology of that Jesus is King of everything (created and uncreated; spiritual and physical) and He is in activity involved in the world today, bring the future Age into our world today.
Interesting enough, Allen credit George Ladd as an influence – which is pretty cool seeing the influence Ladd has made on me. 🙂
Going back to the book, it is separated into six sections along with an intro and a conclusion:
- Introduction (ch 1) – Everyone reads the Bible through a lens or a worldview. The sad part is that we tend to read our culture and definitions into the Bible; as such, we need to stop and try to understand what the Bible – or the Gospels in particular – meant to the people of first century.
- The Gospel of the Kingdom (ch 2-4) – Allen does a great job explaining the meaning of Jesus’ phrase “kingdom of God” and how that changes the definition of the ‘gospel’.
- Living in the Tension of the Kingdom (ch 5-7) – A beautiful look at the struggle of the Christian life. We are victorious saints and sinful sinners, both at the same time.
- The Mission of the Kingdom (ch 8-9) – The mission of Jesus is bigger then salvation alone. It is about “seeing his reign fleshed out wherever we set foot in our world.”
- The Kingdom and Evangelism (ch 10-11) – In today’s world, evangelism is usually reduced to one’s personal sin and Christ’s forgiveness. While this is good and true, it is only part of the picture as Jesus came to destroy evil/sin in all its forms and restore all of creation to Himself. ** This big picture evangelism is not only biblical; it also resonates better with the postmodern culture. **
- The Community of the Kingdom (ch 12-13) – Christians are called to be the people of God, meaning that we are called to be in community and not lone-ranger believers trying to live the ‘good life’ by ourselves.
- The Way of the Kingdom (ch 14-15) – The path of the Kingdom means taking up our cross and following Jesus; it means victory in the midst of suffering; live in death.
- Conclusion – A short one page summary of the Allen’s heart and hope for this book. It is here that I found one of the best quotes of the book:
“I am convinced that Jesus is the hope of the world and the lover of humanity. I am convinced that Jesus came to call us back home and that one day he will come to make all things new. I am convinced that even now Jesus is at work, through the Holy Spirit, changing the world and letting people in on the wonderful reality of the kingdom of God.”
One last item before I end this review – while “Kingdom Come” is a great introduction book into the central teaching of Jesus (i.e. the kingdom of God), I think Allen stops short of the fullness of the “here and not yet.”
In other words, Allen does not deal with the spiritual warfare that rages around us nor the spiritual gifts presented to us by our loving Father. Allen seems content to stay within the parameters of conservative evangelism and focus on prayer, Bible study and living a life devoted to Jesus. (Granted, Allen’s view of “living a life devoted to Jesus” is way BIGGER then most evangelicals.)
This may be a petty critique, but I can not get away from the reality of this warfare we are living. The inaugurated eschatology of Kingdom Theology opens the door for a better understand of this warfare, if one is willing to go there…
But, make no mistake; Allen’s book “Kingdom Come” is a valuable introduction into the Kingdom Theology and what it means to join God in His Mission to redeem all of creation to Himself. If you are confused about why I’m so adamant about the Kingdom of God, please pick up this book as it explains a lot (hmm…I’m sure there will be a lot of witty remarks associate with that last line…).