I have been thinking a lot lately about the differences between Kingdom Theology and Covenant Theology. I’m not sure what sparked this line of thinking but it has been interesting to ponder nonetheless. 🙂
Kingdom Theology (A Brief Summary)
At its core, Kingdom Theology is an inaugurated eschatology system that seeks to focus on the Kingship of Jesus. Within this framework, the present time in which we live is caught between two ages – the present evil age ruled by sin and death and the Age to Come, which is ruled by Jesus Christ into eternality.
Through the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus (plus Pentecost) the Age to Come has broken into this present evil age, existing together in a tension that will be removed at that last day when all is set right and God dwells among His people face-to-face.
Covenant Theology (A Brief Summary)
By far the largest stream of Protestant theology, Covenant Theology is based upon an understanding of three main overarching theological covenants (redemption, works, grace) that are said to be interwoven into one over-all eternal covenant. The three covenants are considered ‘theological’ in the sense that they are not explicitly outlined as such within the Bible.
Within the Covenant Theology stream there are many, many variations as different groups seek to focus on certain parts of each covenant. There are also disagreements on how the Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New (Jesus) covenants related to each other and/or either they fit within the three larger theological covenant systems.
My Thoughts On The Two
The South African theologian Adrio König once said that Covenant Theology and Kingdom Theology are two sides of the same coin. And why that may be true from a purely theoretical theological viewpoint, I can’t help but think about how each system is applied to one’s life.
With its emphasis on covenant, it is easy for folks living under a Covenant Theology system to lose focus on the covenant Giver. Instead, people can (and have) become experts at knowing that rights and privileges are granted to them under such-and-such covenant.
Kingdom Theology, on the other hand, tends to focus on the dynamic rule and reign of a King and not so much on the covenant ‘document’ itself. This shift in emphasis pushes one to know Jesus on a personal level as scriptures give light to the ongoing mission of God to restore creation to Himself.
I would assume that a lot of folks living under a Covenant Theology viewpoint would look at the Kingdom Theology emphasis on the person of Jesus and get really nervous as it seems subjective (i.e. there is no covenant contract to dissect and follow).
Yet, I would suggest that Jesus Himself pointed towards a more subjective relationship instead of a covenant contract system as He repeatedly told His disciples that His followers know His voice. Knowing a voice means that you have a relationship that is real and personal – it means that are actively communing with Jesus and His Body (i.e. the church, both locally and globally).
This may be too simple of a sketch of these two complex theological systems…but, then again, maybe simple is good. 🙂
What do you think?