Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Me and Bob and the Kingdom of God


Another round with conversations with Bob!

Bob,

Thanks for your last post.

It is interesting how we interpret and understand the language we have both inherited. The phrase "the kingdom of God" is a puzzler. Jesus used that phrase as well as that enigmatic phrase "the son of the man" a great deal. I think that for the most part the church has interpreted both phrases in a "futuristic" and in an "out of this world" way.

For instance, you have written about "entering the kingdom of God" which reminds me of a place. "I am entering the court house or the movie theatre." I suppose there are those who might not "enter" it. Another way to phrase it is that one "inherits the kingdom of God." This reminds me of a son or daughter receiving his or her parent's estate. You suggested that pastors could mess that up for people:
My concern is that pastors might counsel or advise people in such a way that the people they counsel or advise might not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I would hope that God would have a bit more understanding and compassion then to refuse a person his or her inheritance because of a pastor's bad counsel. You also quoted from the Bible:

We have to remember that Paul does say that several categories of people, “Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6:9b-10, NRSV)

Is there really such a person as a fornicator or a reviler? There may be people who fornicate or revile, and some perhaps more often than others. But, to classify people as such and then say no kingdom of God for you, seems a bit wooden. I would interpret this passage in the following way. There are certain ways of being and behaving that act contrary to the kingdom of God. As we become more aware of the kingdom of God, we are invited to live its values.

Certainly that phrase, the kingdom of God as well as the son of the man and all the other phrases are difficult to understand. They are symbols of symbols! Symbolic language is what we have.

A case could be made by the way Jesus told his parables about the kingdom of God is that it is a present reality that most of us do not see or even as we see we see dimly. We need to be aware that the kingdom of God is within and among us. Rather than something we enter or inherit, it is something of which we become aware. That is another way of dealing with that symbol. It is something that is also growing like a mustard seed.

How we approach these symbols probably has a great deal with how we understand what we call God, Sin, humanity, the work of Christ, and everything else, including the Bible.

Let's tackle the Bible, Bob! You go first! I'll throw out a question and you can either answer it or not. I have been wrestling with the following question for quite some time.

What does the phrase Word of God mean when applied to the Bible?




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