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Title: Christ, the Kingdom and the Church
Author: Gruenler, Royce Gordon
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1957
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"Believe me, my young friend," said Water Bat. in The Wind in the willows, there is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. "It may be a matter of literary taste as to whether that somewhat infelicitous expression can be applied to theology as well. But this much is certain, that no number of words, be they 'warmth' or 'devotion', can begin to describe what actually goes on in the scholar's mind when he pours over the documents of Life Eternal. Perhaps 'messing about' is more suggestive of those who appear to approach the New Testament somewhat lightheartedly and even at times disdainfully, clipping here and cutting there, all to fit some preconceived pattern brought to it from without. It is distressing to think that the noble New Testament teaching of the Kingdom of God has suffered so lamentably down the years from those who should have been the bearers and protectors of its message to the world. First it was literalized and futurized into a weird program of millennial glory; next it was betrothed to an heirarchical organization; then the humanists veiled its divine character and misinterpreted it in terms of human brotherhood realizable on earth. Finally in revolt, the Kingdom was called 'wholly other', 'wholly realized' or 'wholly future': suggestions not without their individual merits, to be sure, but used alone they have missed the grandeur of the Kingdom as a divine Rule and a Christian community, intimately one yet separately identifiable. And, too, they have failed to capture the utter simplicity of the Kingdom of God which is entered by faith in Christ the King and proceeds progressively and inevitably from the realized events of Christ's ministry, into our present experience, and onward to its consummation at the Parousia. The Kingdom of God is a divinely-directed 'progressive eschatology' which has a word of hope for our civilization and calls upon men to decide for or against membership in it. "For all the efforts of modern biblical scholars, "writes J.R. Nelson, it is far from evident that theologians have been able to interpret the Kingdom in such a way as to make it again the vital element of Christian faith That is certainly a telling criticism of all our efforts to date. In the past, liberal scholars ran roughshod over the divine character of the Kingdom with their 'by man alone' approach; and they along with many of the orthodox so individualized the concept of salvation that the doctrines of the Kingdom and the Church were all but lost along the way. The road back has been hard, almost Sisyphus-like; but now in this golden decade of biblical study we may hope that the stone will roll over the knoll to the other side and not back again to where we were forty or fifty years ago. Let us hope, anyway, that we shall not lose what Thurneysen and others discovered in the Bible out of the terrible experience of the first great War. "we read it, "he says, "with the eyes of shipwrecked men, for whom everything has gone overboard. And we did so, as it has turned out, not wholly in vain. The Bible gained a new meaning for us. Beyond all interpretations, its real word again began to speak; The word of forgiveness of sins, the proclamation of the, not humanly, but divinely coming kingdom. H2 Visser 't Hooft give us his impressions of the same experience on the part of the persecuted European Christians during the last War.3 This study of the Kingdom and the Church is presented as an attempt to bring together the doctrines which should be uniting the Church in inward fellowship and outward proclamation in our day I have tried to avoid any lop-sided interpretations, no matter how enticing, and to achieve that balance. which I am convinced lies intrinsically within the pages of the New Testament. Nor have I avoided the 'big' problems which inevitably confront one who writes on such a comprehensive subject as the Kingdom of God and the Church; but I have tried to meet each of them head-on. The theme of this study is what I have deign to call 'progressive aschatology'; its heart is the fellowship of believers in Christ.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available