Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross

The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross. Patrick Schreiner. 2018. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: “What is the kingdom of God?” The student leaned back and looked at me. I paused, fumbled around, then tossed out some words, but I ended my little incoherent bluster by saying that we would find out as we continued to study Matthew.

The book presents an overview of the entire Bible through the theological/doctrinal lens of 'the kingdom of God.' The book explores what the phrase 'kingdom of God' means throughout Scripture. It would be tempting to define this key concept just based on the gospel readings, for example. But a more accurate assessment must consider all of scripture. He uses the Jewish ordering of Scripture when he discusses the Old Testament. (If you've never read the Old Testament this way, I do recommend it!)

How does Schreiner define the kingdom of God?
The kingdom is the King’s power over the King’s people in the King’s place.
So what is the kingdom? It is concrete; it is earthy; it is people; it is place; it is about Jesus; it concerns the cross; it is about the new heavens and the new earth; it is about community, politics, order, bodies, and human flourishing. It is about power, family, thrones, walls, gates, rivers, and streams.  
Jesus did not invent the concept of kingdom. Rather, it started in the garden and has always concerned people, place, and power. 
Only when we connect the dots from the first page of the Bible to the last do we begin to see that on every page the kingdom concerns the King, his people, and their place. And at the center of this kingdom plan stands a wooden cross covered in blood. 
In part one, the focus is on the Old Testament. What can we learn about the kingdom of God in the law? in the prophets? in the writings? In part two, the focus is on the New Testament. What can we learn about the kingdom of God in the gospels? in Acts? In Paul's letters? in the general letters? Of course, this is all leading up to what can we learn about the kingdom of God in the book of Revelation?!?!

I would definitely recommend this one. It may be a "short study" in Biblical theology--but it packs in a lot of substance or 'meat.'

Favorite quotes:
The whole of Scripture culminates on a mountain, and at the top of it we find a tree—the cross. The Gospels present the kingdom realized through the cross. The cross establishes the kingdom; the kingdom comes through the cross. But if the kingdom is people and place, then the kingdom is also hidden beneath the people of God (the church). The cross lives on in the people of God and the places where they gather together. When they take up their crosses and follow Jesus, there the kingdom is.  
The kingdom is not a higher or more important theme than the cross. These two realities are forever joined; separating them is an act of violence. If the kingdom is the goal, then the cross is the means. 
Kingdom and cross must mutually interpret each other, and they must be kept in the same orbit. 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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