Thoughts of a Living Christian

Musings of an amateur theologian and hopeful writer

Church as an Eschatological Society

According to Harper and Metzger, “the church is a community both of fulfilment and of hope, realizing the blessings of the future while yet awaiting the fullness of these blessings to be revealed at Christ’s second coming.”[1] Essentially, the church is a vehicle of the blessings of the Kingdom to come, in the world today. The Kingdom of God is present within the church, a future reality in present time. The Kingdom is here and not here, now and not yet; “it has arrived, but has not yet brought this age to an end.”[2] Grenz notes that Jesus’ perception of the Kingdom “was both present and future – already and not yet – and it was both an event and a sphere of existence.”[3]

The church is a community waiting for the Kingdom to come in totality, yet is, paradoxically, the Kingdom on earth. The church, thus, is the doorway to the Kingdom, it bears witness to the Kingdom,[4] and the instrument of the Kingdom, bringing the blessings of the Kingdom into the world. The eschatological church is a community of restored relationships, a messianic community of the Holy Spirit, and a community of social righteousness which disarms Satan. The Church exists “with one foot in this world and one foot in the next,”[5] waiting for the coming Kingdom, but represents and seeks to implement the Kingdom values in the mean time.[6]

References

Grenz, Stanley J. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994.

Harper, Brad, and Paul Louis Metzger. Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2009.


[1] Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2009). 48.

[2] Ibid. 52.

[3] Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994). 475. Grenz’s mention of “both an event and a sphere of existence” refers to the eschatological coming of Christ and the Kingdom involves all of creation. Not only will God’s people be redeemed, but the entire world and universe. Harper and Metzger refer to this in their fourth chapter, stating, “the Kingdom of God is about the redemption of not only the church, but also of the whole creation.” (Harper and Metzger. 80).

[4] They further note, “How the church understands its relationship to eschatology, to the Kingdom of God, has a significant effect on how it understands its relationship to the culture in which it exists. To depart from the dialectic of the scriptures and to opt instead for a view of the kingdom as either radically present or radically future will always affect negatively the church’s ability to bear witness faithfully the kingdom. When the church works to live in the tension of the dialectic of the now and not yet, it will always be a more faithful witness.” (Harper and Metzger. 63). In other words, to effectively bear witness to the Kingdom, the church must embrace the now and not yet nature of the Kingdom.

[5] Ibid. 77.

[6] Grenz succinctly states, “The kingdom of God comes as that order of peace, righteousness, justice, and love that God gives to the world. This gift arrives in an ultimate way only at the eschaton, at the renewal of the world brought by Jesus’ return. Nevertheless, the power of the kingdom is already at work, for it breaks into the present from the future. As a result, we can experience the divine reign in a partial yet real sense prior to the great eschatological day.” (Grenz. 477).

He further states that the church “is a foretaste of the eschatological reality that God will one day graciously give to his creation. In short, it is a sign of the kingdom.” (ibid. 479).

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