Saturday, 17 June 2006

The kingdom of God

“The future Kingdom of God, then, is not something which is to come in the course of time, so that to advance its coming one can do something in particular.... Rather, the Kingdom of God is a power which, although it is entirely future, wholly determines the present.”

—Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word (New York: Scribner, 1934), p. 44.

10 Comments:

Bro. Bartleby said...

I think the Kingdom of God is here and now and everpresent, for it, like God, is outside of time-space.

Ron Fay said...

While this certainly sums up Bultmann, it also certainly misunderstands the nature of the Kingdom and of Jesus' teaching in general.

Of course, Bultmann did not think we could get at Jesus' teaching anyway, so I guess that is a moot point.

Ben Myers said...

"Of course, Bultmann did not think we could get at Jesus' teaching anyway."

Hi Ron — actually, Bultmann wrote a whole book (Jesus and the Word) about the teaching of the historical Jesus. He thought that we could discover all kinds of things about the historical Jesus. But he insisted that we can know nothing about Jesus' "inner life" (since the NT sources themselves show no interest in this).

Sorry, I don't mean to sound defensive — I'm just rather fond of Bultmann....

One of Freedom said...

I actually think it is a brilliant insight. It captures that Laddian now and not yet tension of the Kingdom. And I get pretty tired of the 'let's build the Kingdom of God' rhetoric in the popular church these days. You cannot reduce the KoG to a geographical construct, especially since a Kingdom is nothing without a King. And when the King is present everything is oriented towards our future hope. I haven't read Bultmann, but this makes me want to.

byron said...

Yes, I appreciate the warning against 'let's build now' language (which I have been guilty of - I read something I wrote five years ago and was shocked to find this kind of language used unreflectively).

As love the way that a future reality can loom so large as to shape thoroughly the present.

Though I'm not sure I buy the 'entirely future': But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demonds, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

One of Freedom said...

Could it not also be tied into a sense of anemnesis that accompanies immanence? Meaning that in a real sense the Kingdom is about the future when the King returns. But also it is about those moments when the presence of the King is made manifest in our midst - bringing the future into the now. What I would call the inbreaking of the KoG.

We practice this Eucharistically whenever we break bread. In the celebration we join with the historical Church through all time from the Last Supper to the coming Wedding feast at the consummation of the age. The Eucharist makes the future present to us in the now.

kim fabricius said...

Barth advised Christians who talk about "building the kingdom" to take up any profession but that of ministry.

Derek Jenkins said...

Isn't to deny the resurrection to deny Christ?

Ben Myers said...

Hi Derek -- Bultmann isn't talking here about the resurrection, but about Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God.

And although his interpretation of the resurrection was always controversial, Bultmann never wanted to "deny" the resurrection -- he was only trying to understand and interpret it. (If you're interested, I have posted a discussion of this here.)

One of Freedom said...

Kim I love that, do you have a source?

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