That used to be my son-in-law’s basic question for companies that would contract him for his consulting services. It is also a good question to ask before we take a stab at building God’s kingdom. How we go about His business will either build it up or skew the results. It is crucial that we get it right.
We use words like “church” and “kingdom”. Are they synonyms? If not, how are they different? How do they inform who we are and what our role should be in society? Fleshing out succinct definitions is difficult… more so, I think, for “kingdom”.
For a leap into the deep end of the pool, you might try “The Greatness of the Kingdom” by Alva J. McClain (BMH Books, Winona Lake, IN, 1959) It is an exhaustive (and exhausting ☺) read. It was published when Dr.McClain was 69 years old, after a lifetime of study and seminary teaching on the subject.
The Anabaptist View: In their views of church-state relations, most Baptists in America today would find themselves closer to Luther and Calvin than to the early Anabaptists, though there are many strains of opinion among Baptists and Anabaptists then and now.
That statement may not strike a chord with everyone, but it is a valid observation. I am not doing well yet at defining kingdom or the connection between that and the GospeI’s apolitical nature. For now, I am trying to express why I feel like it should matter.
"And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." " (Matthew 28:18-20)
" And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. " (Matthew 16:18)
Jesus promised to be with His disciples… always. Jesus promised that the powers of darkness would never prevail against His church.
History demonstrates that He always was - and is - with His people, empowering His message to the world. That makes the living testimony of Jesus Christ roughly fifteen centuries older than Protestantism. Protestantism did not invent a new and improved definition of church or kingdom. In fact, they treated them much like their Roman Catholic forebears had done.
What do we want to be when we grow up? An officially “Christianized” city/state like Calvin’s Geneva? An officially “Christianized” nation like Luther’s Germany?
Care should be taken to strictly align our public testimony for Christ with the essential tenets and characteristics that have consistently identified it for roughly 2000 years.
Tying political agendas to the Cross has never worked well.