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THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN SYNOPTICS : It is generally agreed that the Kingdom of God was THE central message in the preaching of Jesus (in the synoptics). This makes the KOG a matter of tremendious concern for modern Christians. I. Various interpretations of the Kingdom Of God (K.O.G.): 1. Old liberal theology (Harnack): Jesus' pure prophetic religion was a non- eschatological religion: the fatherhood of God, brotherhood of man, and the infinite value of the human soul. The futurism (eschatology) is taken out of the KOG language, and it becomes the reign of God within the human soul. Futurism (eschatology) is a part of the "husk" of Jesus' message, not a part of its essential content. 2. Consistent eschatology and interim ethics (Schweitzer): Jesus' preaching of the KOG is to be understood as being consistent with that of other contemporary Jewish apocalpytic preachers. God is breaking into the world in the immediate future, and will defeat the forces of Satan and evil. Jesus' highly challenging ethics (interim ethics) belong only to that brief period between his ministry and the eschatological end of the world he preaches; they are not to be thought of as applying the normal life and times of people in human society. Futurism was seen as a part of Jesus message (not the "husk") but the picture of of Jesus as a disillusioned, mistaken apocalyptic preacher is greatly distorted. 3. Existential Interpretation (Bultmann). The futuristic, eschatological language is a part of Jesus' message but (like everything else Jesus said) it must be demythologized and reinterpreted existentially. The KOG language in Jesus preaching, with its immanent approach of the end, means that God is coming near to US, bringing absolute demands. 4. Realized Eschatology (CH Dodd) takes the eschatological language of Jesus proclamation to be a way of referring to the transcendent element in Jesus preaching. God, who is the "wholly Other," the One from beyond history, is breaking into history and confronting men and women through Jesus. Ladd rightly stresses the Platonic tone to Dodd's formulation (56); even more problematic, however, is the almost total loss of futurism. 5. Dialectical Eschatology (Kummel): including both present and future elements. The KOG is manifested, essentially, in a tension between the "already" and the "not yet." With the coming of Jesus Christ the Kingdom or rule of God has broken into history; through the ministry of Jesus the KOG, or the reign of God, is already active in human history. But the work of the KOG is not complete; the lion has not laid down with the lamb, the swords have not been beaten into plowsheres, nor spears into pruning hooks. The speck of leaven has not yet leavened the whole bushel; the mustard seed is not yet a great tree offering shelter for the birds of the air. The rule of God in the world is not as unambiguous and complete as it will be when Jesus Christ
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