Saturday, July 07, 2007

Review of Russell Moore's *The Kingdom of Christ*

Carl Henry launched an Evangelical Renaissance and gave intellectual credibility for Evangelical social endeavors. Russell Moore continues that legacy.

Moore argues that Evangelicalism, for having all the right theology, has failed to put that into practice (Here he is following Carl Henry's *Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism*). He critiques both Reformed and Dispensational thinkers (the reviewer is Reformed). Moore argues for the Kingdom of Christ as a legitimate fulcrum for making social and political moves without losing the need for personal regeneration. Dispensational thinkers, argues Moore, make kingdom preaching irrelevant because it preaches an earthly, future kingdom which has no relevance to the Church. Covenant theologians, on the other hand, preach a kingdom that is *now* but when pressed, end up with a spiritual, heavenly kingdom--which again has no relevance for the church.

Moore argues to the contrary that the Kingdom is now, has earthly ramifications, and presently finds its culmination in Christ. Kingdom language, for Moore, is warfare language. He follows much of Kuyper in arguing that Christ claims are binding on the whole order. He follows Ridderbos in positing a "cosmic" redemption. If sin is cosmic in its reach, so is redemption. Well said.

While it may be true that Moore skews the discussion in favor of progressive dispensationalism, he does give credit to more biblical forms of amillennialism. He rightly notes that recent amillennialists, A. Hoekema and Vern Poythress, stress an "earthiness" about the future state that is sadly lacking in traditional amillennialism. This has important ramifications for current kingdom activity: our present endeavors for the kingdom are of eternal significance, for the "glory of kings" will enter the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22-27). This world is not a timebomb waiting to go off.

Criticisms and Personal Comments:
1. Moore comes from a premillennial background. He rightly critiques Amillennialism as being neo-platonic. His interpretation of Isaiah 65:20 ends most discussions of amillennialism. However, it is not clear how his interpretation of Isaiah 65:20 actually proves historical premillennialism and not postmillennialism?

2. He critiques theonomy when he should actually be critiquing Gary North.

3. The book is endnoted, not footnoted. The actual text is less than 200 pages. I read it in about a day.

Conclusion:
This book promises much and leaves the reader wrestling with tough issues. The current reviewer is excited that Southern Baptists are getting involved with "kingdom issues" in a way that does not denigrate either the gospel or modern culture. One hopes that many conservative Presbyterians will take note. Aside from a few doctrinal criticisms, the current reviewer recommends this book without qualifications.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Although of course I hated footnotes when I was writing papers, as a reader I've come to loathe endnotes. The use of them in a book like this in which the notes take up approximately half of the book is particularly annoying.

I recently picked up "Believer's Baptism", second in an academic series by B & H. Some say it will be the new standard for credo arguments. It interacts a lot with the Strawbridge volume as well as other recent paedo works. A lot of the contributors are from SBTS.