Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Kingdom of God

An Old Paper Of Mine.

Summery of Johannes Weiss': Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God

Johannes’ piece centers around what sort of life is necessary to enter the kingdom of God.  Johannes notes that the Kingdom of God purely a gift from God, however we people must make, “extreme external sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel… must be regarded as a matter of necessity and principle" (112). It seems that the gift from God is that salvation is freely offered to all and the human part is to grasp hold of the gift though the new ethic.  The new ethic is self sacrifice based on the gospel.

Johannes’ writes that, “The only thing man can do is about it is to perform the conditions required by God” (132).  As he says this he clearly anticipates his views being labeled at “Pharisaic.”  He distinguishes himself from the Pharisees, however, by saying that he does not support people seeking a reward.  Instead Johannes suggests people should seek detachment and only then can they enjoy the kingdom of God.  ((His reply seems not really to deal with the objection, since both ways are still earning ways into reward.))

Johannes cashes out the gospel in an interesting way.  The gospel that Jesus preaches is no different in quality than the gospel John the Baptist preaches.  Both preach a gospel of self sacrificial lifestyle by which men may find entrance into heaven.  The only difference is that Jesus has a “messianic self consciousness” which allows him to realize that by Jesus’ obedience he will be elevated to the messianic position of kingship.  Christ, by his obedience, earns his eschatological kingship and becomes closer in equality (although very not equal) to the Father.  Christ clearly transitions form a fully human figure to a semi-divine figure by his obedience, according to Johannes’.

The cross according to Johannes comes late into the consciousness of Jesus.  Early on Jesus believes that he will usher in the eschatological kingdom of God.  However, he later realizes that he too must die to help (only help in part) the eschatological kingdom come about.  Johannes suggests that we too today must work to help bring about the eschatological kingdom.

Johannes’ then moves on to counter a common day assumption of his day.  The Kingdom of God is not in fact the center of the gospel.  The center of the gospel is our relationship as children to God.  We are hoping to “serve God the Father with surrender of the whole heart, and to become free from the world” (134).  By surrendering everything we gain is most precious that is, relationship with God.  Our relationship to God as children is the center of the gospel not the kingdom of God.

Once we have become children of God then we will be too gain “freedom from the world” and thus be capable of “love one’s enemy”, and “the sacrifice of one’s life” (134).  We differ today from early Christianity in that we do not share the eschatological view of the immense of the Kingdom of God that they shared.  That was in fact the center of the early church’s thought.  However, what we share with primitive Christianity is the view of Son-ship that we gain with God the father though sacrifice.  This Son-ship is the reason we take on the ethical demands of God.
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