Throughout history, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth have held different views regarding world evangelism. Some groups have focused solely on the spiritual nature of humanity, while others have striven to create a world of peace and equality. Unfortunately, most views on world evangelism, or world missions as it is commonly called, are a reduced version of the Scriptural mandate to “preach the kingdom of God” to all nations (Mt 10:7, 28:18-20, Mk 16:15, Lk 9:2, Acts 1:3, 8). The hope of this article (and associated paper) is to enlarge the current views of world missions, while staying true to the central message of Jesus, namely that the Kingdom of God has come, is coming, is drawing near, and yet is delayed.
By embracing the here and not yet of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom Mission Theology seeks to hold in tension the words and works of Jesus with neither concept overtaking the other. Accordingly, a Kingdom Mission Theology holds to a two-pronged approach to the spread of the gospel. The first is that of mercy and compassion based upon the works of Jesus to minister to people both practically (e.g., feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the injured and sick, etc.) and through signs and wonders (e.g., healings, miracles, casting out demons, etc.). The second prong is the verbal declaration of the Kingship of Jesus as seen through individual salvation, forgiveness of sin, and discipleship.
Though it is tempting to break the tension and focus on one aspect or the other, a Kingdom Theology of missions maintains a partnership of both concepts as they jointly reflect the heart of God. It is not an either/or situation or even a situation where one is higher than the other. Jesus is King and is equally concerned with destroying the works of the evil one in society and nature as well as within the lives of humanity. If people are drawn closer to God through the good deeds performed, then one’s goal is accomplished, and the works of the evil one have been destroyed.
Sadly, it is all too common for the followers of Jesus to break the tension between the works and words of Jesus. Proponents of Social Gospel Mission Theology break the tension in the direction of the works of Jesus, focusing their efforts on mercy and compassion ministries (e.g., medical missions, hunger relief, etc.). Others break the tension in the opposite direction, focusing primarily on the spiritual salvation of the soul through a Spiritual Salvation Mission Theology. Still, others tend to reduce the overarching mandate of Jesus to one focused on spreading the message of the gospel throughout the world so that the end times will come (i.e., a Closure Mission Theology).
Though the Creator has used all three of these reduced mission theologies for His glory, they are in essence a reduction of the good news proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth. By maintaining the tension between the proclamation and demonstration of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom Mission Theology moves beyond fulfilling a particular prophecy, creating a perfect utopia, or saving the souls of individuals. It is the Church being used as an instrument of the Kingdom to deliver humanity from the rule of darkness into the Kingdom of Heaven, where they are transformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus.
For further detail, on this topic, Josh Hopping offers his full-length paper as a free downloadable resource in PDF for your use within standard copyright law.
Joshua S. Hopping, VI Facilitator/Cohort Leader, Vineyard Boise Christian Fellowship in Boise, Idaho
Joshua S. Hopping is a passionate follower of the Creator King with a missional heart and a love of people. He considers himself a Christian mystic with an emphasis on living out the inaugurated eschatology of Kingdom Theology within one’s daily life. Joshua is the former pastor of the Sweet Vineyard (Sweet, Idaho) and the author of The Here and Not Yet: What is Kingdom Theology and Why Does it Matter? In October 2018, he moved to Kuna, Idaho intending to start a faith community focused on helping people explore the mystery of the Creator.