Majestic Destiny by Curtis H. Tucker (Redmond, Oregon: Last Chapter Publishing, 2011), 292 pp., paper $15.99.
Curtis Tucker defends a pretribulational, dispensational, eschatological understanding of the kingdom of God. He believes a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth is taught in Scripture and wraps this book around that theme. With this, Tucker stands firmly with all dispensational theologians, but Majestic Destiny is not a rehash of typical dispensational distinctives; rather, the author has a particular subject in mind—the kingdom of God. As is evident from the book’s endorsements from Bruce Wilkinson, Joseph Dillow, and Earl Radmacher among others, some dispensationalists agree with Tucker but many others, including me, do not.
The thesis of the Majestic Destiny, repeated in various forms throughout the volume, is “The big idea of the Bible is not getting people to heaven. The big idea of the Bible is the coming kingdom of Christ” (p. 18). Said with greater clarity, “From Genesis to Revelation, the main theme of the Bible is the coming kingdom of Christ. It’s not salvation. It’s not heaven. It’s not forgiveness or grace, or even eternity. It’s the millennial reign of Christ, the total theocratic dominion we all long for” (p. 37). Tucker goes on to declare that it is this thousand-year reign of Christ on earth which is “the lens through which we are to view the Scriptures” (p. 46). The millennial kingdom is the main concept and theme of Scripture” (p. 115).
It is important that we critique this thesis carefully, for everything else Tucker writes flows from this metanarrative. Is a relatively (in light of eternity) short period of time the central theme of all Scripture? Does the millennial kingdom actually trump all other themes, such as eternal redemption; the eternal kingdom of the new heavens and earth; the centrality of Christ; or the glory of God? Dispensational and Reformed theologians alike have long recognized the glory of God as the chief end of man and Christ as the central theme of Scripture. The millennial kingdom is just one of the ways God is glorified through Jesus Christ—surely the whole Bible cannot be interpreted through the lens of the kingdom. I recently read a book by an evangelical who turned to Roman Catholicism after he determined that the Bible is centralized around the covenant. Rob Bell wraps all of divine revelation around God’s love. None of these, the covenant, God’s love or the kingdom, is big enough to carry the full weight of God’s plan and purpose. All of these, and many more, point instead to the glory of God found most perfectly in Jesus Christ. Tucker, of course, disagrees and has written Majestic Destiny to proclaim what he believes has been missed by most students of Scripture.
As Tucker wraps all of Scripture around the theme of the kingdom he is able to draw some, at best, questionable conclusions:
• Heaven is a gift received by faith; the kingdom is a prize earned through faithful obedience (pp. 7, 47, 131, 152, 174, 193, 208).
• As a result, our salvation does not guarantee our inheritance in the kingdom (pp. 30, 47, 49, 152, 233-235, 242-244, 268).
• Repentance is a condition for entrance into the kingdom but not for salvation (pp. 128, 193, 229-230).
• Adoption into the family of God is available to the saint, but not all saints are adopted (pp. 203-205), for not all will inherit the kingdom.
Along the way Tucker reinterprets much of Scripture to fit his thesis:
• The mystery in Ephesians is not the church, it is the kingdom benefit that comes to the church (pp. 209-210).
• Rejects “salvation” as spiritual in Romans 9-11 and therefore sees Romans 10:10 as referring to sanctification, not redemption (pp. 218-219).
• Interprets 1 Corinthians 9:27 as a disqualification from future rewards, not present ministry (p. 232).
• Understands the “rest” in Hebrews 3-4 as the millennial kingdom (pp. 238-243).
• Forces Jesus’ parables to imply that those cast out of the kingdom are believers who miss their inheritance (pp. 270-282).
• Believes the “gospel of the kingdom” as preached by John and Jesus has nothing to do with salvation, but is all about the kingdom. Today we are to preach both gospels (pp. 117-135).
• Draws many unacceptable conclusions from the Sermon on the Mount (pp. 137-154) especially that since the sermon is spoken to believers is therefore not about salvation, but how to enter the kingdom (p. 147).
For one so fixated on the millennial kingdom it is strange that he takes a number of elements of the eternal kingdom and forces them in the millennium.
• Misunderstands justice in the kingdom (p. 93).
• Believes creation longs for the kingdom age rather than full regeneration in the eternal state (p. 96).
• Does not recognize that sickness will still exist during the millennium (pp. 81-82, 212).
The most frustrating aspect of Majestic Destiny is the format. The author chooses not to develop his ideas through careful exegesis but instead most often makes strong statements which he footnotes. It is often unclear if the footnote references another author or Scripture. Few readers will bother to note this and fewer will actually look up the Scriptural passages to see if they support the author’s statement. Sadly, I found that they often do not. Interesting, in a book which talks often of believers missing their inheritance, there is no discussion of what that would look like. What does a disinherited Christian look like in either the kingdom or eternity? The New Testament speaks much of gaining or losing rewards, but if they are actually cast out of the kingdom what would eternal life be like for them? Tucker does not say.
The warning that this book gives is actually one never intended by the author. That is, if one begins with the wrong premise (in this case the whole Bible is centered on and must be interpreted through the lens of the millennial kingdom) then one will come up with forced and inaccurate interpretations of the Word.