The kingdom of God has been at the forefront of Christian thinking since the day Jesus walked the earth, and in fact is dominant in the Old Testament as well. Get the kingdom of God right and you will comprehend the Lord’s plan for humanity. Get it wrong and you will inevitably go astray. With this in mind Andy Woods wants to challenge and correct the common teaching that the kingdom of God is presently on earth in the form of the church. This view, often called “Kingdom Now Theology,” is well represented by Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore, “The locus of the kingdom of God in this age is within the church, where Jesus rules as king. As we live our lives together, we see the transforming power of the gospel and the in breaking of the future kingdom” (p. 1). And Rick Warren calls for Christians to “establish God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven” (p. 2). It is this kind of faulty thinking that Woods seeks to correct, replacing it with clear and balanced exegesis of the kingdom of God as taught in Scripture. His goals are stated as such:
First, the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God will be surveyed from Genesis to Revelation (chapters 2-14). Only such an analysis will allow us to capture God’s mind on this important subject. Second, this book will set forth some general problems with a New Testament based “kingdom now” interpretation (chapter 15). Third, this work will examine the isolated New Testament texts that “kingdom now” theologians use and show their insufficiency to convey kingdom now theology (chapters 16-21). Fourth, this book will note why this trend of equating God’s present work in the church with the messianic kingdom is a matter believers should be concerned about since this theology radically alters God’s design for the church (chapters 22-26) (p. 2).
Woods traces kingdom teaching throughout the Old Testament (chapters 2-6), in the gospels (chapters 7-10 and 16) which includes a valuable study of the parables of Matthew 13), the early church (chapters 11 and 19), and the book of Revelation (chapter 20). Subsequent chapters address virtually every pertinent subject regarding the kingdom including controversial biblical texts.
In 1959 Alva J. McClain wrote the classic The Greatness of the Kingdom which clarified and shaped the thinking of generations of Christians. Woods has followed in McClain’s footsteps and in the process has updated his work by addressing modern scholarship and trends. The Coming Kingdom is an outstanding and thorough study of the kingdom of God.
The Coming Kingdom, What Is the Kingdom and How Is Kingdom Now Theology Changing the Focus of the Church? by Andy Woods (Duluth, MN:Grace Gospel Press, 2016)
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel.