Part 2: Question 2: Will Christians Bring in the Kingdom of God in History?

Gary North and Gary Demar

Narrated By: Daniel Banuelos & Devan Lindsey
Book: Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t


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Chapter Text

Do Christian Reconstructionists Believe that Christians Will Bring in the Kingdom of God in History?

Anyone familiar with the historic millennial positions (amillennialism, covenantal premillennialism, and postmillennialism) knows that each view teaches that the kingdom has come in some form and that it will be consummated only at Jesus’ final coming when He delivers up the kingdom to His Father.

l Corinthians 15:23-24

This “already-not yet” view of the kingdom is biblically sound and has been defended by numerous Bible-believing scholars from various millennial perspectives. Even dispensationalists are conceding that the kingdom has come in some way.

The basic distinction here among dispensationalists is that older ones tended to see the kingdom relegated entirely to the future. More contemporary dispensationalists hold that the full realization of the kingdom for Israel and the world awaits the future, but certainly spiritual aspects of the kingdom are operational in the church.[1]

The Bible teaches the nearness of the kingdom in Jesus’ day. This was the message of John the Baptist and Jesus (Matthew 3:2; 4:17, 23; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:16-30; 4:43; 8:1; 10:9; Colossians 1:13). The kingdom was also manifested through the work of Christ (Matthew 11:2-6; Luke 4:21; 11:20; 17:21). The kingdom continually comes (Matthew 6:10) and progressively advances (Isaiah 9:1-7; Daniel 2:31-34, 44-45; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Matthew 13:31-33). In addition, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom has actually come. The sign that demons are cast out is prima facie evidence that the kingdom has come upon us: “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).[2] How can Reconstructionists be accused of “bringing in the kingdom” when Jesus plainly states that the kingdom had come upon His first-century hearers?

In another place, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom is among them or in their midst.[3] While Paul was consistently “preaching the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:30-31), modern-day kingdom critics preach the rapture and an exclusively future kingdom (millennium). Reconstructionists as postmillennialists do not teach that we “bring in the kingdom.” The kingdom has come, is coming, will come, and one day will be delivered up to God the Father, when “He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25). The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus’ reign is a present reality. He is sitting on David’s throne (Acts 2:22-36); He has been seated at the Father’s “right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20); all things have been put under Jesus’ feet by His Father (v. 22); and “He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).

A good number of critics of Christian Reconstruction want to maintain that the kingdom is not a reality because Jesus’ kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36). But if they mean by this that the kingdom cannot manifest itself on this earth, then it can never be manifested on this earth. This includes the millennium, the seventh dispensation called “the kingdom age” by dispensational theology. “Of this world” does not have reference to where Jesus’ kingdom operates but only the source of His kingdom’s power. His kingdom is “of heaven” – this is why it is described as the “kingdom of heaven” – but it affects this world. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Why do so many dispensationalists misrepresent Reconstructionists on this issue? I believe the following will help shed some light on those dispensationalists who want no part of a theology that stipulates that the kingdom is a present reality. Dispensationalists view anyone who works for social change as trying to “bring in the kingdom” since only Jesus can accomplish this with His physical presence. Since Jesus is not physically present, the kingdom is not present; it is exclusively future and millennial in character. They then impose this (false) definition of a future kingdom run by Jesus from Jerusalem who dispenses punishment for the least infraction on a present-kingdom definition that must operate by less than perfect sinners without Jesus being present. They suppose if the true kingdom means Jesus will punish any and all outward acts of disobedience, then anyone who claims that the kingdom is a present reality must be advocating the same type of kingdom but without the presence of Jesus. This is an improper understanding of Christ’s kingdom. When a dispensationalist hears the word “kingdom,” he thinks of its governmental characteristics in earthly terms. The following is a typical example:

The second important characteristic of the millennial rule of Christ is that His government will be absolute in its authority and power. This is demonstrated in His destruction of all who oppose Him (cf. Ps. 2:9; 72:9-11; Isa. 11:4)…. The wicked are warned to serve the Lord lest they feel His wrath (Ps. 2:10-12). It seems evident from many passages that no open sin will go unpunished…. [T]hose who merely profess to follow the King without actually being saints . . . are forced to obey the King or be subject to the penalty of death or other chastisement.[4]

The above passages are taken by Walvoord to refer to the rule of Christ on earth rather than the rule of Christ from heaven over the earth. There is no indication in the context where these passages are found that an earthly, bodily kingship is in mind. God is presently judging the earth through various means, not all of which are political or immediate. With dispensationalism, there seems to be less grace during the millennium than there is now.

For the dispensationalist, the millennium’s social order is centralized around the earthly rule of Christ. Reconstructionists view the present-operating kingdom as a decentralized social order where no individual or group of individuals has absolute power. Jesus rules from heaven and delegates limited authority to individuals and institutional governments such as families, churches, and civil governments. Reconstructionists maintain that evidence will still be required to convict any person of criminal behavior. Society will not be structured along some type of “Big Brother” concept. The power of civil government at all levels will be decreased considerably. This will mean a great reduction in taxation of all citizens. All the laws set forth in the Bible to protect those accused of crimes will be applied and enforced. Laws protecting life and property will receive strong advocation.

The dispensationalist sees the kingdom coming as a cataclysm at the end of what they propose is a future seven year tribulation period that the church will never experience. The Reconstructionist views the kingdom as a present reality that manifests itself as sinners embrace the gospel and live out their new lives in conformity to the Bible. There is no kingdom to bring in, since we are living in the kingdom. A millennial era of blessings will be produced by the covenantal obedience of Christians, coupled with the saving work of the Holy Spirit.

[1] John S. Feinberg, ed., “Systems of Discontinuity,” Continuity and Discontinuity (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), p. 82

[2] In the only full length critique of Christian Reconstruction, authors H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice do not even reference this verse. See Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? A Critique of Christian Reconstructionism (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1988).

[3] Should the text read, “The kingdom is within you,” or “the kingdom of God is in your midst”? Both translations are possible. But since Jesus was speaking to the unbelieving Pharisees, the kingdom could not have been within them. Rather, they were in the midst of the kingdom but could not “see the kingdom” (John 3:3) because they had not undergone the new birth.

[4] John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Dunham Publishing Company, [1959] 1967), pp. 301-2. Dave Hunt writes that “Justice will be meted out swiftly” during the millennium. Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1987), p. 250.