In this series, I intend to blog my reactions to this book. In today's post, I'll be blogging about the introduction and chapter 1.
Boyd immediately jumps into his topic. He states that the kingdom of God conflicts with the kingdoms of this world. All versions of the "kingdoms of the world" operate "from above." They are top-down and seek to acquire and exercise power over others. Leaders in the world desire to be served, to be held in awe because of their power.
On the other hand, the kingdom of God operates "from below." Below, because agents of the kingdom of God are servants. Servants are always "below" the one they serve. God's kingdom is modeled and incarnated in Jesus. It advances in power only when power is exercised "under" someone else, to lift them up.
Chapter 1: The Kingdom of the Sword
According to Boyd, a version of the kingdom of the world exists wherever a group or person exercises power over others. He does not consider the exercise of power over others to be evil all the time (neither do I); nevertheless, the potential exists for abuse. The "power of the sword," which is the weapon of the kingdoms of the world, produces conformity but cannot produce internal change. This does not refer to a literal sword, but to the power of the kingdom to dictate behavior and responsibility. (Notice the emphasis on power.)
The kingdoms of the world are not entirely evil. In fact, God uses these kingdoms to achieve his ends and to keep law and order in a fallen world (Romans 13:1, 3-4). However, although God works in these kingdoms, the authority of these kingdoms has been given to Satan (Luke 4:5-7; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Therefore, even though God institutes governments for purposes of law and order, Satan is at work in these kingdoms for purposes that are against God's. Political conflict is an attempt to gain or seize power "from above" and is satanic in origin. Such conflict does not originate from God or operate out of his principles "from below."
The "myth of redemptive violence" contributes to this cycle. That myth states that "good" is able to save us by eliminating "evil," but it presumes that one kingdom's values are superior to another. And, in eliminating one evil, another is often started when members of a different kingdom become fearful of the one seizing power.
Boyd states that as long as people locate their worth, significance, and security in their power, possessions, traditions, tribes, and nation, rather in a relationship with God, this game of violence is inevitable, ongoing, and always likely. We, as Christians, can never assume one government, even our own, is always, or even usually, aligned with God.
The kingdom of God is in contrast to all this. We must put our hope in God and in his kingdom (see Luke 22:25-27).