Wednesday, January 21, 2009

e*b week 2 - The Kingdom of God

For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen's University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

This week one of our assignment in the Essentials Blue Course was to read part 2 in Simply Christian by N.T. Wright and discuss how our understanding of the theological phrase "Kingdom of God" was shaped or challenged.

We also read the second section in Dan Wilt's Essentials in Worship Theology on the Nature of God, and I had to choose the one I felt has the most importance for worship leadership for the next 10-20 years. Below is my response. In a later post I'll share my "unassigned" thoughts on worship this week.

A: For the past several years, God has been renewing my mind and uprooting embedded theology with regards to His Kingdom. This section of Simply Christian on the Kingdom of God has served to strengthen the work the Lord has been doing in my heart and mind and has given me new language and images which have enriched my understanding.

I appreciate the definition N.T. Wright gives for heaven: “God’s space as opposed to our space” and the ensuing explanations of the different options regarding how God’s space and our space relate to one another [1]. Truth be told, I have probably held a view that’s been a mixture of options 2 and 3 with a move towards the latter as God has been revealing His truths to me.

As I pray “Kindom come on earth as it is in heaven,” my perspective will be different now as I view heaven and earth as interlocking and overlapping [2] instead of two separate spheres. I will now envision God creating a “thin place” [3] making His Kingdom visible in my sphere, heaven invading earth [4], influencing and changing me and those around me accordingly.

B: I believe that God as Trinity (the God who relates) has the most importance for the next 10-20 years of worship leadership, followed closely by God as King (the God who reigns). By in large, the western mindset is logical and rational and limitedly mystical. We tend to think compartmentally instead of wholistically.

Now, I believe that the Father and Son are much more than our minds could ever grasp on a logical and rational level, but we have done a good job (or so we think) of describing and being “comfortable” with the Father and the Son. The Spirit not so much. There are many songs in Christiandom that sing to and about the Father and the Son but curiously leave out the Spirit. Is it because we don’t understand? Partially. Is it because the Spirit is less definable? Probably. We’ve come a long way in the Vineyard towards bridging that gap, but there’s still work to be done.

I am encouraged to begin studying and seeking greater understanding of God as Trinity. I am convicted by the “disservice [I am doing to my] own theological thinking and that of others by not defining our words well in worship expression.” [5] In my own personal worship experience, I want to begin to incorporate worshiping and praying to each person of the Trinity individually and, thereby, pursuing a deeper relationship with the God who relates. I hope this will eventually spill over into coroporate worship gatherings where I have opportunity to lead.

1. N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 59-60.
2. ibid, 63
3. Dan Wilt, Essential Worship Theology: God as Creator, King, Trinity and Savior (audio)
4. Bill Johnson
5. Dan Wilt, Online Studies in Worship Theology and Biblical Worldview, 18

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