Monday, February 9, 2015

Walking in the Resurrection

Myron Augsburger wrote a wonderful little book entitled Walking in the Resurection (Herald Press, Scottsdale, PA, 1976). I don’t remember where I ran onto the book, but I read it the first time in 1988, remembering how much I asppreciated Augsburger at our national Anderson Convention.

I have referred to the book many times and am captivated to this day by the concept in the title. I love studying Anabaptist history and appreciate the great publishing ministry of Herald Press at Scottsdale. This book is number six of more than a dozen books by Augsburger who had an illustrious career as a scholar, college president, head of the educational Coalition of Christian schools, et al. I find him especially pertinent to our teachings about the Kingdom of God for 2015 and I share them for their clarification.

Chapter one emphasizes the new life, which Augsburer relates directly “to the resurrection” and he quotes Gerhard Delling: “Without the resurrection of Christ, there would be no reconstituting of human life and existence by God, and the whole of man’s life and existence is always implied here … inseparable from making it possible for man to walk in a new way” (17).

Of special interest are Augsburger’s views regarding “Citizens of Christ’s Kingdom” chapter 7:
“One of the most revolutionary convictions one can hold is to believe in the present, spiritual, universal kingdom of Christ and to give it loyalty above all else …  and that the disciple of Christ has a primary responsibility to all other followers of Christ around the globe supersedes all nationalism” (81).

(P 83)
“The kingdom of Christ is a new humanity which He is creating in fellowship wit Himself …  spiritually transformed …a new reality breaking into time and extending beyond time” (with references).

“From Augustine to the present, the church has had a prominent amillennial emphasis identifying the reign of Christ with His rule in the church. Alongside this has existed a strong premillennialism, emphasizing the coming millennium when Jesus will reign on earth in a manner affecting all people and nations. I agree that the New Testament teaches a great coming culmination for the kingdom of Christ. However, we dare not fail to emphasize the reality of the kingdom of Christ now to emphasize the reality of the kingdom of Christ now as He invites men and women to Himself around the world, building a kingdom of those who call Him Lord” (emphasis added).

“Present-day Israel needs to be seen in context with God’s universal purpose for all people. The Gentile has been grafted into the historic Judaic roots. The Arab is my brother. The Middle East conflict calls me to recognize God’s work among the Arabs even while He used the Jews as a reminder of a special revelation of Jehovah … But whatever the future details of His plan, we know His purpose – the building of a kingdom open to all.
               “The  kingdom of God centers in Jesus Christ, and is expressed today in His body, the church … the new people of God …”

“This people is global, transnational, a fellowship of the redeemed… No longer is the kingdom of God active in the world through Israel; it works rather through the church … The disciple’s ethic is basically centered on Christ.”

“To know Christ as Lord means the transformation of one’s total way of life. As members of the kingdom of Christ, our style of living corresponds to the character of His kingdom … Our sense of responsibility for social concerns will be directly related to our commitment to Christ and His love … The disciple, in understanding himself, must keep check o whether his decisions and actions are motivated by the spirit of this age or by the Spiit of Christ … The disciple is called to live a new life in society, not to try to create a new society for the world.”

That this kingdom of Christ is global, and that all nations will be judged for the way they have actd in relation to God’s worlk in history through Israel, is clearly expressed in Matthew 25:31-46.”

“Our identification is clearly with the King of kings in contrast to secularism which can only affirm belief in man but not in God. … Secularism is simply another form of atheism. It orients life around man as though God did not exist.”
 (And I add, herein lies the inherent weakness of much of our current social advocacies today).

This quote from Augsburger (p91) sums it up for me:
               “My faith is not authentic if I only want to enjoy the experiences of piety but will not soil my hands in loving service to my fellowman. If I believe in the Trinity, the ultimate expression of mutuality of love, I will extend this love to other personalities.
               “To be a member of the kingdom of Christ is a present reality, my identification today. My citizenship as a disciple is in heaven and I take my direction from there. In the world I am an ambassador for my king (See 2 Cor. 5:20). This life is a pilgrimage, but one for which the way is known, the destiny sure. Our identification is clearly with the King of kings in contrast to secularism which can only affirm belief in man but not in God” (emphasis added).

In a later chapter “Relating to Government” Augsburger concludes his book:
“… in a specific manner the disciple of Christ who lives as a member of the kingdom of heaven is called to give his total life in service for the benefit of others. If we are true to our calling, we will be involved in many services of education, ecology, poverty, health, management, and the life, which are needed by our fellowman. We will give ourselves to the more needy and difficult areas of human problems. We will own and use property as stewards for the cause of Christ, but not ask that others die to protect it for us … I can delight in helping the downtrodden. I can devote my energies to bring freedom to the oppressed, healing to the suffering and broken, encouragement to those who despair of their lot in society, and extending fellowship to all that may discover that each of us is made in the image of God and that this image can be restored” (bold and italic added).

From Warner’s World,
There is a whole semesterand more of kingdom theology to be found herein...

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