In what way is kingdom work the work of the Church? Does it exist outside of the churchly realm? McKnight’s exploration, I think, would be made much more coherent if he were to consider the two kingdom theology found in Lutheran thought.
McKnight, Scot. Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Brazos Press, 2014. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 6, “No Kingdom Outside the Church.” pp. 81-98
McKnight immediately asks if “kingdom” work is “church” work and how we can call a service “kingdom” work if it is not particular to the church (McKnight 2014, 81). If the kingdom was defined adequately as God’s people in a place, some actions which may be good are not the realm of the Kingdom of the Church.
McKnight cites influential authors asserting that the kingdom and the church are not the same. In both the older and younger theologians the concept of kingdom tends to be ill defined (McKnight 2014, 82-84). He does find some agreement, though in a peculiar way. “The oddity of this seeming consensus is that there is a widespread lack of attempting to articulate the relationship of church and kingdom other than by way of denying they are identical” (McKnight 2014, 85).
McKnight refocuses attention on Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:16-19 to identify the kingdom as that which breaks into our world and is revealed by God. It is built on the apostles and will last forever (McKnight 2014, 86). The future kingdom is related to what the church does now. God’s people are identified with the kingdom. He then discusses how we should see “church” (McKnight 2014, 88).
McKnight’s basic position is that the Church is an expansion of Israel, rather than a replacement (McKnight 2014, 89). He engages in some word study to attempt a close tie of Israel to the word “church” as a local assembly, distancing Paul from any Hellenistic use of the term, choosing to use it instead for a version of Israel, with the promise of the land, Torah, and all the trappings of restorationism.
McKnight goes on to present the Church as a kingdom which is both “now and not yet” (McKnight 2014, 92). Yet his analysis of this dynamic presents the “now” as dysfunctional, broken (McKnight 2014). As he looks to the “not yet” McKnight moves directly to Revelation 21-22, which he quotes at length. “The church is now and not yet, partially redeemed and on its way to full redemption” (McKnight 2014, 94). While McKnight expresses an unacceptable view of soteriology, he does reach a conclusion that is valid. “Kingdom mission is first and foremost church mission” (McKnight 2014, 95).