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The Kingdom as Cosmic Drama

October 4, 2008

Recently I’ve been reading Models of the Kingdom by Howard Snyder.  He is a graduate of Notre Dame and was a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary (where I am taking classes).  In this book he explores eight “models” of what the Kingdom of God has looked  like throughout history.  There are models such as kingdom as “Future Hope,” “Inner Witness,” “Institutional Church,” “Political Kingdom,” and so forth.  In this work, we come to an understanding of what the Kingdom of God should look like, and what it shouldn’t.

At the end of the book, though, he explores how we might understand the kingdom in a 21st century context.  As cultures and the world change, we must always be strengthening our understanding of aspects of the biblical story.  If we can stay true to the picture of Jesus and the bible as our source for such truth, then coming up with new ways to describe aspects of God is desirable.  He explores another way we might look at God’s kingdom as a Cosmic Drama:

A quite different way of addressing the issues involved with kingdom theologies would be to imagine God’s plan as a cosmic drama.

In this view, God is the great Playwright, working out a dramatic plan on the stage of history.  God is sovereign as the playwright is sovereign over the drama he or she creates.  Yet, as every artist knows, in the creative process sovereignty does not mean lack of engagement, emotional detachment, or total independence from the persons and the action in the play.  The playwright himself feels personally involved with the characters; putting something of herself or himself in them.  In fact, each character probably embodies some aspect of the playwright’s own character

In this model the kingdom of God is the great drama of redemption–personal, social, cosmic.  Everything is included:  all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.  But there is a central story.  We see movement, climax, and final resolution…But some might object, a drama isn’t “real” or “true”; it remains a work of fiction, however much truth it embodies or reveals.  Most people don’t want to see themselves as the projection of someone else’s fantasy, as someone’s dream–much less as merely playing a part that is already written, the story predetermined…

In this case [however], the Dramatist really allows the characters to come alive, to improvise, to make real decisions, even possibly to ruin the play or steal the show!  the question then becomes not so much the power of the Playwright (who can call a halt at will if things get out of hand) but rather the Playwright’s intelligence, creativity, and insight–in short, God’s creative genius…If the playwright were God— not a God who predetermines people’s actions but a God who gives people genunie freedom within the limits of his ultimate sovereign power–the story would be different.  Genuinely contigent, and yet definitely glorious in final outcome.  It would bbe a breathtaking story!

And it is.  God has a story.  It has a wonderful ending.  Each character in the story is loved and cared about.  There is a villain, and many are taken captive by him.  The climax is a cross.  The resolution is a resurrection, a bride, and a kingdom. 

Let’s live in the reaility that we are in the epic of the ages.

Be blessed.

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