Boyd’s interpretation of the Kingdom of God reflects a Christus Victor view of the Atonement (Boyd’s ministry beyond his pastoring Woodland Hills Church is called "Christus Victor Ministries"). Here's an excerpt:
“Though the world as a whole was and remains part of the domain in which Satan is king, in Jesus the domain in which God is king has been introduced into the world. The central goal of Jesus’ life was to plant the seed of this new kingdom so that, like a mustard seed, it would gradually expand. Eventually that kingdom would end the rule of Satan and reestablish God, the Creator of the world, as its rightful ruler (Matt. 13:31-31). In other words, Jesus came to destroy the cosmic “power over” lord and establish the kingdom of God upon the earth (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). Jesus planted the seed of the kingdom of God with his ministry, death, and resurrection and then gave to the church, the body of all who submit to his lordship, the task of embodying and living out this distinct kingdom…We collectively are his “second” body, as it were, through which he continues to do what he did in his “first” body…As we allow Christ’s character to be formed in us—as we think and act like Jesus—others come under the loving influence of the kingdom and eventually their own hearts are won over to the King of Kings. The reign of God is thus established in their hearts, and the kingdom of God expands. That process…will culminate in the return of the King accompanied by legions of angels, at which time Satan’s rule will end, the earth will be purged of all that is inconsistent with God’s rule, and his kingdom of love will be established once and for all.”
The rest of the chapter looks at Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom of God—that it is for those who are like little children, not seeking power, money, or social respect (Matt 18:3-4), that it washes people’s feet in service (John 13:3-11), that it does not retaliate with power but heals those who threaten (as in when Jesus healed the ear of the man struck by the sword in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:50-51), that it loves neighbors (Matt 22:36-40), that it prays for those who persecute (Matt 5:43-44), and that it even does good to those who seek to do harm (Luke 6:29; 6:34-35).
There is little to criticize in Boyd’s description of the Kingdom of God—it is indeed the subversive kingdom that overthrows the kingdom of Satan by love and sacrifice, for this is what the King did on the cross (and which was vindicated in the resurrection). Our mandate is indeed to seek first this Kingdom and to become kingdom people. If Christ is King, he must be King of all. And we live in the tension of the time in which there is a cosmic battle between these two kingdoms.
However, Boyd goes one step further (following John Howard Yoder), saying that all governments are a part of the kingdom of the world—ruled, therefore, by Satan.
And that is the problem. If each government is itself a “power” that is fallen and under the control of Satan, then this leaves little room for Christians to be a subversive, redeeming force for and in the government. According to Boyd, government is evil because it is ontologically evil doing the will of Satan; government itself is a fallen power (not just an institution that is under the influence of evil powers, it itself is an evil power).
But this does not seem to be the teaching of Scripture, which says that the governing authorities have no authority “except that which God has established…Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong” (Romans 13:1-3). Paul’s language does not sound like he is condemning governmental authority because it is demonic; rather it seems to be the exact opposite: “God has established” rulers, and therefore they “hold no terror for those who do right.”
Posts in this series:
Chapters 4 & 5
Reflection: Boyd and Colossians 1
Chapters 6 - 8
technorati: politics, social action, emerging church