In the preface of Announcing the Kingdom the stated purpose is to “offer the reader a biblical study of the Kingdom of God and the worldwIntroduction
In the preface of Announcing the Kingdom the stated purpose is to “offer the reader a biblical study of the Kingdom of God and the worldwide mission of God’s people” (Glasser 2003, 11). The book covers the time period from the creation of the world and attempts to look into the future end of time. His treatment of the various periods is appears balanced. However, towards the end of the book he seemed to be rushing towards the end and did not give a balanced treatment of the current age in which we now live, what many consider to be the church age. This is problematic considering that it has been the longest lasting mission period but received the shortest treatment. The organization of the book was quite logical as it followed a chronological progression.
The author himself was a former missionary to China who ended up teaching world missions at Fuller Theological Seminary. The author used a wide breadth of primary source material but, although a 2003 reprint, only one source was published after 1990. This places most of the source material more than twenty years old with no reference to current journal articles or trends within world missions. This causes the book to be more interpreted as an early history of missions rather than a proper theology for reasons that will be discussed later.
The book progresses chronologically with part one describing God’s mission in the beginning. Part one describes the Bible itself as a missionary book. This is logically coherent since in John 1 Jesus was equated with the word and was described as being at the commencement of the world with God. In the rest of this section the creation, rebellion, and judgement (both in Eden and Babel) are explained. Even in judgement the seminal missions passage of Genesis 3:15 is given. This section closes with the call of the patriarchs and their promise to be a blessing to the nations.
Part two discusses God’s mission through the nation of Israel. Chapter five describes God’s rulership over Egypt and his covenants with his people. Chapter six discusses the formation of a nation that belongs to God. This section closes with God’s rule being challenged by the kings of Israel.
Part three deals with God’s mission among the nations in the Old Testament. The first theme dealt with is the exile of Israel amongst the nations. Often God had to punish the failure of the nation to be a priestly nation before the rest of the world. The second theme was the preparation of the coming messiah. The third theme was the way in which God worked through the Diaspora.
Part four dealt with God’s mission through Jesus Christ after his incarnation. Jesus inaugurated, demonstrated, and announced the kingdom of God. He then proclaimed God’s kingdom mission and anticipated the coming of God’s kingdom.
Part five deals with God’s mission through the Holy Spirit by the Church. In chapter sixteen the Holy Spirit inaugurated the missionary church. This seems to indicate that Glasser holds a position the Pentecost was the beginning of the church although he never clearly makes that statement. Chapter seventeen deals with the Jerusalem church proclaiming the kingdom of God while chapter eighteen discusses Paul preaching the gospel of the kingdom.This section ends with the apostolic church embodying Christ’s mission and a discussion of the already, not yet concept of God’s rulership.
The final section of the book deals with God’s mission extending to the end of time. In this section the concepts of God’s kingdom extending over earthly powers is dealt with. Also discussed is the particularism of salvation only through the name of Jesus Christ.
This book was not necessarily a theology of missions strictly speaking as there were at least three major areas of divergence from a systematic theology. These areas of divergence were mentioned quite flippantly and not dealt with very well by the author. These areas do touch on the roots of the church, foundation of the church, and the eschatology of the church. These areas are important because at this present moment the church age is in effect and the responsibility to fulfill missions is presently left with the church.
An area of dispute that Glasser does not deal with in detail is the subject of the “rock” in Matthew 16:13-20. Glasser just seems to make blanket statements that reflect a catholic position on the subject of who or what the “rock” is. First, “he went on to state that on Peter he would build his church” then we must “dismiss all efforts to regard ‘the rock’ as something separate from Peter” because this cannot be linguistically justified (2003: 224). He is correct to not present the Greek passages because doing so would be somewhat damaging to a claim that was not properly defended. A.H. Strong suggests that this passage simply refers to Peter as the first confessor of Christ and that other apostles constituted the foundation as well (1907: 909). The question must be discussed at to what the “rock” constituted. Was it a confession, a play on words, Peter, or the person of Christ. Rogers and Rogers state that petra refers to massive stone blocks and not ordinary rocks that men carry around (petros) (1998: 37). Allen translated this to mean “upon this rock of revealed truth I will build my church” (quoted in Rogers 1998: 37). The play on words between petra and petros here cannot be ignored because it did happen and they do have implications upon what Christ meant. The most likely interpretation is that Christ acknowledged Peter as a stone but upon this rock (reflexive) he would build his church. The term ekklhsia itself only occurs twice in the gospels and both times were in Matthew (16:18 and 18:17). This is interesting because Luke uses it twenty-four times in the book of Acts but leaves it out of his own gospel.
Glasser states that “one could say that those who rejected Jesus and failed to repent thereby ceased to be Israelites (Deut. 32:5; Acts 3:25-26)” (2003: 265). One could say that but usually those who do are covenant theologians who view Israel and the church as one and the same or see the church as having completely replaced Israel within God’s plan. Romans 11:16-36 deals with the illustration of the olive tree and with the fact that the natural branches were broken off. The wild branches were then grafted into the tree. The totality of the tree was not replaced, just a few branches were added to give them life. In this context the church becomes a spiritual descendant of Abraham (who believed God in Galatians 3:6-8). The members of the church do not become physical descendants of Abraham but we may enjoy many of the same blessings and privileges of being adopted into the family of God (Galatians 3:29). Romans 3:3-4 goes on to state that God’s future promises to the nation of Israel are not nullified by their rejection of him or lack of faith. The church cannot fulfill or expect to have the promises of God for Israel fulfilled for them.
The third area that was not dealt with in an in-depth fashion was Glasser’s agreement with Ladd’s eschatology. Glasser interprets the four horsemen of Revelation reveal Jesus’ perspective of history (2003: 363). There is general agreement that the last three horsemen represent war, famine, and pestilence. “Because of the color (white) George Ladd concludes that we look for some interpretation that associates it with Christ (2003: 363). Glasser agrees with the idea that the white horse is the church in this present age. Ladd states that “the rider is not Christ himself but symbolizes the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ in all the world” (1972: 99). This interpretation seems to be a unique one that ignores historical dispensational interpretation of the white horseman of Revelation being the antichrist who goes out to conquer. Being white in color is in keeping with the character of the antichrist as a great deceiver who is then followed by war, famine, and death....more