‘How God Became King’

I have preached, on more than one occasion, about the dual nature of Biblical references to God’s kingdom – some of which seem to place it in the future tense, others in the present tense.

I checked out How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels through a digital library loan. I’ve heard a lot about N.T. Wright, and read bits and pieces of things he’s written, but this is the first of his actual books I’ve gotten the chance to read. It’s a terrific book, well worth my time, and I believe it would be worth yours. Wright emphasizes the present nature of the kingdom in the light of the gospel story.

Most Christians understand, or believe they understand, the theological significance of the Incarnation and Jesus’ birth. They also understand, or believe they understand, the theological significance of his death and resurrection, and like to think of it as pointing towards their eternal reward. (A college roommate of mine, Darrell Grizzle, once complained about the music he had to play at a southern gospel radio station by inventing the satirical song title, “When Jesus Comes Back and Sends All The Communists To Hell, Won’t It Be Wonderful Up There?”) The material that comes between the birth and the resurrection is the stuff of sermons, but we don’t really incorporate it into our understanding of theology, or (as Wright notes) into our creeds. The Apostles’ Creed jumps right from “born of the Virgin Mary” to “suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

But Wright makes a solid case that the scope of Jesus’ life is vitally important to our understanding of his nature as the Messiah, bringing about God’s promised kingdom. Like the disciples of Jesus’ day, who expected the Messiah to be a military-political revolutionary, we throughout church history have overlooked and misunderstood the true nature of God’s kingdom, the way in which Jesus made it a reality, and our own responsibility for to behave as if we’re subjects of that kingdom in the here and now. Wright breaks down various New Testament passages and the Old Testament prophecies to which they relate, showing the nature of Jesus and his messianic kingdom.

The book is a little imposing at the outset, but once you get into it it’s quite readable and compelling. I had, frankly, forgotten that it was a library book; I’ve plowed through so many Kindle books recently that sometimes I lose track of what was free, what was super-cheap and what was borrowed. I was a little sad when I realized the book was going to have to delete itself from my Kindle, and I may have to take a look at picking it up some time in the future.

Strongly recommended.