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The Kingdom on Earth? Now? Obama Thinks So . . .

Obama.jpgI don't discuss politics much on this blog, but when a presidential candidate tells us that electing him to office might just bring about the kingdom on earth, it merits a response. 

When politicians say stuff like that, they have now ventured into the realm of eschatology, and bad eschatology at that!  Trying to make the point that the democrats don't have to take a backseat to the Republicans when it comes to matters of faith, Barak Obama decided to turn preacher--a temptation which gets the better of far too many a politician.  According to an article on (Click here: - CNN Political Ticker Obama: GOP doesn’t own faith and values «)


"During the nearly two hour service that featured a rock band and hip-hop dancers, Obama shared the floor with the church's pastor, Ron Carpenter. The senator from Illinois asked the multiracial crowd of nearly 4,000 people to keep him and his family in their prayers, and said he hoped to be `an instrument of God.'

`Sometimes this is a difficult road being in politics,' Obama said. `Sometimes you can become fearful, sometimes you can become vain, sometimes you can seek power just for power's sake instead of because you want to do service to God. I just want all of you to pray that I can be an instrument of God in the same way that Pastor Ron and all of you are instruments of God.'

He finished his brief remarks by saying, `We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth.'"


There's nothing worse than a politician in a pulpit or a preacher confusing the gospel with political activism.  Its just as bad when Republicans do it as when the Democrats do it. 

Christian worship is a divine service of word and sacrament.  God comes to his people to visit us with salvation, to speak to us from his word, to strengthen our faith through the sacraments, to reaffirm his covenant promises.  Christian worship is to be conducted by a minister of the gospel, called for that very purpose.  Such worship is to be supervised by elders who are supposed to make sure the minister is fulfilling his calling.  When these elements are present (the word properly preached and sacraments properly administered), you can be sure that the kingdom of God is present. 

No political pep rally and no amount of political activism will ever "bring about the kingdom" on this earth.  This is a bad example of an over-realized eschatology and an all too secularized understanding of the kingdom.  Didn't Jesus say something about his kingdom being "not of this world?"

Its painfully clear that those politicians who dare to motivate potential voters in a so-called "evangelical" church with the promises that the "kingdom might come" if they are elected to office, have accomplished nothing but demonstrating how little they truly know about the kingdom of God. 

It is also painfully clear that any church which allows them to do this hasn't got a clue about the biblical meaning of the "evangel."  A church which lets a politician into their pulpit during worship is sowing to the flesh, not to the Spirit.

Reader Comments (35)

October 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterreg
When Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world, he didn't say that it has nothing to do with world, but only that its origin and power source are from elsewhere. That's quite different from the above use of John 18:36.

That's not to justify Obama or any other politician who says he can build the Kingdom here on earth: this is God's work, and we're merely his agents.

But even our Lutheran friends with their Two Kingdoms know that "Religion sets the warp and woof of culture" so that "the faith will reweave the material of life as it resets the basis of human interaction in the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (R. Kolb of Concordia Seminary - St. Louis, in Menuge's Christ & Culture in Dialogue, 1999, p. 119).

Don't truncate the "evangel." Clearly the king should never be permitted to offer incense in the temple, but that's hardly the same as saying that the evangel doesn't have implications for the king.
October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Larson
Let me second that "Amen". If you don't mind, I'm going to link to this from my blog...
October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSamuel Lago
A true politician, notice he didn't say which "Kingdom".

Even so, Solomon pegged it long ago. Psalm 127:1, "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain."
October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChris Sherman
A thousand times agreed (is that the same as an Amen?). Witness broad Evangelicalism at work.

Now if we can get Reformed pastors to appreciate the pains of their burden by not showing their hands on their blogs. What's good for the Evangelical goose is good for the confessionally Reformed gander.:)

"...but that's hardly the same as saying that the evangel doesn't have implications for the king."

Phil, statements like these need to be qualified better. The Gospel has no obvious implications for the king, not anymore than it has for the average man, that is. When we say "the Church has nothing to say," it is a turn of phrase or short-hand that means to take into account questions such as "to whom" and "for what purpose." It one thing, for example, for the Church to council/admonish/discipline Jane on her unwanted pregnancy, but another to tell her how either she should vote with respect to Sally's reproductive rights or how the magistrate should decide such matters.

October 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
Now Obama and Bush have something in common.

October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRick B.

They always did as they both come from the Evangelical household...just different corners of the house. It must be so warm and cozy in there, even with all the bickering. It's so lonely out here in the confessional outhouse. Live large, George and Barack! You are squarely in the majority and always have been.

October 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
And both corners think the other corner is from the devil.

"The Confessional Outhouse"

That would make a great name for a blog. How about you and me on a team blog?
October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRick B.
"The Confessional Outhouse", don't they have those things in Catholic churches?
October 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter.

I thought that was what we were doing on "enter the real world"? :)

Does the world need yet another blog?

October 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
I think the world has room for one more confessional blog.

October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRick B.
What's next, a radio program, "The Outhouse Inn."?

... in a small outhouse the Midwest, the Reformation finally is brought to the American people...

October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChris Sherman
Couldn't have said it better, Kim. Also, did anyone notice Obama didn't even mention a "Christian" kingdom? He says, "we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth." A, kingdom. A kingdom, not THEE Kingdom or God's kingdom, just, A, kingdom. But I'm sure nobody noticed there at the 2 hour "celebration." No, I'm sure everyone there just applauded and lauded his words as "god-sent" and "holy." Or something like that.

What a sham.

(Cleveland Indians)
October 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

That's too tortured. The plain reading, in its context, was "the" kingdom. That's how Riddlebarger interpreted it, and he's correct.

October 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
Also, if he had meant A kingdom that's no problem, since the LHK is perfectly legit. Secular kingdom building is a good thing.

...but, again, I don't think that is what he meant to convey to itching ears...

October 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
To which "kingdom" was Barack referring???

My nickname for him, Obama-Bin-Laden, answers that question.
October 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl
I don't know zrim, the more I read it,"a kingdom" the more confused I am of his intention. In the context of his previous words and the crowd he was addressing, you would think, the Kingdom of God, but he said, "A kingdom". How can we be sure of his intentions. Like I stated before, he is quite the politician. Was he confusing kingdoms?

Maybe the IRS code dealing with political activity of 501(c)(3)'s is actually a good thing.

"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office."
October 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChris Sherman

Respectfully, the text of Obama's quote reads, "a kingdom." I'm not disagreeing with Kim, but I am adding my take on it as well.
October 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTyler
And, how much more "plain" of a reading can you get by reading what is actually said? I know, I know, I understand what you're saying and yes, I'm sure as heck Obama-mama was INTENDING the kingdom of God, but in plain sight he said "a" kingdom.

But I digress, I'm done. I'm not excited about getting into a discussion over interpretation. :)
October 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTyler
Yeow. Quibble, quibble. Shouldn't you guys be out on a cable news-network ledge somewhere? Kidding.

His context means to imply that his potential statecraft would be friendly to the "real" values of heaven (wink-wink). He is doing exactly what the religious right did/does.

Besides, like I said, if he means A kingdom, fine. What's the beef? That's what Presidents do, legitimately. But use good Reformed hermeutics 101 and the context clealry teaches something else.

But, again, Riddlebarger makes a correct plain reading himself: "No political pep rally and no amount of political activism will ever 'bring about the kingdom' on this earth."

Take it up with the right reverend himself. Tell him he's gotten something wrong, or at least not as right as he could. I can't do it here because I think he's spot on, but it can be sorta fun.

October 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim

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