Sunday, July 5, 2009

John the Baptist and the Kingdom of God

"Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11)
This is the third post in a mini-series on why I think the Kingdom of God is in no way "present" or "already", but only "not yet".

The first post was an argument based on the binding of Satan as part of the establishment of the Kingdom, and the second was based on the separation of the sheep from the goats.

Today my argument will have holes in it. Intentional holes. Or blanks, rather.

It goes something like this: Jesus, in the verse cited above, teaches that even the one who is least in the Kingdom is greater than John the baptist. So below is a test I devised to determine whether the Kingdom is present. You have to fill it out for yourself.

1. When the KOG has been established, it will be true that "I am greater than John the Baptist".
2. It is currently _______ ("true" or "not true") that "I am greater than John the Baptist".
3, Therefore, it is currently _______ ("true" or "not true") that the KOG has been established.

Leave a comment with your answers.


  1. Terse question & less terse point & another thing & another thing.

    1. "kingdom of heaven". Synonym?

    2. You invite question-begging answers in your blanks. For, one's answer to '2' will probably be informed solely by the passage at hand along with their understanding of the kingdom. '2' makes little sense in the abstract. If you put '2' to me, (and I were firmly of the belief that the KOG is at wrist) I'd say, "Well, I don't know. 'greater' in what sense? In the sense of Matthew 11:11? If so, I know that, since I'm a member of the KOH, it is true. If you ask me not to assume my position, then honestly I can't say whether I'm greater than JtB, for the sense of 'greater' we're dealing with isn't explicated in any way by the passage, except for its relation to my heavenly citizenship!
    Does my point make sense?

    3. Do you know of any full cases for the kind of dispensationalism you tote? Honestly, your mini-series if all very proof-texty and so holds little by way of persuasive force (for me at least). But I'm interested in your view. Blog-length posts just don't seem capable of making robust scriptural presentations; you're forced to treat individual passages or verses, but interpreting verses in isolation is something I don't respect much or have much of a stomach for.

    4. I have another point I'd like to make to you in person.

  2. 1. Yes I believe so

    2. I see what you're saying, I guess my point is more that I personally am not willing to say I am greater than JtB, and if you are, I would be interested in what you think "greater" means.

    In your opinion, should I have opted instead for a thorough, exegetical treatment of this verse that seeks to explain the intended meaning of the author, hoping a treatment like this would uncover meanings incompatible with the view I suspect is wrong? Or do you think there is a place in the blogosphere for the simpler move I make?

    3. Yeah, I guess it is a little proof-texty in kind of an annoying way. Do you have suggestions for how to improve it? In your opinion, should I have held out, written a full-length, exegetical treatment of the 'when' of the Kingdom, and then posted that? (For obviously I would maintain that my view on the 'what' and 'when' of the Kingdom is supported by broader contexts.) I will admit my view is still in flux. But I did write a few papers in college I could share with you, and I know of a couple books and commentaries that support large swaths of my current view. As for this series, which aims to encourage readers to think twice on the when of the Kingdom - most Dispensationals hold that there is a future fulfillment to most of the Kingdom prophecies.

    In your opinion, is this just simply not blog material?

    4. Call me up!

  3. for the record, I fully agree with JCW. Except on point number 4.

  4. Chris,

    What do you mean by "n.c."?


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