The Coming Kingdom (41)
Dr. Andy Woods
In this series, the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God has been set forth. This series has also scrutinized the New Testament texts that "kingdom now" theologians rely upon in order to demonstrate the insufficiency of "kingdom now" theology. We then began noting why this trend of equating God's present work in the church with the Messianic kingdom is a matter that believers should be concerned about, since this theology radically alters God's design for the church and is the seedbed of many major false doctrines that have entered Christ's church.
ALLIANCES WITH NON-BIBLICAL GROUPS
In the last installment, we called attention to Clarence Larkin's warning concerning the impact of how "kingdom now" negatively impacts the church's calling, purpose, and mission. Larkin noted at least five consequences that 'kingdom now" theology has upon Ecclesiology, or the doctrine of the church. Having already discussed the first two points, we had moved on to the third point. Third, because there are not presently and numerically enough Christians necessary to establish God's kingdom upon the earth, it becomes necessary for the church to find common ground with those who do not share its biblical convictions in order to build the political coalition needed to implement a "kingdom now" social agenda. Larkin well explains:
In prior installments, we noted the "kingdom now" agenda behind popular pastor Rick Warren's "PEACE" plan. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that Warren has become one of the leading advocates of ecumenism in our day. Apparently not content to only build a bridge to Roman Catholicism only, Warren also seems to be building a similar bridge into Islam. Such advocacy of interfaith cooperation across vastly divergent belief systems is revealed through many of Warren's public statements.
Note, for example, the following prayer that Warren offered on January 21, 2009 at President elect Obama's inauguration: “I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray...” (italics added). While most would recognize in Warren's prayer the Hebrew rendering of Jesus (Yeshua) as well as the Spanish pronunciation of the name Jesus, who is "Isa"? World religions expert Eric Barger well explains Isa's true identity:
Thus, Warren in his inaugural prayer seems to equate the Muslim Jesus with the biblical Jesus. The bottom line is that if you are going to try to build the Kingdom of God on the earth, there are not enough Christians in the world to accomplish this goal. Thus, you have to start cooperating with people of different faiths, like Catholics and Muslims. Such spiritual ecumenism represents the natural outworking of the church viewing itself as the kingdom of God.
DISPENSING WITH PROPHETIC TRUTH
Fourth, Larkin observed that the discarding of the study of Bible prophecy naturally takes place when "kingdom now" theology gains a foothold in the church. As noted earlier, Larkin observed, "The 'Kingdom Idea' has robbed the Church of her 'UPWARD LOOK,' and of the 'BLESSED HOPE.' There cannot be any 'Imminent Coming' to those who are seeking to 'Set up the Kingdom.'" After all, why be overly preoccupied with God's predicted prophetic plan involving the future overthrow of the Antichrist and His subsequent reign if the church is presently bringing in the kingdom? As already noted, popular pastor Rick Warren is heavily involved in a kingdom now agenda through his "PEACE" plan. Thus, it should also come as no surprise that Warren is a leading critic of those who invest time and energy into seeking to discover what the Bible reveals concerning the future. Interestingly, Warren appears to have a special animus for those who he deems are overly preoccupied with Eschatology, which is the study of God's plan for the future. He writes:
According to Warren's line of thought, those that overly meditate upon the over a quarter of the Bible devoted to Eschatological truth are date setting, pursuing un-Christ-like priorities, unconcerned about evangelism, involved in a distraction, being influenced by Satan, and are unfit for the Kingdom of God! Yet the study of Bible prophecy should not be so quickly discredited and discarded since: "...we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts (2 Pet. 1:19)."
Progressive Dispensationalists also emphasize "kingdom now" theology through their belief that Christ now orchestrates an "already" and spiritual phase of the Davidic Kingdom as He now reigns from David's Throne, allegedly in heaven. Thus, it again is not surprising to discover that Progressive Dispensationalists deemphasize Bible Prophecy in general. Key prophetic passages receive scant attention in their teachings and writings. Charles Ryrie observes how Progressive Dispensationalists are guilty of:
Again, the bottom line is that if the kingdom is now then the present should be our focus rather than some future event. Such a presupposition logically leads to a discarding of Bible prophecy.
(To Be Continued...)
 Clarence Larkin, Rightly Dividing the Word (Glenside, PA: Clarence Larkin Estate, 1920), 48.
 Eric Barger, “Rick Warren Invokes the Name of Islamic Jesus at Obama Inauguration,” online: http://lit4ever.org/revivalforum/index.php?topic=16453.0;wap2, January 2009, accessed 4 January 2015.
 Clarence Larkin, The Second Coming of Christ (Glenside, PA: Clarence Larkin Estate, 1918), 51.
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 285-86.
 Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 176-77.