Q & R: Follow up on why Evangelicals don’t like …

Got this response to the earlier post

Q: I just read your blog today on why some people don’t like you. If I did or did not like you it doesn’t having any bearing on my comments. I will disagree with you but to dislike someone that you don’t know is ridiculous. Hate the game and not the players.
Anyway my big complaint is your take on the Gospel. The fact that you basically demean or downplay the substitionary atonement is beyond me. If you think that Christians don’t do enough in the name of Christ, OK I understand that but to come up with a different Gospel, I would have to say you’re treading on dangerous ground. Why don’t you send me some scripture to make your point about the Gospel of “Kingdom Now” theology and maybe I’ll consider it.

Reply after the jump …

R: Thanks for your note. Thanks especially for distinguishing disliking from disagreeing. In light of 2 Peter 2:7, I want to sincerely “like” everybody … something that I think is more doable (with the Holy Spirit’s tutelage) than many people realize. The fact is that there are many people with whom I share both amazing and deep disagreements and amazing and deep friendship and affection. The bonds of affection make it easy to disagree, and the threat of disliking makes even agreeing rather insecure. Besides, we probably can’t learn much from people who think/see exactly as we do … right?
Two additional quick replies.
1. Be assured I am not interested in coming up with “a different gospel” from the one Jesus and Paul and the other apostles preached. It’s just that I think the gospel many preach today is actually quite different from theirs. In fact, there are a lot of gospels out there – the prosperity gospel, the American Manifest Destiny gospel, the say-the-sinner’s-prayer-and-you’re-eternally-secure gospel, the partake-of-the-sacraments-of-the-one-true-church gospel, the find-out-if-you’re-one-of-the-elect-before-the-foundation-of-the-world gospel, etc. Jesus didn’t preach any of these … nor did he preach “the gospel of penal substitutionary atonement.” He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. So did Paul (see the last few paragraphs of the last chapter of Acts, for example). I discuss this at some length – with lots of Scripture – in SMJ – and will do so in more detail (and with even more Scripture) in NKC coming in February.
2. I’m intrigued by your term “Gospel of Kingdom Now theology.” I’ve heard the term “kingdom now theology” used by other people, but I’ve certainly never used it to describe myself because frankly, I have no idea what it means or where it comes from. If you hear someone say I believe in “kingdom now theology,” that’s a pretty good sign they haven’t read my books, or that they’re collapsing my views with someone else’s, or (most likely) both. It’s refreshing, but somewhat rare, to read critiques of my books that disagree with what I’ve actually said. Very often they disagree with something I haven’t said at all.
Regarding “kingdom now theology,” whatever it is – I love what I heard a friend say last week. “The kingdom of God is always at hand – but it’s never in hand,” meaning that if we claim that we’ve got it captured in hand and stuffed in pocket, so that it’s in our possession, under our control, contained in our conceptual framework, shrink-wrapped on our shelf of religious products, etc., we’ve surely broken, fragmented, and spoiled it and made it into “our doctrine” so that it is no longer recognizable as “the good news of God” (Mark 1:14).