This morning, on the final day of the Kingdom Come conference, Dr Trevor Morrow spoke on the title of 'What might God be saying to the nation?'
Trevor acknowledged that within evangelicalism there is a range of opinion on the nations, from an Erastianism in which the church and nation are synonymous through to a Menonite position where the church is the city on the hill set apart from the nation.
Taking a lead from NT Wright, Trevor identified the exile in Babylon as the controlling narrative for the synoptic gospels - something I am also persuaded of having read NTW. Looking then into the prophets of the exilic period, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah, Zephaniah and others, Trevor discerned the two great themes of i) tear down, and ii) build up.
It is time to tear down the idols.
Before starting on the idols of the nation, Trevor spoke of the frequently carved idols of evangelicalism - I hope all who own this title will take the time to consider this carefully:
we build the idols of:
1 - reformed orthodoxy - where our orthodoxy, as we understand it, is all that matters, and we are saved not by Christ but by our correct and pure understanding of all the heads of reformed doctrine.
2 - ministry success - we worship the attendence at our meetings, the building in which we gather, the cash which we raise.
3 - preaching (or whatever gift God has given us) - we use our gifts as though our exercise of them will be our justification before God.
4 - an experience of God - we have exchanged God for an experience of God, and we are breaking his heart.
Before we can call others to tear down their idols, must we not tear down those we worship?
Idolatry in the nation:
1 - nationalism - God has become a resource we use to bless and give success to our nationalism.
2 - technological and economic success.
How often in the church do we implicitly approve of the cult of more money, more stuff, more power, more things?
It is also time to build up, to find hope:
A people in exile, such as spoken of in Jer 33:14-16, seek:
justice, right relationships and peace with God.
The hope we offer is that after our exile, the city where we will be led to live shall be called 'The Lord our righteousness.'
We need radical, authentic testimonies to the life of the Kingdom which alone can offer hope to a people in exile seeking to come home.
Kingdom Come has been a great conference, the talks will be available to order on line, they are all well worth hearing.