“Regnum Spiriti:” The Role Of The Spirit In The Social Ethics Of The Kingdom -- By: Mark R. Saucy

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:1 (Mar 2011)
Article: “Regnum Spiriti:” The Role Of The Spirit In The Social Ethics Of The Kingdom
Author: Mark R. Saucy

“Regnum Spiriti:” The Role Of The Spirit In The Social Ethics Of The Kingdom

Mark R. Saucy*

* Mark Saucy is professor of systematic theology at Talbot School of Theology, 13800 Biola Ave., La Mirada, CA 90638.

Nearly a generation ago, George Ladd considered social ethics to be the unfinished business in his study of the kingdom of God.1 Since his day there has been no lack of evangelicals interested to address that unfinished work, including those with distinctives in “signs and wonders,” spiritual formation and the “young evangelicals” who consider themselves “missional,” emergent, or simply “emerging.”2 “Building the kingdom of God” is the mantra of a new generation of evangelicals that wants to be more socially and culturally engaged than their parents.3 Of course these join older liberal and Reformed voices that had long argued for transformation of culture as a goal of the kingdom’s “already.”4 To this growing and lively chorus, the present study proposes the person of the Holy Spirit as an important way in to understanding the aims and means of the kingdom of God in the present age.

The starting point for such a proposal is of course that the Holy Spirit is directly related to the manifestation of the kingdom in the present age. The connection of kingdom and Spirit has a long history on the basis of two lines of exegetical evidence. 5First are the several explicit statements in the NT

connecting the power of the Spirit to the kingdom of God—Jesus’ statement in Matt 12:28 (par. Luke 11:20), “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you,” being an important example. In the Pauline corpus, the kingdom-Spirit connection is the basis of the apostle’s argument for unity in morally neutral questions in the present age: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).6 Similarly, the writer to the Hebrews in a warning passage asserts a current tasting of the “powers of the age to come” possible for those in peril of an inadequate faith.

The second line of evidence for a Spirit-kingdom connection is implicit in the development o...

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