The Kingdom of God as Hermeneutic Grid -- By: Graeme Goldsworthy

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 12:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: The Kingdom of God as Hermeneutic Grid
Author: Graeme Goldsworthy

The Kingdom of God as Hermeneutic Grid

Graeme Goldsworthy*

* Graeme Goldsworthy is a minister of the Anglican Church of Australia and has served in churches in Sydney and Brisbane. He is a graduate of the Universities of Sydney, London, and Cambridge, and earned his Ph.D. at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He lectured at Moore Theological College, Sydney, in Old Testament, Biblical Theology, and Hermeneutics. Now retired, Dr. Goldsworthy continues as a visiting lecturer at Moore College to teach a fourth-year B.D. course in Evangelical Hermeneutics. He is the author of many books, including Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture (Eerdmans, 2000), According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (InterVarsity, 2002), and Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation (InterVarsity, 2007).


Much of what I would want to say on this subject has already been expressed in a previous article.1 I will try not to repeat myself too much in this article, but the concerns of the two articles are closely related. In focusing on the kingdom of God we are really looking at a key element that gives biblical theology its coherence. We start with our view of the Bible and its authority. The word of God must be self-authenticating and thus self-interpreting. There can be no higher authority than God and his word for interpreting not only the Bible but also every other fact in the universe. That is the simple corollary of the reality that God created all things, all facts, and he alone can say what they ultimately mean and how they relate. This is also part of what we believe the Bible to mean when it sets forth the kingdom of God as a central concept. The kingdom involves God’s absolute sovereignty in all things. The biblical story from beginning to end is one of God’s active rule, however much it is challenged, from creation to new creation.

I cannot agree with those scholars who are nervous about proposing the kingdom as central to the biblical message on the grounds that the term “kingdom of God” does not occur until the New Testament. The particular phrase might not be a feature of the Old Testament but the concept is central to it. If, as suggested, the hermeneutics of the Bible must be revealed and come from within the Bible itself, the role of biblical theology as a discipline will be crucial. This is because of the nature of the Bible and the dogmatic presuppositions we bring to it. We are dealing with a time-related set of documents that are contextualized by a particular series of events within the history of our world. They are people-related documents in that they are what huma...

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