The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective

By Russell D. Moore
Wheaton, IL : Crossway (2004). 320 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Robert Thomas
17.2 (Fall 2006) : 247-248

The author is Dean of the School of Theology, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration, and Associate Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also was the first Executive Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. In this work Moore presents a strong case in favor of Kingdom theology.

Moore blames evangelical failure in the sociopolitical arena on an inadequate evangelical theology of the Kingdom. He heavily emphasizes the work of Carl F. H. Henry, particularly in his The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. Right after World War II, Henry was a leader in the new evangelical movement that sought to cure evangelicalism of its fundamentalistic isolation from the activity of contemporary society and politics. Henry pushed strongly the theological case for evangelicalism in terms of a vigorous engagement with nonevangelical thought. According to Moore, Henry’s work and the new evangelical movement it helped to start forced evangelicals into a middle ground between fundamentalist social detachment and the liberal social gospel.

Moore continues in noting that evangelicalism was divided into two camp s, the covenantalists and the dispensationalists with their differing view of the Kingdom, a division that hindered evangelicalism from having a united impact on the secular world. Debates between premillennialists and amillennialists were secondary matters to Henry (and apparently to Moore too). He lamented the absence of a united evangelical front with which to confront the secular society.

In Moore’s estimation, that united front has begun to emerge. His book refers repeatedly to an emerging consensus (e.g., 60, 69, 74, 96, 116, 153, 149, 152, 153, 157, 160, 167) that results from changes in both Dispensationalism and Covenant theology. The emerging consensus was facilitated by the exegetical and biblical theological syntheses of George Eldon Ladd, whose view of the Kingdom differed from the two dominant evangelical systems. Moore sees movements toward a consensus in Progressive Dispensationalism, represented by Craig Blaising, Darrell Bock, and Robert Saucy, and in Covenant theology, represented by Anthony Hoekema, Vern Poythress, Edmund Clowney, and Richard Gaffin.

Moore laments the fact that both dispensationalists and covenantalists miss the major point in identifying the seed of Abraham as Jesus of Nazareth. On this account dispensationalists err in giving the nation Israel a major role in the future millennium, and Covenant theologians err in their theories of “replacement theology.”

Moore offers a quite interesting theory regarding developments in evangelicalism since World War II, but his work is quite deficient in its practice of proof-texting without regard to the historical and contextual meanings of the Scriptures he cites. Such exegetical carelessness is devastating. His case for a unified, evangelical Kingdom theology does not appear to have a bright future.