Notes from, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Glen H. Stassen & David P. Gushee IVP Academic Downers Grove, Illinois 2003
Section 1 The Reign of God and Christian character.
The authors note that most scholars think that kingdom of God refers to both the present and the future. God’s reign has been inaugurated in Jesus Christ, its completion remains a future event.
But what are the marks and characteristics of the kingdom now? Jesus taught that no one knows when the kingdom will come in its fullness. The point is not to know the timing but to be ready for the event.
The authors argue that the book of Isaiah is the place to discover the background to the teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of God.
Seven key marks of God’s reign are suggested: deliverance or salvation, righteousness/justice, peace, joy, God’s presence, healing, return from exile.
Jesus taught what the kingdom is like, what its characteristics are, and, therefore, the kind of things done by those who participate in the kingdom now and are ready for its final appearing.
Specific practices form character - for good or bad.
There are four important dimensions or variables to Christian ‘character’ ethics - all found in the teaching of Jesus and in biblical ethics in general.
First, a way of reasoning. Second, basic convictions about God, about human nature, about Jesus Christ, and about the mission of (God’s) church. Third, our loyalties and passions influence our ethical conclusions - no human is an autonomous mind free of commitment or trust to something, someone or some other. Fourth, perception - or where our hearts are set (Mt 6:21,22) - shapes how we see things and how we act or react in any (every?) given circumstance.
Christian ethics is continuous learning, transformational repenting, making corrections and growing in Christ. p68
The New Testament speaks more about doing than about virtues.
Evangelism requires first-hand witness to the difference Christian faith makes in actual lives - that is, Christian truth can and should be validated by its historical and experiential fruits. p77