From Rebuilding Civilization on the Bible by Jay Grimstead
In 1988, during my own personal journey towards a full, Biblical understanding of the Great Commission and the Church’s role in bringing the Kingdom of God to earth to a measurable degree (“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” Matt. 6:10),* it became apparent that COR needed to make a full, theological statement about the Kingdom of God in the way the ICBI team had made a full, theological statement about the inspiration of the Bible.
I gathered together a team of theologians to create such a document in Washington, D.C. (at the Shoreham Hotel) in January of 1989. We locked ourselves into a cluster of seminar rooms for three days to take on the task of creating a theological document that offers a brief but full statement and definition of The Kingdom of God. During 1988, I had written a preliminary set of 12 statements to explain the Kingdom of God which we used as a starting point. We divided our committee into four sub-committees with three or four theologians each so we could deal with each of the preliminary points, edit it, expand it, make it better, and turn it into an “article.” Then each committee would turn in our edited version to the two seminary students with computers who served as our secretaries to keep typing into the computer and printing out each new draft of each article we were creating. Periodically we would present drafts of each article to the whole group for comments and thus we progressed through the three days. As we discussed the Biblical view of the Kingdom of God, it soon became obvious that we were going to need 25 Articles to say all that needed to be said in a creed-like statement about this topic.
We decided to build the Articles of this document into creed-like statements of affirmations and denials about each point just as our committee for the ICBI had done in the 1970s and just as our COR team had done with the Worldview Documents in the 1980s. This forced us to use as concise, strong, and dignified wording and structure as we could create. And regarding the need for a statement to be structured in both affirmations and denials, we agreed with what Dr. Francis Schaeffer told our ICBI committee in the 1970s, that, “In today’s world of language confusion and chaos, one cannot be certain that people have understood what you mean, unless you also tell them what you do not mean.”
We found ourselves amazed and extremely grateful for the final product which evolved under our hands those days in D.C. We sensed that God had very definitely led us to create a document superior to what we had hoped for. We were very pleased! As far as we knew, there was not another creedal statement that was so comprehensive and concise explaining the Kingdom of God anywhere in the world.
We later sent this Kingdom of God document to many other theologians and scholars for their critique and input but there were no substantive changes suggested from orthodox theologians with one exception. The theologians from the seminaries and Bible schools committed to dispensationalism and to a “pietistic” view of Christianity (wherein they believe the Gospel is only to affect individuals, families, and churches, but not intentionally and systematically make changes in society in the areas of law, government, business, education, the arts and media, and science) differed deeply with a number of our 25 affirmations and denials. So, I created a three-day dialogue and debate forum for the following January in 1990, wherein six of our committee who had created this document would meet again in Washington, D.C. at a hotel with six theologians from the schools which were oriented towards a dispensational hermeneutic. We did meet the following year and had a very lively but cordial dialogue and debate with the brothers who disagreed with certain points in this document. What was surprising to me was that after the two-and-one-half days of dialogue and debate, the brothers from the schools oriented toward dispensationalism wished to meet again the following year for a second session of dialogue and debate; so we set up another meeting for the following year and met again, this time with a few new dispensational brothers. It is my somewhat objective opinion that our “pro” side clearly won the debate on each of the points we discussed. But there was a very interesting development that happened the last afternoon of this second dialogue and debate forum.
As we proceeded, it became obvious to several of us that there were far more points of agreement between these two “pro” and “con” sides than anyone expected. I believe this growing unity of position and growing honest friendships came about primarily because, within our knowledge of recent ecclesiastical and theological history up until this time, there had never been a serious, scholarly dialogue and debate forum between the “Covenant Theologians” and the “Dispensational Theologians,” since each had simply stayed in their own corners and exchanged theological disputations across the battlefront between their camps without ever actually setting up a face-to-face interchange of ideas.
So, during the last few hours together, I asked each of the dispensational oriented theologians to work over all 25 Articles on the Kingdom of God and put each article in one of three categories:
A. Those Articles where there is already substantial agreement without any word changes; B. Those Articles where there probably never will be any serious agreement between both sides because there is such deep, foundational disagreement on that point; C. Those articles which are close enough for substantial agreement that, with minor word changes on the part of our covenant theologians, there could be substantial agreement by the dispensational theologians.
We then worked over and discussed those articles in category C and found minor word changes wherein the covenant theologians were willing to make a minor compromise without harming the basic point being made. When we finally added up the articles where we had come to substantial agreement through discussion from category C, and added those to category A (where there was already agreement), we found we had identified 17 of the 25 articles of affirmation and denial wherein both sides had substantial agreement!!! This amazed us. One of the theological and sociological realities we discovered during this whole procedure is that, within traditional dispensational circles, there are many thoughtful theologians who now refer to themselves as “Progressive Dispensationalists.” Such theologians have come a long way towards a traditional Covenantal and Reformed theology and have rejected several of the basic “tenets” of the old “Scofield Bible” notes but still hold to their basic dispensationalism and still operate within those parameters. We left this last dialogue meeting parting as good, new friends with most of the men, and both sides claimed that they were impressed that scholars of such caliber existed on the opposite side of the debate. It is my opinion that the creation of the 25 articles on the Kingdom of God and the debates between scholars who took the opposite sides of these issues were both historic events.
* For an interesting book on the Kingdom of God, see Thy Will Be Done: WhenAll Nations Call God Blessed by Ronald W. Kirk. Ventura, CA: Nordskog Publishing, 2013; go to www.nordskogpublishing.com.
This article is an excerpt from Dr. Jay Grimstead’s Nordskog Publishing book Rebuilding Civilization on the Bible: Proclaiming the Truth on 24 Controversial Issues.
Starting in the 1970s, God inspired Dr. Jay Grimstead to create several crucial theological movements. At one time, the ACLU called Dr. Jay, as his friends refer to him, the most dangerous man in America, because he brought evangelical Christians of every theological heritage to the same table, towards agreeing on the essential tenets of the Biblical Christian faith. Two websites represent Dr. Jay’s current efforts—the Coalition on Revival and the International Church Council Project—both dedicated essentially to the restoring of the Bible’s central place in the lives of men, its inerrancy, and its authority over the lives of mankind in every sphere of life.
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