I was probably 20 at the time and Mike Bickle handed me a book to read about evangelism. It was The gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd. He was a Baptist pastor turned Fuller Seminary professor that had spend his life study what was the Kingdom of God. He is the one that coined the term, “Kingdom is here but not yet.”
There is a little question if Ladd had a major influence of the theology of the Vineyard churches. It is widely know that John Wimber had some form of relationship with George while at Fuller in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. George Eldon Ladd passed away in October 1981.
What is the gospel of the Kingdom?
This is one of those questions that none of us really can answer but we all try. The gospel of salvation is not the same as the gospel of the Kingdom. The gospel of peace is not the Kingdom either. The gospel of the Kingdom is the message of God’s authority over humanity. It is that He reigns and will grow in that reign from generation to generation until Christ returns for the Bride.
Vineyard Churches define it as, “We have been commissioned to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom, bearing witness to the already and not yet of the kingdom in words and deeds.” (Core Values and Beliefs)
The reality is the gospel of the Kingdom is about Good news, miracles, social justice and authority. If you do not have all of those in your message; it is not the gospel of the Kingdom.
There is nothing wrong with the salvation message as it is what saves the sinner. However, Jesus said in the last days, the primary message of the Bride of Christ would be the gospel of the Kingdom. It is important that we understand what it is and is not.
I highly recommend the book by Ladd on the subject. It might be written in 1959 but it is still worth reading it.
It is a hallmark of the Vineyard
I would say more than anything this teaching is what made the movement. It was the mark that made them who they were. The Kingdom was here but not yet. While many put too much emphasis on “not yet” (eschatology), I believe it was still a very important introduction for the rest of the Bride of Christ to be force to ask the question about what is the Kingdom gospel?
What does it mean to have a, “a renewed understanding of the centrality of the kingdom of God in biblical thought?” The message of the Kingdom is powerful but it must be focused on what the scripture actually say, not what we want them to say. That is the fine line that the people of the Vineyard must walk. If they do not, they will be trapped into the Kingdom Now heresy.
As we look into the theology of the Kingdom, I believe we learn alot from sources that we might even totally agree with. Ladd is a Baptist and I am Pentecostal but he has understanding that I do have in this area.
Note: This is a series on the Vineyard Churches, their values and their beliefs.
My Theological Disclaimer
To be quite honest, it is very limited and I was in the probably the least “Vineyard Vineyard” of them all. I was a teenager when Kansas City Fellowship become Metro Vineyard for a few years. After the mess in Toronto, we become Metro Christian Fellowship after we left the movement over difference of opinion of revival.
We always had a little different point of view on things than many other in the Vineyard. We were kinda the “prophecy” church more than most others were. If anything, it is was too much of an emphasis there. Growing in the prophetic was not an easy road and there is not too many road signs along the way.
As we go through this study, understand my background in from being part of Metro Vineyard and my theological background is mostly Classic Pentecostal. I was educated in the Brownsville Revival and later at Central Bible College (Assemblies of God) and finally at Oral Roberts University.