N. T. Wright, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, hard cover, 280 pages, published 2012 by HarperOne. This is an easy read yet very thorough in presenting Jesus as Messiah in progressive revelation, from Genesis to the Gospels, and even some in Paul’s letters and Revelation. I must admit that I was a little taken back by the title, and one significant person said, “I thought God was always king.” True, but we must see that the Bible presents the Messiah Jesus as becoming king progressively throughout the pages of the Bible, until finally we meet Him as establishing the kingdom of God in His Incarnation, life, death, cross, resurrection, and especially the Ascension. In other words, “since by man came death by Man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:21). But that did not happened immediately when Adam sinned. It is progressively unfolded over the centuries. It is an excellent thesis with a lot of thought and biblical support for it. I’ve wanted to write one something like this. Mine would be titled We Win!, or perhaps, We Won! If you want―and you need it―this is a presentation of a biblical, theological work that ties all the Bible together.
Wright tends to make me nervous in his writings, sometimes saying things that seem off the wall, at least to me, and I kept waiting for the shoe to drop with this one. I did not encounter such.
There is one thing that will make some dislike the book: he seems to disparage the creeds. But he actually does not. If you’re patient, you’ll see that he very much supports the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, but he regrets that they jump from Incarnation to the cross, leaving out most of the content in the four gospels about the founding of the kingdom of God. Wright ties together the kingdom with the cross, resurrection, and Ascension, stating emphatically that Jesus became king, inaugurated the kingdom, through his life, and is now enthroned as King of kings.
There is a side benefit to the book: all through the book there is only one king, one kingdom, and He is sovereign now, not for some millennium to come. There are not two kings, Satan now and Jesus later, and not two kingdoms, one for Israel and another for the Church. In other words, this is a thorough eschatology of victory with one king and one kingdom, which is greatly needed in today’s pessimistic Christian world with its two kings and two kingdoms. Christians today, especially in the USA, tend to identify the kingdom of America with the kingdom of God, or the reverse, the kingdom of God with America. But there is one who rules the oval office, rules it now, and His name is Jesus. This is not replacement theology, as some say (but so what?), but fulfillment theology, the bud of Israel’s failed kingdom blossoming into the flower of the Church’s fulfilled kingdom. It is the dispensationalists who have replacement theology: replacing Israel with the Church so that the Church is a parenthesis, and then replacing the Church with Israel in the so-called millennium, resulting in two kingdoms. Rather, Wright, following the Bible closely, presents one king and one kingdom, developing it until we come to Messiah Jesus. Highly recommended. AMEN.