Church, Kingdom of God & Eschatology
“It remains central to the missionary calling of the church that the gospel calls for a radical conversion of heart and mind, and a full commitment to the life of a community which is identified with the Kingdom, but is properly the sign and foretaste of the kingdom. When we set Kingdom issues against church issues, we are always in danger of defining the Kingdom in terms of some contemporary ideology and not in terms of the manifestation of the Kingdom in the incarnate, crucified, and risen Jesus. The apocalyptic strand in the teaching of the New Testament cannot be removed without destroying the strength of the whole. There is no straight line from the politics of this world, from the programs and projects in which we invest our energies, to the Kingdom of God. The holy city is a gift from God, coming from above. . . . The church exists as a sign and foretaste of the gift that is promised; in all its members it is called to act now in the light of the promised future: that is its proper this-worldliness. But the church maintains at its heart, through the word and sacraments of the gospel, its witness to a reality which is not of this world. Only the church can give that witness.”
-Lesslie Newbigin, Signs Amid the Rubble: The Purposes of God in Human History, ed. Geoffrey Wainwright (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003), 106, emphasis mine; cf. 103-4.