The Coming Kingdom: What Is the Kingdom and How Is Kingdom Now Theology Changing the Focus of the Church? By Andrew M. Woods. Duluth, MN: Grace Gospel Press, 2016. 423 pp. Paper, $24.95.
As the subtitle suggests, this book is explaining and arguing against the idea that Jesus is currently reigning as the Davidic king in some sort of present form of the kingdom. He calls this kingdom now theology.
There are many excellent aspects of this book.
First, Woods covers nearly everything anyone would want to know about the controversy over whether the kingdom is in some sense currently operating. He discusses progressive dispensationalism (e.g., pp. 269-83, 375-77), the social gospel (pp. 345-47), prosperity theology (pp. 370-71), the charismatic movement and cessationism (pp. 365-71), the gospel of the kingdom (pp. 58-59), the kingdom parables of Matthew 13 (pp. 103-140), refuting kingdom now arguments (e.g., 323-38), refuting the suggestion that Jesus is now seated on David’s throne (pp. 241-68), and replacement theology (pp. 155ff, 191-93, 231-32, 313 [citing Fruchtenbaum], 323-38).
Second, the author’s exegesis is strong throughout. He points out contextual reasons that support his views. He does not rely on consensus theology to establish the truth of his interpretations.
Third, the Free Grace position is strongly defended in this book. Indeed, the last chapter is entitled, “Lordship Salvation and Kingdom Now Theology” (pp. 379-86).
Fourth, Woods does a good job of explaining the practical benefits of seeing the kingdom as future and not yet present (Part III, pages 341-86).
Fifth, the indexes are very helpful. There is an author index, a subject index, an index of Greek words (74 words) as well as a few Hebrew and Aramaic words (8 and 1, respectively), and a Scripture index.
Sixth, Woods makes a helpful statement about assurance: “Christ gives all believers instantaneous assurance of salvation at the point of their individual justification by faith alone (John 5:24; 6:47)” (p. 383). That is well said, and a valuable response to the lack of assurance in Lordship Salvation teaching.
There are a few relatively minor weaknesses.
First, probably over one-fourth of this book is made up of quotes, often very long quotes, from others. While it is helpful to have quoted material as a reference, Woods gives such lengthy quotes, they sometimes break up the flow of his own writing. What he has to say is so outstanding that I would have preferred shorter quotes.
Second, Woods takes a fairly strong Calvinistic understanding of total depravity [contra Acts 10, for example], as can be seen on p. 381 where he argues that the unregenerate “cannot do anything of spiritual value, such as obey, forsake, and so forth.” However, he does say that the unregenerate can believe in Christ for salvation, which is not a Calvinist position, and to which most JOTGES readers would say, “Amen.”
I highly recommend this book. The exegesis is well done. Many vital issues are discussed.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society