Robert Jenson on “The Triune God’s Act to Institute the Church.”
Jenson declares that “God institutes the church by not letting Jesus’ Resurrection be itself the End, by appointing ‘the delay of the Parousia.’” As we know, Jesus did in fact tell His listeners “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Moreover, Jesus did in fact announce The Kingdom of God, but, as Jenson details, what came was not the Kingdom but the church. Therefore, the question Jenson focuses on is ‘why?’
The anticipation of the Kingdom of God was one that had survived in the Jewish mind for many centuries prior to Jesus’ birth. A much anticipated Kingdom with a much anticipated Messiah was the actual mindset of first century Judaism. Moreover, after Jesus’ death and resurrection the disciples asked Jesus if it was now the time that Jesus would usher in His kingdom (see Acts 1:6). Instead of answering the question, Jesus does something quite surprising. He promises the disciples the gift of the Spirit; but, why? The answer Jenson gives is so that the disciples might have the power to be effective missionaries to Jews and Gentiles. But what does this have to do with the church? Jenson’s answer to that question will be the focus of my next post.