A few weeks ago I had a fascinating conversation in a downtown coffee shop with a new acquaintance. Among the many topics we covered was his conviction that the Bible presents one concrete, straightforward pattern for church structure and practice.
This got me thinking. In theological circles we call the study of the Church ‘ecclesiology‘, from the Greek word for church, ekklēsiā. In fact, theologians have all sorts of ‘ologies’.
- Christology is ‘talking about Christ’.
- Soteriology is ‘talking about salvation’
- Pneumatology is ‘talking about the Holy Spirit
- Eschatology is ‘talking about the culmination of history’
Interestingly enough, however, there doesn’t seem to be a word for ‘Kingdom-ology’, or the study of the kingdom of God. I’ve never, ever heard the phrase ‘Basileology‘, which would be the logical term to use.
This seems to me a strange omission. The word ‘church’ is mentioned twice in the gospels. But the phrase ‘Kingdom of God’, or ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is used more than 80 times! So why do theologians talk about the Church so much more than the Kingdom?
Am I missing something? Is this actually a subject that’s taught at seminary? Is there such a thing as ‘Introduction to Basileology’ or ‘Kingdom Studies 101’? What would such a course look like? What questions would it ask? Which experts would we study?
In fact, while we’re asking these questions, what is the Kingdom of God? And who is teaching and studying and talking about this question?