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Theology

The Challenge to Participate in the Reign of God

by Eldin Villafane

"A proper understanding of the present reality and scope of the Reign of God is critically needed by Hispanic Pentecostals. The present charismata - glossolalia, divine healing, other manifestations of the Spirit - in Hispanic Pentecostalism can only be biblically and theologically understood if the Reign of God is a present reality. While there may be certain understanding of the relation of the Reign and the Spiritís charismata in the Hispanic Pentecostal church, it is the social and political implications that are lacking....

To participate in the Reign of God means to participate in Godís rule. It is to take seriously Godís call as a church to be a community of the Spirit in the world and a community of the Spirit for the world. This participation implies that there is no area of life where the rule of God cannot be exercised. While God rules in the church through the pneumatic (risen) Christ, the church must not see itself as the only locus of the Reign of God....

To participate in the Reign of God is to participate in the political process. Christian participation in the political process is predicted in the understanding that Christ is Lord of the Kingdom of this world too. Although, the rule of Christ has not been fully manifested - awaiting the eschaton - his claim and dominion are to impact all human relations, meaning, the political process....

The challenge to participate in the Reign of God implies that the Hispanic Pentecostal church must discern the signs of Godís reign in the world. While it may be difficult and often a treacherous task, given the experience of Hispanics being exploited and oppressed in the world-outside-the-church, the need to discern the Spiritís action in the world and unite with the Spirit in the struggle is part of the calling of the church as it witnesses to all the full liberation of the Reign....

Ultimately, the challenge to participate in the Reign is to understand that the signs of the Reign of God are the Spiritís work in the world to both "restrain" evil and "help" establish the conditions for a more just and peaceful moral order in all human affairs. The point to the New Age - the new order that has broken into History. It is a work of grace - Godís love reaching out by the Spirit to keep and to make human life human. .... culture and social institutions and structures must be seen as legitimate arenas where Godís grace is manifested to make and keep human life human - thus, the task of the church (the Koinonia) is to discern Godís presence, and "to follow the marching orders of the Spirit," who goes before us in the struggle. while the church knows that its actions in the world does not bring in the Reign,...it faithfully joins the Spirit in witnessing to its historical task."

Eldin Villafane, The Liberating Spirit, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993. pp. 195-200.

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