Why I Still Say “Kingdom” of God Despite the Baggage

Interview 12 Comments

Last week we posted a video about Quakers and the Kingdom of God. But is the word “Kingdom” antiquated, or even offensive? Callid Keefe-Perry explores the baggage behind the phrase, and explains why he still uses it.

Comments 12

  1. mariellen gilpin

    City & State
    Champaign IL
    Thank you, Callid. Your eloquence speaks my mind. Blessings!

  2. Ellen Pye

    City & State
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    If we had an adequate word to denote the Power of God, as human beings, we would be the ones in power: namers are in control of what they name. Seeing we are not and that the Power of God must be beyond words, we’ll have to accept that we’ll never find the right word for what we know empowers this world and that whatever we end up using will fall short. It goes with the territory; the important thing is to retain the awareness that the word we use doesn’t cover the bases and to keep an inexpressible sense in our hearts and minds of what we really mean . ‘ Kingdom’ will fit the bill as well as any and considering the undertones and overtones it brings from Scripture probably best, in my view, for what that is worth.

  3. Mika Goldin

    City & State
    Long Beach, NY
    With all that’s going on in the world this month, this is the least important question I could think of. . .

    How about “why does God allow Republicans to prevent background checks?” “Why does God make
    the NRA so powerful?” Why are people starving in Iraq and Syria while Friends worry about the
    term, “kingdom?” Who really cares about this. . . ?

  4. Stacy

    City & State
    Albuquerque, NM
    Lately when I hear masculine language for God, I feel it like a kick in the gut. It really is almost physically painful—the sense that God does not include me, or my 50% of the species, in Godself. If God does not embrace me (except as an afterthought), then why should I seek God’s leading when I do try to create change in the world? If I am not inherently part of God, then why should I seek God when trying to bring about, say, wise background checks on guns? I think the language matters.

    I wonder if there are alternatives that invoke God’s power without suggesting that God is exclusively male: the Realm of God, the Governance, the Sovereignty. We could also speak of Rulership, Leadership, Guidance—those just off the top of my head. Even the World of God would still leave God’s rule in place—“of” implies that it all belongs to God. We can change language. It exists to serve us, not the other way around.

  5. Stacy

    Ooh—now that I think about it further, I wonder if the Ministry of God wouldn’t work well? Ministry: connotes both the governance of “prime minister” but also the service of “to minister to”—which seems more Godly altogether.

  6. Helen Bayes

    City & State
    Kingdom doesn’t sit well with me. Neither would Queendom or Empire. But I accept the value of not letting others’ words get in the way. I’m comfy with using others’ words if it helps to hear where the words are coming from. So I accept it in Biblical settings.
    I live in the Reality of God; perhaps in the Realm of God? I can use Power and Presence of God too.

  7. Erika Fitz

    City & State
    Lancaster, PA
    I can get with the hierarchical meaning inherent in “kingdom”: I do believe we are about an alternative order of things, different allegiances than those of worldly powers. But I’m with those who object to the maleness of this term. We already equate power and God with maleness and that terms reinforces those equations–and the ways they make female power feel “unnatural” to people (witness the visceral reactions to Hillary Clinton that underlie some of the criticsms. Not that she is above croticism, just that not all of it is about what people claim it is about. This is part of why tge metaphors we use for God matter: they reveal what we will and will not acknowledge as power or greatness.) I’ve heard “Reign of God” suggested as a gender- neutral alternative, and I think that works. Although “ministry” has great potential, too, as it suggests not just a state but activity. Thanks for your thoughts on the subject.

  8. Bill Samuel

    City & State
    Rockville, MD
    Thank you. I agree that some of the substitute language used fails to convey some of the important meaning of Kingdom of God. The one substitute I think which does not seriously degrade the meaning would be Reign of God. It seems to me that takes out the maleness without degrading the concept.

  9. Kate Kent

    City & State
    Lewes, DE
    Words are inadequate to express “That Which Is”.

    I’m okay with Friends who say “Kingdom of G-d” since that expresses the measure of Light given, but there is a stop in my mind whenever I hear those words.

    Now, when I hear that phrase, I just go deep into “That Which Is” to know that the “Manifestation of All”, is not a description of the hierarchy of how humans govern.

  10. Gerry Yokota

    City & State
    Osaka, Japan
    Our choices of words are always imperfect human choices in an imperfect human world. I hope we may continue to be open to continuing revelation about making the best, most loving, most compassionate choices of which we are humanly capable, choices that are inclusive rather than exclusive. I hope we may avoid digging in our heels and refusing to change just because “we’ve always done things this way.” Personally I feel more loving, more compassionate, and more peaceful when I say “Dominion of God.” And every time I hear someone say my choice of language has made them feel more included, less excluded, I know it has been well worth the effort to change the old habit, no matter how comfortable it was at one time. Personally knowing the pain it has caused others, the old habit is no longer comfortable to me now.

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