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.
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- Do you find the language “Kingdom of God” to be meaningful for you?
- Do you find it to be problematic? Why or why not?
I want to claim “Kingdom of God” to say that there is something at the top of this world for me that is not just the world. There is a call to being a spiritual being in the world, and something, some force, some power, some great love is in charge.
Why I Still Use the Word “Kingdom” Despite the Baggage
So when I think about the Kingdom of God, one of the first things that pops up is the voices of many Friends who are saying, “Kingdom? Yeesh. Not so much into the patriarchy there, bro. Can we back a little bit off of the Kingdom and call it the commonwealth of God, or maybe the Kin-dom of God (drop the ‘g’)?” And I don’t do that. I say the Kingdom of God, and I say that because I think that by virtue of our baptism in the Spirit by which we become convinced to be Quakers or Christians of any stripe, when we say yes to God we are saying no to Caesar, and therefore we do have a King, it is a hierarchy, and God is at the top.
Now: is that God an old white dude in the sky? No. Is that God necessarily male-ness incarnate? No. Is “King” a masculine word? Yes. Am I thrilled with that? No. But you know what, that’s what I’ve got in English. Does it come with a whole lot of colonial, junky baggage? Yes. Yes it does.
But to give up on the lordship of the Kingdom of God means that I’m not sure there’s anyone in charge up there, and that’s fine if it’s not any one, but there’s nothing? No one? Then what is this power that we have? What is this power that we have in a covered Meeting? What is a gathered Meeting if something isn’t mediating us?
Pledging Allegiance to the Kingdom
It is to that thing that I claim allegiance. It is to that power that’s above all powers, that holy power that I name as God, that I name as king—Christ the King—that I say I’m pledging my allegiance towards. And so it is to the Kingdom of that God, the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of God that I endeavor to work, so that the Kingdom on Earth may be realized as it is in heaven, that the lion can lay down with the lamb and we can have relationships that are less full of strife and less ordered on shark capitalism and the consumptive models of what makes a good person a good person—what makes someone proud and healthy and successful—and instead, we order our lives on loving and compassion with one another, the way that I think God would have us do.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.