By Ralph D. Winter
Editor's Note: Perhaps one of Ralph Winter's most popular and well-loved essays is entitled, "The Kingdom Strikes Back." It is a centerpiece chapter in the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course reader. Below, we've excerpted a portion of that essay that to us highlights the rationale for the existence of the Roberta Winter Institute. Enjoy.
…the first eleven chapters of Genesis constitute a scary “introduction” to the entire problem of evil, indeed, to the plot of the entire Bible. Those few pages describe three things: 1) a glorious and “good” original creator; 2) the entrance of a rebellious and destructive evil—superhuman, demonic being—resulting in 3) a humanity caught up in that rebellion and brought under the power of that evil being.
Don’t ever think that the whole remainder of the Bible is simply a bundle of divergent, unrelated stories as taught in Sunday School. Rather, the Bible consists of a single drama: the entrance of the Kingdom, the power and the glory of the living God in this enemy-occupied territory. From Genesis 12 to the end of the Bible, and indeed until the end of time, there unfolds the single, coherent drama of “the Kingdom strikes back.” This would make a good title for the Bible itself were it to be printed in modern dress (with Gen 1-11 as the introduction to the whole Bible). In this unfolding drama we see the gradual but irresistible power of God reconquering and redeeming His fallen creation through the giving of His own Son at the very center of the 4000-year period ending in 2000 BC. This is tersely summed up: “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:6).
This counterattack against the Evil One clearly does not await the appearance of the good Person in the center of the story. Indeed, there would seem to be five identifiable epochs of advance prior to the appearance of Christ as well as five after that event. The purpose of this chapter is mainly to describe the five epochs after Christ. However, in order for those later epochs to be seen as part of a single ten-epoch 4,000-year unfolding story, we will note a few clues about the first five epochs.
The theme that links all ten epochs is the grace of God intervening in a “world which lies in the power of the Evil One” (1 Jn 5:19), contesting an enemy who temporarily is “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4) so that the nations will praise God’s name. His plan for doing this is to reach all peoples by conferring an unusual “blessing” on Abraham and Abraham’s children-by-faith, even as we pray “Thy Kingdom come.” By contrast, the Evil One’s plan is to bring reproach on the Name of God. The Evil One stirs up hate, distorts even DNA sequences, perhaps authors suffering and all destruction of God’s good creation. Satan’s devices may very well include devising virulent germs in order to tear down confidence in God’s loving character.
Therefore this “blessing” is a key concept. The English word blessing is not an ideal translation. We see the word in use where Isaac confers his “blessing” on Jacob and not on Esau. It was not “blessings” but “a blessing,” the conferral of a family name, responsibility, obligation, as well as privilege. It is not something you can receive or get like a box of chocolates you can run off with and eat by yourself in a cave, or a new personal power you can show off like rippling muscles. It is something you become in a permanent relationship and fellowship with your Father in Heaven. It returns “families,” that is, nations to His household, to the Kingdom of God, so that the nations “will declare His glory.” The nations are being prevented from declaring God’s glory by the scarcity of evidence of God’s ability to cope with evil. If the Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the Devil, then what are the Son of God’s followers and “joint heirs” supposed to do to bring honor to His Name?
The “blessing” of God is in effect conditioned upon its being shared with other nations, since those who yield to and receive God’s blessing are, like Abraham, those of faith who subject themselves to God’s will, become part of His Kingdom, and represent the extension of His rule, His power, His authority within all other peoples.
Ralph D. Winter (12/8/24 – 5/20/09) was
an American missiologist and missionary
who founded the Roberta Winter Institute.