In Proposition 99, George Peters states:
“The opinion that the church is the predicted Kingdom of Christ was of later origin than the first and second centuries.”
If it was not being taught in the NT or in the early church that the Kingdom of God was equated to being the church, then this approach had to be of a later origin. Peters has provided the clear evidence from Scripture that the church is not the covenanted Kingdom of God. This begs the question as to when such an approach began to take hold. Peters has alluded in previous propositions and observations to some of the founders and promoters of such an idea, first and foremost being that of Origen who paved the way for the more spiritualistic and somewhat mystical approach to the church. In fact, a number of important underlying theological points went askew during this period of church history. Some were challenged and corrected, others experienced acceptance and solidified themselves as part of church dogma. Origen, likely not in isolation, promoted a view of the church to include its relation to the doctrine of the Kingdom that was not in keeping with the message of Scripture of the Apostles.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 99 is the following:
“The history of the doctrine of the church should not influence any one to reject the truth itself. The Scriptures, in the cautions and warnings given, teach us to anticipate the result witnessed. No doctrine of the Bible, however important, but has been perverted and abused by men, and has been allied with error and even extravagance. The doctrine of the Kingdom has not escaped the withering touch of depravity; and as we read, again and again the testimony comes how enthusiasm, mysticism, fanaticism have sought to engraft upon it the most outrageous and blasphemous assumptions, even to the extent that persons have given themselves out to the king of such a Kingdom. Reflection, however, enables us to perceive that such abuse and perversion are only, in the light of prophecy, corroborative evidence of the truthfulness of Scripture.”
This is an excellent observation by Peters. Sometimes we allow history to trump truth. There is nothing wrong with examining the history of a particular doctrine in order to ascertain its longevity. With that said, if one is going to go that route, the examination must makes its way through history all the way back to the time of the writing of Scripture with the pages of Scripture serving as the focal point of one’s analysis and comparison to historical thought. Church history and teachings alone to include dogmas, confessions, and creeds, while important, are not the basis of our faith. As Peters rightly notes, many theological doctrines have been perverted over the years to include the doctrine of the Kingdom. Some of these perversions have led to outright blasphemy and heresy while others have included the slightest of errors that lead to larger misunderstandings of biblical truth. If we are to be students of the Word, we have to engage Scripture, allowing it to right the wrongs of doctrine that have crept in over the years, regardless of how well held those errors may be by even the most popular of theologians.