The book by Mortimer Arias titled “Announcing the Reign of God” provides a plan for Christian evangelism founded on the teachings of Jesus as read in the books of Luke, Matthew, and Mark. From the book, Arias is seen trying to recover the real inspiration and message of Jesus’s evangelistic struggles and those of the apostles. The author of the book asserts that Jesus evangelistic message was meant for the world. This assertion implies that people need to recover the understanding of the kingdom of God, which is the fullness of his message. Christians need to find their ways back to holistic evangelism founded on Jesus kingdom language. The key message in the book is that the world has come to a serious point in evangelization, and reacting to this situation with the view of the reign of God will be the answer. Arias believes that the world needs to assess evangelization from the angle of the kingdom, which is in tandem with announcing the reign of God.
One of the key points from the book is that Christ’s gospel was solely based on the kingdom of God. Jesus primary role on earth was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God, a role that he passed on to his disciples. Therefore, people’s main undoing today is proclaiming any other “plan of salvation” that differs from Christ’s evangelization message. Jesus evangelization was also holistic as it covered the teaching, healing, and preaching of the whole individual. Jesus works were also liberating as they brought about God’s peace, impartiality, and joy. Additionally, the author asserts that Jesus’s work was not only about verbal communication but was also a living aspect as it changed the lives of people through healing. These people made up a community that represented the kingdom of God. The other important point obtained from the book is that Christ’s evangelization message was similar to that of his disciples. Jesus disciples’ message was that the kingdom of God had come upon the world. They embarked on proclaiming the kingdom of God by calling people to follow Jesus. Therefore, Jesus disciples’ in the church need to preach, teach, and heal just as Christ did. Arias introduces another critical point regarding the presence of the kingdom of God. According to him, God’s kingdom is both “here and yet to come” as it exists through Christ and will be present later in his church. The church of Christ manifests itself through life, grace, and forgiveness and thus it has to be received as a gift.
The organization of the book is one of its main strengths as the author has presented his arguments in a consistent manner from one chapter to another. The book has been divided into nine chapters beginning with the one titled the “Good News of the Kingdom.” The design of the book aligns well with its organization and offers itself successfully to the analysis of Christian evangelism. Each of the chapters is comprised of various defining sections that introduce a sense of continuity or improved understanding. These chapters pose as appraisals of the kingdom of God as they are titled with terms such as imminence, announcing hope, and good news among others. Additionally, the author presents his arguments in a manner that is helpful to scholars and non-scholars as he combed biblical sources such as Luke to depict Jesus own practice. The other strength of the book is evidenced by the teachings of Jesus used by the author to elaborate Christian evangelism. The book is based on the ministry of Christ and strengthened by evidence and practices contributed from a wide group of people. It is some of these experiences and readings that the author uses to affirm that there is only one gospel, which is God’s kingdom (Aria 8). The definition of various confusing terms offered by the author also poses as some of the book’s strengths. Terms such as evangelicals that have been obtained from Greek and is defined as the “gospel.” According to Arias, evangelism was mainly utilized in a political context prior to the incarnation. These definitions of terms help the readers to understand the message and the arguments being made.
One of the weakness of the book is the manner in which Arias depicts the grace of God. According to him, God’s grace is his unconditional forgiveness with no need for people to repent. Arias asserts that God offers unconditional forgiveness in addition to welcoming everybody into heaven. However, this would imply that Jesus did not need to die on the cross. Various bible scriptures such as John 3:3 states that “you must be born again.” The other weakness arises from Arias obligation to the new evangelism in which he advocates for a postmillennial perception of eschatology. He asserts that people dedicate themselves to the enhancement and transformation of the community for the sake of God’s ruling. In the entire book, Arias does not agree that one’s encounter with Christ will transform his or her heart and result in a better world. Arias vision is based on the belief for a better world that is not dependent on a transformed life in Christ. Therefore, he is seen embracing the love of Christ but ignoring Jesus power that facilitates selfless love.
Various questions arise as one reads through the book by Arias. For instance, one may wonder how people should test their comprehension of the Great Commission against the teachings of Jesus. The book main theme is the gospel of the kingdom of God based on Jesus teachings. However, disciples’ missionary activity of preaching the Kingdom of God cannot be complete if they limited themselves to individual faith since they also need to point out to the requirement of the Kingdom. The other question is whether kingdom evangelization was Jesus-centered as depicted in the book.
The understanding of the kingdom of God plays a center stage in the book. Individuals are urged to find their ways back to holistic evangelism founded on Jesus’s kingdom language. The author asserts that people need to review evangelization from the view of the kingdom.
Arias, Mortimer. Announcing the Reign of God: Evangelization and the Subversive Memory of Jesus. Eugene, Ore: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001.