We recently completed the book Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland. The triangle he is referring to is the Christian mind, the use of the spiritual disciplines in the life of the Christian, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The closing chapter, which we discussed today, is titled “Restoration of the Kingdom’s Miraculous Power.” Moreland defines the Kingdom of God this way:
The Kingdom of God is primarily the reign, rule, or authority of God himself; secondarily, it is the realm in which that rule is directly exercised, consisting largely in the laws governing the natural world and, more importantly, the individual and collective hearts of those who have bowed to God’s rule. (p. 173)
Moreland talks openly about the challenges faced by Christian in the West who do not “see” the Kingdom of God or the miraculous or a place for the Holy Spirit. Yet he documents the tremendous growth of the church in Third World countries.
Some estimate that in 1970, there were around 71,000,000 born-again Christians with a vision to reach out to the entire world for Christ. By 2000, there were 707,000,000, roughly 11 percent of the earth’s population! Up until 1960, Western Evangelicals outnumbered non-Western Evangelicals by two to one, but by 2000 non-Westerners (mostly Latinos, Africans, and Asians) lead by four to one, and the figure will be seven to one by 2010. Today more missionaries are sent from non-Western than Western nations. At a church planting conference in 1998, representatives from Latin American countries set a staggering goal of planting 500,000 new churches by 2010 and – get this – progress up to 2005 indicates that the target will be reached! In fact, five nations have already reached their target goals and have set new ones! (p. 167)
The growth may be traced to many factors, but one that is often cited is the power of the gospel – not just in intellectual or cognitive assent to the person and work of Christ, but the miraculous occurrences associated with conversion in these settings. This is part of what Moreland wants the reader to think about, especially in the West, where we are “trained” or “socialized” not to “see” spiritual realities.
This is certainly the case in psychology, where current training models often move a person away from “seeing” through these lenses. And they are different lenses, different ways of knowing, different epistemologies. It is easy in psychology to conclude that the psychological lens is the correct or superior lens. It can be helpful to bring to mind other ways of knowing, other epistemologies, and to locate and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the ways of knowing you use daily, particularly in a profession dedicated to the welfare of others, including those who may view their own experiences through these other lenses.