Some years back I visited several Christian schools to help a friend’s widow choose where to send her four young children. While touring a large evangelical school, the principal showed me to the auditorium where the school choir rehearsed Joy to the World in preparation for the upcoming Christmas concert. At the conclusion of the song, the choir director instructed the children that Joy to the World didn’t apply for today, it was a “millennial hymn” because “Jesus doesn’t reign today.” The choir director’s comment would be non-controversial in many, perhaps even most, American evangelical churches.
Theologian N.T. Wright’s most recent book, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, squarely takes on this implication of American Evangelicalism’s “premillennial” theology. Yet as Wright relates in the preface, the book aims to draw the attention of Christian layfolk in all churches to a set of important, yet often overlooked, themes useful to understanding the richness of the gospels.
How God Became King is basically a popularly written introduction to several theses in Wright’s academic work, particularly his work in the book series on “Christian Origins and the Question of God.” It draws most directly on the best book so far in that series, the brilliant Jesus and the Victory of God.