The conception of the Kingdom of God in the book of Mark and the implications for the Mennonite Brethren Church of Congo (MBCC)
Kayamba, Lawum'Etom Ruphin.
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This study focuses on the social and political dimensions of the "kingdom of God" as it is depicted in Mark's narrative. Simultaneously the author assesses the implications for The Mennonite Brethren Church ofCongo( BCC) which may be attained from such research. The first chapter, consists of 1) an introduction to the motivation for the study, 2) the research methodology used, 3) chapter outlines, the limits ofthe research, and definitions offundamental concepts. In the first chapter, I try to read Mark's narrative with the presuppositions of the struggle over power and authority between classes in Roman-occupied Palestine. The story world of Mark depicts a society divided into two classes: the propertied class and the non propertied class which formed the majority ofthe population. I make use ofthe narrative approach in my exegesis of the text of Mark, while taking the sociol- political context of the text or the "world ofthe text" more seriously. The second chapter investigates the social and political context of Roman-occupied Palestine. The picture attained from this section reveals that Palestine in general, and Galilee in particular, had endured severe political and economic pressure from the Roman authorities and the Jewish local aristocracy. The relationship between the governing class and the majority ofthe population formed by peasants was ofdispossession, oppression and exploitation at the social, economic and political levels. The third chapter focuses on Mark's presentation ofJesus and thus initiates the coretheme ofthe thesis. We deduce there that Mark is using many titles to present Jesus: Son of God, Son ofman, Christ, king and servant. Mark does not seem to base Jesus' title on Davidic lineage. In Mark, Jesus seems to get his legitimacy from the God himself and from the people. He is a popular king who is not a member ofthe Davidic dynasty. The fourth chapter, forms the basis of my argument. Here, I attempt to reveal the social and political dimensions of the "kingdom of God" as depicted in Mark's narrative. The social and political nature ofthe "kingdom ofGod" is confirmed by Jesus' proclamation which reordered power and authority in Jewish Palestine. This is expressed by Jesus' conflict with the established authorities, Jesus' challenge to two basic institutions: the Temple and the Tribute to Caesar. Mark's gospel always shows how the kingdom of God meant liberation ofthe people and their welfare. The "kingdom of God" was a manifestation of power which found expressions in incidents of healing, exorcisms, casting out of demons , feeding of the hungry and revelations of Jesus' power over the forces of nature such as storm and water. The kingdom of God as a social and political reality is preached in a language accessible to the oppressed and reorders social relations among the people by making them egalitarian, non exploitative and nonauthoritarian. The last chapter applies the results ofmy investigations in chapter four to the Mennonite Brethren Church of Congo. After a section on the social, economic and political context of both The Congo and the BCC, and an overview of the Anabaptist theology and ecclesiology, I have deduced the following challenges for the BCC in the light of Mark's narrative: a reconceptualization of power and authority which is the cause ofconflicts in the church; the need for a relationship of partnership and not of patriarchal power between the leadership and the people constituting the grassroots in the BCC; a good management and use ofthe material and fmancial resources ofthe church out to contribute to the welfare ofthe people; a balanced vision on the church-state relations and development which rejects a dualistic church-society division. Equilibrium between social and spiritual ministries is advocated so as to contribute ultimately to the well-being ofthe people.