Understanding the Kingdom of God

by Georgia Harkness

Georgia Harkness was educated at Cornell University, Boston University School of Theology, studied at Harvard & Yale theological seminaries and at Union Theological Seminary of New York. She has taught at Elmira College, Mount Holyoke, and for twelve years was professor of applied theology at Garrett Biblical Institute. In 1950 she became professor of applied theology at the Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley, California.

Published by Abingdon Press, New York & Nashville, 1974. This material was edited for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) There is a dilemma in understanding the meaning of the Kingdom of God. Various approaches to kingdom study are presented. Among these are included: 1. Dr. Harkness’ own understanding of the kingdom. 2. the Scriptural views of understanding of the kingdom. 3. a theological analysis of the message. 4. The message itself.


  • Introduction

    What is lacking in the various religious movements of our times is a clear understanding of the life-giving personal and social relevance of the kingdom of God. This gives hope; it calls for repentance and offers renewal; it demands obedience to the will of God; it summons us to love one another. Nothing is more needed in our time or in any other.

  • Chapter 1: Where We Stand

    The real message of Jesus, particularly his call of the kingdom is too easily glossed over or superficially understood. Is the meaning of the kingdom prophetic, or is it apocalyptic? What kind of coming kingdom did Jesus expect?

  • Chapter 2: The Spectrum of Opinion

    What did Jesus believe about his own return? Some major attempts have been made within the twentieth century to solve this problem. Some guidelines are surveyed, not for a solution, but for a defensible opinion.

  • Chapter 3: What Is the Kingdom of God?

    There are two approaches to what the Kingdom of God is. One of them is through form criticism. The other is by formulated composite impressions arrived at through intuitive, emotional, and rational considerations shaped through these impressions.

  • Chapter 4: The Kingdom Before and After Jesus

    We need to look backward from Jesus to his heritage to understand how he came to think as he did about the kingdom of God, and forward from his crucifixion and resurrection to observe how the church dealt with his message.

  • Chapter 5: The Kingdom in the Parables

    From the stories attributed to Jesus, we glean basic notes in the understanding of the kingdom: The kingdom is both presence and promise; both within and beyond human history; God’s gift and man’s task; we work for it, even as we wait for it.

  • Chapter 6: The Difference it Makes

    What one can say in the midst of a complex and changing world is that it is still God’s world, and God is still working for good within it. Process Theology is the most promising theological current of our time, and it does not claim that all process is progress. Continuous creation must take place at times against heavy odds.

  • Chapter 7: Thy Kingdom Come

    In this chapter the author traces some connections between the Christian hope of eternal life and the coming of the kingdom; and indicates the major foundations on which she believes both these forms of faith must rest.