“God is the subject. Kingdom of God actually means: God reigns. He himself is present and crucial to human beings in the world. He is the subject, and wherever this subject is absent, nothing remains of Jesus’ message.
“Therefore, Jesus tells us: the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way that one may, so to speak, line the wayside to watch its arrival. ‘The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you!’ (cf. Lk. 17, 20ff.).
“It develops wherever God’s will is done. It is present wherever there are people who are open to his arrival and so let God enter the world. Thus, Jesus is the Kingdom of God in person: the man in whom God is among us and through whom we can touch God, draw close to God. Wherever this happens, the world is saved.”
The above statement contains the main overview of the mind of Benedict XVI on “The Kingdom of God.” The major insight consists in understanding that we are not talking about a Kingdom that is independent of the divine Person, and that we could drop off the divine Person and still have a Kingdom of peace, justice, plenty, a “better world through chemistry,” etc. that would be the Kingdom of heaven, but would not be the Kingdom of God. In Bavaria last year (September 2006), Benedict touched on the same theme and said: “God is the subject. Kingdom of God actually means: God reigns. He himself is present and crucial to human beings in the world. He is the subject, and wherever this subject is absent, nothing remains of Jesus’ message. Therefore, Jesus tells us: the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way that one may, so to speak, line the wayside to watch its arrival. ‘The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you!’ (cf. Lk. 17, 20ff.).”
“The Kingdom” in Benedict’s “Jesus of Nazareth”
The specific points he develops in the chapter entitled “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God” in his “Jesus of Nazareth” are the following:
1) "The core content of the Gospel is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand. A milestone is set up in the flow of time, something new takes place…. The center of this announcement is the message that God’s Kingdom is at hand. A look at the statistics underscores this. The phrase ‘Kingdom of God’ occurs 122 times in the New Testament as whole; 99 of these passages are found in the three Synoptic Gospels, and 90 of these texts report words of Jesus.”
2) The Father of the Church, Origen, developed the following crucial insights:
a) The Kingdom is a Person: “Jesus… the autobasileia…[is] the Kingdom in person. Jesus himself is the Kingdom; the Kingdom is not a thing, it is not geographical dominion like world kingdoms. It is a person; it is he…. (T)he term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology… Jesus leads men to realize the overwhelming fact that in it God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence.”
b) “(M)an’s interiority [is] the essential location of the Kingdom of God…. The basic idea is clear: The ‘Kingdom of God’ is not to be found on any map. It is not a kingdom after the fashion of worldly kingdoms; it is located in man’s inner being. It grows and radiates outward from that inner space.”
c) “(T)he Kingdom of God and the Church are related in different ways and brought into more or less close proximity.” It could perhaps be offered that “Since the Church, in Christ, is in the nature of sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men – ' the Church is “nothing more than the space into which this new subject can move.' Ratzinger is explaining the radical transformation of the baptized person into Christ Himself:
d) The Kingdom is an Action: Since the Kingdom is a Person, and the Person of Christ is the action of self-gift to the Father, then the Kingdom is an “action.” Benedict expatiates on that: “There is another important linguistic observation: The underlying Hebrew word malkut ‘is a nomen actionis (an action word) and means – as does the Greek word basileia (kingdom) – the regal function, the active lordship of the king’ (Stuhlmacher, Biblische Theolgie I, p. 67). What is meant is not an imminent or yet to be established ‘kingdom,’ but God’s actual sovereignty over the world, which is becoming an event in history in a new way.” Benedict goes on: “We can put it even more simply: When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he is quite simply proclaiming God, and proclaiming him to be the living God, who is able to act concretely in the world and in history and is even now so acting. He is telling us: ‘God exists’ and ‘God is really God, which means that he holds in his hands the threads of the world… The new and totally specific thing about his message is that he is telling us: God is acting now – this is the hour when God is showing himself in history as its Lord, as the living God, in a way that goes beyond anything seen before. ‘Kingdom of God’ is therefore an inadequate translation. It would be better to speak of God’s being-Lord, of his lordship.”
The large point is made here. God is here and now, but not yet. “God’s dominion over the world and over history, transcends the moment, indeed transcends and reaches beyond the whole of history. Its inner dynamism carries history beyond itself. And yet it is at the same time something belonging absolutely to the present. It is present in the liturgy, in Temple and synagogue, as an anticipation of the next world; it is present as a life-shaping power through the believer’s prayer and being: by bearing God’s yoke, the believer already receives a share in the world to come.” This makes sense of such statements as ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’ (Mk. 1, 15), it ‘has already come upon you’ (Mt. 12, 28), it is ‘in the midst of you’ (Lk. 17, 21).
e) It is small like a seed and invisible like a seed buried in the ground. How could it be otherwise when, as we saw in b) above, the Kingdom is interior as person is interior to himself. The Kingdom will be wherever the person who has become “another Christ” is. So, indeed, “the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1, 15), it “has already come upon you” (Mt. 12, 28), is “in the midst of you” (Lk. 17, 21). “What these words express is a process of coming that has already begun and extends over the whole of history. It was these words that gave rise to the thesis of ‘imminent expectation’ and made this appear as Jesus’ specific characteristic.” And, yet for the same reason that we are talking about a divine Person who transcends time and space, and yet continues to be now in time and space by the fact that another person, a human person, has become another Christ by the action that is His Person – self-gift as service-agape. Benedict concludes his chapter III with “Here… it is not simply in Jesus’ physical presence that the ‘Kingdom’ is located; rather, it is in his action, accomplished in the Holy Spirit. In this sense, it is in and through him that the Kingdom of God becomes present here and now, that it ‘is drawing near.’”
The Great Danger: Jesus of Nazareth is Separated from Jesus, the Christ, Son of the living God.
“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”
“The figure of Jesus of Nazareth remains astonishingly current. Even outside of Christianity he appeals to people: Islam recognizes him as a prophet; in India many people have set up an image of Jesus in their house. The Christ of the Sermon on the Mount, who moved Gandhi so deeply, has become for many non-Christians there a messenger of God’s goodness, in whom the light of eternity shines into the world….
“Yet concurrent with this manifold presence of the figure of Jesus, it is disturbing to note that, within Christianity itself, Christology has been losing its meaning. It started with the effort to rediscover the man Jesus behind the gilded background of dogma, to return to the simplicity of the Gospels… Today in broad circles, even among believers, an image has prevailed of a Jesus who demands nothing, never scolds, who accepts everyone and everything, who no longer does anything but affirm us…
“The presence of the figure of Jesus itself is becoming diminished – also with regard to the non-Christian contemporaries who surround us; the figure is transformed from the ‘Lord’ (a word that is avoided) into a man who is nothing more than the advocate of all men.”
The Third Temptation of Christ
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. And he said to him, ‘All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written ‘The Lord thy God shalt thou worship and him only shalt thou serve.’ Then the devil left him; and behold, angels came and ministered to him” (Mt. 4, 8-11).
Dangerous Replacements for the Kingdom of God
1) Christendom: “The Christian emperors after Constantine immediately tried to make the faith a political factor that would be conducive to the unity of the empire. The kingdom of Christ was not expected to assume the form of a political kingdom with its splendor. The impotence of the faith, the earthly powerlessness of Jesus Christ, was now supposedly compensated for by political and military might. In every century, in many forms, this temptation to secure the faith with power has arisen again and again, and over and over the faith has come close to being suffocated in the embrace of power. The battle for the freedom of the Church, the battle over the fact that Jesus’ kingdom cannot be identical to any political construct, must be fought in every century. For the price to be paid for fusing faith and political power, in the final analysis, always consists of placing faith at the service of power and bending it to political standards.”
2) The Revolutionary [Marxism]: “Pilate has the people choose between Jesus and Barabbas. One of the two will be set free. But who was Barabbas? Usually we think only of the formulation found in the Gospel of John: ‘Now Barabbas was a robber’ (Jn. 18, 40). But the Greek word for ‘robber’ had acquired a specific meaning in the political situation in Palestine at that time. It was the equivalent of ‘freedom fighter’ or ‘member of the resistance.’ Barabbas had taken part in an insurrection and furthermore – in this connection – had been accused of murder (Lk. 23, 19, 25). When Matthew says that Barabbas was ‘a notorious prisoner’ (Mt. 27, 16), it shows that he was one of the prominent members of the resistance movement probably the one who actually instigated that uprising. In other words: Barabbas was a messianic figure. The choice, Jesus or Barabbas, is not coincidental: two messianic figures, tow forms of messianic belief stand in opposition. This becomes even more evident wh4en we reflect that ‘Bar-Abbas’ means ‘Son of the Father.’ It is a typically messianic appellation, the cultic name of a prominent leader of the messianic movement. The last great messianic war of the Jews had been waged in the year 132 B.C. by Bar-Kokhba – ‘Son of the Star.’ The construction of t he name is the same; the same intention is announced. From Origen we learn yet another interesting detail: In many manuscripts of the Gospels, well into the third century, the man in question is called ‘Jesus Barabbas’ – Jesus, Son of the Father. He appears as a kind of doppelganger [double] for Jesus, who of course understood the same claim in a completely different manner. The choice, then, is between a Messiah who wages battle, who promises freedom and an earthly kingdom of one’s own, and this mysterious Jesus, who proclaims that losing oneself is the way to life. Is it any wonder that the crowds prefer Barabbas?”
3) The Worship of Well-Being and Rational Planning: “If we had to choose today, would Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary, the Son of the Father, have a chance? Do we know Jesus at all? Do we understand him? Do we not have to make an effort, today as always, to become acquainted with him all over again? The tempter is not so crude as to recommend to us directly that we should worship the devil. He only suggests that we should decide on what is reasonable, choose the advantages of a planned and thoroughly organized world, in which God may have his place as a private concern but must not interfere in our essential purposes. Soloviev ascribes to the Antichrist a book entitled The Manifest Way to Peace and Welfare in the World, which becomes, so to speak, the new Bible and has the worship of well-being and of rational planning as its actual subject.”
Oprah Winfrey and the “New Age” Kingdom
I copy below remarks by a Warren Smith on a daily series that will be aired by Oprah Winfrey during 2008. It is entitled “A Course in Miracles.” Having no intention to foster a “plot” mentality, but alarmed by the depth and proximity to Catholic teaching, I offer his presentation and assessment of the content:
“Oprah Winfrey will be letting out all the stops on her XM Satellite Radio program this coming year. Beginning January 1, 2008, “Oprah & Friends” will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.1 A lesson a day throughout the year will completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles “Workbook.” For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.”2 Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.”3 Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.”4 By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training”5 and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”6Teaching A Course in Miracles will be Oprah’s longtime friend and special XM Satellite Radio reporter Marianne Williamson—who also happens to be one of today’s premier New Age leaders. She and Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch co-founded the American Renaissance Alliance in 1997, that later became the Global Renaissance Alliance of New Age leaders, that changed its name again in 2005 to the Peace Alliance. This Peace Alliance seeks to usher in an era of global peace founded on the principles of a New Age/New Spirituality that they are now referring to as a “civil rights movement for the soul.”7 They all agree that the principles of this New Age/New Spirituality are clearly articulated in A Course in Miracles—which is fast becoming the New Age Bible. So what is A Course in Miracles and what does it teach?A Course in Miracles is allegedly “new revelation” from “Jesus” to help humanity work through these troubled times. This “Jesus”—who bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Bible’s Jesus Christ—began delivering his channeled teachings in 1965 to a Columbia University Professor of Medical Psychology by the name of Helen Schucman. One day Schucman heard an “inner voice” stating, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.”8 For seven years she diligently took spiritual dictation from this inner voice that described himself as “Jesus.” A Course in Miracles was quietly published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace. For many years “the Course” was an underground cult classic for New Age seekers who studied “the Course” individually, with friends, or in small study groups.As a former New Age follower and devoted student of A Course in Miracles, I eventually discovered that the Course in Miracles was—in reality—the truth of the Bible turned upside down. Not having a true understanding of the Bible at the time of my involvement, I was led to believe that A Course in Miracles was “a gift form God” to help everyone understand the “real” meaning of the Bible and to help bring peace to the world. Little did I know that the New Age “Christ” and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles were everything the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for. In Matthew 24 Jesus warned about false teachers, false teachings and the false “Christs” who would pretend to be Him. When I left the New Age “Christ” to follow the Bible’s Jesus Christ, I had come to understand that the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles was a false “Christ,” and that his Course in Miracles was dangerously deceptive. Here are some quotes from the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles:
“There is no sin. . . “9
A “slain Christ has no meaning.”10
“The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.’”11
“Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’”12
“The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. . . . It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.”13
“God is in everything I see.”14
“The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”15
“The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.”16
“The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.”17
From what we have seen above, it will be important to make clear that:
1) Although we are “other Christs” empowered to share in His configuration as self-gift to the Father, principally through the action of prayer (not without the Cross), we are not God. We are ontologically limited created beings who experience the relative autonomy of freedom to do good by the gift of selves to God and others, or we can sin by turning back on self concomitantly rejecting God and others.
2) Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man, is the historically real individual Jesus of Nazareth. To say that “The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. . . . It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray,” is pure vacuous lucubration.
Benedict XVI confronted this mental attitude in the foreword of “Jesus of Nazareth:” “the historical-critical method – specifically because of the intrinsic nature of theology and faith – is and remains an indispensable dimension of exegetical work. For it is of the very essence of biblical faith to be about real historical events. It does not tell stories symbolizing suprahistorical truths, abut is based on history, history that took place here on this earth. The factum historicum (historical fact) is not an interchangeable symbolic cipher for biblical faith, but the foundation on which it stands: Et incarnatus est - when we say these words, we acknowledge God’s actual entry into real history.
“If we push this history aside, Christian faith as such disappears and is recast as some other religion. So if history, if facticity in this sense, is an essential dimension of Christian faith, then faith must expose itself to the historical method – indeed, faith itself demands this…
“(Therefore), (t)he historical-critical method – let me repeat – is an indispensable tool, given the structure of Christian faith.” [But we must also go back and remember that the historical-critical method is insufficient of itself to reach through sensible phenomena to the person, and less to the very Person of the Son of God, without the deployment of the observer as self-gift and the experience of that "I" - gift transferred to the underlying reality of the Person.]
 Benedict XVI, Bavaria, September 14, 2006.
 Benedict XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Doubleday (2007) 47.
 Ibid 49.
 Ibid 50.
 Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium” 1.
 J. Ratzinger, “The Church and the Theologian,” Origins May 8, 1986, Vol. 15: NO. 47, 765.
 Ibid . 764.
 The solution to the modern dilemma: the Jesus of history, or the Christ of faith, is activating faith as self-gift and experiencing Jesus as the Revelation of the divine Self-gift. Perhaps Ratzinger’s clearest statement of this theological epistemology whereby we recognize Jesus as the Christ, and the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth is the following: “For what faith really states is precisely that with Jesus it is not possible to distinguish officie and person; with him, this differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office, the office is the person. The two are no longer divisible. Here there is no private area [“being-as-substance”] reserved for an ‘I’ which remains in the background behind the deeds and actions and thus at some time or other can be ‘off duty;’ here there is no ‘I’ separate from the work; the ‘I’ is the work and the work is the ‘I;’” Introduction to Christianity Ignatius (1990) 149.
 Benedict XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth,” op. cit. 55.
 Ibid. 55-56.
 Ibid. 56.
 Ibid. 57-58.
 Ibid. 60.
 H. Richard Neibuhr in Kenneth L. Woodward’s “Is this the Jesus you had imagined,” International Herald Tribune, Thursday, February 26, 2004, 6.
 J. Ratzinger, “On the Way to Jesus Christ,” Ignatius (2004) 8.
 See Ratzinger’s “Looking at Christ” in On the Way to Jesus Christ, Ignatius (2004) 79-106.
 Ibid 96.
 Ibid 97.
 Ibid 98.
 Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth” Doubleday (2007) Foreword xv-xvi.