The Kingdom of Cambodia | Essay

The Kingdom of Cambodia, or simply known as Cambodia, is located in South East Asia. It is surrounded by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand. The capital city is Phnom Penh which is located in the South. Cambodia has area of 181.035 square kilometers. Its size is about half of Germany.
Cambodia’s flag is the only one in the world to have a picture of building represented on. The building is very well known in the name of Angkor Wat. The flag has three strips, two colors, and one building in the middle. Blue and red are used on the flag as they are traditional colors.
There are approximately 15 million (UN, 2010) people living in Cambodia which is only about 18% of German population. Majority of Cambodian, about 90%, are Khmers. Vietnamese is the second biggest group with the percentage of five. Chinese is the following one with one percentage and the rest is others.
Dressing style is similar to other countries nearby. Either cotton or silk shirt with short sleeves is worn by man, together with cotton trousers. Sarong is used by woman to wrap around her waist. It is a long fabric piece which is embellished with silver and gold threading. A scarf called krama is a Cambodian local wear. It is commonly used for multi-purpose such as baby carries, decoration, pillow covers, and drying a work day s sweat.

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National currency of Cambodia is called riel (KHR; symbol CR). Figure 5 represents some of riel bank notes and coins. Bank notes are varied as follow: CR 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are less varied as there are only CR 50, 100, 200 and 500. The inflation rate is very high but the cost of living is relatively low, compared to European countries. One dish costs about 4000 KHR and the exchange rate between EURO and KHR is about 5415 KHR per one EURO (rate at 16 January 2011). Therefore, one dish in Cambodia is not even one Euro. Another currency which is wildly used as well in Cambodia is US Dollar. In tourism attraction such as Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, most of the price in goods and service are provided in US Dollar. Riel is used only for a small amount of paying, for example, buying bred.
Traditional Food
Cambodian food has a lot in common with those from surrounding countries but one big different characteristic is much less in spicy. As same as other Asian countries, rice is served in almost every meal as main dish. The most popuplar Cambodian side dishes are Amok Fish and Lok-lak. Amok fish is made from fish with curry, vegeable, and coconut milk. It is cooked by stream and served with a dipping sauce. The traditional one is to be served with rice in banana leaf bowls, as presented in figure 6.
Another mentioned dish is Lok-lak which is a beef with vegetables cooked by stir fried in a lime and black pepper sauce. It is served with either onions or red onion. The dish is bedded by fresh vegetable such as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Cambodia stir fried is differed from the Chinese one by having dipping sauce made with lime and pepper. Talking about snacks, one of the most famous ones for the adventurous in Northern Cambodia is crispy fried spiders. It is a local snacks and the whole body of spiders can be eaten.
A lot of tourism chooses to visit Cambodia because of its unique in architecture and nature. The most famous tourist attractions are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Temple of Ta Phrom, and Mondulkiri. Angkor Wat, represent in figure 7, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was built to be the state temple and capital city for King Suryavarman II, early 12th century. Since the national religion of Khmer was changed according to the king s religion, Angkor Wat had been changed for its purpose as well. The first one was to be the center of Hindu. Then, it became the dedicated place for Vishnu, the Supreme God in Vaishnavite traditional of Hindu. Finally, it has been changed to be the center of Buddhist until the present time. The building itself is constructed with stone and decorated by Khmer architecture with high classical style. It is said to contain even more stonework than the pyramids of Egypt.
Lao national currency is Kip (LAK; symbol ?). The bank notes are varies as follow: LAK 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. No coins are provided. Lao monetary is highly inflation. The exchange rate for EURO is 10370 LAK per one EURO (rate at 14 January 2011). One dish of food can be obtained for 10000 LAK. Large amount of purchase can be done by using US Dollar or Thai Baht in many areas.
Traditional Lao food are quite hot and spicy, might be too hot for foreigner. The main dish is sticky rice, Khao neo, which is also the symbol of Laos. Hands are normally used for eating this kind of rice. Tam maak houng or papaya salad is very famous as well. Papaya and other vegetables are mixed together. The original one can be very spicy for foreigners. Laap or meat salad is meat mix with some herb and can be very spicy as well. Another dish is Ping kai or barbeque chicken. All the mentioned four dishes are normally served together as one meal.
The most attractive points for Laos are its nature and culture. Recommended places are Vientiane, Pha That Luang, Luang Prabang, and Plain of Jars. Vientiane, as mentioned earlier, is the capital city of Laos. Being once a former French Indochinese state had brought this city through various complicated situations and conflicts. However, the pace of life found here is rather slow and laid-back. There are several interesting Buddhist monasteries for those who want to calm down your soul and for those who want to have an experience of bustling life, market is the place to go.
 

Cultural Differences Between Somalia and the United Kingdom (UK)

Intercultural Interview: Cultural Differences Between Somalia and the United Kingdom (UK)

Introduction

Yuusuf originated from Mogadishu, Somalia and moved to the UK with his family sixteen years ago, at the age of ten, to escape an ongoing war. Our interview, conducted in Yuusuf’s home, highlights a variety of striking differences between Somali and UK culture, differences that have lacked investigation due to the dangerous location of Somalia. Thus, this interview offered insights into a somewhat unexplored culture with areas of contrasts including power distribution and differences in family relations amongst other noteworthy perceptions.

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Power DistributionYuusuf highlighted that the distribution of power contrasted remarkably between the Somali and English culture through the differences in family life. Within a family “men would always be shown more respect” and seen as “more powerful”. This distinct divide on the basis of gender is accepted and expected by all members of this culture, including the less powerful members, in this case, women. Somalia’s Gender Inequality Index is 0.776, where 1 denotes complete inequality, whereas, the UK’s index is 0.116 (“United Nations Development Programme”, 2012), presenting a striking difference in the value of gender equality and thus, power distribution within a family.

Consequently, Somali culture would be determined as having high power distance, that is, within institutions and organisations power is distributed unequally and this is legitimised through continual practise, Yuusuf deemed this as “tradition” (Hofsted, 2011). This inference is supported by surrounding areas of Ethiopia (64) and Kenya (64) receiving high power distance scores (Hofstede & Bond, 1984). Whereas, the UK scores relatively low on this dimension (35) due to inequality of distributed power not being highly valued, as Yuusuf put it “women are given more choice and freedom of speech” in the UK. Furthermore, gross national product (GNP) has been found to negatively correlate with Hofstede’s power distance index (Hofstede, 1991), this is supported by Somalia’s low GDP per capita of $600 in comparison to the United Kingdom’s $36,600 as of 2012 (“Countries Compared by Economy”, 2013). Yuusuf explained that due to the UK’s wealth it enabled his family to get “help from the council” when looking for housing, something that “wouldn’t happen in Somalia… you’re on your own”.

Moreover, Yuusuf explained that “men were the breadwinners” highlighting how roles are ascribed to maintain productive behaviour within the society, this mainly involved “agricultural work”; agriculture accounts for 75% of Somalia’s GDP (Svirina, O’Farrell & Hirsi, 2019). Thus, Somali culture would be deemed as a ‘hierarchal culture’ which ensures clear social order and distribution of roles to maintain productive behaviour, in this case the men doing the work and women “staying at home” (Schwartz, 2004). Whereas, in the UK, although hierarchy exists in respect to stereotypical roles within the home and unequal distribution of power within institutions, it is not to the same extent. Rather, the emphasis is on ‘mastery’ with the encouragement of self-assertion in order to achieve personal goals (Sagiv & Schwartz, 2007).

However, Yuusuf also detailed that he believed “times are changing and they’ve also adapted”, in reference to women doing more to increase “money for the family”. According to the socialisation hypothesis, socio-economic development of culture does not alter individual’s values rapidly. Rather, as a society becomes wealthier and subsequently more industrialised, values and practises slowly develop over generations from traditional to more ‘rational’ (Inglehart, 2008; 2018). This hypothesis and comments from Yuusuf of “adapt[ing]” are supported by the fact that Somalia’s GDP has been increasing since 1990, reaching its highest value in 2017 of $7.37 billion (“World Development Indicators”, 2019). This may suggest Somali culture is advancing to become more similar to the UK.

Relationships

Throughout our interview Yuusuf made reference to his family, deeming them an “important part” of his everyday life. Yuusuf advocated how he believed family is not defined in the same way in the UK. He explained how in Somali culture “everyone is classed as family” and that this alliance is continued with other Somalis in the UK, describing this as “a sign of respect”. This portrays Somali culture as collectivist rather than individualist that is expressed in the UK. In collectivist cultures people are born into strong, cohesive in-groups, whereby individuals protect one another with the expectation of reciprocity, the goal being to maintain harmony(Hofstede, 2001; Yamagishi, Jin & Miller, 1998). A consequence of such close relations was reflected in Yuusuf’s clear reluctance to leave Somalia despite the hostile environment, deeming it a “painful experience”. However, he also highlighted the continual support from overseas, he detailed how “whenever there’s been a problem there has been a solution”, he explained that his relations in Somalia have previously “given reassurance over the phone” in attempts to resolve issues his family were experiencing.

Interestingly, when asked how Yuusuf would define himself, he expressed mainly social and collectivists selves, such as “I am a brother” and a “son”, only 20% of his responses were traits such as “intelligent”. Thus suggesting Yuusuf takes into account the wider social context when defining himself, a characteristic of interdependent self-construal and collectivist cultures. An interdependent self-construal denotes seeing oneself as part of a social relationship, being more connected to others than differentiated. In contrast, individuals in individualistic cultures use more physical and behavioural traits than social descriptions, highlighting an independent self-construal, seeing the self as autonomous (Cross, Bacon & Morris, 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Singelis, 1994).  

Similarly, Yuusuf consistently used the pronouns “us”, “we” or “our” instead of “I” or “me”, for example, “family is very important to us”, “we believe… our country”. Kashima and Kashima (1998) found a correlation between the use of singular pronouns such as “I” and individualism; moreover, priming an individual with first-person singular pronouns stimulates more individualistic behaviour whereas plural pronouns activtes more collectivist orientations (Na & Choi, 2009). Therefore, this highlights the influence of a collectivist culture on expression of speech and how Yuusuf continues to use these pronouns despite being exposed to an individualistic culture.

Overall, Yuusuf takes the importance of family seriously and continues to depend on them. Differences in the extent to which family is defined distinguishes Somali culture from the UK, this can be explained by the collectivistic nature of Somali culture. Moreover, differences in relationships within a culture can be seen to influence self-description and expression.

Rules, Regulations and Rituals

Yuusuf suggested that “you get more freedom in this country”, and explained how rules, regulations and rituals differ “dramatically”. For instance, as indicated previously, Yuusuf explained how “women especially” are restricted in Somali culture, he detailed a tradition that occurs if “the wife’s husband dies”, the woman “is not allowed to leave the house or put makeup on for 40 days”. One of the many ways in which Somali women are constrained in freedoms, which would be unacceptable in the UK.

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 In reference to Hofstede’s (2001) uncertainty avoidance, a culture’s tolerance for ambiguity and novel situations, “strict laws” highlight that Somali culture is high in uncertainty avoidance; opposed to the UK’s uncertainty accepting nature, determined by more lenient laws and social norms (Hofstede, 2011). The seriousness of Somali law was expressed by Yuusuf’s use of phrases such as “forbids” and “not allowed” in relation to drinking alcohol and homosexuality. The latter is of significance, this intolerance of homosexuality has been linked to Inglehart’s dimension of ‘self-expression’ (lnglehart & Welzel, 2005).  A lack of economic and physical stability results in a culture’s fundamental focus on survival (Inglehart & Baker, 2000). This is supported by the fact that in Somalia, war has gripped the country for many years (“Somalia profile”, 2018). Hence, Yuusuf’s culture confines attention to survival at the expense of self-expression and liberation of things such as homosexuality that is largely accepted in the UK (Adamczyk & Pitt, 2009; Inglehart et al, 2014).

In light of the “strict laws” embedded in Somali culture the theme of restraint appears apparent; individuals in a restricted culture suppress gratification of needs and indulgence, this is regulated by strict social norms (Minkov, 2007; Minkov & Hofstede, 2011). This restriction was further portrayed by Yuusuf as he explained that, “we believe we are on this earth as a test to get into heaven”. Thus, ‘indulgence’ is not part of this life, this is dissimilar to the UK whereby indulgence is considerably higher and it is considered good to be free and impulsive, hence the popular English phrase ‘you only live once’ (Hofstede, 2011; “United Kingdom – Hofstede Insights”, 2019).

ConclusionUltimately, Yuusuf was able to offer a novel insight into an unexplored culture. With contrasts in family structure, relationships and restricting rules, he provided an explanation to how groups thrive despite environmental and economic hardship through loyalty and dependence. It is interesting that cultural homogeneity may be occurring due to industrialisation and increased wealth of Somalia. However, it was apparent that even with Yuusuf being exposed to one of the world’s most industrialised and advance countries in the world for over sixteen years, his value of family and some cultural practises still remained an important part of his life in the UK.

Word count: 1497

References:

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“Countries Compared by Economy > GDP > Per capita > PPP. International Statistics at NationMaster.com”. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/GDP/Per-capita/PPP

Cross, S. E., Bacon, P. L., & Morris, M. L. (2000). The relational-interdependent self-construal and relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(4), 791.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Cultures consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1).

Hofstede, G., & Bond, M. H. (1984). Hofstede’s culture dimensions: An independent validation using Rokeach’s value survey. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 15(4), 417-433.

Inglehart, R. F. (2008). Changing values among western publics from 1970 to 2006. West european politics, 31(1-2), 130-146.

Inglehart, R.F., (2018). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton University Press.

Inglehart, R. F., & Baker, W. E. (2000). Modernization, cultural change, and the persistence of traditional values. American Sociological Review, 65, 19‐51.

Inglehart, R., C. Haerpfer, A. Moreno, C. Welzel, K. Kizilova, J. Diez-Medrano, M. Lagos, P. Norris, E. Ponarin & B. Puranen et al. (eds.). 2014. World Values Survey. Retrieved from http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSDocumentationWV6.jsp

lnglehart, R. F., & Welzel, C. (2005). Modernization, cultural change, and democracy: The human development sequence. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Kashima, E. S., & Kashima, Y. (1998). Culture and language: The case of cultural dimensionsand personal pronoun use. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 29(3), 461-486.

Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224‐253

Minkov, M. (2007). What makes us different and similar: A new interpretation of the World Values Survey and other cross‐cultural data. Sofia, Bulgaria: Klasika y Stil Publishing House.

Minkov, M., & Hofstede, G. (2011). The evolution of Hofstede’s doctrine. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 18(1), 10-20.

Na, J., & Choi, I. (2009). Culture and first-person pronouns. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(11), 1492-1499.

Sagiv, L., & Schwartz, S. H. (2007). Cultural values in organisations: insights for Europe. European Journal of International Management, 1(3), 176-190.

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Singelis, T. M. (1994). The measurement of independent and interdependent self-construals. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 20(5), 580-591.

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Svirina, E., OFarrell, C., & Hirsi, H. (2019). Agriculture Remains Key to Somalia’s Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2018/03/28/agriculture-remains-key-to-somalias-economic-growth-and-poverty-reduction

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Yamagishi, T., Jin, N., & Miller, A. S. (1998). In‐group bias and culture of collectivism. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 1(3), 315-328.

Aesthetic Labour Within The United Kingdom

Within recent years it has been found emotions play a large part in today’s work place, with the same now being said in regards to aesthetic labour. Postrell (2003) even suggests that we are on verge of entering an ‘aesthetic economy’, bring forth an era of appearance and feel. With the fundamental feature of this economy predominately being employees appearance developing the notion that ‘style is strategy’, Postrell also suggests that the look of employees can also determine the ambience of a room as much as the furnishings or decor. Aesthetic labour itself is a modern term in regards to recruiting staff whom look the part (Witz et al, 2003). The concept of aesthetic labour was developed based on employer’s impression that parts of the service industries were portrayed as the ‘style labour market’ this includes the following service areas; bars, hotels, events and retailers, who require aesthetic skills in addition to social and technical skills from employees (Nickson et al, 2004, p.3).

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Today’s research shows that within the UK, service jobs now accommodate around three-quarters of all jobs, with them predominantly coming from the retail and hospitality sectors. With a 17 percent growth between 1979 and 2003 within these sectors alone it can be seen from current examination of employer’s trends that the selections of employees with self presentation skills have a higher preference than experience or technical skills. For example a current survey of one hundred human resource experts within the United States of America accountable for employing hospitality industry employees publicized that their top two criteria’s were ‘pride in appearance’ and a ‘good attitude’ (Martin and Grove, 2002), the hospitality training foundation (2001) also confirmed that these top criteria’s are also shared by the industries within the UK. Once again both within the UK and USA it has been found that once employees have been employed their appearance continues to influence and help them, with suggestion that service, profession and pay are all subjective to employee’s appearance. Within the UK this is most prominent in the service sector however it can be seen in most areas (Harper, 2000). Nick et al (2004, p.3) argues that aesthetics within interactive service work is also becoming a major input however this trend has not yet been confirmed by policy markers. Other authors also suggest that the aesthetics within interactive service work is extremely significant with trends coming from interrelationships as well as from human and non human elements that are found with the workplace itself. In which aestheticization process can present them through fundamental ‘actor network theory’, these are transitions of redevelopment identifying how systems come together to act as a whole (Deepdyve Beta 2010).
In particular in many customer facing jobs a large amount of importance is placed on a person’s characteristics to a degree in which employers specifically look for people who are ‘passionate, stylish, confident, tasty, clever, successful and well travelled’ (Warhurst and Nickson, 2001, p.14). It is essentially that all employees portray the ‘right image’ for the ‘company, irrespective of the skills they possess. Grugulis et al (2004) argues that many managers may try to control how their employees feel and look, as well as how they behave, so that they can expose the correct emotions, aesthetics and productivity needed within a specific working environment. Moulding employee’s appearance is a very well known process used by employers to maintain a business like image; this includes the use of uniforms and dress codes. In a recent survey it was found eighty percent of organisations surveyed enforced a uniform policy or dress code, principally to keep up a corporate image. Due to employee appearance and aesthetic appeal being considered an essential part of any companies branding or competitive approach (Grugulis et al, (2004). In addition another survey within the UK based around the retail sector detailed that ninety percent of employers rated appearance as a crucial recruitment and selection process, with sixty one percent of them subsequently offering training in dress sense and style (Nickson et al, 2005). This is also true for emotional labour, Hochschild (1983, p.7) explains how emotions manages the feelings of employee’s to create the right visual appearance from their facial and body expressions. However other authors have observed that image is theoretically becoming stopped due to the lack of up to date research and debate (Witz et al 2003).
It has been thought that aesthetic labour is opening a new kind of discrimination based around people being turned down or employed for different jobs solely because of their looks. Oaff (2003, p.7) stated ‘if your gender and your race haven’t kept you off the short list, your physical appearance still might’. Aesthetic labour has also been seen to have neglect on gender, with an acknowledgment of ‘body work’ within the service industry (Adkins 2000). Adkin reports that there is a large attention placed on gender and sexuality within the origins of the aesthetic components of labour. Many authors feel there is a thin line between sexuality and gender within a job role. For example research has shown within the service industry there is a 63 to 37 percent female to male split and within the hospitality sector there is a 59 to 41 percent female to male split. Kerfoot and Korcznski (2005, p.388) identifies that the majority of service jobs have female based employees whose jobs are linked to low wages and less to none job prospects. From this it has also been found when advertising for jobs many companies purposely gender stereotype their adverts to list soft skills that are exclusively feminine based. The gender stereotyping of jobs also links to the thought that customers in particular males prefer the female touch that is brought to the initial meeting.
Aesthetic labour has led to large social changes within the majority of sectors leading to an increase in seasonal, part time and temporary job openings, allowing a high level of younger workers to gain experience especially those within the tourism industry. The main reason for this is younger people are often aesthetically closer to consumers customers. Baum (2008, p.81) explains this by saying ‘the sector seeks to attract employees who..(deliver) aesthetic labour…(so are in) much closer proximity with their customers’. These types of people are known as ‘style’ workers, they are those who physically and emotionally match their working environment and therefore closely identify with the products, being able to understand their customer’s needs and wants. In a previous Singaporean context a process was referred to in which service workers are highly brand conscious, Gurrier et al (1998, p.34) states ‘the modern young Singaporean is disinclined to work in service unless the image of the product accords with their own sense of fashion. Working in Gucci means that the product becomes part of her own accessory range’. Within today’s hospitality sector it is easy to see the vast social different between the employee and consumer it is understandable why employer’s employ the correct type of people for their organisations that matches their emotion and the aesthetic requirements.
The term aesthetic labour first appeared in 1999 when Chris Warhurst and a team at the University of Strathclyde compared the term to an older medieval Italian term called sprezzatura. This has since become a fundamentally piece of research in terms of human resource management or hrm. With people such as Mulford et al (1998, p.1585) making claims that the attractiveness of people is dependent on their opportunities to develop socially and cooperate with others. Making it is easy to see where the pressures of recruitment and retention of employees based on their image has affected hrm. The idea of aesthetic labour may cause conflict within the sense that ethnical problems may arise if someone is employed solely on how they look. This has since developed tension based on what people feel management ‘ought’ to or ‘should’ do. The ethics of aesthetic compare this to management viewing us up against a framework allowing them to judge right and wrong. The ethics and morality of aesthetic has been address by many authors for example it is suggested that the business background produces its own unique moral standard (Nash 1990, p.5). However Fisher and Lovell (2006, p.42) feel that ethics is based around doing well, in which wrongs are prevented or masked if done. With a variety of different views in the air, for hrm the challenge to retain professionalism is key due to the thought and actions of aesthetics causing pain and worry to their organisations employees.
Emotional labour has a direct link to aesthetics the term emotional labour was first identified by Hochschild in 1983 and is used to depict the actions of service workers that goes beyond their usual physical and mental roles. In which the employees show actual worry for the customer’s needs. Examples of this include customer facing roles in which employee’s use the term ‘service with a smile’, they help solve complaints and change the customer’s mood. Hochschild (1983) uses the term ‘management of feeling to create a publicly facial and bodily display’. The use of emotional labour is a good practice especially used in the face of angry or unhappy customers when employees may need to hide their really emotions. It has been found that organisation have since place a large amount of strategic orientation on this, so that employees know how to handle themselves not only in front of customers but also other employees and internal customers. It is easy to see how emotional skills will also place any potential employee further up the recruitment ladder. Having both emotional and aesthetic skills will help employers complete their aim to have ‘oven ready’ employees which are ready to go straight into the job with little training. This strategy is extremely useful in minimising costs, but employing these types of people based solely on these particular skills also places knowledge by the employer that the characteristic of the employee cannot be necessarily trained.
Looking directly within the service based sectors the importance of aesthetics as well as self presentation skills is effortlessly demonstrated. However the problems caused is also very noticeable. Although many businesses strive to maintain competitive advantage, the evidence from many forms of research places this dependency on the new ‘style driven niche’ in which many management’s attempts of controlling their employee’s expands beyond the usual aspects. Nevertheless the positives and the potential of aesthetics on an employee to customer based ratio evidently are flourishing, unlike that of the employer to employee ratio within any organisation which is under strain with new forms of discrimination being found. Although academic skills are clearly not a major part of any recruitment or selection processes, the aesthetic skills are now becoming a requirement do help the utilisation of any organisation. Furthermore it can be seen the large difference between aestheticised labour and aesthetic labour, in which employees have preserved certain characteristics and appearance to both maintain and secure their employment. With reference to a employees specific wage being dependent on the employees gender/sexuality or image there is little evidence to completely agree with this however it can be seen that employees do receive other kinds of payback in the form of benefits such free clothing or make over’s. It can also be found that the emotional skills work particularly well along side aesthesis, helping organisations gain ‘oven ready’ customers who will fulfil the companies needs to place the employee straight into the heart of the business. At present self presentation skills is not currently predominant in the learning market, due to the shortage of approval by the policy makers. This may be because of the concerns of moulding employees appearance or because they are unsure how to integrate it into the training agendas. Whichever it may be it is easy to see the impact it will and is already having on organisations human resource management team, as there are so many different points of views on the right and wrong ways to go about aesthetics when recruiting and maintaining employees.
 

Discovering The Kingdom Of God

INTRODUCTION
Do we really know what the Kingdom of God is, or are we only speculating? Is it that personal hope that one day after our death we will enter into the Kingdom of God and have eternal life? Or is it something else that we as human beings cannot grasp with our limited mindset. Whatever the outcome, let us explore this magnificent topic to get the best possible answer. As Christians we must be able to have Biblical answers to theological questions.
1. Write an essay presenting a biblical view of the nature of the Kingdom of God and exploring the implications of your understanding of the kingdom for ministry today:
We must start off by asking ourselves the question: “What does the Kingdom of God” mean to us as Christians. To many this is maybe another irrelevant religious term used to describe the unrealistic visions of Christians. Some may even see the existence of the Kingdom of God altogether as part of the Church (Ladd 1981:2-3). One theologian by the name of Adolf von Harnack, when confronted over the issue, wrote the following: “The Kingdom of God comes by coming to the individual, by entering into his soul and laying hold of it.” For Adolf von Harnack, the Kingdom of God meant that the Spirit of life was to come and fill people personally. This hope was a universal hope for the whole creation. People had to interact with one another and the whole of creation to receive this eternal life (Moltmann 1996:131). Even Albert Schweitzer (Ladd 1981:3) says “the Kingdom of God is supernatural and part of the future.” Should we take the above mentioned as the only answers for the Kingdom of God or should we go to the Word of God and find what it has to say about the Kingdom of God. Yes, we should definitely find the Scriptural truths in the Word of God that explains the Kingdom of God to us.

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First of all, the Kingdom of God is where God rules. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, LASB God writes the rights of His kingdom in our hearts and He wants us to obey Him in glory and honour (Ladd 1981:6). We see His kingdom exist in the spiritual realm which is not presently visible to our eyes, but we can persevere in faith that someday the Kingdom of God will come in all its fullness. Psalm 103:19, LASB “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Ladd 1981:6-7). The Kingdom of God is both in the present and in the future. We read that many times Jesus referred to the Kingdom of God in the future tense “Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25, LASB). Other times He indicated that the Kingdom of God was already present. Then sometimes He preached that the Kingdom of God was nearby (you could almost touch the kingdom). So we can see that the Kingdom of God progress through us (by spreading the Gospel) on the earth here and now (Ladd 1981:8-9).
The Kingdom of God is unavailable to people that practice acts of sin. We read in the Bible the following: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, LASB). So if you are practicing some of the above and you die, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but if you are cleansed and forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ, and sin no more and then die, the Kingdom of God is at hand. With the resurrection comes the Kingdom of God (Ladd 1981:11-13).
In the Old Testament we also find the Kingdom of God spoken of for the first time, although the term itself is not directly used. Israel did not really care about the term “Kingdom of God”; they only worried about themselves and their rebellious ways. This was very sad because God actually wanted to prepare Israel to find hope in the coming of the King. “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, LASB). This King was to deliver all people from their slavery to sin (Williams 1992:15-16). We see in the New Testament the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ was born to be the Ruler for us. When Jesus stood on trial for His life, before Pilate, “Pilate asked Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ He answered him and said, “It is as you say” (Luke 23:3, LASB). So we see that Jesus did tell him that He was a King, but Jesus also indicated to him that His Kingdom was not of this world. This scripture says it all, God was the Supreme Ruler and Jesus Christ was going to rule all nations of the earth (Williams 1992:17-18). Matthew records Jesus using the phrase “Kingdom of heaven” while Mark and Luke uses the phrase “Kingdom of God.” When the two are measured against one another, they are almost identical (Ridderbos 1996:39).
In the above paragraphs I have tried to capture a biblical view of the nature of the Kingdom of God and know that with this discovery comes a profound responsibility for us as part of a ministry. So in closing I realised the following: Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and if we do, everything will fall into place. God has got one desire for us and that is to please Him and follow Him. God must be glorified here on earth because by doing so has both current and eternal implications. Our time, talents, treasures, attitudes and actions must be to serve God. We must avail ourselves to help others come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they may be saved from their sins as well, so that they can start to seek the Kingdom of God now and in the future.
Conclusion
Morphew (1991:52) said the following: “There is every reason to be filled with hope – the confident expectation that we move from the victory Christ has ‘already’ obtained, to the victory of Christ still to be obtained.” What a great priviledge to know that the Kingdom of God is coming and everything will change. To know that we have some insight into the Kingdom of God, but for now, change begins in us. Let us produce the Kingdom on earth through the will of God.
Bibliography
Barton B B, Beers R A and Galvin J C (eds) 1996. Life Application Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Ladd G D 1981. The Gospel of the Kingdom. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Moltmann J 1996. The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. St Albans Place, London: SCM Press.
Morphew D J 1991. Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom. Cape Town: Struik Christian Books.
Ridderbos H N 1996. In DRW Wood (ed.), New Bible Dictionary, 647-650. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Williams J R 1992. Renewal Theology, vol. 3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
INTRODUCTION
It is said that warfare is not only a physical reality, but it is also a spiritual reality. The enemy is around us and within us. Satan and his demonic forces are constantly prepared for an attack on God’s children. The great weapon that Satan employs in his attacks is the sinful nature of every human being. The question we must then ask ourselves is the following: First of all, is Satan really the ruler of the earth and are we under his rule. Secondly, did Jesus Christ then lost authority over us. Thirdly, can we really believe “The Ransom Theory” as the ultimate truth? Let us investigate the outcome so as to understand the enemy’s weaknesses and strengths without being afraid of him.
ASSIGNMENT 2
Write an essay disputing the claim that Satan has the right and title deed to the earth. Be sure to address each of the implications listed below:
The Ransom Theory of the Atonement cannot be dismissed as summarily as it usually is if indeed Satan had a right to the souls of men.
The Ransom Theory personally for me creates the picture of God and Satan sitting at a table playing a deck of cards. Satan has just won and now rules the world. In an attempt to save the world and its people, God tries to negotiate or bribe Satan to give Him back the world. So God with His back against the wall gives His Son, Jesus Christ as ransom. When Origen formulated the doctrine, he said the following: “It was Satan rather than God who demanded Christ’s blood, thus initiating this aspect of the transaction. So the ransom was determined by, paid to, and accepted by Satan. This mitigates to some extent the charge that the ransom theory makes God somewhat of a dishonest dealer” (Erickson 1996:53-56).
Really, we cannot believe this, for God is an honest and truthful Ruler. In Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, Satan tried to tempt everyone away from God, but he couldn’t do it. Although Adam and Eve were disobedient, God was still in control. I think the idea that made some to think the title deed of the earth was passed over to Satan was the fact that God gave us our own will and some people want to believe in Satan ruling the earth. Yes, Satan is powerful, but Jesus is more powerful. Jesus’s resurrection shattered Satan’s power and showed God’s unconditional love for us. To overcome Satan we need faithful allegiance to God’s Word and stay away from sin (Gross 1990:114-115). Jesus said: “Now is the judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31, LASB).
Postmillennialism too becomes far more attractive and reasonable when viewed in the light of inter-kingdom conflict: If the purpose of God is to win back territory from the ‘enemy’ then ‘truimphalism’ and ‘kingdom now theology’ is tenable.
To think that Jesus Christ will return after Christians (Not Jesus Christ Himself) have established the Kingdom on this earth sounds very attractive and promising. All of us wants to believe that this world will become better and better. We want to be heroes and save this world before Jesus Christ comes. However, this is not the Biblical view of the world in the end times. Triumphalism and ‘kingdom now theology’ are acceptable, but only for people that believe in Postmillenialism (Erickson 1996:160-161).
We as Christians must find balance between winning back the Kingdom of God and awaiting eternal life. We should spread the Gospel until Jesus Christ comes to save us. To think that there is nothing to fear or that we are ‘Superman’ is insane. Paul explains that there are difficult times for Christian service. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, LASB).
Morphew (1991) says that “A triumphalist approach will produce unreal people who live in a spiritual bubble, or worse, arrogance and fanaticism that brings the name of Jesus into disrepute.”
Similarly, ‘spiritual warfare’ concepts such as ‘taking our cities for God’, so much in vogue nowadays, would need to be aggressively practiced.
I disagree with this concept of running around chasing the enemy. Who do we serve, Jesus Christ or Satan? As being part of the military I have realized one thing, warfare in this instance should be defensive and not offensive. We have victory in our spiritual warfare by standing in prayer and not running around trying to rebuke Satan every time something goes wrong. It is by knowing the truth and submitting to God in obedience that the devil runs (Moriarty 1992:150-151).
2 Corinthians 10:4-6, LASB “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
When Jesus Christ arose and ascended, He revealed His victory over Satan, taking with Him those whom the devil had captured. The victory of Jesus Christ is the victory of all who are saved by faith in Him. Satan has no legitimate authority over Christians. The only influence he enjoys in our lives is when we yield to him (Moriarty 1992:153-154). It is true what Moriarty (1992:150) says “The Devil does not need to be “outshouted”; he needs to be “outtruthed”.”
The implications for Church life also need to be considered: If the primary function of the church is to conduct a war then a hierarchical form of government would be appropriate and mega churches more effective than small family congregations.
First of all we must remember that the main purpose of the church is for the praise of God’s glory and His wonderful grace. The church need not to change to really conduct war against Satan and remember that a church is not confined to four walls, the church of Jesus Christ is people. For me a small family congregation has got the same power as a mega church.
Many churches and especially the new charismatics believe that the church needs a special army of Christian believers to worship with force to wipe out the devil and his demons. The people sing songs to chase away the demons and the devils and forget what the main purpose of spiritual warfare is all about. People forget that Jesus Christ is now head of the church, the ultimate authority over the world and we are the body. If we work, serve or worship together in holiness, we are one body in unity. Satan will not be able to stand when we worship together against him (Moriarty 1992:149-151). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, LASB).
Conclusion
You have read all the above arguments that were made and must make a decision. Do you serve Jesus Christ or Satan? Just remember, Christians will always be in battle, being a soldier for Jesus Christ is not an option, it is a command. Do not get excited about Satan; rather get excited about God’s Kingdom and eternal life.
Bibliography
Barton B B, Beers R A and Galvin J C (eds) 1996. Life Application Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Erickson M J 1996. Christian Theology (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Erickson M J 1996. Contemporary Options in Eschatology. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
Gross E N 1990. Miracles, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Moriarty M G 1992. The New Charismatics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Morphew D J 1991. Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom. Cape Town: Struik Christian Books.
INTRODUCTION
Jesus handed down all His power and authority to us, but do we really appreciate this enormous opportunity to continue the legacy of Jesus Christ. Some people say that they do not experience the amazing works of God displayed in their lives. Did Jesus Christ loose His power and authority? Or is something wrong in us; we who proclaim that we belong to Jesus Christ. Let us find the answers and rekindle the flame of boldness, obedience, courage and power through Jesus Christ.
ASSIGNMENT 3
3.1. The task of extending the kingdom. I agree with both these statements for the following reasons:
Jesus did give authority and power to His disciples. “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:6-8, LASB). The disciples had tremendous results as they ministered with authority in Jesus’ name. In Luke 4:18-20, LASB Jesus told Peter and Andrew to leave their fishing business and become “fishers of men”, to help others find God. They had to practise Christ’s teachings and share the gospel with others (Grudem 1994:83). Jesus also went and designated seventy messengers. These disciples were not fully qualified, but their willingness and their awareness of Jesus’ power made them excellent candidates to reach all people. We read that when the seventy returned, they were delighted and full of victory. “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17, LASB) (Grudem 1994:92).
Yes I agree, we the men and women of this world needs to preach the gospel based on the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross and through His resurrection. Yes, we can still make use of Satan through our selfishness and sin, but do we really what to hamper our relationship with God. If we do not preach the gospel, teach the principles of the kingdom of God, heal the sick and deliver the demonised, who will. John 14:12, LASB “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. Jesus Christ gave the bible to teach and direct, the Church to support and the Holy Spirit to annoint.”
3.2. The role of deliverance in extending the kingdom.
Are demons described in the Scriptures as malignant entities with identity and personality? Give reasoning and references. Yes I would say that demons are distinct persons with indentities and personalities. Each has a name, though we only know the names of a few, for example the serpent (snake) in the Garden of Eden. Demons possess supernatural intelligence. They demonstrated insight into the identify of Jesus when He healed all the sick and demon-possessed. “Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him” (Mark 1:34, LASB). They definitely know their future. The two demon-possessed men when they saw Jesus thought He was only going to torment them at the end of the world. “And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29, LASB).
How did the Lord Jesus deal with demons – by counselling or medicating the victim, or by delivering him/her with a word of command? Give reasoning and references. Jesus made use of practical examples in His dealings with demons and there were always people to witness this events. “And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons” (Mark 1:39, LASB). Jesus used His name to cast out demons. “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;” (Mark 16:17, LASB). Jesus cast demons not only out of people with evil spirits, but also out of people who were not affected by demons. Some of the people never even realised their sickness were caused by demons. “When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” (Luke 4:40-41, LASB).
Is it the Lord’s expectation that we should deal with demonic conditions in the same way as He did? Give reasons and references. Firstly, Jesus wants us to use the spiritual armour He gave us. “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13, LASB). Without the armour people will be vulnerable to Satan’s attack. We must walk in honesty, righteousness, faith, love, hope, peace, readiness, speaking the Word of God and praying in the Spirit. We need all this to be successful against Satan and his demons. Jesus expects us to stand against Satan. We need wisdom and power from God to overcome them. We should walk in love, though this will definitely frustrate the demons. Jesus prayed for people and so should we. We should also know the truth, and the truth will make us free.
3.3. The role of prayer in extending the kingdom.
Below are three statements about the role prayer plays in extending the kingdom of God. Which one do you support and why?
I want to agree with the first two statements. The second statement more than the first. Prayer is the foundation of every Christian person (Wegerle 1997:3). We should by now realise the value of prayer otherwise we will never be moved to do things. Day and night we must pray. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8, LASB). Prayer produces a strength (a spiritual strength) that can get things done. “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11, 11-12, LASB) (Wegerle 1997:4).
To pray you do not have to prepare any special formulas. God knows our hearts, if our hearts are pure and good, we can tell God anything (Grudem 1994:61). Prayer definitely releases the power and authority of God. In Matthew 16:19, LASB Jesus made an enormously big statement. Jesus gave us the keys to His kingdom. With this keys we can open the heavenly treasure-house hear on earth. We have the authority to bind Satan and his demons and change the behaviour (sins) of people (Wegerle 1997:16-18). Prayer is not an acknowledgement of need. God knows what we want and we must keep on praying in faith (Grudem 1994:57).
3.4. The role of the Spirit in extending the kingdom.
Evaluate the contentions made in the quotation below and support your views with Scripture. We have entered into the time where great treasures of knowledge are revealed and teached to men and women by the Holy Spirit (Grudem 1994:112). We the annointed messengers should walk in the Spirit and deliver this knowledge. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18, LASB).
The Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ’s representative in the church. Jesus took His seat in heaven and the Holy Spirit came down to begin the work of building up the body of Christ (Grudem 1994:113-114). “For by one Spirit we were all baptised into the body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13, LASB). We must get accustomed to proclaiming the Gospel “with the Holy Spirit” sent down to us with power. “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7, LASB).
No pastor can preach the Word of God without consulting the Holy Spirit for annointing. The Holy Spirit can manifest Himself in a Church service and create an atmosphere of love. Usually then people submit their lives and wills to Jesus Christ (Grudem 1994:111-112). “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5, LASB).
3.5. The role of sign gifts in extending the kingdom.
Comment on the logic in the following quotations by John MacArthur. Contrast MacArthur’s views with those of teachers from the Charismatic movement. Finally, indicate your views on the meaning of Hebrews 2:3-4.
The first quotation for me personally gives the idea that God is not truly present and that God did not leave us anything. It feels as if the line “Once the Word was complete, it was all over” really means that Jesus do not exist for us today and God will never be glorified. Then the Messiah is not authentic and true anymore (MacArthur 1992:127). I might agree with him on some issues for instance, we read in the Bible that Jesus and the disciples did wonderful miracles and healings. They raised the dead, healed cut-off ears and restored the crippled. The miracles of healing today is not so intense and frequent as in Jesus’ time. I want to agree in what Edward Gross (1990:36-37) believes. “God does work miracles today. He says that God will never oppose His Word. He honors His Word even in greater ways than He honors His own name” (Psalm 138:2, LASB). Miracles and healings will keep on happening. Jesus’ ministry has given to us His teachings. Although we did not see these miracles and signs, we base our believe on the people in the Bible that were eyewitnesses. This must be encouragement for us to go on and perservere because I do believe in a miracle working God.
In the second quotation I agree that miracles, wonders and sign gifts were given to the first generation apostles. “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” (Matthew 10:1, LASB). Let us face it, even during the apostolic age Christians could not do signs and miracles. Those qualities were unique to the apostels (MacArthur 1992:126). But, what I do believe is that God intervenes supernaturally in human beings today. God can heal people inspite of what medicine say. All things are possible with God. “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, LASB).
Conclusion
Most of the time we are limiting our own power, but it is God’s will to release the power in me and you. Let us not deprive ourselves the opportunity to be in the spirit, but be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is extending everyday more and more because it is the mind of God. In the Kingdom of God are peace, love and perfect joy.
 

Book Review of Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom

Biographical Sketch of the Author
Dr. Rienow is a husband, father and the pastor at Gospel Fellowship Church. He holds multiple degrees in theology and Christian leadership that prepared him to pastor a church. After spending time in the pastorate Dr. Rienow came to the realization that he was discipling the members of his congregation but not the members of his family. This caused Dr. Rienow to reevaluate how the church is called to do ministry in the Bible. His findings lead to changes in his own ministry as well as the writing of this book.  Pursuing the Great Commission through Biblical family discipleship is now a passion for Dr. Rienow.
Summary of Contents
Dr. Rob Rienow’s purpose in writing this book is to challenge your current philosophy of ministry. When planning each aspect of the program is the first reaction to reach for a curriculum, someone’s advice or tradition? Rienow issues the claim that the Bible is enough to guide leaders of the church in equipping the saints to carry out the Great Commission. Do not expect to sit down and read this book in an afternoon; this book will cause the reader to read and reread sections then stop and rethink each statement that is made. It is highly recommended that this book is not read alone, but instead with a ministry team. Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom should challenge any team that reads it together in how they do ministry and what their standards are for that ministry.
Critical Evaluation
Dr. Rienow does an excellent job of challenging the reader to rethink how he does church. This goes much deeper than just the traditions that we have accepted to date and into the place where the Word of God has in our heart and lives. Page by page Rienow builds a case for the sufficiency of scripture in the church and our families even in his own ministry he admitted, “The Bible was enough for me when it came to my systematic theology, but not enough when it came to how God’s institutions of the family and the local church should function” (13) This is a profound idea which will probably cause anyone reading the book to double check their process when making ministry decisions.
The author fully grasps the concept that our first church is our family and we need to ensure their discipleship first and foremost. Rienow states, “God created two institutions to build His Kingdom and advance His Gospel, the local church and the family.” (39) Why would God allow us to take care of His bride, the church, if we cannot take care of our own family?  This flows perfectly into the argument regarding Biblical jurisdiction. Parents seem to have relegated the responsibility of discipleship to the church and instead of training the parents that this is not correct they have just accepted the role. As Dr. Rienow shows, this presents a problem when the church’s method differ from the parents methods and therefore creates conflict inside the body. “We see the Great Commission, and we accept it. Then we carelessly ignore the clear messages God has given us about how the mission is to be carried out and who is responsible for its different faces.” (61) Parents want to rely on the church or the school to educate their children about life when the Bible definitively places that responsibility on the parents. Rienow skillfully presents the picture of a “Limited Church” operating only inside the direction given by God and leaving the rest of the responsibilities to other jurisdictions.
The church is challenged to rethink its priorities when Rienow asks, “Can we honestly say that our jam-packed church calendar and our dynamic programs for every demographic group are making radical disciples for Jesus Christ?” (1) The number of quality of the disciples a church makes is not directly proportional to the number of events on its calendar but according to the author, “Nothing is more important in the local church than the preaching of the Bible.” (103) The job of the church is given in Ephesians 4:11-13 of training and equipping the saints for ministry. This is done through the preaching of the Bible so that each facet may learn how to do their specific job well.
A full third of the book is devoted to the concept of uniting the church and family in ministry. The ideas of caring for the poor, transforming specific ministries, building marriages, discipleship and evangelism are discussed thoroughly. Although family ministry is the new buzz word in churches, Dr. Rienow points out that it has been God’s plan from the beginning. He works from the Old Testament to the New Testament explaining the perfect design God has for families. That perfect design is family discipleship in the home, from the parents. Dr. Rienow exposes the fallacies in the current ministry model of age segregated groups and how it breeds an attitude of moral therapeutic deism that is running rampant through our culture today. Children move from fun children’s ministry to fun youth ministry to fun college ministry into boring church service and do not know how to assimilate into the church body.
Dr. Rienow brings up the idea of incorporating children into the corporate body of worship and proposes that the church has been doing it wrong for about a hundred years. Readers are then shown multiple scripture passages showing children commanded to worship with their parents as a part of the faith family. Those who would choose to rebuff this idea are met with the statement, “Before we think pragmatically, we need to think theologically. Practice does not drive theology. Theology drives practice.” Rienow once again brings back each argument to the authority of scripture and scripture alone to drive our decisions. Using this same logic the reader should be able to determine that youth should also be in corporate worship along with young adults.
Critical Evaluation
Rienow’s mission to challenge the way churches address ministry questions with scripture first and only is accomplished throughout the entire book. While not directly stated the book screams out 2 Timothy 3:16 that scripture is sufficient for all our needs and answers. The author challenges readers that, “Now is the time to return to the Bible alone for every matter of faith and practice!” (45) Grab multiple copies of this book, pass them out to the ministry teams in your church, read through them together and evaluate the way you do ministry against scripture. Where it lines up witch scripture, press on; where it falls short, bring it in line with the Word and see if the fruits of your labor do not increase from God’s blessings.
 
Bibliography
Rienow, Rob. Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom. Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2013.

Kingdom of God & the Church

Abstract This essay attempts to explore the teaching of Jesus on the kingdom of God and discuss how it relates to the church. Due to the diverse nature of the kingdom of God, and the limitation of this essay, I will explore the concept of “the kingdom of God” in light of the church’s role. By defining what the Kingdom of God is not, what it was believed to be, what it is and for what purpose it came the perspectives and concepts of the church will be discussed. The reader will find classic liberalism, Christian Reconstructionism, “social gospel”, liberation theology and post-modern evangelism being touched on – yet land on the defining common thread of the participation in the Kingdom of God. Lastly, the essay will prove the noted distinction between the Kingdom of God and the church. Introduction:  

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 “The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel” Jesus declares in Mark 1:14-15. As the Gospels testify, The Kingdom of God is central to the teachings of Jesus.[1] It is not mentioned once in the Old Testament, and it hardly occurs outside of the Gospels in the New Testament, yet that does not deny the expansion of the concept. Some conceive kingdom of God to be an empire or a political power. Many perceive the kingdom of God to be within the soul of every human being who repents. Others claim the kingdom of God is equivalent to the church. Yet if we consider the purpose of the Kingdom of God to be universal salvation[2], none of these descriptions seems satisfiable.  

Israel & the Jewish Expectation

Before attempting to explore the kingdom of God and how it relates to the church it is important to understand the purpose of Israel in the context of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God was not a New Testament idea, as God elected Israel in Genesis through the covenant of Abraham to live under his rule, have faith in Him alone and be His people. [3]  Israel was chosen to be the means of which God would save the world and the agent of which God would deal with problems in His creation. This vocation of Israel would be completed by God bringing the history of Israel to its climax, saving them by justice and mercy and in honour of the covenant bring healing and restoration through them to the whole world.[4]

This was believed to be accomplished through the sovereignty of God as Israel’s scriptures promise a coming Messiah, a Redeemer who would establish the Kingdom and God would rule over His creation as a vindication at the end of times.[5] The Kingdom of God was therefore believed to be a political and military manifestation of God’s power.[6]
When we reach the New Testament and Jesus came as a bearer of the kingdom of God and fulfilling the Old Testament hope[7], it is safe to say that a Messiah ruling by servanthood and sacrifice was not the ways the Jewish people expected.[8] Yet Jesus, the fullness of Gods character came and declared: “My kingdom is not of this world…”– John 18:36[9]

 

Jesus & the concept of God’s kingdomWhen Jesus declares the Kingdom of God he builds upon the redemptive sovereign rule of God and the plan of salvation for Israel and the world.[10] No longer would God’s presence be mediated through one nation (Israel) or be located in a physical place (tabernacle).[11] The kingdom of God does therefore not point to a particular place nor does it require a political power. [12] Rather it is a dynamic move of God’s activity spreading under the kingship of Jesus, empowered by the spirit of God and requires allegiance more than acceptance.[13]

Jesus’ teachings of the Kingdom of God can be summarized by this: God’s action and our response.[14] Jesus demonstrates this in Matt 12:28 when he says: “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you”. [15] He makes a clear connection to the Spirit of God and therefore demonstrates the closeness of God’s power and rule.[16] This connects to the promise of Israel’s scriptures, particularly Isaiah 61:1-2, where the announcement of the Kingdom included the Spirit of the Lord coming upon Him (Messiah) to proclaim the good news of grace, liberate Gods people, renew lives and forgive.[17] It was from this position that Jesus’ established God’s Kingdom[18]: empowered by the Spirit of God for the purpose of empowering others.[19]
The kingdom of God also requires our response. Jesus says in Mark 1:15 – “The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel”[20]. He is commanding a response that is based on faith and not of proof. By no means did Jesus use His powers for the purpose of convincing people of his claim as Messiah[21]. Another important note to make is that the kingdom does not enter us – we enter the kingdom! We have to respond and become citizens of the reign of God by allegiance through faith and obedience. [22] Therefore, we can conclude the kingdom of God is present with Jesus and his activity, through the empowerment of the Spirit of God for the purpose of demonstrating God’s reign. [23] The response of the people is to believe, repent and align oneself to the kingdom and its nature.[24]

The nature of the Kingdom: Different perspectivesInevitably, over the centuries many different views have been developed theologically about how the nature of the Kingdom of God should be expressed. This is mainly because of the many symbolic, prophetic and apocalyptic explanations of Jesus.[25]
The classic liberal theologian would say the kingdom of God is the rule of God through every individual heart.[26] The social gospel view takes its interest in the ethical problem and means the kingdom of God can only be established through righteous life and action.[27] Liberation theology would claim the kingdom of God is justice being re-established on the earth through the eradication of poverty. The Christian reconstructionist claims the kingdom of God is extended through the supernatural power of Christ’s church and that the duty of the modern state is to submit and not hinder.[28] Lastly the evangelical post-modernistic perspective states the kingdom of God is heaven invading earth through a collection of people who lives according to the way of Jesus and his message which will transform, save and heal the earth.[29]

No matter what perspective one finds more compelling they all have one thing in common: the kingdom of God requires the participation of people. The question now becomes, what does this mean for the people of God, the church? 

The role of the ChurchThe role of the Church has been widely discussed yet no one has ever denied its commanded participation. Scot McKnight, an American New Testament scholar, argues in his book ‘Kingdom Conspiracy’ that there is no Kingdom outside the church.[30] He basis his argument on the realities of an earthly kingdom contrasted to the Kingdom of God, a king and his people, yet fails to recognize the true distinction of the kingdom of God – Jesus and His activity.[31]

The question here becomes if we truly believe the words of Jesus. In Matt 28:18 we read: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”[32] After stating this, Jesus commands his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” in verse 19. The inclusion and participation of his disciples came as an effect of the already established reign and authority of Jesus. In other words, the divine activity of God creates a social reality and community of that activity.[33]

Another important thing to remember is that Jesus came and declared the Kingdom of God when the church did not exist. The church was birthed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when God poured out his Spirit for the Kingdom-purpose of fulfilling the Old Testament promise that all nations would be saved. [34] The role of the church is, therefore, to be empowered by the Spirit and just like Jesus – heal the sick, restore the lost to a relationship with God and help to transform the society.[35] It is not the church’s role to save or initiate salvation, as the Spirit of God stretches beyond the limitations of the church.[36] It is undeniable that the church is called to embody the Kingdom of God in the universal redemptive plan, yet it is the Kingdom of God does not embody the church.[37]

Conclusion:The purpose of the Kingdom of God is universal salvation, from the covenant in Abraham where God chose Israel to be the agent of which he will save to world, to Jesus Messiah coming and demonstrating God’s reign, to the Spirit being poured out in Acts for the empowerment of His people. It all ties together in one beautiful story of God’s redemptive plan. Yet the kingdom of God stretches beyond the limits of a conceptual kingdom, its greater than a personal relationship with Jesus, it goes further than accomplished through the church. It is wider, more dynamic and more inclusive than ever understood. It is the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ reign, heaven on earth – where the church exists because of the Kingdom, the Kingdom does not exist because of the church. 

Bibliography:

Beasley-Murray, George Raymond. 1987. Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans. P 340

Bright, John. The Kingdom of God in Bible and Church. London: Lutterworth Pr, 1955.

Cray, Graham, and Ian Mobsby. 2012. Fresh Expressions and the Kingdom of God. Norwich: Canterbury. P.14

Grenz, Stanley J. 2000. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans.

Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.

Kraybill, Donald B. 2003. The Upside-down Kingdom. 25th anniversary ed. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press.

Marshall, Christopher D. 1993. Kingdom Come: The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus. Auckland, N.Z.: Impetus Publications.

McGrath, Alister E. 2017. Theology: The Basics. 4th edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Son.

McKnight, Scot. 2014. Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church. Grand Rapid, Michigan: Brazos Press.

Morgan, Christopher W., and Robert A. Peterson, eds. 2012. The Kingdom of God. Theology in Community. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway.

Van Gelder, Craig. 2000. The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books.

Wright, N. T. 1999. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press.

Wright, N. T. 1992. Christian Origins and the Question of God. 1st North American ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.  

[1] Grenz, Stanley J. 2000. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. P. 333

[2] Fuellenbach, John. 2002. Church: Community for the Kingdom. American Society of Missiology Series, no. 33. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books. P. 2

[3] Bright, John. The Kingdom of God in Bible and Church. London: Lutterworth Pr, 1955. P 24

[4] Wright, N. T. 1999. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press. P 37

[5] Bright, John. The Kingdom of God in Bible and Church. London: Lutterworth Pr, 1955. P 19

[6] Morgan, Christopher W., and Robert A. Peterson, eds. 2012. The Kingdom of God. Theology in Community. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway. p. 85

[7] Grenz, Stanley J. 2000. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. P. 333

[8] McGrath, Alister E. 2017. Theology: The Basics. 4th edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Son. P 63

[9] Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. P. 720

[10] Bright, John. The Kingdom of God in Bible and Church. London: Lutterworth Pr, 1955. P 222

[11] Van Gelder, Craig. 2000. The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books. P. 103

[12] Kraybill, Donald B. 2003. The Upside-down Kingdom. 25th anniversary ed. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press. P. 18

[13] Wright, N. T. 1992. Christian Origins and the Question of God. 1st North American ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. P 472

[14] Morgan, Christopher W., and Robert A. Peterson, eds. 2012. The Kingdom of God. Theology in Community. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway. P. 22

[15]Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. P. 649

[16] Grenz, Stanley J. 2000. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans.  P. 333

[17] Beasley-Murray, George Raymond. 1987. Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans. P. 81

[18] Morgan, Christopher W., and Robert A. Peterson, eds. 2012. The Kingdom of God. Theology in Community. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway. p. 200

[19] Kraybill, Donald B. 2003. The Upside-down Kingdom. 25th anniversary ed. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press. P 236

[20] Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. P. 665

[21] Bright, John. The Kingdom of God in Bible and Church. London: Lutterworth Pr, 1955. P 221

[22] Kraybill, Donald B. 2003. The Upside-down Kingdom. 25th anniversary ed. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press. P 18

[23] Morgan, Christopher W., and Robert A. Peterson, eds. 2012. The Kingdom of God. Theology in Community. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway. p. 201

[24] Kraybill, Donald B. 2003. The Upside-down Kingdom. 25th anniversary ed. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press. P 32

[25] Beasley-Murray, George Raymond. 1987. Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans. P 340

[26] Morgan, Christopher W., and Robert A. Peterson, eds. 2012. The Kingdom of God. Theology in Community. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway. p. 223

[27] Ibid p. 223 

[28] Ibid p. 224

[29] Ibid p. 225

[30] McKnight, Scot. 2014. Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church. Grand Rapid, Michigan: Brazos Press.

[31] Wright, N. T. 1999. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press. P 21

[32] Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. P. 664

[33] Marshall, Christopher D. 1993. Kingdom Come: The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus. Auckland, N.Z.: Impetus Publications. P. 76

[34] Van Gelder, Craig. 2000. The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books. P. 104

[35] Marshall, Christopher D. 1993. Kingdom Come: The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus. Auckland, N.Z.: Impetus Publications. P. 93

[36] Fuellenbach, John. 2002. Church: Community for the Kingdom. American Society of Missiology Series, no. 33. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books. P. 3

[37] Cray, Graham, and Ian Mobsby. 2012. Fresh Expressions and the Kingdom of God. Norwich: Canterbury. P.14
 

The Story of the Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God

Promised land, heavenly Kingdom and a next world, or an internal destination in the invisible extent of our own heart? The heart of Jesus’ teachings centers around the theme of the Kingdom of God. The reason of this paper is to establish in what ways the Kingdom of God held a substantial part within God’s divine love story for his people and how it applies to our lives today. This essay will display an understanding of the Kingdom of God, the importance of its history, culture, theology, its purpose and meaning within the Gospel, and the knowledge gained from the Kingdom of God as it recounts to beliefs and our lifestyle today.

Understanding the Kingdom

The Kingdom is mentioned regularly throughout parts of the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the New Testament it is referenced from Acts to Corinthians. The idea of the Kingdom of God takes on different meanings of significance in different parts of Scripture. The Kingdom of God is an otherworldly guideline over the souls and existences of the individuals who energetically succumb to God’s power. The individuals that challenge God’s power and decline to succumb to Him are not allowed entry into the Kingdom of God; conversely, the individuals that recognize the belief of Christ and readily give up to the Lord’s standard in their souls are a welcomed into the Kingdom of God. In this respect, the Kingdom of God is otherworldly—Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world.

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When we understand that through God, all that he creates is flawless and blessed. The making of people is additionally flawless and sacred. Through the Fall, people created an internal debasement of need and focus, which veered off from our fixation to God. All through Luke and Acts, we see the development of modification on advancement’s on bringing the focus back to God. God’s requirement of entry into the Kingdom is unclear as stated in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels “How exactly one enters the kingdom is not trans-parent, however. The most natural sense of the verb “to enter” depends on a portrait of the kingdom as a container or place, as though one might move from one location to another, but it is equally possible to imagine entering a sphere—that is, entering a field of influence, activity and/or operation—in this case, then, experiencing, identifying with, participating in, coming under the influence of, and joining the community formed in relation to God’s kingdom” (Perrin, Brown, & Green, 2013). Jesus taught us, and the disciples clearly grasped, that interminable life, spared and entering the Kingdom of God are, generally, synonymous!

While some express that the Kingdom of God is authentically not a physical area, there is much dialog of whether there will be a physical location to foresee when we present ourselves to God. Gaining access into the Kingdom of God exhibits to him that he merits all penances. By entering the Kingdom of God, we empower him to accept accountability for our lives and search for him as he centers us into the right way, he has chosen for us.

History, Culture, & Theology

The controversy around the Kingdom of God is about what it is or isn’t. Some will say it is a real physical world, and others say it is something spiritual. Depending on who you ask the genuine Kingdom of God, can be a tangible piece of real estate or it is something spiritual that otherworldly that happens in our souls. Some would express it to be a physical location above man, constructed by God to be a home for peoples’ souls after death. Others might state that it is no other than a spot inside us that must become through the correct choices and demonstrations of generosity.

The extension of God’s Kingdom transpires all through the manuscript of Luke and Acts. The accomplishment of God’s guarantee is initiated through Jesus and his connection with individuals. God’s idea for Jesus’ passing is expected to display to His people the compassion and exculpation that Jesus has for everyone that exists since Jesus’ demise was proposed to release the folks from unending sin, and by doing this, it moreover exhibits God’s everlasting repentance by compromising his solitary kid.

External the Kingdom of God, numerous were forbidden due to dissimilar details that made them incompetent for entrance into the Kingdom. In so doing, God takes every one of the all of the people who come to him all things well-thought-out and prepare them to be suitable for entrance into the kingdom and included with the Lord. He made an agreement to people that he supports them; he isn’t breaching that promise. The undertaking of the kingdom of God, suggests independence for all. With this reason, he can connect all people so that there will no longer be any insidious in the world.

The purpose and meaning of the Kingdom of God within the Gospel.

The purpose of the Kingdom of God within the Gospel is that the Israelites comprehended what they desired on account of all they had witnessed. God requires to sense that we deserve to belong in his kingdom. Even though they comprehended that they were ready to do what was essential to follow God, many failures along the way. Be that as it may, he presented them assurance and a promise into the kingdom. In this manner, several changed their priorities, and several changed their behaviors to which most could not understand to be with God. With respects to the authority within the kingdom of God, it governs over completely all that we have. At the moment when God speaks, he does not merely speak reality, and he needs the entirety of his followers to do the same. He did not merely need his devotees to follow him in absence of relinquishing something. The one thing about in what way our God is extraordinary is that he not once has promised a presence without pain and sacrifices for the things you treasure and require.

References

Bartholomew C. and Goheen M. (2014). The drama of scripture: Finding our place in the biblical story (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Farnell, F. D. (2012). The Kingdom of God in the New Testament. The Master’s Seminary Journal, 23(2), 193–208. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=a6h&AN=ATLA0001924488&site=eds-live&scope=site

Gleeson, B. (2016). The mission of the Kingdom of God: Ultimate source of meaning, value and energy for jesus. The Australasian Catholic Record, 93(3), 326-339. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.patris.apu.edu/docview/1858586357?accountid=8459

Gonzáles, J. (2015). The story Luke tells: Luke’s unique witness to the gospel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans

Perrin, N., Brown, J. K., & Green, J. B. (2013). The Kingdom of God/Heaven. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=nlebk&AN=633424&site=eds-live&scope=site

 

The Modern Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia Politics Essay

The modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that was founded in 1932 is a monarchy. Saudi Arabia occupies a significant part of the Arabian Peninsula, with the Gulf of Aqaba and Red Sea to the west, and the Persian Gulf to the east. The Saudi Royal family introduced the nation’s first constitution and the legal system is based on Sharia. This paper will discuss Saudi Arabia’s political system, government officials, political and economic conditions, and foreign relations.
Main Body
The political system of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with the King as head of state and government. The King acts as chairman of the Council of Ministers ( ). But, the King’s power is restricted by Islamic law. He does not enact laws; he only issues royal decrees in accord with the Sharia ( ). The most challenging duty of the King is to maintain harmony among the royal family, the ulama and powerful parts of the society. The formation of political parties is prohibited and so, no elections take place. It is important to note that even though the King’s power is hypothetically restricted to the Saudi tradition and Sharia, he must attain approval amongst religious leaders and other members of the royal family.

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Occupying almost of all the central state positions, the Saudi royal family dominates Saudi Arabian politics and also parts of the economy. Political decision making is greatly personalized making ties and within the royal family more significant than official status ( ). The Basic Law introduced in 1993, articulates the government’s regulations and rights and sets forth the system of government, civil rights, and administrative divisions by which the state is run. The Sunna and Koran are the state’s constitutions, and both the society and government dismiss the notion that separation should exist between state and church. The King can be removed if a significant part of the royal family calls for his expulsion.
The Council of Ministers is responsible for drafting legislation to be presented to the King ( ). This council acts on most decisions, however, laws only become official with the decree of the King. The council of ministers has developed to include the prime minister who is the king, five ministers of state, a first and second deputy prime minister, and twenty one ministers with portfolio ( ). Crown Prince Abdullah has ruled Saudi since King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995. Crown Prince Abdullah has won praise for advocating reform. Prince Sultan bin Abdul Azzi is the Minister of Defense and Aviation. Prince Nayef is Minister of the Interior, Prince Saud alFaisal is Foreign Minister, and Prince Mutib is Minister of Public works and housing ( ). These positions give the Saudi royal family control over the government, internal security, defense, oil revenues and budget, and other major areas of patronage. It is important to note that politics in the Kingdom is strongly influenced by two characteristic; petrol and Mecca. As a result, there exist a Ministry of Petroleum and mineral resources and a Ministries of Hajj to manage these significant areas ( ). In addition to the council of ministers, the Consultative council serves at the King’s pleasures. The consultative council does not power to act independently, but it is empowered to initiate investigative hearings, hold debates, and enforce legislation that is government sponsored.
Political and economic conditions
Political parties are banned in Saudi Arabia; however, distinct political divisions exist. The Saudi royal family continues to fill most of the significant political positions in the kingdom, but the Al Saud and the king are forced to rule by consensus. According to ( ), the ulama, a powerful and large group of religious leaders, ensure that the King observes Islamic law above other considerations. To placate the powerful religious majority of Saudi Arabia’s society, the Al Saud pays attention to the interests backed by religious leaders. Alliances made between prominent religious leaders and important members of the Al Saud family have long shaped Saudi’s society ( ). The kingdom’s history of tribal organizations has contributed to its political mix. Leaders of prominent tribes still command authority and respect. Furthermore, the new class of Saudi technocrats and professionals, emerging as a result of the economy’s increased privatization, has informal influence on Saudi’s government ministers. ( ) states that petitions signed by members of this class have motivated some reforms.
The Kingdom has an oil based economy with the government controlling substantial economic activities. Saudi Arabia posses about seventeen percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, thus, it is ranked as the largest exporter of oil and petroleum products, and plays a leading role in OPEC ( ). The oil sector accounts for approximately 45% of GDP, 80% of budget revenues, and 90% of export earnings ( ). The Kingdom is encouraging the growth of the private sector in a bid to diversify its economy and employ more citizens. Diversification efforts are focusing on telecommunications, power generation, petrochemical sectors, and natural gas exploration. Over five million foreign workers play an instrumental role in Saudi Arabia’s economy, especially in the service and oil sectors ( ).
Foreign relations
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia holds a unique position because it is the ‘heart of Islam’; it is the home of Medina and Mecca, two of the holiest places in Islam. The Kingdom has strong ties to countries in the Middle East, other Muslim countries, and Western nations such as Japan, and the United States. As the guardian of Islam’s holy places, namely Mecca and Medina, the Kingdom hosts millions of pilgrims from Islamic nations yearly. Moreover, the mutual concern over oil prices has led to cooperation among nations that produce oil in the Middle East ( ). As one of the wealthiest nations in the region, Saudi has pursued aid and development for less developed Muslim and Arab states. Even though Saudi Arabia has at various times, suspended diplomatic relations with Egypt and Iran, among other countries, it still continues to play a leading role in the region. The Kingdom has its strongest diplomatic relations in the Middle East with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council namely: Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates ( ).
The Kingdom maintains a thorny diplomatic position between the West and Middle East. Saudi Arabia has constantly sought to defend Islamic and Arab interests, promote Arab unity, and support a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ( ). The Kingdom has also been a partner with the West in wars against terrorism and economic endeavors. Some in the Middle East and Arab world criticize Saudi Arabia for its enduring relationship with the United States, which is largely viewed as Israel’s most fervent protector. When Saudi called for military assistance after the 1990 Iraqi offensive of Kuwait, other countries in particular Jordan, Yemen, and the Palestine Liberation Organization refused to support the Kingdom. However, in 1995 after the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia normalized its foreign relations with Jordan and Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Kingdom’s security and economic relationship with the U.S remains strong, however, the 9/11 terrorist attack placed significant strain on this relationship. In the ensuing war on terrorism, much criticism has been traded over United States press coverage of Saudi Arabia’s connections to terror organizations, handling of prisoners, and a civil lawsuit brought against the government by relatives of the victims of 9/11 ( ).
Conclusion
In sum, Saudi Arabia holds an exceptional position in the Middle East. Its economy is heavily oil-based and the government has a dominant control on all significant economic activities. The Kingdom plays a crucial role of peace-maker in the Arab region, and is an ally of the United States. Its role as a peace maker is evidently reflected in its stance on the Israeli Palestine issue. Unlike its Arab neighbours, the Kingdom does not have any territorial dispute with Israel and is thus more predisposed to mediating the conflict. Its preeminence among the Gulf, Arab, and Islamic countries means that it is a leader in the area.
 

Industry report on the United Kingdom banking and finance industry

1. Industry overview
In 2018, the financial services sector in the UK contributed £132 billion to the UK economy, that is 6.9% of total economic output, with 49% of output generated in London. (financial services, 2019) Furthermore, the UK finance and banking industry hosts 1.1 million financial services jobs; 3.1% of all jobs. UK exports of financial services were worth £60 billion in 2017, while imports were worth £15 billion, therefore we can observe that the Finance and banking industry has a surplus of £44 billion.
Measures of the financial and banking sector usually include activities of a wide range, these include retail banks, building societies, investment banks and hedge funds. However, for the focus of this report I will take a narrower view, focusing on the leading banks, this is so points can be correctly analysed in detail rather than on a wide spectrum.
The UK financial services industry is operated by very few large firms, these companies are as follows:

Barclays
HSBC
Lloyds banking group
RBS
Bank of England
Standard chartered

2. Market structure:As a result it is clear that the UK finance and banking industry, is clearly oligopolistic.In order for a firm to be oligopolistic it must have a few large firms, they are usually differentiated and heavily advertised products, varying barriers to entry and, choice over prices, inevitably with interdependence leading to price stability.
Micheal J Mazzeo States that “Each individual firms product choice affects its own profitability, and the extent of product differentiation influences the intensity of competition for all market participants” Mazzeo, M. (2002). In analysis we can recognise that similarly the UK banking and finance industry can be viewed as competitive, due to the above point of the wide range of financial activities in the industry, including investment banking to hedge funds. Furthermore, supporting the point that the industry is in fact oligopolistic. In contrast it can be examined that an oligopolistic market creates a downward sloping demand curve, with relatively inelastic pricing.

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At this point it is clear that the market leader in the industry is HSBC, with the highest market capitalisation of 149.7 billion dollars, therefore we can identify HSBC as the price maker of the industry, and the remaining firms price takers, resulting in market wide price interdependence, ultimately leading to price stability. It can be observed that the UK banking a finance industry supports the theory of collusive oligopolies.Collusion can be defined as “Oligopolists agree, formally or informally, to limit competition between themselves” this can be observed through price fixing, quotas, and the limitations of advertising. However, on the other hand, it can also be recognised that the UK banking and finance industry also holds symptoms of tacit collusion, specifically the leader – follower model.
3. Collusion:
Tacit collusion can be defined as “a situation where firms have an unspoken agreement to engage in joint strategy” Typically within tacit collusion the price is set by the largest firm, in this case HSBC. Additionally, tacit collusion can also host barometric price leadership, in which the price is set by the most ‘reliable’ firm; the one with the best barometer of the market conditions. There are several factors contributing to collusion in a market, for example, very few firms, all known to each other, they are open about costs and production methods, they have similar production methods and transaction costs. Conclusively each of these points can be used to describe the UK banking and finance industry, therefore supporting the point that the industry follows the leader-follower system of tacit collusion.
Another example of collusion between the largest banks happened on the 16th May 2019, 5 of the largest banks in the United Kingdom were fined more than €1bn (£875m) by the European Union for rigging the multitrillion-dollar foreign exchange market. The European commission stated that the banks, which include Barclays and RBS, formed two cartels to manipulate the spot foreign exchange market for 11 currencies, including the US dollar, the euro and the pound. Makortoff, K. (2019)
As a result, we can recognise the severity of collusion within the UK banking and financial industry, not only is there evidence of tacit collusion but also the formation of cartels.
4. Concentration analysis:
An industries concentration relates to the competitiveness of the industry; concentration is measured as a percentage from 0% – 100%. Seller concentration is one of the most widely used indicators of market structure and examined by the number and size distribution of buyers and sellers. The importance of size distribution as an industry with no identically sized firms has different competitive conditions compared to an industry with one dominant firm and 9 smaller followers, hence why sellers concentration often is perceived as an indication of competition intensity.
Concentration is determined by dividing the market share of the leading firms by the entire market size, then multiplying the result by 100% to form a percentage. In this case, as we are using a narrower outlook, therefore the market will consist of the 6 biggest firms.
Therefore we can observe that the 6 leading firms by market capitalisation are:1st – HSBC – 149.7 billion dollars2nd – Lloyds banking group – 52.8 billion dollars3rd – Barclays – 37.8 billion dollars4th – RBS – 35.1 billion dollars5th – Standard chartered – 28.6 billion dollars6th Virgin Money – 2.6 billion dollars
Market size of the leading firms: 306.6 billion dollars
Next we need to add the market share of the four largest firms together:149.7+52.8+37.8+35.1 = 275.4 billion dollars
Then we divide our market share of the leading four firms by the total market size:275.4/306.6 = 0.898 X 100 (to give us a percentage) = 89.82%
As a result of this analysis we can recognise the fact that the UK banking and finance sector is in fact a very oligopolistic market. This is due to the fact that these sums translate into how much of the market is run and owned by the top four firms, and for an oligopoly to exist very few firms must hold the majority of the market power. In contrast it can be argued that due to the leading four firms dividing 89.82% of the total market, there is a severe decrease of competitiveness within the market, this can be examined using the large numbers of barriers to entry that exist within oligopolies.
Using the structure-conduct-performance paradigm we can recognise that only efficient firms will survive in a market with high concentration, this is because large firms exploit economies of scale to gain market power within oligopolies, eventually leading to interdependence of firms on each other within the market. Therefore, firms that produce inefficiently in the market may have to withdraw as competition intensifies. This is especially true for the UK banking and finance industry, there is such vast interdependence of the leading four firms in the market that the smaller less efficient firms cannot keep up.
5. Barriers to entry
Tacit collusion within oligopolies defer smaller firms from entering the market, within the UK banking and finance industry tacit collusion defers smaller firms from entering the market because the price is set by the biggest firm, HSBC, using dominant price leadership, this acts as a strong barrier to entry due to the fact that the price is set to a point in which only the biggest firms can afford.
Further barriers to entry in financial markets can occur due to licensure laws, capital requirements, access to financing, regulatory compliance and security concerns. For example, the introduction of E-banking, which produces increasing fees that start-ups will struggle to afford. Furthermore, the banking industry has a complicated relationship with barriers of entry and competition, this is due to two factors the perceptions of banks as a driving force behind economic stability or instability and a theory among policy makers that excessive competition in the banking industry is harmful to the overall efficiency of the market, tactically avoiding price wars and aggressive advertising campaigns.Investopedia (2019)
Numerous neoclassical and free-market economists have argued that increased competition in the banking and finance industry in the United Kingdom would lead to lower costs and improved efficiencies. These arguments assert that the incentives of free competition can create an atmosphere among firms that would improve quality, customer responsiveness and product innovation. The theoretical models of Besanko and Thakor (1992) further suggest that financial products and capital structures are heterogeneous and a relaxing of entry barriers would lead to declining loan costs and increasing interest rates on current accounts. This, ultimately, would lead to higher growth rates in the greater economy.
Within the UK banking and finance industry it is generally expensive to establish a new bank or financial services company due to high fixed costs and large sunk costs in the production of financial services. As a result, this causes it to be difficult for start-ups to compete with the leading firms that have scale efficiencies and act as an oligopoly. Regulatory barriers exist between commercial banks and investment banks. As a result the costs of compliance and threat of litigation are sufficient to deter new products or firms from entering the market.
As a result of outdated regulatory barriers and examples of collusion within the UK banking and finance industry the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have introduced new regulations to combat the barriers of entry to the market as a result of a collusive oligopoly being present, for example, the FCA publication ‘An evaluation of reducing barriers to entry into the UK banking sector’ FCA (2013)  which reads, “The rate of entry into the UK banking sector is higher than before the 2013 review. While not all entry can be solely attributed to the changes in the authorisations process, firm interviews have indicated that the interventions have encouraged entry into the UK banking sector.” These regulations included The FCA’s approach to authorising new banks or banks that are expanding their activities, aiming to:

Balance our objective to promote competition in the interests of consumers
Apply appropriate barriers to entry to deliver consumer protection.
Ensure that the approach does not cause disproportionate barriers to entry or expansion, and by doing so, have an adverse effect on competition.

Therefore, as a result benefiting the UK banking and finance industry, increasing competition within the market for the ongoing future. In contrast this will not limit the leading banks in the UK and decrease their market power, but instead, forge non collusive ties, for example Even without collusion, when oligopolies conduct business, they still have to take into considerations the reaction of their competitors, This leads us to the kinked demand theory. The kinked demand theory assumes that if an oligopolist increases prices then their competitors will not since if they keep their prices lower, they will gain more customers than the acting firm, whereas if the oligopolist in this case HSBC cuts its prices then the rivals will follow to maintain market shares and prevent losing customers to the acting firm. The outcome is continued price stability within the market.
6. Summary
In summary we can observe the determinants to the UK banking and finance industry, the industry is clearly oligopolistic with high levels of competition due to the wideness of services that are offered. The market holds a concentration ratio of 89.82%, resulting in significant barriers to entry for smaller/start-up firms. In addition, as a result of the oligopolistic market we can observe various degrees of barriers to entry and how barriers of entry can be resolved through government intervention or crisis.
References:
Mazzeo, M. (2002) ‘Product choice and oligopoly market’, The RAND journal of economics, vol 33 (pg 221-224),Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3087431?read-now=1&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Financial services (UK) (2019) Financial services: contribution to the UK economyHouse of commons library:Available at:  https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06193(Accessed: 25/11/2019).
Banks daily.com. (2019) .Banks daily.com: Statista,Available at:https://www.statista.com/statistics/937768/leading-banks-in-the-united-kingdom-by-market-capitalization/
Investopedia (2019)What barriers to entry exist in the financial services sector? .Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/031015/what-barriers-entry-exist-financial-services-sector.asp(Accessed: 25/11/2019).
Thakor and Besanko, A, D (1992)Banking deregulation: Allocational consequences of relaxing entry barriers”, Journal of banking and finance,Volume 16, Page reference. p909-932
FCA (2013) Barriers to entry: a review of requirements for firms entering into or expanding in the banking sector. :Available at:https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/archive/barriers-to-entry.pdf(Accessed: 27/11/2019).Makortoff, K. (2019) UK banks fined €1bn by EU for rigging foreign exchange market . Available at:  https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/may/16/uk-banks-barclays-rbs-fined-1bn-by-eu-for-rigging-foreign-exchange-market(Accessed: 26/11/2019).