Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Disappointing Effort: A Review of "Kingdom Conspiracy" by Scot McKnight

I absolutely loved Scot McKnight's book The King Jesus Gospel. In fact, it is one of the few works that I integrate into my lecture notes on the Gospels every year. So when I heard that McKnight had written a book on the kingdom, I was super excited. I was expecting a work that would transform my understanding of kingdom, just as his previous work had done with my understanding of the Gospels.

Maybe I had my expectations too high. I was really disappointed with this work for several reasons. First, the tone of the book strikes me as somewhat demeaning. Throughout the entire work it seems as if the ENTIRE church has missed what Jesus meant by kingdom. On one side you hear people calling everything kingdom work (political and social activism) and on the other side you have people equating the church to the least according to McKnight.

I'll be honest, I am not buying it. Having worked as a youth pastor in some pretty backwoods churches and now serving in a private Christian school that works with largely upper-middle class students, I have seen (and heard) a wide range of uses for kingdom. Even so, none of them fall into the two categories that McKnight discusses.The first half of the book strikes me as a rebuttal against a straw man.

Further, I have read some really solid works on the kingdom of God that serve as necessary correctives such as this great work. So I am wondering what exactly McKnight is seeking to correct. McKnight's twelve theses on the kingdom are helpful...but I wouldn't call them revolutionary. Probably the biggest takeaway I got from the book is that "the kingdom is the church, and the church is the kingdom." (Loc. 3721)

There are some highlights. I will most definitely be using his section on how the Bible is structured. I really am glad he pointed out that the traditional "creation, fall, redemption, consummation" outline of the Bible is insufficient for what it misses. His A-B-A' structuring is much more conducive for understanding the nuances of the Bible.

Is the book worth the money? I'm going with no. I think your money could be better spent elsewhere and the shelf space too. I think you can glean what you need from this work by scanning through the chapters and hitting the high points. This is a "check out" not buy kind of work.

While certainly not a bad book, the tone and message are a bit off-putting. McKnight isn't breaking new ground with this work and there are other works that I think say what he says better. Still, McKnight is an excellent scholar and I am extremely grateful for his labors and research.

*Thanks to Baker Academic for the free review copy in exchange for a fair review*

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