Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church
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Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church

Brazos Press / 2014 / Hardcover

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According to Scot McKnight, "kingdom" is the biblical term most misused by Christians today. It has taken on meanings that are completely at odds with what the Bible says. "Kingdom" has become a buzzword for both social justice and redemption so that it has lost its connection with Israel and with the church as a local church.

McKnight defines the biblical concept of kingdom, offering a thorough corrective and vision for the contemporary church. The most important articulation of kingdom was that of Jesus, who contended that the kingdom was in some sense present and in some sense in the future. The apostles talked less about the kingdom and more about the church. McKnight explains that kingdom mission is local church mission and that the present-day fetish with influencing society, culture, and politics distracts us from the mission of God: to build the local church. He also shows how kingdom theology helps to reshape the contemporary missional conversation.

Kingdom Conspiracy was names Outreach Resource of the Year in the Missional Church category by Outreach Magazine

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: Brazos Press
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1587433605
ISBN-13: 9781587433603

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Author Bio

Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham), a world-renowned scholar, writer, and speaker, is Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. His blog, Jesus Creed, is one of the most popular and influential evangelical blogs. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Jesus Creed, The Blue Parakeet, The King Jesus Gospel, and The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life.


There is so much talk these days about 'the kingdom of God,' and yet there is so much confusion about what this phrase even means! For many, it simply represents whatever theological, political, and/or cultural ideals they deem best. The result is that a beautiful, powerful concept that should be uniting the church is now contributing to its fragmentation. This is why Kingdom Conspiracy is one of the most important and timeliest works to be written in recent years. Using airtight arguments solidly anchored in Scripture, McKnight brings much-needed clarity to what 'kingdom of God' means--and doesn't mean--and how it relates to the church and its mission. He writes in a clear and informal style that is accessible to all. And that is a good thing, because this is a book that needs to be read by everyone--scholars and laypeople alike--who wants to understand and consistently live out what it means to be a follower of King Jesus.
-Gregory A. Boyd,
senior pastor, Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, Minnesota

The misappropriation of faddish terms can be an unfortunate reality for American Christians. The casual manner in which we toss around phrases like 'kingdom theology' and 'missional churches' can have an adverse effect on our efforts to form a robust ecclesiology. Evoking 'kingdom' language has become the new vogue among missional communities--almost as in vogue as the word 'missional' itself. With prescient analysis and pastoral insight, Scot McKnight succeeds in providing a scriptural and theological text for those who have heard the word so often but failed to think through its meaning. McKnight offers a fresh take on the kingdom that will serve as a primer for followers of Jesus who seek first the kingdom of God in our own context.
-Soong-Chan Rah,
North Park Theological Seminary

Unlocking what Jesus meant by 'the kingdom of God' is essential to our witness to the gospel. If Christians today are going to live in the world as the church, we need to understand the message of this book.
-Rich Stearns,
president of World Vision U.S.

As both a pastor and an activist, I can say that the punches Kingdom Conspiracy throws are as important as they are infuriating! At times it had me yelling 'Amen!' and at other times it just had me yelling. But if you keep wrestling, this book will inspire you to a greater vision of the church--greater than self-focused seclusion, greater than the coercion of a new clandestine Christendom, greater than personal social action. Scot is a kingdom pacifist picking fights with pastors and activists alike until we bleed with passion for what the local church is graced to be: where God's will is done, where the kingdom has come, where the incarnation is continued, where God's future is happening, now!
-Jarrod McKenna,
Australian Peace Award-winning activist, pastor, and cofounder of First Home Project

In Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight critiques those of us who have reduced the kingdom to social action or personal salvation. He then issues an invitation to embrace a kingdom theology rooted in the church; it's as simple as gathering and doing the things the church is called to do.
-Sara Barton,
university chaplain, Pepperdine University

Scot McKnight's pastoral heart and concern for Jesus' bride, the church, will bring tears to your eyes. The implications of Kingdom Conspiracy will move you to practice what it teaches! This is essential reading for the church in a post-Christian America. Do someone a huge favor; buy them this book, which needs to be read by every Christian.
-Derwin L. Gray,
lead pastor, Transformation Church

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  1. Vancouver, BC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Storytelling the Kingdom
    August 30, 2016
    Vancouver, BC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    In this book, McKnight continues to offer up counter intuitive ideas about basic Christian beliefs and practices. Like what he had done for gospel and evangelism, he is doing the same for Kingdom and the mission. In his earlier book, "King Jesus Gospel," he critiques with vigour the faulty evangelistic models that reduce the gospel to a series of spiritual laws, salvation culture, or merely saying the sinners' prayer. Likewise, in this book, McKnight offers up a critique of some common usage of the word "kingdom." After studying the various approaches by "skinny jeans kingdom people," he summarizes their understanding of kingdom as, "Kingdom means good deeds done by good people (Christian or not) in the public sector for the common good." In other words, kingdom work means social justice, world peace, good works with a tinge of Biblical principle. That is not all. McKnight takes to task the "Pleated Folks" perspective that is incorporated into two statements:

    Kingdom as present and future

    Kingdom as rule and realm

    These two statements make it seem like kingdom is everywhere, nowhere, anyhow, and anywhere. Indeed, if everything is kingdom, we are not really going to learn much about what kingdom is anyway. Readers are urged to be patient and to let the author guide us. After clearing the decks, McKnight presents what he calls "returning to the radical mission of the local church." The clue is to bring together the practical helps of the "Skinny Jeans" and the concept of "Pleated Folks" to tell the two stories of the kingdom, the CFRC and the ABA. This is storytelling the Bible.

    People of the Kingdom will know the story of CFRC: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and the final Consummation. It is remembering the gospel summary in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 that, Christ died, buried, raised on the third day, and appeared to his disciples. Like the King Jesus gospel, the kingdom is about Jesus. He agrees with NT Wright that the kingdom story must incorporate our identity (who are we?); our locality (where are we?); our calamity (what is wrong?); and our destiny (what to do?).

    The second story, the ABA brings us through biblical theology, with:

    Plan A - story of Adam to Abraham to Samuel

    Plan B - story of Israel

    Plan A - Jesus

    Thus, kingdom is storytelling about conversion, about discipleship, and about the eschatological hope in Jesus. Kingdom work is telling these stories in the contexts we live in. Kingdom work must be in the contexts of the Bible, the Church, and the mission of God. McKnight retells the kingdom as story. In fact, like the King Jesus Gospel, this kingdom story is the Story of stories. The kingdom today is embedding this story in our everyday contexts, so that we do not fragmentalize our Christianity any further. He advocates active engagement in our everyday community, The kingdom is also about countering the prevailing worldly stories in our culture. Instead of contexts swallowing the gospel, we needs to provide an alternative worldview. We do so remembering that kingdom is people, to people, by the people of God. Chapter 12 provides a very good summary of the entire book. McKnight also closes with some fascinating overview of other prevailing theses of kingdom concepts. I am surprised that McKnight excluded the works of Lesslie Newbigin, Darrell Guder, and Charles van Engen, who had lots of good perspectives with regards to kingdom, the mission, and the gospel in the pluralistic society.

    So What?

    The two paradigms in the book essentially present two ways of telling the gospel story. It brings together both the Old and the New Testament as one integrative whole, which is what biblical theology is all about. I thought that the ABA paradigm could have one more element: Church. He has some chapters dedicated to explaining the relationship between Church and Kingdom. Unfortunately, at some point, I get the sense that kingdom seems to be used for nearly everything, which can be confusing for some readers. On the one hand, he talks about the need to see the kingdom in the story of God. We cannot kingdom-everything to the point of superfluous referencing. Gradually, he falls into the same trap of elevating the kingdom to the point that kingdom is indeed everywhere. Maybe, it is the title of the book that has defined his own limits. My own summary is that McKnight does a great job in deconstructing the common perceptions of kingdom. When it comes to re-constructing what kingdom really means, he is not as laser-like.

    Sometimes, I find McKnight's work becoming too "counter-intuitive" that we may fail to see the merits of the other kingdom approaches. The casual reader may mistakenly see McKnight as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are good ideas in the works that McKnight has critiqued. After all, no one story works through the ages. Only the biblical story remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. the difference is in the contexts we live in. Thus, the way I see it, McKnight's work will speak more deeply to those of us who are experiencing "kingdom jargon" fatigue. It is also a good wake-up call that any talk about kingdom has to be more biblical than mere good works, more theological truths than theoretical excitement, and more about being a people of God instead of non-stop activities. If you have enjoyed "King Jesus Gospel," you will like this book.

    Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


    This book is provided to me courtesy of Brazos Press and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    A McKnight of the Kingdom
    October 11, 2014
    Matt Lowe, Lectio House
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Cross-posted from my blog review -- -- for Brazos Books Bloggers:

    I enjoy reading Scot McKnight's work, even when I disagree with him (usually on relatively minor points). And I don't disagree with him here, for the most part. What he's trying to do, and largely succeeding at, in his new book is to reconcile two Christian views of "kingdom" -- as theology, as language, and as activity -- that have tended to diverge over the past century and are doing so again today. McKnight casts one stream of thought and practice, which tends to aim its "kingdom" work toward "the common good," social justice, and culture-making, as "skinny jeans kingdom" people, and the other, the kingdom-as-personal-salvation camp, as "pleated pants kingdom" people (including, cleverly, "the arch-Pleated Pants scholar" George Eldon Ladd, p. 10). Those who recognize themselves as falling into one camp or the other will find their views and practices represented well here, both in strengths and weaknesses. For those folks, and for the rest of us who find ourselves somewhere between the two extremes, this book serves as a fine biblical theology of church, kingdom, and mission. It's very readable, too: the most challenging words in the body of the text are perhaps eschatological and parabolic, while readers who want to go deeper can plunge into sources recommended in the endnotes (as when McKnight notes Tom Wright's recent two-volume work in its entirety in partial support of a point on first-century use of "Son of God" imagery, p. 132!).

    Throughout Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight nicely balances his attention to many facets of kingdom thought and action, including the tensions of its growth in this world (classically, the "already" and the "not yet", and as both "realm" and "reign"); the biblical (and deeply contextual) story that it encapsulates; and what it looks like to live out the kingdom in mission, in vocation, and in public and political presence -- or, simply put, what it means to embody the kingdom in and as the church. There are moments when the author nearly loses that balance. I wish he'd added more nuance to his study of the New Testament's view of "the world" and Jesus' confrontation with its idolatrous worldviews (pp. 17, 60): a brief focus on the way that Rome saw the world (as the oikoumenē, the inhabited world/culture that it had inherited from Greece) might have strengthened McKnight's discussion of culture and counterculture, both here and through the rest of the volume. But that missing nuance does little to hurt his overall argument. This book is highly recommended for anyone -- no matter how close or distant their relationship with "church" -- who has ever struggled with how the church is to embody God's kingdom in the world.
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