Book Review: Subversive Kingdom by Ed Stetzer

I’m a big Ed Stetzer fan. Ed is a consultant to churches on church growth, especially on church planting, and an expert in missional theology. He also has a great blog about these very subjects.

And so I was very pleased to receive a prepublication copy of Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation for review.

Subversive Kingdom reflects a maturing of evangelical thought about how to live as Christians. Stetzer is closely tied with the Southern Baptist Churches, but it’s easy to pick up the influence of Neo-Anabaptist thought from Yoder and Hauerwas and Kingdom thought from N. T. Wright and Scot McKnight.

Thus, rather than being a peculiarly Baptist or even evangelical approach to Kingdom living, Subversive Kingdom reflects the best thinking of all of Christendom — which is its greatest strength.

It’s a thoughtful synthesis of ideas from many sources, all brought together into a holistic, missional, practical study. And that makes it an excellent study for small groups or Bible classes.

The key to the book is to ask the reader to re-imagine the Kingdom as Christ intended, not as a social club or political special interest group but as a subversive influence that transforms all that it touches — like salt or light.

So don’t be surprised at how much more broken you find the world than you even realized it was when you began.

Start where you are.

Use what you have.

Do what you can.

And don’t be afraid. The kingdom that’s already been inaugurated is on its way to being consummated. And though the size and scope of the renovation is more than we can get our arms around, we have reasons to be heartened rather than disheartened — because we’re not expected to fix everything. …

So get ready to be subversive, rebels.

It is worth the hard work.

And just wait till you see how its going to turn out in the end.

Avatar of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Book Review: Subversive Kingdom by Ed Stetzer

  1. laymond says:

    Jay , you speak highly of being gracious, and understanding of others exuding grace to others because grace was given unto you.
    Is there anything in this book that could explain subversionary grace to me?, it is hard to understand.
    Say some man saw a group of people gathering every so often, and he visited to see what was going on in this group. Hummm he thought,I like what is going on here I wonder if they will accept me into their group, sure enough he asks and they with open arms gracefully accept this man into their midst even give him a position of leadership. Everything went well for a time but the man seemed to see more and more flaws in what this group was doing, all the time thinking I can do better. So the day arrived when this man said I can no longer tolerate this flawed bunch, I must change them.
    Jay would the graceful thing to do have been for this man to realize this group was not for him, and move on. Or start subversive action,( with grace of course) to bring down this flawed group from within.?

  2. Laymond, if the man were a Christian and the group was the world, would it be “gracious” of him to simply walk away?

    That asked, I think this leaves us with a great need to hear the Holy Spirit. A man asks, “Should I retain my membership in this diseased religion club that I might help it find health, or shall I leave it alone and seek out more congenial fellowship?” Either answer has merit– and flaws. It might be considered “gracious” to stop causing annoyance and discomfort to others and leave them be. It might also be considered an irresponsible abandonment of those who God loves– leaving them to their own sad devices. So, the individual needs to know what the Spirit is leading him to do in this instance. Generic answers are not really answers at all.

  3. gt says:

    Charles, I assume you chose the latter.

  4. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond,

    Stetzer uses “subversive” to refer to the work of the Kingdom within the world. The church should subvert the powers of the world — rather than adopting worldly attitudess and values. Indeed, one goal of the Kingdom is the overthrow of all powers that compete with Jesus.

  5. Todd Collier says:

    “subversive” is the exact opposite of what American Christianity has been trying to do for the past thirty years on the political scene and we are now reaping the reward of cynicism that such an approach earned for us. The best way to change the world is simply to be who we are supposed to be and to allow love and the Spirit to work through us. Looking forward to the book.

  6. Johnny says:

    Todd,
    that was the feeling of the late Chuck Colsen and the feeling of Cal Thomas, the Church tried to use the political system to change the world, and sadly the Church was more changed than the political system. The only way to change the world is through individuals reconciling with God.

  7. GT, you apparently did not read my post at all.

  8. “The key to the book is to ask the reader to re-imagine the Kingdom as Christ intended, not as a social club or political special interest group but as a subversive influence that transforms all that it touches — like salt or light.”
    >>>
    I like this very much. I would remark that this is first an individual influence, and only as a combination of individual influences does it truly become a corporate influence. We Westerners tend to see these things through organizational eyes, asking, “What should our group do?” before we think to ask, “What are its members already doing?” If the answer to the second question is “not much”, then an altogether different set of questions should be asked.

    If we are not already salt and light, good functional organization will not MAKE us salt and light. It may make our activities more active and our functions more functional, but it will not exhibit spiritual power. We do not lack for project ideas, or for motivational sermons, or for volunteer sign-up sheets. And adding to our stock of these will not make us the least bit saltier. We can only spread such salt and light as we have ourselves.

    Analogy, with thanks to Walt Kelly:
    Bat: My uncle Beanfellow took a speed reading course and doubled his reading speed.
    Pogo: How fast could he read before?
    Bat: Actually, he couldn’t read atall before.
    Pogo: And now?
    Bat: Like I said, twice as fast…

  9. gt says:

    That asked, I think this leaves us with a great need to hear the Holy Spirit. A man asks, “Should I retain my membership in this diseased religion club that I might help it find health, or shall I leave it alone and seek out more congenial fellowship?”

    Charles based on your comments in this thread as well as others my assumption was you are the man who asked this question. And based on those comments and your apparant bitterness toward the diseased religion club you were once a part of, I assumed you were referring to yourself in a subtle way. If I interpreted your comments incorrectly I apoligize.

Leave a Reply