Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation by Ed Stetzer

Stetzer, Ed. Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation.
Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2012. 236 pp. $14.99. 
ISBN 978-1-4336-7382-5.
Reviewed by Christopher Sanchez.

A quick look around Christendom in America today is pretty telling.  There are millions of people who claim to be Christians yet there is no apparent change in their lives.  Those who regularly attend worship services in our churches are virtually indistinguishable from those who do not.  God’s word at work in people’s lives should lead to changed lives and Ed Stetzer’s new book Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation calls the Christian community to task.  Stetzer breaks his book into three sections: Part One – A Subversive Way of Thinking; Part Two – A Subversive Way of Life; and Part Three – A Subversive Plan of Action.

Stetzer introduces the book by explaining his purpose and framing the discussion in the familiar Already, but Not Yet motif that describes the Kingdom of God as having been inaugurated with the first coming of Christ but not yet consummated until the second coming of Christ.  The illustration of D-Day in World War II as the inauguration of the end of the war and VE Day as the consummation of the end of the war is well made (p. 50).  Essentially we are caught between those two events.  While we are in between, we are to be about the business of sharing Jesus with a broken world (p. 57) and alleviate the needs around us (p. 58), both in our local community and the larger world (p. 59).  Nothing new in any of that but then again, we must need the reminder or there wouldn’t be so many members of our churches still on the sidelines!

The longest section of the book is part two where Stetzer discusses at length what Christian living should look like.  We are to ready for the return of Christ and different in the process.  Stetzer points out that we are all different by God’s design (p. 83-85) that we have a wrong sense of equality.  Yes, everyone is equal in the site of God but we are all gifted in different ways.  Stetzer moves on to call on Christians to be uncommonly good.  The behavior of Christians should be different, uncommon behavior in the communities in which they live.  Stetzer challenges people to respond differently to the people and circumstances around us.  This includes loving our enemies (p. 132)!  Stetzer concludes this section with twenty pages on eliminating idols in our lives where more than a few toes are sure to be stepped on.

Where Part Two focused inward, Part Three focuses outward.  God has a mission and His mission outranks whatever other mission we as Christians may have placed as a priority in our lives (p. 166).  We are to bring glory to our King as we seek to serve Him yet too often the motivations of our churches is something other than this simple goal.  Living for Christ and trying to impact the world for His kingdom with a right motive is not all we are.  We are more!  We are signs of the kingdom, windows to the world (p. 188).  Yet one of the reasons we fail to be a bright light in that window is that we simply forget just how dark the world really is. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary copy I received for review purposes.  Stetzer is not breaking new ground with Subversive Kingdom but he does address the issue of right Christian living from a fresh perspective.  Filled with humility, personal examples, and an impressive amount of theology for a book of this length, Stetzer’s easy to read style will be familiar to those who have read his previous work.  Perhaps best known in Southern Baptist circles, Stetzer’s new book seemingly pulls the best in Christian living from all corners of the faith.  This strength will draw in even the most casual of readers giving them food for thought for some time to come.  It is with pleasure that I recommend this book to both new and mature Christians alike.

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