- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Helmers & Howard Publishing; 2 edition (March 19, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0939443147
- ISBN-13: 978-0939443147
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Presence of the Kingdom 2nd Edition
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This book is in essence a series of five linked essays in which Ellul takes on some of the most important threats to community and Christian theology. Written during the reconstruction of Europe following World War II, some of Ellul's specific references may be sixty years out of date, but his points remain as harrowing and poignant as they were then.
Why have we allowed technology to write our daily agendas? Do social philosophies help humankind, or do they add to our suffering? What does it mean for Christians to get involved in politics? Why has our communication become so muddled as our ways of speaking have become clearer? These are just a few of the questions Ellul begins to answer here.
Ellul's stark Calvinism will come as a needed shock to many American Christians, who have lapsed into comfy non-confrontation as a theology. He asks hard questions and requires his readers to think, to challenge their own dogmas. His Christianity may seem harsh. But his point of view forces us out of the complacency we have enjoyed for far too long.
This book is also massively complex. Great minds could spend years unpacking the implications of Ellul's philosophy. In fact, Ellul himself did just that, devoting his career to expanding, revising, clarifying, adding to, and deciphering the points he first addresses here. This book is essentially a thumnail introduction to his later, vastly complicated work.
Read Ellul to remind yourself why you became a Christian in this difficult modern world. Read Ellul to rediscover your mission and Christ's call to the world. Read Ellul to question what we are to make of technology, politics, and the other forces that would chain God to their own self-serving ends. Read Ellul for whatever reason, but please, at least once, read Ellul.
Many times, I would read a section or whole chapter and tell myself, QUOI? And I don't speak Ellul's language (French), only know a few words, like quoi, WHAT?. One needs a little knowledge of Hegel's dialectic which largely influenced Marxism. Hegel and Christianity? Yes, that's the originality Ellul brings to christian writing and thinking. Ellul is not a communist, however, and is misunderstood often.
"What is first required of the Christian is not action (although that cannot be neglected) but a presence, a style of life, an attitude, a special mode of existence." -"Introduction" by Daniel Clendenin.
"The Christian should neither withdraw from the world, nor be lost in the midst of the world. Instead, the Christian should bring the reign of G-d and the world into collision."-Jacques Ellul's chapter "Revolutionary Christianity.
How can a Christian be in the world but also distinct from the world is the Christian's quandary and dilemma. Christ commands us to do just that which is difficult for the Christian to do lest one become assimilated and influenced by the ways and motives of a truly godless world. So that is essentially the subject of this book which I must admit I sometimes had a hard time following some of Ellul's thoughts...I'm glad I purchased this book from Amazon so that I can refer to it and reread it to truly get the whole gist of this book written in 1948. This book is one of Ellul's earliest works. William Stringfellow's "Foreword" to the 1967 edition, also in this book, reminds the reader of Ellul's experiences in the French underground of WWII which I'm sure was a crucible for many, many christians throughout Europe as to how a Christian should make an impact in the world to contain so much confusion and false christianity which was terribly unleashed through the actions of the Hitlers and Eichmanns of Europe.
I do recommend this book highly, but must temper this review with my first impressions of the book. I was at first disappointed with it. My first Ellul book, The Meaning of the City, I absolutely adored, understood everything and could say that he was saying exactly the things that needed to be said. With this book, my reaction was many times, QUOI? That said, is my only warning, but do read the book!