Kingdom Come, by Reggie McNeal
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale Momentum Press in exchange for an honest review.]
Many of the flaws of this book spring from a small set of consistent and interrelated problems. For one, this book is written to promote a particular “kingdom-centered” agenda that amounts to a left-wing social gospel under a different name. As a result of that ulterior agenda, the book uses all kinds of doublespeak and double standards to mark those who opposed the author’s agenda but feels free to work with enemies of life like Planned Parenthood in the sake of common social goals. As a result of its agenda, the book suffers from some clear flaws, from some defective theology in its emphasis on orthopraxy instead of orthodoxy, from its defective eschatology that views the kingdom of God as something that comes from mankind’s social good, and from a total denial of the need for personal morality among believers.
In terms of its structure and its organization, each chapter of this book is about 20-30 pages, and it progresses from an introduction to the idea of God’s Kingdom as opposed to the church and moves consistently from discussion to urging ecumenical social work and a dramatic diminuation of the role and importance of the church in exchange for a faulty view of the kingdom of God, which appears to be entirely divorced from any sort of personal or societal obedience to God’s laws, at least as far as personal morality is concerned. It is therefore somewhat disconcerting to read a book that purports to focus so much on the application of principles of godly living with regards to others that shows remarkably little interest in unpacking the implications of a view that sin is anything that hinders or works against life. Mind you, I do not disagree with what the author says in many cases, it is just that the author’s narrow and biased political worldview does not allow for a full kingdom viewpoint, lamentably.
So, given these serious flaws, what is the value of a book like this? For one, this book is one of a large group of like minded books, many of which have come my way to review. It is important to know that there is a movement afoot to appeal to emotions in order to erode moral practice in order to support social generosity, especially seeking to appeal to younger generations who may not realize the importance of a full and complete gospel message rather than one that focuses merely on the social side. Balance does not come naturally, but is something that must be taught by people whose doctrine and practice are sound. Likewise, even books that are biases have some use. This book, for example, points out an aspect of following God’s ways, showing a desire to help and serve the practical needs of others, whether inside or outside of one’s local congregation or organization, and that is an important aspect of being a genuine Christian, even if it is not the only aspect of importance. Sometimes it is too easy to forget that even what is wrong may have genuinely good advice as to what is right, even if the authors of such books may be blind guides.