Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to Radical Mission of the Local Church

by Scot McKnight

Brazos Press. 2014.

Reviewed by Jacob Rosenberg, PhD, leader, Adat HaTikvah Messianic Congregation, Deerfield, Illinois.

According to Dr. Scot McKnight, the term “kingdom” is used in a casual way that has a negative impact on our perception of ecclesiology and therefore our understanding of the character of the Church and its role in society. McKnight creates helpful categories that describe the current polarization between popular views, a thought-provoking biblical corrective, and a vision for the role of the local church as the Kingdom of God.  

McKnight’s first two chapters offer unique categorical visualizations: Skinny Jeans and Pleated Pants Kingdom People. The Skinny Jeans people understand the kingdom to be about “good deeds done by good people (Christian or not) in the public sector for the common good” (p. 4) The Pleated Pants people reduce the term kingdom to “redemptive moments” (p. 8). While McKnight acknowledges that both approaches offer important truths about the kingdom, his argument is that both approaches fall short of what the Bible means by “kingdom.”  

The main focus of McKnight’s book is on the kingdom story, its mission and context, the people, the mission, and the King. He presents a corrective model he calls “A-B-A.” Plan A extends from Adam and Abraham to Samuel. Plan B is “Israel doesn’t want to rule for God in this world but wants to be like the world and rule like God” (p. 30). Plan A revised is “Jesus, who is called Messiah (which means king), who is also called Son of God (which also means king), God establishes his rule over Israel one more time as under Plan A” (p. 34). 

McKnight then offers his own approach to understanding how the Kingdom of God works today, first with the context, then with the people. His main thesis is that there is no kingdom outside the Church and that kingdom mission is Church mission. 

He also brings to light an important discussion of the nature of the kingdom and the expansion of Israel to include the Gentiles. McKnight writes, “The Bible never talks of the replacement of Israel with the church, but rather of the expansion of Israel to include the Gentiles” (p. 89). He then explores the meaning and purpose of the Church and his main argument that scripture does not allow for a kingdom mission without the church, thus the church’s expansion and mission is to bring the world under God’s authority.

The rest of McKnight’s book is a convicting and thought-provoking presentation of how the Kingdom of God plays out in terms of its own mission, the kingship of Jesus, redemption for humanity, the law (as moral fellowship), and the hope the church can bring to this world.  

Overall, McKnight offers a valued and useful discussion on mission of the local church while also proposing significant correctives to the misuse of the term “kingdom.” While he oversimplifies liberation theology and the social gospel, he does offer both a thought-provoking biblical corrective and a vision for the role of the local church. Kingdom Conspiracy is useful for both academics and clergy.


EMQ, Vol. 51, No. 4 pp. 458-459. Copyright  © 2015 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.



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