Kingdom Conspiracy

Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church

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An Award-Winning Challenge to Popular Ideas of the Kingdom

According to Scot McKnight, "kingdom" is the biblical term most misused by Christians today. It has taken on meanings that are completely at odds with what the Bible says and has become a buzzword for both social justice and redemption. In Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight offers a sizzling biblical corrective and a fiercely radical vision for the role of the local church in the kingdom of God. Now in paper.

Praise for Kingdom Conspiracy

2015 Outreach Resources of the Year Award Winner
One of Leadership Journal's Best Books for Church Leaders in 2014

"This is a must-read for church leaders today."--Publishers Weekly

"A timely resource for the missional church to reexamine some basic assumptions that impact church practice in the everyday."--Outreach

1. Skinny Jeans Kingdom
2. Pleated Pants Kingdom
3. Tell Me the Kingdom Story
4. Kingdom Mission Is All about Context
5. Kingdom Is People
6. No Kingdom outside the Church
7. Kingdom Mission as Church Mission
8. The King of the Kingdom
9. Kingdom Redemption Unleashed
10. Kingdom Is a Moral Fellowship
11. Kingdom Is Hope
12. Kingdom Theses
Appendix 1: The Constantinian Temptation
Appendix 2: Kingdom Today
After Words


"There is so much talk these days about 'the kingdom of God,' and yet there is so much confusion about what this phrase even means! For many, it simply represents whatever theological, political, and/or cultural ideals they deem best. The result is that a beautiful, powerful concept that should be uniting the church is now contributing to its fragmentation. This is why Kingdom Conspiracy is one of the most important and timeliest works to be written in recent years. Using airtight arguments solidly anchored in Scripture, McKnight brings much-needed clarity to what 'kingdom of God' means--and doesn't mean--and how it relates to the church and its mission. He writes in a clear and informal style that is accessible to all. And that is a good thing, because this is a book that needs to be read by everyone--scholars and laypeople alike--who wants to understand and consistently live out what it means to be a follower of King Jesus."

Gregory A. Boyd, senior pastor, Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, Minnesota; author of Repenting of Religion and Benefit of the Doubt

"The misappropriation of faddish terms can be an unfortunate reality for American Christians. The casual manner in which we toss around phrases like 'kingdom theology' and 'missional churches' can have an adverse effect on our efforts to form a robust ecclesiology. Evoking 'kingdom' language has become the new vogue among missional communities--almost as in vogue as the word 'missional' itself. With prescient analysis and pastoral insight, Scot McKnight succeeds in providing a scriptural and theological text for those who have heard the word so often but failed to think through its meaning. McKnight offers a fresh take on the kingdom that will serve as a primer for followers of Jesus who seek first the kingdom of God in our own context."

Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary; author of The Next Evangelicalism

"Unlocking what Jesus meant by 'the kingdom of God' is essential to our witness to the gospel. If Christians today are going to live in the world as the church, we need to understand the message of this book."

Rich Stearns, president of World Vision US; author of Unfinished and The Hole in Our Gospel

"As both a pastor and an activist, I can say that the punches Kingdom Conspiracy throws are as important as they are infuriating! At times it had me yelling 'Amen!' and at other times it just had me yelling. But if you keep wrestling, this book will inspire you to a greater vision of the church--greater than self-focused seclusion, greater than the coercion of a new clandestine Christendom, greater than personal social action. Scot is a kingdom pacifist picking fights with pastors and activists alike until we bleed with passion for what the local church is graced to be: where God's will is done, where the kingdom has come, where the incarnation is continued, where God's future is happening, now!"

Jarrod McKenna, Australian Peace Award-winning activist, pastor, and cofounder of First Home Project

"In Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight critiques those of us who have reduced the kingdom to social action or personal salvation. He then issues an invitation to embrace a kingdom theology rooted in the church; it's as simple as gathering and doing the things the church is called to do."

Sara Barton, university chaplain, Pepperdine University; author of A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle

"Scot McKnight's pastoral heart and concern for Jesus' bride, the church, will bring tears to your eyes. The implications of Kingdom Conspiracy will move you to practice what it teaches! This is essential reading for the church in a post-Christian America. Do someone a huge favor; buy them this book, which needs to be read by every Christian."

Derwin L. Gray, lead pastor, Transformation Church

The Author

  1. Scot McKnight
    Marcus Emerson

    Scot McKnight

    Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham), a world-renowned scholar, writer, and speaker, is a visiting professor at Houston Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Centre, United Kingdom. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than...

    Continue reading about Scot McKnight


2015 Outreach Resources of the Year Award Winner
One of Leadership Journal's Best Books for Church Leaders in 2014
One of the 25 Best Books for the Life and Flourishing of the Church for 2014, Englewood Review of Books

"Over the past decade, McKnight . . . has emerged as America's theologian. . . . His works provide an extra layer of theological undergirding for pastors and lay people who wish to go deeper in Bible study and live more consciously under the rule of 'King Jesus,' as he refers to Jesus Christ. McKnight's writing is vivid, occasionally a little quirky. His book is valuable because he begins with the present state of churches: divided between what he calls the 'skinny jeans' and 'pleated pants' approaches. . . . This is a must-read for church leaders today."

Publishers Weekly

"Today the word kingdom is on the lips of Christians. But we're hardly agreed on what it means to engage in 'kingdom' work. . . . McKnight addresses our confusion here, critiquing both the 'skinny jeans' perspective (which emphasizes social justice and the common good) and the 'pleated pants' alternative (which emphasizes God's redemptive work through both personal salvation and cultural transformation)."

Matt Reynolds,

Christianity Today

"This is a tremendously useful book. [McKnight] forces people to think and re-think what kingdom is and how it applies to the local church. [The book] also dispels the view that non-Christians do 'kingdom work' by their philanthropic works. . . . If you are thinking about [what] to say when you preach on 'kingdom' from Mark 1:14-15 or Rom 14:17, then this book will help you. If you are wondering what kingdom looks like or should look like in your local church, this book will be a great tool to chew through the issues."

Michael Bird,

Euangelion blog

"This book is an important theological work that seeks to pull all of our talk about the kingdom of God out of the blue sky of abstraction, and root it instead in all the particularities of our local church communities. . . . It does not merely give lip-service to God's reign, but rather moves us forward in imagining what it might look like for the kingdom of God to come in concrete and tangible ways on earth as it is in heaven."

C. Christopher Smith,

Englewood Review of Books

"McKnight uses two popular caricatured views of the kingdom of God to springboard into a biblical discussion that provides depth and richness. This book is a timely resource for the missional church to re-examine some basic assumptions that impact church practice in the everyday."

Todd Engstrom,


"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 offers a valued and useful discussion on mission of the local church while also proposing significant correctives to the misuse of the term 'kingdom.'. . . Kingdom Conspiracy is useful for both academics and clergy."

Jacob Rosenberg,

Evangelical Missions Quarterly

"The phrase 'Kingdom of God' has lost its moorings. It has come to mean many different things to different people within the Christian world. As a result, the word 'Kingdom' has lost its impact. And McKnight thinks this word is too important to the Christian mission to get sloppy with. I think he has a righteous complaint. . . . McKnight is doing something here in this book I applaud. He is seeking a closer, more interdynamic relationship between the church and the Kingdom."

David Fitch,

Reclaiming the Mission blog

"Scot is relentless in his focusing our attention on Jesus' Messiahship and what the identity of Jesus means for orienting us to the reality of the kingdom. His desire to ask the right questions of the biblical text is refreshing in that he is constantly bringing us back to Jesus as the central figure. . . . Kingdom Conspiracy is a book that challenges some commonly held beliefs and assumptions among evangelicals. Scot McKnight will rile up people on both the left and the right, as brilliant Anabaptists always do. . . . Kingdom Conspiracy's primary goal is one that I appreciate. It offers an ecclesio-centric view of the kingdom that refocuses our attention back on the church as the centerpoint of God's plan in our world today."

Trevin Wax,

The Gospel Coalition

"[McKnight] surgically probes the rising rift between those who fundamentally understand Jesus' kingdom to have different expression, shape, and meaning. . . . I find McKnight's work in this new release terribly clarifying. He's holding a mirror up to local churches."

Josh Graves,

Jesus Creed blog

"[McKnight does] an admirable job pushing people to 'deal with' the church. As a pastor, I have seen a steady flow of people with an atrophied ecclesiology simply go it alone outside of the church, thinking they are standing on solid theological footing. McKnight boldly dispels the feasibility of this idea. He may have overreached with some of his language of kingdom and church correspondence, but his desire to recapture the relationship is both commendable and very much needed."

Rob Fairbanks,

Evangelicals for Social Action blog

"It's not often that a book on my desk for review actually changes my mind about something. But Scot McKnight's Kingdom Conspiracy . . . persuaded me that today's evangelicals misuse the biblical term 'kingdom' in ways that, though well-intentioned, carry negative implications for the work of the Church."

Paul Pastor,

PARSE (Leadership Journal)

"This is [McKnight's] most significant work in years. . . . McKnight is a careful and generous scholar, and his serious, exciting book deserves to be studied carefully. . . . This is an important book that is sure to deepen your understanding of the Bible and contemporary theological trends, and make you think--hopefully with others--about the purpose of our discipleship, what it means to be Kingdom people, and the joy and implications of the Lordship of Christ, in the church and, yes, in the world."

Byron Borger,

Hearts & Minds Booknotes blog

"McKnight has a way of balancing scholarly acumen with an unassuming style. [This book] leans on the practical yet also contains challenges to popularly held scholarly beliefs. . . . Much can be commended in McKnight's book. . . . His scholarship serves the church and connects to the mission of the local church."

Patrick Schreiner,

Books at a Glance

"[This book] provides an inspirational vision of the church and its purposes, criticizes those who have misused the term 'kingdom' and failed to equate it to social action, and offers a Christian perspective on the nature of Kingdom and its arguments. The result is a powerful survey highly recommended for any who would understand the nature and purpose of Kingdom in the biblical and social sense."

Midwest Book Review

"This book serves as a fine biblical theology of church, kingdom, and mission. . . . Throughout Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight nicely balances his attention to many facets of kingdom thought and action. . . . This book is highly recommended for anyone--no matter how close or distant their relationship with 'church'--who has ever struggled with how the church is to embody God's kingdom in the world."

Matthew Forrest Lowe,

Lonely Vocations blog

"I highly recommend this book, I honestly believe that every person in ministry should read it, primarily because it will challenge your assumptions about what 'Kingdom' means, and hopefully that will lead you to come to your own conclusions."

Chris Woznicki,

Cwoznicki Think Out Loud blog

"It's fitting, I think, I to talk about how we've missed the idea of Kingdom, and the one thing that McKnight does really well is confront some of the misnomers that the Church has believed about the Kingdom. . . . McKnight sets about his approach to the understanding of kingdom. It is something that is relevant, practical, applicable, and dynamic. It's an approach that finds life in both its historical understanding of Anabaptist thought, but fresh expressions in a highly polarized and highly divided American culture. It's a refreshing read that highlights the much needed perspective that social activism can only happen when it has been rooted in a life of personal transformation."

Justin Hiebert,

Empowering Missional blog

"McKnight both examines Biblical texts (lots of Biblical texts!) for the contours of what 'kingdom' means in the Old and New Testaments and some examination of academic and popular theology to arrive at a well-reasoned position on why reticence (on the parts of conservative evangelicals and liberals) to use 'kingdom' and 'church' synonymously might be ill-founded. . . . McKnight plumbs the Bible for a better notion of Kingdom and ultimately a renewed self-examination of why we do good for our neighbors. It's a powerful vision, a church-centered and a Christ-centered vision, and one that I'm going to recommend."

Nathan P. Gilmour,

The Christian Humanist blog

"This is a book that will undoubtedly stimulate vigorous conversation. . . . I can think of few Christians and few church contexts that could not profit from a reexamination of their understanding of both King and Kingdom. McKnight's book gives us a needed push."

Ryan Dueck,

Rumblings blog

"McKnight's work will speak more deeply to those of us who are experiencing 'kingdom jargon' fatigue. It is also a good wakeup call that any talk about kingdom has to be more biblical than mere good works, more theological truths than theoretical excitement, and more about being a people of God instead of nonstop activities."

Conrade Yap,

Panorama of a Book Saint blog