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The Subversion of Christianity (La petite vermillon #145)

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  197 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Pointing to the many contradictions between the Bible and the practice of the church, Jacques Ellul asserts that what we today call Christianity is actually far removed from the revelation of God.

Successive generations have reinterpreted Scripture and modeled it after their own cultures, thus moving society further from the truth of the original gospel. The church also pe

Paperback, 220 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published January 1st 1984)
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Bart Breen
Apr 26, 2012 Bart Breen rated it it was amazing
Recognizing where Christianity has been Subverted carries the seeds of how it will be Reclaimed

Rarely have I taken as long to read a book as I have in working through this one. The content demanded reading, re-reading and pauses to consider what was being said. Make no mistake, this is a book that requires careful and attentive reading to hear what it is saying as well as to discern what it is not saying.

Jacques Ellul was a prolific writer in his native French and more of his works are being tra
Jan 30, 2015 Emi rated it it was amazing

In summary, it's the Grand Inquisitor (Dostoevsky), expanded and retold by a French sociologist Jacques Ellul who concludes in the spirit of Alyosha.

I had never read anything by Ellul but was drawn to him through some references made by Walter Brueggemann (and I think also by Neil Postman). Influences of Kierkegaard and Barth are evident.

There were occasions where I felt some strain in his exegesis but he offers an enlightening perspective on church history not to condemn but to awaken -- althou
Apr 28, 2009 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Ellul's radical thesis in this book: Christianity has been perverted from its original essence. The formalistic organizations of the Church; the affirmation of the various social status quo within the Protestant Ethics; the substitution of revelation for easy to understand images (e.g. Father, Son, Baby...), and more--all these pervert the purpose, and indeed, the true meaning of Christianity.

Ellul brought a powerful mind to a challengingly acerbic theological thesis. In more than a few parts,
Jul 25, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
Like Barth and Brunner before him, Jacques Ellul makes a distinction between the true faith and a institutionalized, world-encrusted religion. In "The Subversion of Christianity," Ellul condemns the Christian religion as a faith subverted by the world. He decries the triumph of philosophy. Theologians readily begin with the biblical witness or revelation but then quickly leave it behind. In a desire to reach the truth, they develop moral codes, philosophical systems, and metaphysical constructs. ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Andrew rated it liked it
I like Ellul and he's a competent and lucid debater. I think many of his arguments in this book fall into the same traps that plague just about every debate over the "real meaning" of Christianity. For Ellul, he takes passages and says "look what it clearly says here!" and at other times "this is what it says but the Holy Spirit/sense says we should actually understand it as saying..." Toward the end I was thinking the title is more apt as "The Subversion of the Reformation."
Nov 14, 2008 Eric_W rated it it was amazing
We read this book in our reading club several years ago. Ellul was a French philosopher who argues that in the 4th century the alliance of Christianity with the power of the state under Constantine essentially changed the very nature of Christianity and encouraged the development of authoritarian thinking as the church now had the power of the state to enforce orthodoxy.
Michael Camp
May 06, 2012 Michael Camp rated it it was amazing
A must read for every Christian. Jacques Ellul cuts to the chase in exposing the many misguided practices and beliefs of the church throughout history. The true message of the gospel has been perverted and Ellul will help you see the original meaning with new eyes.
Frankie Della Torre
Aug 02, 2015 Frankie Della Torre rated it really liked it
Jacques Ellul's thesis is simple: God's revelation to the world in Christ has been infiltrated and warped into something it's not. The result of this infiltration is: Christendom. The Christian religion is synonymous with "Christendom." In its inherent form, the revelation of God in Christ is not a religion; it is, rather, the end of religion. It is anti-religious (hence why the first Christ followers were labelled "atheists" - they did not believe in any of the sacred festivals and superstition ...more
A.J. Jr.
Mar 01, 2017 A.J. Jr. rated it it was amazing
"I will simply recall that the subversion of Christianity has come through its letting itself be penetrated and seduced and led by the prince of this world." (Jacques Ellul, p. 180)
Feb 21, 2014 Bob rated it liked it
Although I give this book 3 (maybe 4 stars) it is not for everyone. The author intent is to show how the church throughout history has consistently been led away from truly living out the gospel -- whether by outside forces or by the weight of its own success.

He is very careful about the charges that he makes against Christianity. His arguments are subtle, & Ellul is quick to acknowledge the hyperbole of those who criticize the faith from the outside. Nonetheless, he often finds a kernel of
Apr 12, 2008 Collin rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: scriptural/historical/career academics only
Dense. It's a fascinating topic, but reading this book is like eating a sleeve of saltine crackers without anything to drink. It's taking me quite a while to read because I can only stand a couple of pages at a time.

--update: I skimmed the penultimate chapter, skipped the last chapter altogether, and threw it away. I don't like the way the author writes PLUS I don't trust the translation (it was originally written in French), I don't like how self-absorbed the author is (only his interpretation
James R. C.
Jun 26, 2014 James R. C. rated it really liked it
Those who enjoy the focus on order and unity in Luc, Ferry, The Wisdom of the Myths; Michael J. Harner, Cave and Cosmos will gain from this book by Ellul.

From the beginnings of the Christianity through modern day, the theological, political, economic, and military history is "the result of a primordial obsession with unity: the reduction of the diversity of the world to the one." Jacques Ellul sees our God as one of beginnings and revelation, not organization and institution: eppur si muove (ye
Leandro Guimarães Faria Corcete DUTRA
Une des mes meilleures léctures récentes, avec John H Walton & Jean-Marc Berthoud — même que ce soient trois auteurs bien différents, quasiment opposés, sourtoût Berthoud & Ellul.

Un défi pour chrétiens & incroyants, & surtoût pour l’église.

Je voulais pouvoir enlever demi étoile car il éloge un mouvement de libération amérindien tout en critiquant la théologie de la libération — même que ce mouvement n’aie jamais éxisté hors de sa théologie. Je retiens la critique, & je lament
Feb 22, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a bit hard to read because he rather likes tangents and doesn't follow all the "correct" writing forms. Some things I didn't fully agree with and/or was confused by, but in general I really appreciated all that he had to say. I will need to do some digesting and mulling for a while. I stimulated on of the best discussions we've had at book club!
Oct 10, 2013 Psykeactiv1 rated it it was amazing
I hated this book with a passion because of its spot on accuracy, however this book is geared to apologetics and skeptics who have doubts on philosophical grounds. Jaques Ellul approaches Christianity from radical but skeptical points of view that represent many in and outside the body of Christ.
Feb 15, 2009 Jordan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favorites, theology
So far, this is my favorite book by Ellul. It (very) loosely reads like "A People's History of Christianity," pointing out the ways that lies have crept into the Church over 2,000 years. The sections about women (specifically in the chapter on Moralism) are fantastic. Please read it.
May 30, 2010 Kevin rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book. It needs to be read slowly, but is really perspective changing. The only reason that I do not give it 5 stars, is because it falls apart a little bit at the end. A definite must read for anyone interested in Theology....
Nathan Colquhoun
Aug 10, 2013 Nathan Colquhoun rated it really liked it
Tough to read as he doesn't grow his argument very well, but overall an excellent book and important.
Michael S
May 24, 2007 Michael S rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Thoughtful, challenging and fascinating, the best book on Christianity that I have ever read.
Jan 19, 2008 Aaron rated it it was amazing
This may be the most influential book I've read to date. It started a shift in my thinking that has changed the way I think and live on many different levels.
Jan 12, 2008 Paco rated it it was amazing
Incredible and awesome. Makes your life really difficult to live afterwards though. Shows in Ellul's usual clear and sometimes hilarious style how far off course Christianity has gotten.
Hartman Out
Mar 26, 2013 Hartman Out rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Livre qui a changé ma vie et ma foi.
Jul 05, 2009 Scott rated it liked it
That what I (as an Western, Conservative, American, Californian) think of and practice as "Christianity" is very possibly a shallow and subverted version of what Jesus taught.
Kirk Fatool
Kirk Fatool rated it it was ok
Jun 01, 2012
Micah rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2015
Charles rated it it was amazing
Sep 30, 2010
Matt Ginter
Matt Ginter rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2015
Michael Kearney
Michael Kearney rated it liked it
Feb 14, 2017
Kenny rated it it was amazing
May 23, 2015
Tim rated it really liked it
Apr 25, 2012
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Baptised Catholic, Ellul became an atheist and Marxist at 19, and a Christian of the Reformed Church at 22. During his Marxist days, he was a member of the French Communist Party. During World War II, he fought with the French Underground against the Nazi occupation of France.

Educated at the Universities of Bordeaux and Paris, he taught Sociology and the History of Law at the Universities of Strau
More about Jacques Ellul...

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“La questione che vorrei abbozzare in questo libro è fra quelle che mi turbano più profondamente. Essa si contraddistingue per la sua drammatica e inconsueta rilevanza storica e perché, allo stato attuale delle mie conoscenze, mi sembra irrisolvibile. Nella maniera più semplice può essere così presentata: com’è possibile che lo sviluppo della società cristiana e della Chiesa abbia dato vita a una società, a una civiltà e a una cultura del tutto opposte a quanto si può leggere nella Bibbia” 0 likes
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