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The Presence of the Kingdom

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4.30  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  30 reviews
This new edition of Ellul's seminal work, first published in 1948, brings back into print the volume considered "the necessary primer for all Ellul study." In "The Presence of the Kingdom," Ellul calls upon Christians to be a radical presence in the world, opposing its will to death with a revolutionary way of life that brings the transforming power of the gospel to bear u ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 192 pages
Published March 19th 1989 by Helmers & Howard Publishing (first published 1948)
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Tim
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A central book to my understanding of the Christian life and one that I need to reread regularly because it so provocatively describes the Christian's place and purpose in the world. Ellul describes the world as a system of sin (hints of his technological system as he explains how our ends have been overcome by our means which now operate as ends in themselves) and explains the many tensions of Christian living in that world. The Christian is called to be a sign in the world, witness and stabili ...more
Neal Montgomery
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ellul offers few concrete applications but lots of interesting ideas, especially concerning the subjugation of our society to means and efficiency.
He argues we must find a decidedly Christian style of life rather than trying to Christianize secular movements. To do this we probably need to rediscover true Christian community and we certainly need the Holy Spirit.
Brent Harris
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took by total surprise. What started out as a curiosity quickly became a deeply inspirational and prophetic read. I say prophetic because what he speaks about has incredible implications for our current situation in North American in 2017. I can say that I have finally found a theological framework that captures some of my deepest convictions regarding economics, politics, progress and simply loving your neighbour. You won't go through this book, it will go through you.
David
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was Ellul’s first book but the fourth or fifth I’ve read. I should have read this one first. Here Ellul lays out so many themes and ideas he will build on in later work. It’s a brilliant book to introduce you to his heavier and deeper works like The Technological Society and Propaganda. This book also made clearer his ideas in tension - on one hand we can do nothing to overcome the cultures we’re in, so it comes across kind of hopeless, but on the other hand we still need to live our faith. ...more
David
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Ellul's very perceptive. That he could so effectively diagnose so many conditions that still hold, all the way back here in 1948, is impressive. This book is apparently a good overarching view of his approach to a lot of his thinking, and it's pretty thrillingly bold and sweeping. If you're a Christian still wrestling with what that might mean for how you should interact with the world (or "The World") there's plenty to chew on here.

The introduction is well worth a read, too. I found it very hel
...more
loafingcactus
The Technological Society lays out the quandary faced by the industrial world (which still exists in the post-industrial world through an inescapable inheritance) completely, academically and inescapably. This book provides the response to it, framed as a Christian response but really the only response anyone could possibly give. The response leans not at all on Christian theology and doesn't even lean on the existence elf God in any important way. Consequently, this is a response that can be im ...more
Bob
Mar 12, 2014 rated it liked it
The Presence of the Kingdom by Jacques Ellul is massively complex, & will take one's full concentration to get through, no easy reading here. The authors main concern here is in dealing with the following; How can a Christian be in the world but also distinct from the world. This is (as he sees it) the Christian's quandary & 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 ...more
John
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There's no question but that anyone wanting to delve into the deep and strange but wonderful world of Jacques Ellul, this is the book you MUST start with before reading any of his other seminal works. It was slow reading to say the least, but it was totally worth it. Mind blowing is how I would put its effect on me by the time I was done reading it.
Todd
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ellul takes his ideas about mechanized, technological mass society complete with modern propaganda and confronts it with a prescriptive question: what is the Christian to do in the contemporary situation? He complains that "Christians either let things happen as they would happen or confused the issues." (p viii) Ellul himself admits to being absorbed into Communism at a young age, and he held onto Communism's dialectic and many of its assumptions throughout his life, to include the historical i ...more
Northpapers
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sabbath book #15 for 2018.

There are two forces in tension in my readings on faith and politics. I'm caught between the desire to know what to do and my ambivalence about any prescribed course of action. This tension makes partisan arguments premature for me and makes it difficult to find helpful thoughts.

Thankfully, tension is familiar terrain to Ellul, whose name I first encountered in Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Like Bonhoeffer, he writes from a living tension point, and his political activit
...more
Zachary
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phd-class, culture
Writing this book around the midpoint of the 20th century, Ellul would seem at first glance to be largely out of date. In his time he did not know the Internet (at all), cell phones, the proliferation of information and ease of access to news. Nor is he aware of the modern political movements, such as Black Lives Matter and even the modern Pro-Life movement. And yet his words flash forward through time and parse our modern geopolitical situation in a way which seems almost preternatural.
He like
...more
Jacob
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although not necessarily intended to be such, this is a pretty good primer, after the interview books and Ellul's "What I Believe" into the man's thought - especially his early thought, given it was originally written in the late 1940s.
It pretty well synthesizes his sociological and theological works, hinting at many books yet to come.
While still an easy and quick read, it can get a bit overly wordy. But, hey, that's to be expected. Makes it fun, if you enjoy that sort of thing.
I enjoyed the po
...more
Zack
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ellul's work is a clear illustration of just the kind of challenge that Christians need today. Thinking about how to live out our faith is something that has only gotten harder in time, never easier, and so the questions that Ellul asks in this volume and the way he encourages people to think about these questions is vital to answering them in the modern day. This is a hard book to read, of course--hard in its academic style, but more importantly hard in its attempt to convict us. In this, I bel ...more
George
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like a skeleton that needs its muscles, and perhaps some ligaments too.

The bones are strong though.
Asking the right questions.
Is Ellul the orthodox theologian as intellectually competent as Ellul the sociologist/critic of technics?
Leandro Guimarães
Un livre-défi, écrit pour son époque mais encore actuel.
A.J. Jr.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most insightful and important books I've ever read.
Raphael Haeuser
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I ever read!
J. R.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pilgrim
The version of this I am currently reading is actually titled _Presence in the Modern World_ a new translation.
This discussion is an important contribution to help thoughtful Christians understand influences of our generation.
Ben Swingle
The Christian intellectual should pursue awareness in three ways:
1.) rediscovery of our neighbor, despite technology's effect of estrangement
2.) rediscovery of "the Event" (i.e. the Incarnation)
3.) rediscovery of natural/holy divide not artificially imposed but limiting the advance of technology into euthanasia and other technological excesses.

"We must be convinced that there are no such things as 'Christian principles.' There is the Person of Christ, who is the principle of everything. But if
...more
Johnny Brooks
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am not sure how Jacques Ellul’s book The Presence of the Kingdom ended up on my wish list, yet I am glad it did. Jacques Ellul is the first French theologian I have read. In fact this book may be the first French book I have read. (Of course not knowing French I read the English version.)

A quarter of the book is made up of a Preface, A Forward to the 1967 edition, and an introduction to Ellul. While none of these sections offer much in terms of meaty thoughts, each is informative. Especially i
...more
Mauberley
It has been many years since I read 'The Technolgical Society' and, although I was comparatively young when I encountered that book, it made a lasting impression on me. So much so that, some time later, I experienced considerable deja vu when I read John Ralston Saul's 'Voltaire's Bastards', A trusted acquaintance told me of Ellul's extensive theological writings and my interest was re-ignited. After reaching the end of this short but provocative volume, I am eager to read more. For me, the key ...more
Nick Klagge
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book started off a little shakily but ended strong. It takes him until about halfway through the book to start talking about things in a way that is concrete enough for me to understand (which is not all that long, since the book is only about 150 pages). There are strong intimations in this work of the idea later advanced by Hauerwas that "the first duty of the church is to be the church".

I also see Ellul as a precursor to Alasdair MacIntyre in his extended discussion of means and ends. O
...more
Alex Stroshine
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
"The Presence of the Kingdom" is, I think, part of the "theological canon" at Regent. It has been referenced in many classes. But my experience reading "The Presence of the Kingdom" is akin to my experience reading "The Christian Mind" by Harry Blamires: published originally in the mid-20th century, it was a prophetic and provocative book but by now it has been surpassed by more recent, clearer books. This book IS the place to start with Ellul as it does contain the seeds for the scholar's subse ...more
Mark Thomas
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book...it will rock your world.

This book was written in 1948 in France but it well could have been recently published in the U.S. The picture it paints of technology ruling culture is incredibly accurate of our current state.

Ellul notes that when mindless technology takes over we will see progress defined as nothing substantial but rather as just a refining of existing technology to serve itself.

If you doubt what I'm saying consider the Vinyl LP record, replaced by th
...more
Nate
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ellul is at times very dense, but I always find flashes of brilliant light penetrating the canopy of his intricately woven thought.

Written at the end of the Second World War as France was rebuilding its society, POTK is Ellul's concern about the errors of politicizing Christian action. He takes pains to stress that Christian Faith is a way of being before it is a way of doing, and he sums up this thought best by writing that wherever there is a justified man there is justice. Definitely an anti
...more
papasteve
Apr 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I skimmed through a friends copy, and fortunately there were a lot of underlines--which is mainly what I read. It seems that this book is a reaction to the whole "God is dead" movement that was alive and well back in the 1960s when this was written. That "God is dead" movement was fueled by Nietzsche, who had as one of his main premises that that which drove humankind was "the will to power." Ellul is working hard not to refute that premise, but to say it is alive and well in the world, and the ...more
Jeff Bjorgan
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My first Ellul book, a profound read, where he argues that in a world that is suicidal, intent on destroying itself, the church (as in the kingdom of God) is situated and empowered to--if it responds to its true nature--to bring a revolution, a revolution of life. Academic yet very accessible, Ellul's concepts will stick with me for a long time.
Mark Sequeira
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
THIS IS A GREAT BOOK! I am getting tired of saying that but most books simply aren't worth acknowledging reading or taking the time to even post them. I wish all believers would read this book.
Jeff
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good book. Ellul is an interesting theologian who is keenly focused on how we live out the witness of the gospel within the secular world.
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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
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“We must be convinced that there are no such things as 'Christian principles.' There is the Person of Christ, who is the principle of everything. But if we wish to be faithful to Him, we cannot dream of reducing Christianity to it certain number of principles (though this is often done), the consequences of which can be logically deduced. This tendency to transform the work of the Living God into a philosophical doctrine is the constant temptation of theologians, and also of the faithful, and their greatest disloyalty when they transform the action of the Spirit which brings forth fruit in themselves into an ethic, a new law, into 'principles' which only have to be 'applied.” 13 likes
“Despite the conviction that our era is revolutionary, we must also recognize that under the appearance of movement and development we are in fact living in complete stasis. There is undoubtedly much chaos and violence, there is technical progress, there are social and political experiments. But in reality our world is static, because its structures remain absolutely fixed and its development unfolds along a completely expected rather than revolutionary path.” 4 likes
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