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The Upside-Down Kingdom

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  416 ratings  ·  48 reviews
An intriguing study of the kingdom of God in the Gospels. Donald B. Kraybill says social, religious, and economic practices of the dominant culture usually favor the rich, powerful, prestigious. Jesus, on the other hand, favors those who suffer at society's margins and fall between the cracks. Winner of the National Religious Book Award: Best Religious Book of the Year. Re ...more
Paperback, 311 pages
Published June 7th 2004 by Herald Pr (first published 1971)
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Jason Evans
The kingdom of God can be elusive of simple definition. It is often something very hard to explain. It is understood, evidenced in practice, quite differently across the Christian community. In his book, The Upside Down Kingdom, Donald Kraybill takes up the challenge of explaining the kingdom. Apparent by his title, Kraybill offers that the kingdom is a realization that stands in stark contrast to the common ways of this world. It is most often the exact opposite of how we assume a rulership to ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Upside-Down Kingdom is an incredibly challenging book, highlighting a lifestyle of service that leads to costly-discipleship. A must read for all who claim to follow Jesus, especially those in paid ministry.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Upside-Down Kingdom was one of those books that influenced me before I even read it. It was released in 1978 and has been updated numerous times (recently a line-by-line edit, in fact). Today, it is still just an important—as the chasm of income inequality grows, the stratification of society, and perpetual war looms.
It is an old favorite of many in the Brethren in Christ. And it is has helped form much of our “Anabaptist” understanding of the world. It is a call to counter-cultural li
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely fabulous. I may not agree with the author about everything he said, but he brought up many good points and it was very convicting. So the question is, am I living in the upside-down Kingdom--or am I just a pharisee?
Nov 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
This is a book from the evagelical tradition. It is a must read for any orgnizer working with a pentacostal church!
Apr 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
makes me step outside my lifelong evangelical bubble enough to approach my newfound anabaptism.
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone who takes their existence seriously.
Greg Williams
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In this book, the author confronts us with the fact that we often don't take Jesus and His message seriously. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus' day, we are good at finding ways to soften the radicalness of Jesus' teaching to fit better with our culture and make us more comfortable with it. Kraybill looks in detail at Jesus' teaching about God's Kingdom. In particular, he focuses on what Jesus's words and actions say with respect to power, religion, and wealth. In all these areas and mor ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The basic premise of the book is that the Kingdom Jesus announced in his day was revolutionary and totally at odds with the political, economic and religious expectations of the day; nothing is new under the sun, and the author argues it is just as upside-down today, and calls for us to embrace and live out these Kingdom values in our day-to-day.

The author starts by framing Jesus' temptation in the desert as real temptations to avoid the way of the Cross, but instead to use brute-force power to
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arc
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a free, digital ARC of this book.

I have always been a little confused as to what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the "kingdom". Kraybill makes the kingdom seem clearer in this book. He delves into what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the kingdom both spiritually, socially, and economically. One thing that really stood out to me was how Kraybill makes the connection between God's Jubilee economic system in the Old Testament to
James Townsend
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful reminder for all Christ followers

We need this book again today in the messed up world in which we live. Our only devotion is to Christ the King.
Karen Hackett
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading this book for awhile!
Lots to think about as you read about how Jesus and his Ministry changed the world!
On my second reading of this, I conclude that this recent classic is perhaps the best, single, lay introduction to the way of the cross. Because it wonderfully avoids denominational particulars, political trendiness, and academese, I could put this book in the hands of many folks without worrying about distracting side issues. It sticks to scriptural arguments and anticipates objections and knows the issues. It’s already setup for group study, too. If I could give only one book to a person wanti ...more
Douglas Wilson
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biblical-studies
Let me say a few nice things about this book first.

The first thing is that Kraybill is obviously a very nice man. Second, he has a very helpful grasp of a number of historical details about first century Palestine that I found very constructive. I learned a number of good things from him on this count. Third, he has a good gift of phrasing a commonplace -- and comes up with the kind of thing that every biblically literate Christian would agree with, and learn from at the same time. T
Circle of Hope Pastors
The Upside-Down Kingdom was one of those books that influenced me before I even read it. It was released in 1978 and has been updated numerous times (recently a line-by-line edit, in fact). Today, it is still just an important—as the chasm of income inequality grows, the stratification of society, and perpetual war looms.
It is an old favorite of many in the Brethren in Christ. And it is has helped form much of our “Anabaptist” understanding of the world. It is a call to counter-cultural li
As we enter the new year, and I reflect on what I wish for the world in 2012, prophetic words from the Magnificat play through my mind: “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.” I am hoping that more people will work for a world where the lowly are lifted up, rather than trampled down; where the hungry are fed; where compassion and mercy win out over vengeance. These wishes are part of the vision described so beautifully in The Upside-Down Kingdom by Donald B. Kraybill. Thes ...more
Rudy Dyck
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Tremendous book. While it can get repetitive down the stretch it has fantastic insight into the Palestinian world at the time of Jesus. The upper class vs. the lower class (no real middle class), taxes, authorities, the Temple, riots and rebels - there is a lot of real information on how this world operated.

For Christians it also has a lot of information on the Kingdom Jesus was trying to establish which was a socialist kingdom designed to help each other. Go the extra mile. Life isn
Adam Ross
Mar 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
I was expecting something more from this book. His central thesis is perfectly fine - Christ came to turn the world "upside-down." The problems crop up immediately as Kraybill shows repeated foundational errors in his understanding of the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. He, rather blithely it seems to me, assumed that the "traditions of men" which Jesus came to counter were actually a part of the Old Testament itself, rather than Pharisaic corruptions of that law. From there he procee ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: all
The Upside-Down Kingdom” is a solid book that shows the range of ways in which Jesus’s call is the opposite of the call of the world. I appreciated that he interacts with the full range of current Biblical scholarship in order to show theological support for his statements. It’s not a book meant to convince the skeptic, and it requires at least some previous Biblical understanding, but it’s an excellent guide for the honest seeker. In the Kingdom of God, slaves are freed, the poor are rich, sinn ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book has been sitting on my shelves for a very long time. When I saw that it was on my reading list for the Living School for Contemplation and Action, I decided to delve in. I appreciated Kraybill's emphasis on the teachings of Jesus and how very uncultural they are. Not only the government, but also the way religion gets around the hard sayings and the split between belief and practice.

Kraybill didn't say anything that was AHA moments...but I appreciated his explanation of some
Calling this book "life-changing" is a bit of an exaggeration.

Kraybill has a lot of excellent points and he's good about backing up his points with both scripture and common sense. However, if you've read the Bible and looked into more than just the on-the-surface stuff, this book is just basically backing up knowledge you probably already have.

Solid book. Jesus was/is a radical for pretty much every time period but modern culture has become desensitized to that idea beca
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I do enjoy this book, partly because I strongly disagree with a number of its premises. It was required reading my first year at Fresno Pacific University, and the introduction was that some of us would love it, and others would hate it.

This book challenges people to think about the Kingdom of God in different ways. You may not agree, but it's still worth taking the time to read and consider.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Kraybill is not afraid to put down in black and white such uncomfortable truths, according to Jesus' thoughts and actions, as "War is sin." He also explains why Jesus' ministry was so insulting to the culture(s) of His day and acknowledges the challenges of embracing Jesus' "basin ministry" today. Much of the book focuses on an excellent explaination of the Jubilee.
Zane Akers
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Awesome. Thoroughly researched and presented articulately by one of the world's greatest scholars of anabaptist-pietist faiths. Reminds everyone that the Kingdom of God looks completely weird and backwards to the kingdoms of earth, and that discipleship is necessarily a kind of lifestyle, not just a belief structure.
Des Morgan
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
A challenging book that will take you out of your comfort zone. Not recommended for those who think that following Jesus is about self-satisfaction. A book that will irritate those who Jesus irritated - the rich, the politically connected, the religious. Jesus got his just reward for doing that - death on the cross.
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Do not read it if you want to keep your preconceived notions about following Jesus. This book will up-end your world. Don reminds us that the cross is not just the place of our salvation, it was the result of the life Jesus lived. It is the life we must live if we are to claim we are His followers.
Aug 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theological
This is a book that changed my way of thinking about faith 30+ years ago. I re read it in preparation for a course. His message is the same, but this revised edition draws on more recent scholarship and therefore is current and continually challenging
Justin Doty
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Overall a great book! The author sort of repeats himself in Chapter 1 and Chapter 8, but it's still a really great book. Every Western Christian should read this book and be reminded of how to be kingdom minded in our post-modern consumeristic culture.
Apr 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
It's a pretty good take on what it sounds like. It's a little less inspiring than it could be (and the attempt to be so at the end is itself uninspired). There's some good, accessible historical contextualizing and some useful consideration of what it means to bear a cross. A decent read.
This isn't exactly the most recent book, but it will change how you think. I read it in college, so my memories on the details aren't the greatest, but I remember doing a lot of highlighting in this book. Definately worth the read, and I still remember it.
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