It is unlikely you will find a copy of this out of print book, and so I offer you glimpses of its contents by means of the extracts I have quoted here below. The book is a strong anti-dote to the seduction of political power.



False Presence of the Kingdom

by Jacques Ellul

"Similarly, modern man makes happiness the primary aim of life, and how many articles have been written by Christians expressing approval of that principle.... that the pursuit of happiness (a pagan attitude) is entirely legitimate." - p. 31

The whole Bible tells us that these people in the world are enslaved by the world. They belong to it. They are slaves of the political, economic, and intellectual forces. The Church is there to proclaim and to bring them freedom. But if she is an agent of those forces, and shares in them herself, she cannot be for people at all..." - p. 39

"The Protestant lives like everybody else, thinks like everybody else and reacts like everybody else. He is seduced by technology. He shares the same hopes and fears as everyone... and follows the news feverishly. Thus he participates in the hopes and terrors of all." - p. 46

"Incompetence is inadmissable on the part of Christians... when providing others with a sense of direction, speaking with authority and encouraging young people to become involved.
... But Christians allow themselves to be taken in by the prevailing vogue. They 'see everybody expressing his own ideas so why shouldn't they do the same? That's all right as far as I'm concerned... only let them be less pretentious about it, less authoritative, less inclined to expect everyone to follow in their wake. And let them not claim to be representing Jesus Christ!" - p. 155-6

"Political questions can be burning questions in the world, but if they are burning questions, that is the spirit of the world. The One-who-divides, the Deceiver, he it is who makes them that way." - p. 98

"When a person has no responsibility to exercise power, and has no direct share in it, that person should be moderate in his judgments, and should first of all make an attempt to understand the difficulties, the actual problems, which surround the struggle of those in power. That would be a good exercise in keeping the commandment to honor the power*."
*Rom. 13:7 I Pe 2:17 - p. 174

"There is a great temptation today to confuse sociological evolution with spiritual progress, and Christians are the first to succomb to that temptation." - p. 20

"This Christian who brings the world into the Church is also a man who, like everyone else, is up-to-the-minute. He has undergone that bias of modern man...(which) causes him to be interested in only the latest news. Moreover, he forgets it as soon as something else comes along. In consequence of this up-to-the-minute attitude, he no longer exhibits any interest in the eternal, in that which endures, in the reading of the Bible, which at least we must by all means apply to present day "problems", otherwise he cannot see what good it is." - p. 48

"That does not mean that we are to be indifferent to the sufferings of mankind. But it does mean that my only actual concern is the one which is near enough to me, and close enough to my size, so I might really do something about it. Revelation, in its rigorous realism, doesn't ask us to torture ourselves over universal ideas and information, nor to lose sleep over news items from everywhere." - ibid. p. 70-1


The Need: a demonstration of Christian love ~ incarnational, personal, local...
"What, in truth, the person of our day can find most helpful is a break in his loneliness, in his psychological misery, through agape. That is much more important than political action." - ibid p. 70

On Making Statements
"Everyone knows full well that these statements are of no practical use. They are not a way of influencing the government or public opinion. Neither are they a Christian witness." - ibid. p. 92

"For a great many of the participants in congresses, synods, and committee meetings, there is a feeling of not having accomplished anything unless a 'statement' has been made." - ibid. p. 92

"Now statements are never issued except as occassion by recent events, which means their value declines as rapidly as the events in question are forgotten." - ibid. p. 93

It is a false conception to think that "at every moment the Church should know exactly what to say about every exciting occurrence." - ibid. p. 94

Our True Calling
"Against all this [making of political statements], we must insist rigorously that the preaching of the gospel has as its sole meaning the hope that a person should come to know the grace available to him in Jesus Christ, that through this he should come to recognize that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Savior, the Lord, in other words, that this person might be converted to the True God." - ibid. p. 105

The fact is "that Christians adopt all the possible political positions, and we have no right to suspect their good faith, nor their Christian faith... That must mean, therefore, that the choices are made for reasons which have nothing to do with the faith... purely personal factors." ibid. p. 142
Examples cited:
1. Temperament
2. Sensitivity to importance of certain values (justice, freedom, peace...)
3. Past personal experiences, circumstances
4. Present milieu and station in life


ednote: If you can find this book, I highly recommend it.


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