Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Upside Down Kingdom by Chris Castaldo Book Review

About the Book:

An Examination of the Beatitudes and Jesus’s Counterintuitive Promises

In our sinful world, we often struggle with anxiety, loneliness, and heartache. Everywhere we look, we see broken families and divided communities. How can we truly cultivate God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” in such a broken place? 

In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2–12), Jesus urges us to set ourselves apart from the world, living in a counterculture with a new identity rooted in him. The Upside Down Kingdom examines this counterintuitive wisdom and explores its relevance for today. Drawing on insights from the biblical story of redemption, church fathers, Reformation scholars throughout history, and contemporary life, this book equips and encourages readers to get their spiritual bearings in an upside-down world. Author Chris Castaldo ultimately points readers to the kingdom of Christ—not as a set of rules, but as a means of bringing peace and blessing here and now.

  • Written for Laypersons and Teachers of the Word: Perfect for those interested in issues confronting the church 
  • Thorough Study of the Beatitudes: Each chapter explores a core teaching in Christ's Sermon on the Mount
  • Appeals to Pastors and Disciple Makers: A historically informed, biblically rich, and countercultural vision of Christian life

You can read an excerpt here.

My Review:

Castaldo sets the record straight as to how God intends His people to live. He shows how one follows the heart of God, aligning with His priorities. Constantine paved the way for a muscular Christianity, ruling by coercion. The beatitudes provide a different way for Christians to live as members of God's kingdom. He provides illustrations from the Bible, quotes from other sources and insightful commentary to help us understand what each of the beatitudes means for life.

Some of his teaching was a bit surprising to me, such as on meekness. He notes the lack of strong, godly leaders and that men want others to carry out ministry. (548/1942) I thought part of a leader's job was to train and encourage laypeople to do ministry.

My favorite section was on being people of peace. That means willingly sacrificing privileges, comfort, pleasure, convenience, preferences and personal agendas for the sake of peace. (1225/1942) It seems contemporary Christianity is far from that behavior pattern.

Castaldo's writing style is good. It is easy to comprehend his ideas and respond to his encouragement. While there may be nothing shockingly new in his exposition of the beatitudes, this book is a good one to remind us of the patterns of life presented in them.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Chris Castaldo
 (PhD, London School of Theology) is the lead pastor at New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Talking with Catholics about the Gospel and coauthor of The Unfinished Reformation.

Crossway, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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