Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Gallagher and Hertig spent ten years in interviews and browsing bibliographies and syllabi in missiological studies in order to find the 15 most influential essays ever written in contemporary missiology. The essays include contributions from Catholic, Orthodox, Conciliar, Pentecostal, and Evangelical traditions. The result are the “absolutely essential articles and papers that no person interested in the mission of the church can not have read” (2009:ix). Landmark Essays in Mission and World Christianity is a must-read for wannabe missiologists (such as myself).
In Part 1, “Biblical Theology,” David Bosch warns against proof-texting to support our own ministries. We must labor to develop a theology of mission from the whole of Scripture. But there will always be various models of mission (even in the NT) because the context is always changing. Next, Karl Barth goes deep into the exegesis and application of the “Great Commission” at the end of Matthew.
In Part 2, “History,” Orlando Costas explores the unfortunate link between modern missionary “enterprise” and liberal capitalist ideology. Dana Robert shows the recent demographic shift of Christianity “southward” and explains, “the future of world Christianity rests with the so-called younger churches and their daily struggles” (60).
In Part 3, “Theology, Church, and Kingdom,” Robert Schreiter proposes that reconciliation (horizontal reconciliation only?!?) is the new model of mission today because the process of economic globalization has created so much strife. Next, René Padilla completely dismantles the homogeneous unit principle, “It is quite evident that the use of the homogeneous unit principle for church growth has no biblical foundation” (91). I wonder what Padilla would say about the biblical basis for the insider movement, which is the homogenous unit principle on steroids?
In Part 4, “Evangelism and Contextualization,” Kwame Bediako observes that Africa has been the place for the re-establishment of Christianity that is free from Christendom, and therefore a model for the future of World Christianity. Wilbert Shenk urges the recasting of a theology of mission that is informed and even led by new churches in the majority world. Andrew Walls’, the missiologist and church historian everyone else quotes (even in this volume!), essay on the “indigenizing” and the “pilgrim” principle is included. Wall’s article is foundational for all missiology, IMHO.
In Part 5, “Christianity and The Religions,” Lesslie Newbigin outlines the inclusivist position in regards to salvation of non-believers. Charles Van Engen nuances the Christian relationship to other religions through a model that is faith particularist (exclusivist), culturally pluralist, and ecclesiologically inclusivist. Both authors argue for humble, respectful boldness in our witness.
In Part 6, “Anthropology,” Paul Hiebert’s infamous essay, “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle” shows how the Western worldview has no way to deal with the spiritual realities present in the Bible or the Majority World. Daisy Machado argues for the “disestablishment” of the church (especially in America) from its cultural, political, and denominational ties in order to be able to prophetically demonstrate that “the veneer of Euro-American Protestantism is not required for entry to God’s feast” (197).
Finally, in Part 7, “Global Trends,” Peter Phan critiques Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom and says, “Christendom is not Christianity and has nothing do with Jesus and his gospel” (204). Samuel Escobar’s essay concludes the book by pointing to the past, present, and future of mission studies.
I would have added Piper’s initial chapter in Let the Nations be Glad (1989) to this volume. His opening sentence still rings in my ears today, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is.” Few of my colleagues wouldn’t know this sentence. In any case, the essays gathered here are fantastic to have in one volume, and it serves as an ecumenical companion to Ralph Winter’s Perspectives. To be challenged from traditions other than your own is invaluable.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
This looks like an important book: Toward Respectful Understanding and Witness among Muslims: Essays in Honor of J. Dudley Woodberry.
From William Carey Library:
“In the midst of increasing tensions among Evangelicals on the best way to minister in Muslim contexts, this book comes as a wonderful resource that will help move the conversation forward, open up new
areas for discussion, and focus our eyes on the methods in light of the task we face.”
-- Scott Moreau • Professor, Intercultural Studies, Wheaton College • Editor, Evangelical Missions Quarterly
“Polished in the academy, the field, and the prayer closet, Dudley Woodberry's irenic spirit has blessed many. He has awakened our curiosity, mentored our research, reconciled our antagonisms, and expanded our vision with grace, passion, and a twinkle in his eye. These essays continue that heritage.”
-- Miriam Adeney, Ph.D. • Associate Professor of Global and Urban Ministries, Seattle Pacific University
Foreword By David W. Shenk
Preface By C. Doug McConnell
Preface and Acknowledgments By Evelyne A. Reisacher
Biography of J. Dudley Woodberry By Dean S. Gilliland
Encouraging Friendly Conversation Introduction by Charles E. Van Engen
1 Christian Attitudes toward Islam and Muslims: A Kerygmatic Approach By Martin Accad
2 The Ishmael Promises and Mission Motivation By Jonathan E. Culver
3 Squeezing Ethics Out of Law: What Is Shariʿa Anyway? By David L. Johnston
4 Portraying Muslim Women By Evelyne A. Reisacher
5 Current Trends in Islam and Christian Mission By Warren F. Larson
Christian Scholarship Introduction by Joseph L. Cumming
6 The Christian Scholar with Islam: “Go, Take, Learn” By Kenneth Cragg
7 Ṣifāt al-Dhāt in al-Ashʿarī’s Doctrine of God and Possible Christian Parallels By Joseph L. Cumming
8 Who Was “Allah” before Islam? Evidence that the Term “Allah” Originated with Jewish and Christian Arabs By Rick Brown
9 Folk Elements in Muslim Expressions of African Religion By Dean S. Gilliland
10 The Kaya “Shrine” and the Mosque: Religious Bifurcation among Miji-Kenda Muslims in Kenya By Stephen Mutuku Sesi
Christian Witness Introduction by Dean S. Gilliland
11 How Is the Gospel Good News for Muslims? By David H. Greenlee
12 Contextualization By Phil Parshall
13 Reflections on Jesus Movements among Muslims with Special Reference to Movements within Asian Muslim Communities By John Jay Travis
14 Afflictions by Jinn among the Swahili and an Appropriate Christian Approach By Caleb Chul-Soo Kim
15 Peacemaking as a Witness By Christine Amal Mallouhi
By Joseph L. Cumming
Complete Works of J. Dudley Woodberry
Compiled by Jared Holton
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Encountering Theology of Mission (2010) is an Evangelical introductory textbook on mission theology. It’s layout is topical and covers key aspects of the mission of the church. Part 1 shows the Biblical foundation for mission including the vision of mission and the task of mission, Part 2 covers the motives and means of mission, and Part 3 discusses contemporary controversies and issues.
The book is distinguished from Bosch’s Transforming Mission and Bevans and Schroeder’s Constants in Context in three obvious ways. Bosch and Bevans both rely heavily on historical theology for analysis. By contrast, Encountering Theology of Mission relies primarily upon the Bible itself, while keeping an eye on historical developments. Second, Bosch and Bevans utilize a postmodern approach to their studies. They are extremely tentative at defining mission. Ott notes, “They also assume that we are prisoners of our culture and context and that there is little real hope of approaching a true understanding of mission” (xxix). Instead, Ott relies on a “critical realist” (Hiebert) epistemology that allows for a humble confidence that we can know what the mission of the church is. “Though we see through a glass dimly, we do see (1 Cor. 13:12)” (xxx). And thirdly, the “nations” do not feature prominently in either Bosch or Bevans. Ott, however, dedicates two chapters at the beginning of the book to God’s heart for the nations (this theme of reaching the nations also features prominently in Wright’s The Mission of God (2006) to which Ott references often).
My favorite chapter is four: The Purpose and Nature of Mission. Ott begins with a nice outline that allows the reader to keep many strands of mission theology together without unraveling (2010:80): (1) Doxology as the highest purpose of mission, (2) Redemption as the foundation of mission, (3) The kingdom of God as the center of mission, (4) Eschatology as the hope of mission, (5) The nations as the scope of mission, (6) Reconciliation as the fruit of mission, (7) Incarnation as the character of mission, (8) The Holy Spirit as the power of mission (in chapter ten), and (9) Multiplying kingdom communities as the task of mission (chapter six, my addition).
Like Bosch and Bevans, Ott does a great job of joining together complex thoughts and avoiding false dichotomies, but he does so in a manner that is easy to follow. Bosch and Bevans’ arguments are sometimes dense and very intellectual in style. Ott is to be commended for clarity, even if he lacks for sophistication and deeper scholarship. However, Encountering Theology of Mission is an introductory work, so perhaps I am comparing apples and oranges.
As an evangelical theology of mission, Encountering Theology of Mission focuses clearly on evangelism as a key aspect of mission theology. According to Ott, social action, reconciliation, and compassion are definitely part of the mission of the church. But in what way? Ott explains beautifully:
The church has not fulfilled its mission by merely being such a community [of social action] wherever it finds itself, as great a challenge at that is. Rather such communities must be multiplied among the diverse peoples of the world, and this is the task of missions.
Thus the task of missions is the sending activity of the church to create and expand such kingdom communities among every people of the earth. This will be done through evangelism and church planting that is not satisfied with superficial conversion or institutional advancement. Rather, these new communities must be nurtured and challenged to manifest the reign of God in word and deed, impacting all areas of life-spiritual, social, mental, and physical-thus furthering God's mission in the world (2010:160).
Ott integrates evangelism and social action as few other Evangelicals have been able to do. And his biblical focus on the unreached nations is refreshing. This book is highly recommended, as I said previously.