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REVIEW: ‘Introducing World Missions,’ Moreau et al.

Authors A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee wrote Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey “for prospective missionaries as well as for those who are interested in missions but may serve in other capacities in God’s work.”[1]  That second target audience is the one which applies most neatly to my situation.  I do not perceive myself to be one who will spend most of his life “on the field,” although the editors of this volume do state carefully that the “missionary call” is not necessarily a call to a lifetime in one place.  Nevertheless, a quasi-transient life being spent between a few locations either abroad or domestic would not be unwelcome. For being written to both the sent and the senders, IWM accomplishes its task well.

The authors divided the text into five parts.  Summarized, they are written respectively about the theology of missions, the history of missions, the “call” to missions (and its attendants), preparing for missions, and the contemporary milieu of missions.  The most fruitful sections for me were the history, preparation, and contemporary milieu of missions.  Also, on page thirteen, the first chapter relates twenty-three definitions used in missiology, a helpful reference for my own structuring of the theology of missions.  Having been exposed to some of those terms, although certainly not all, I find myself able to more easily converse with others (especially those who have gone on mission) about missionary work.

Part 2 of IWM relates the history of mission work throughout the church.  Especially enlightening was the focus on how the church has historically been concerned with proclaiming Christ to all men everywhere over against the contemporary trope that true Christianity is just being a nice person and minding one’s business.  Further, the ecumenical inclusion of Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals helped demonstrate that, despite otherwise deep and troublesome theological rifts, most self-identified Christian groups are concerned with spreading Christ throughout their contexts and foreign contexts.  Part 4 details how one can and ought to prepare for a missions experience, whether they are the one being sent or the one sending.  The practical wisdom contained in this section is great.  From replanting families abroad to creating relationships with those people to whom one ministers, this section opened my eyes to many unforeseen aspects of international missions, which I would have ignorantly glossed over.

Part 5 explicates the conduct and particularities of missions in the modern world.  This, in my opinion and for my own development, is the most importation section of the book.  I feel drawn to cross-religious dialogue and engagement.  In particular, the rise of Islam across the world, as well as the burgeoning problems in India between Hindus and Christians, compel me to understand, engage, and demonstrate the falsity of those false religions as opposed to Christ.  If such studies were to take me to the Middle East or to Indonesia, I would do well to honor those principles highlighted throughout the final chapters of this book. Particularly helpful were the characterizations given on pages 298 to 302 concerning the role of engaging another religion. I order, the authors listed the roles as Adherent or Insider, Seeker or Inquirer, Explorer, Reporter, Specialist, Advocate of a new religion, and Apologist or Antagonist.  I find myself drawn especially to the Specialist and Apologist or Antagonist roles. I can foresee future studies being devoted exclusively to Christian and Muslim engagement, for example.

Although IWM is not a work which I would otherwise have purchased for my library had it not been assigned reading, it will prove to be a valuable tool for future ministry. Whether this ministry is directed towards my fellow churchmen or to myself as I minister to those at variance with Christ, IWM will give tools and principles that will enable me to send others to and to myself reach the lost.


[1]Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 7.

REVIEW: ‘The Person of Christ,’ Donald MacLeod

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment

MacLeod published The Person of Christ in 1998, as the seventh installment of the Contours of Christian Theology series (ed. Gerald Bray). IVP Academic markets this series as “a series of concise introductory texts focused on the main themes of Christian theology,” which is a well-enough categorization. MacLeod, through ten chapters and 303 pages, offers a fairly standard evangelical account of the history of the doctrines of Christ–notably his preexistence, his relationship to and within in the Trinity, and his own nature and person.

I came to this text as one who desired to study the nature of Christ but who had never formally done so. MacLeod’s work does not read easily at times, although it is hard to believe that this is essentially his own fault. He spends most of each chapter detailing the ways in which both ancient and contemporary theologians have understood the various facets of Christ’s nature. He highlights the Gnostics, Docetics, the German liberals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and others. It is almost inevitable in any text not devoted specifically to the different movements for the specifics and distinguishing marks to become muddled. MacLeod is no exception to that rule, and many chapters are nearly overwhelming dense to one who does not have prior training in both the questions and proposed answers that are given in each chapter. For this reason, The Person of Christ would do well as a book read under the direction (current or past) of an academic who has already studied Christology, unless one wants to spend an inordinate amount of time with this book. While the work has helpfully made me aware of certain readings of pertinent Christological passages (especially of those of the German theologians), The Person of Christ does not seem to warrant a slow and steady reading for one who is merely curious about the doctrines and would like individual study.

Final analysis: The Person of Christ is best read as a survey to one already familiar with the various theological questions or as an introduction to one under the tutelage of a person already familiar with Christology.

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