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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.

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Those who believe in God’s Word have been grasping at the same superficial solutions that liberalism has adopted. Relevance, respectability (whether intellectual or social), and especially unity have become the aims of God’s people with the hope that these will revitalize a weakened church. ‘If only all Bible-believing people join together, the world will sit up and listen,’ thinks the church. ‘Let’s merge our mission boards to pool our funds and our personnel. Let’s join giant evangelistic projects. If every evangelical joins in a common organization, we can have greater depth of evangelism.’ Thus organizational unity becomes the aim of gospel churches. Having accepted the theory that unity is all-important for world evangelism, both the church and the individual must lower their estimate of the value of truth. In a large congress on evangelism, we could not insist on a truth of God’s Word that would offend any brother evangelical. Thus we must find the lowest common denominator to which all born-again Christians hold. The rest of the Bible will be labeled ‘unessential’ for missions. After all, unity (among Christians) is more essential than doctrinal preciseness. It is just for this reason that mission societies have been unwilling carefully to examine the root problem in preaching. Mission boards are hesitant to answer the question, ‘What is the gospel?’ Thoroughly to answer that would condemn what many of their own missionaries preach. It would destroy the mission society, which is a federation of churches who have differing answers to that question. To adopt the position of one church would be to lose the support of five others. The whole system built on unity and generality would crumble. The local church may not get too specific about truth either. It may affect its harmony with the denomination or association. To define the gospel carefully will bring conflict with the organizations working with teenagers. It will prompt irritating problems with mission boards and embarrassing disagreement with missionaries supported for years. It may condemn the whole Sunday School program. Giving too much attention to the content of the gospel will mean friction with other evangelicals. And unity is the key to success.

Walter Chantry

 

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