A Missional Orthodoxy: Theology and Ministry in a Post-Christian Context

by Gary Tyra

 IVP Academics, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, 393 pages, 2013, $30.00. 

Reviewed by Daniel Shinjong Baeq, adjunct professor and director, Paul G. Hiebert Global Center for Intercultural Studies, Trinity International University.

Attempts to evangelize the liberal and unchurched generations, who are more open toward liberal politics and tolerant of the diversities of postmodern culture, have paved the way for missional and emerging movements to arise. These movements have become a cause of concern for some evangelical leaders and a source of controversy for other traditional leaders who are not fully attuned to the constantly changing culture.

While some appreciate these movements for promoting missionary endeavors for contemporary cultures and generations, others criticize them for taking away from a focus on orthodox theology and overseas mission fields. 

Gary Tyra, a professor at Vanguard University and a minister with the Assemblies of God, asserts that common ground can be found among traditional, missional, and emerging churches. By choosing two textual and contextual barometers—Jude 3 (“to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people”) and 1 Corinthians 9:22 (“become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some”)—the author’s goal is to “build bridges between traditional, missional, and emerging church movements” (p. 13).

In part one, Tyra gives an historical overview of the Christological controversy of early Christianity. He points out that the emphasis on the humanity of Christ led the pendulum to swing to Adoptionism, while the opposite emphasis on the divinity pushed the pendulum to swing to Docetism. He persuades readers that such polarized views of humanity or of divinity at the expense of the other is erroneous. He instead calls for a “hypostatic union of dual nature,” where both can be true, and proposes “missional orthodoxy” that is “faithful to both the biblical text and the missional task” (p. 291). 

In part two, Tyra examines eight doctrinal topics—the  Bible, God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, human beings, salvation, Church, and eschatology. For each topic, he assesses the theological validity of his conversation partners—Borg, a mainline Protestant, and McLaren, an advocate of emerging movement—based on the proposed barometers. Even though Tyra presents the views of traditional orthodoxy, he does not advocate for this position, but rather criticizes its insensitivity to the broader culture.

Since missional and emerging leaders today deemphasize doctrinal language and even the death and resurrection of Jesus, I am curious as to how this “missional orthodoxy” will reignite the core of Christian faith among the younger leaders. While this book is not a light volume, it is a worthwhile read for both undergraduate and graduate students of biblical, theological, and missiological studies. 

This book will also help the readers to explore the various views and to discern for themselves a well-balanced approach that is faithful to both biblical teachings and contextual challenges. For the traditional evangelicals, it will help them to rethink theological and ecclesiological transformation that can reach the unchurched generation of the postmodern and post-Christian context. 


EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 504-505. Copyright  © 2014 Billy Graham Center.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.


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