by Arthur F. Glasser
Evangelical missions is committed to being biblical. Yet too often the Bible remains an assumed foundation rather than a functional authority in mission strategizing.
Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, P. O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287, 2003, 400 pages, $26.99.
—Reviewed by William J. Larkin, professor of New Testament and Greek, Columbia Biblical Seminary and School of Missions, Columbia, South Carolina.
Evangelical missions is committed to being biblical. Yet too often the Bible remains an assumed foundation rather than a functional authority in mission strategizing. This distillation of a lifetime of study on the “Biblical Foundation of Missions” provides a helpful resource for correcting that anomaly.
Divided into six parts of three to five chapters each, the volume traces the proposed central mission theme—the kingdom of God—through Scripture in a progress of redemption fashion. The Old Testament portion focuses, from a missiological perspective, on Genesis 1-11 and the Abrahamic covenant; Israel’s history; and finally, Israel in exile, including the Intertesta-mental period as preparatory for the Messiah. The New Testament portion concentrates on Jesus’ mission in the Gospels and the church’s mission in Acts and Paul’s writings, climaxing with a discussion of spiritual warfare and the exclusiveness of accomplished and applied salvation.
Announcing the Kingdom challenges some fundamental assumptions of conservative evangelical missiology. The work claims the distinction between the cultural and gospel mandates must yield to a higher synthesis. For, “when Jesus inaugurates the Kingdom of God, these two mandates will fuse into one fundamental task” (39). And regarding the fate of those who have not heard and embraced the gospel, this volume counsels, “It will be wise if evangelicals… not countenance the wholesale condemnation of the non-Christian world to eternal damnation” (372).
Many helpful missiological insights are included, from the Old Testament prophets’ confrontation with Baalism as a cautionary tale about syncretism, to a case for the modern mission agency as “apostolic team.” The most useful contributions, however, are the summary statements which amply demonstrate “the whole Bible is a missionary book.”
Although understandable, the secondary literature and many of the issues discussed are dated—pre- to early 1980s. For example, recent assessments of Jewish missionary activity in Intertestamental times and the “New Perspective on Paul” are not touched. Sometimes the volume appears overly eager to make direct application to missions, for example, Haggai and the building program. At other times, particular biblical content is missing: the Gospel writers and general epistles.
Where the volume is most in error, however, is its insistence that we remain agnostic about the fate of those who have not heard the gospel. For all the good that Announcing the Kingdom does, it regrettably presents this view, despite the clear trajectories of Scripture (Luke 13:22-30; Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:9-15).
Check these titles:
Kaiser, Walter C. , Jr. 2000. Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker.
Larkin, William J. , Jr. and Joel F. Williams, eds. 1998. Mission in the New Testament: An Evangelical Approach, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books.
Rommen, Edward and Harold Netland, eds. 1995. Christianity and the Religions: A Biblical Theology of World Religions, Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library.
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