Foundations for Mission

by Emma Wild-Wood and Peniel Rajkumar, eds.

 Regnum Books International, St. Philip and St James Church, Woodstock Road, Oxford, UK, 0X2 6HR. 309 pages, 2013, £30.99.

Reviewed by Tim Baldwin, EDS doctoral student, Trinity International University.

What foundations, if any, are necessary for Christian engagement in an increasingly globalized, postmodern world? The editors of Foundations for Mission, a collection of essays inspired by conversations related to the Edinburgh 2010 Conference, affirm that missiology still requires solid foundations. However, a number of the contributors suggest that the foundations for mission might be more inclusive, more fluid, and/or less firm than participants in the Edinburgh 1910 Conference would have ever believed.

This volume, one of sixteen in the Regnum Edinburgh Centenary series, explores three possible foundations for mission—Experience, The Bible, and Theology (Parts I-III)—and then considers ways in which these foundations intersect (Part IV). Both Appendix 1 (which should be read first) and the introductory chapter identify critical questions and themes related to the foundations. These pieces also provide helpful overviews of missiological developments during the century spanning the two Edinburgh mission conferences and lucidly explain how those developments framed the contributors’ conversations about foundations.  

Part I focuses on experience, which the editors describe as the human component of the Missio Dei and several contributors equate with contextualization. The  highlights of Part I are the accounts of two research projects examining experience and mission, one conducted on the margins among South Indian Dalit Christians  and the other among ministry leaders in Britain.  

Part II considers biblical foundations for mission through the lenses of the wisdom tradition, the biblical narrative, contextualization, and “from below.” Appendix 1’s examination of several traditional mission passages is particularly noteworthy. Part III’s essays focus on the relationship between core doctrines (the Trinity, Holy Spirit, Kingdom of God, and Creation) and theological foundations for mission. Three of these chapters provide valuable insight into the intersection of theology and missiology in Asia.

Part IV explores interconnections between the three potential foundations for mission, and includes a sympathetic analysis of their interplay in Pentecostal mission and a thoughtful assessment of how they are shaping current Roman Catholic missiology. The authors who discuss the Lausanne Movement evaluate it positively, but rather uncritically.  

While Foundations for Mission includes perspectives that might be familiar to many EMQ readers, there is also much to be learned from this book. First, this volume provides a broad overview of current ecumenical thinking in the global context and demonstrates both the benefits and the pitfalls of grounding missiology in Trinitarian theology.

Second, the book challenges the reader to consider the powerful, sometimes hidden ways in which experience shapes theology, missiology, and practice. Third, the editors’ successful work in bringing coherence to the contributors’ far-reaching conversations, inclusion of “voices” from all over the globe, and irenic tone are all exemplary. Finally, the book furnishes several examples of evangelical scholars who, building upon a biblical foundation, graciously and unapologetically enter into the broader global conversation about missiology and its foundations.

Check these titles:
Ott, Craig, Steve J. Strauss, and Timothy C. Tennent. 2010. Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker.

Tennent, Timothy C. 2010. Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel.


EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 119-120. 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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