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Landmark Essays in Mission and World Christianity

by Robert L. Gallagher and Paul Hertig, eds.

This collection includes an array of articles, starting with a classic reflection on biblical models of mission by David Bosch and concluding with two articles on global trends in Christianity by Peter C. Phan and J. Samuel Escobar.

Orbis Books, P.O. Box 308, Maryknoll, N.Y. 10545, 288 pages, 2009, $35.00.

Reviewed by Richard R. Cook, associate professor of mission history and global Christianity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

In Landmark Essays in Mission and World Christianity, Robert Gallagher and Paul Hertig have collected a fine mix of missionary scholarship over the last seventy years. The collection includes an array of articles, starting with a classic reflection on biblical models of mission by David Bosch and concluding with two articles on global trends in Christianity by Peter C. Phan and J. Samuel Escobar. In this well-conceived book, the editors canvassed numerous contemporary scholars and collected titles of key missionary texts in the modern period. Among the fifteen articles selected, the editors worked to be sure to include representative voices—both male and female—from various parts of the world, from Protestant (Conciliar, Evangelical and Pentecostal/Charismatic), Roman Catholic, and Orthodox perspectives. The editors achieved a volume that is both inclusive and high quality.

The essays are divided into seven parts, including history, theology, contextualization, and anthropology. While each article represents a key contribution to missions and missiology and deserves mention, I was particularly intrigued by the choice of Karl Barth’s “An Exegetical Study of Matthew 28:16-20” and pleased to see included Paul G. Hiebert’s “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle.” At fewer than three hundred pages and priced affordably, this book is a valuable resource for seminary classrooms and students of missions.

The anthology is also delightful for experienced scholars, as the selection of articles can surely generate hours of fruitful reflection and discussion. For example, while Andrew F. Walls’ “The Gospel as Prisoner and Liberator of Culture” is included, I might instead have chosen a piece by Lamin Sanneh. The choice of Walls pushed me to ponder why my thinking might differ from the missiologists and scholars who responded to the editors’ survey. After reflection, I now suspect that Walls perhaps speaks more effectively to a Christian and mission audience, whereas Sanneh addresses more the concerns and interests of scholars in the secular university. The editors might consider publishing online a complete list of the top fifty or one hundred articles identified by the surveys. Earlier collections of classical mission writing have included authors such as William Carey, Henry Venn, and Roland Allen. Landmark Essays in Mission and World Christianity clearly demonstrates that the past generation or two has also produced a stellar cast of mission thinkers and writers.  

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