Mission as Ministry of Reconciliation

by Robert Schreiter and Knud Jorgensen, editors

—Reviewed by Inti Martinez-Aleman, a Honduran attorney residing in the U.S. after experiencing rampant violence in his home country.

Regnum Books International, Woodstock Road, Oxford, UK 0X2 UKR, 2013, 352 pages, £18.95.

Reviewed by Inti Martinez-Aleman, a Honduran attorney residing in the U.S. after experiencing rampant violence in his home country.

Two of the most salient characteristics of this book are its well-formed structure, and its thorough analysis and reasoning on reconciliation. The editors and the contributors alike must be commended for this conscientious work. There are two large sections in this book. Section one is described by the editors as containing “various perspectives on mission as ministry of reconciliation,” which represents the theory on the topic. Section 2 “contains a broad spectrum of experiences of reconciliation locally, regionally and globally.” Sometimes, the authors get repetitive; however, as a whole they do build on each other. Removing one of them from this anthology would leave a gap in the narrative.

Robert Schreiter and Knud Jørgensen understand how powerful and germane reconciliation is for the Body of Christ in this era. Their selection of contributors ranges from theologians and historians to pastors and laypersons; their accounts vary from Ethiopia and Rwanda to Hungary and Hong Kong. An enormous segment of rich theory and lessons is missing nonetheless—those from Latin America (which is unfortunate).

Reconciliation and its ministry in mission are useful for all areas of life. Jacques Matthey, Chris Rice, and others are correct in their assertions of reconciliation encompassing the God/human, human/nature, and human/human relationships. Digging deeper, we find reconciliation as the twin sister of redemption, in which repairing what’s broken, healing wounds, and rescuing what has been lost or stolen are necessary to achieving justice and peace.

It is time to move from a body that is fixated on differences and dissensions to one that esteems commonalities and agreements. This is possible in the Body of Christ, although self-righteousness, pride, and pharisaical attitudes cloud proper judgment. Never in human history has there been as many Christian denominations, branches, and factions as there are today. This reality can be acceptable for a host of reasons, but the Kingdom of God is hurt when these parts cannot collaborate together. Reconciliation among Christian groups does not imply homogeneity, but harmony. In Acts 1 Jesus doesn’t only want them to “preach the gospel,” but to be his witnesses by living it out as Jesus did. Being divided is unhelpful. Reconciliation is vital for being his true witnesses, which makes this a timely book.

Proper reconciliation among human beings involves forgiving. After my mother’s death, I met with her assassins, expressing to them my forgiveness and my desire for a change in their lives. Although painful, reconciliation as forgiving is a commandment which is better practiced when we understand that “bad guys and good guys are mythical creatures, and don’t exist in real life. Each of us, no matter how good is fallen, and each of us, no matter how evil is as beloved as the prodigal son,” as Frederica Mathewes-Green puts it in The Illumined Heart.

EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 252-253. 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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