by Mike Barnett and Michael Pocock, eds.
This book is number twelve in the annual Evangelical Missiological Society series.
William Carey Library, 1605 E. Elizabeth Street, Pasadena, CA 91104, 2005, 313 pages, $14.99.
—Reviewed by W. Kenneth Phillips, department of Christian ministries, Northwestern College, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
This book is number twelve in the annual Evangelical Missiological Society series. Its theme is described by Michael Pocock in the foreword: “Contemporary Evangelicals maintain that Christ is still the center of their mission and message. But will Christ be explicitly proclaimed as the indispensable center when faced with an increasingly pluralistic world?…That is the concern expressed in this volume.”
Each author brings his or her own experience to bear on Christ and a pluralistic audience, but two common threads unite the articles: (1) the historic Jesus Christ is savior of all mankind and (2) the messenger must communicate Christ sensitively to diverse audiences.
In Section One, “The Centrality of Christ,” George Murray and Patrick Cate in separate articles not only affirm the historic evangelical answer to “Is Christ the only way of salvation?” but press the point that this biblical understanding should affect the way we reach out to lost people. Pocock offers a Christ-centered epistemology as an alternative to postmodernism. In addition to responding to subjective yearnings for transcendence, significance and community, the gospel can offer a “critical realism” that affirms objective reality but insists on the testimony of multiple witnesses as a check against individual subjectivity. William Larkin looks at increasing poverty in the global economic context. A holistic application of the New Testament themes of redemption and reconciliation answers the questions of the poor.
In Section Two, “Christ in Contemporary Missions,” Harold Netland reviews the effect of globalization on the different “faces” of Jesus in other religions and new religious movements. In a second article Netland illustrates how to present the biblical Jesus through a “responsible Christian apologetic” that is not about mere personal experience or a presentation of the resurrection of Christ. Instead, this apologetic is one that addresses the worldview issues about history and its relation to religious truth “with cultural sensitivity and with attitudes of humility, gentleness and genuine respect for adherents of other religious traditions.” Michael Cooper illustrates the changing religious scene in Europe, with a focus on the growth of contemporary paganism and our evangelistic strategies. Cecil Stalnaker presents the biblical evidence for “What would Jesus say about receptivity?” Stalnaker writes, “If there is no ‘holding to’ or fruit, there is no true receptivity. True receptivity arises from good soil, which is due to the work of the Father.”
In Section Three, “Missiological Insights,” Samuel Larsen argues that the judgment at Babel is God’s way to fill and subdue the earth and that cultural and linguistic diversity are a blessing rather than a curse that brings glory to God. Mike Barnett reviews three paradigms for leadership in Western culture, in the Church and in missions. John Moldovan presents the relation of E. Stanley Jones’ Christology to his missiological practices. Norman Allison illustrates from his courses how to help students understand religious and scientific belief systems in the West and in traditional societies as a basis for their missions practice.
This book is a useful resource on a pressing issue for mission-minded Christians in churches and institutions of higher education.
Check these titles:
Peskett, Howard and Vinoth Ramachandra. 2003. The Message of Mission: The Glory of Christ in All Time and Space. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Escobar, Samuel E. 2003. The New Global Mission: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Greene, Colin J. D. 2004. Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking out the Horizons. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans.
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