by Darrell L. Whiteman and Gerald H. Anderson, eds.
The vital role of prevenient grace in world mission, the catholic spirit of John Wesley, and “being with” as a Wesleyan incarnational impulse are but a few of the bracing topics unpacked in World Mission in the Wesleyan Spirit.
Providence House Publishers, 238 Seaboard Lane, Franklin, TN 37067, 2009, 358 pages, $24.95.
—Reviewed by Evvy Hay Campbell, associate professor of intercultural studies, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
The vital role of prevenient grace in world mission, the catholic spirit of John Wesley, and “being with” as a Wesleyan incarnational impulse are but a few of the bracing topics unpacked in World Mission in the Wesleyan Spirit. Commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Mission Society, founded in 1984 outside of The United Methodist Church, the rich text sparkles with solid essays from Sri Lankan, Latin American, Asian, African, and Western voices that share a Wesleyan theological orientation. Succinct introductions to the five sections, which contain thirty-one essays that focus variously on biblical, theological, historical, cultural, and strategic perspectives, make the text equally suitable for the classroom or personal use.
Especially engaging are the diverse foci of the essays. Andrew Walls writes on the global implications of “World Parish to World Church,” while Michael Mozley relates the story of “Thomas Birch Freeman: The Most Famous Wesleyan Missionary of West Africa You Have Never Heard Of.” Case studies are used to explicate ways in which Wesleyan theology and mission methods were foundational in establishing Methodist mission. Dana Robert explores Spirit-led missionary volunteerism and higher education as missionary innovation, while Arun Jones analyzes institutionalization in mission history through the lens of Clara Swain Hospital in Bareilly, India.
A particular strength is the “Strategic Perspectives” essays. George Hunter’s illuminating article on the genius of Wesley as a strategist points both forward and back, suggesting how Wesley’s emphasis on non-negotiable objectives, disciplined intelligence gathering, facilitation of grass-roots policy development, and innovative strategies such as small group “class meetings” and itinerant open-air preaching enabled the momentum of Methodism. Norman Thomas argues well for a Wesleyan approach to environmental justice and an ecotheology that addresses water scarcity, shrinking forests, and soil depletion. Darrell Whiteman articulates the broader agenda of many evangelical mission agencies today that embraces both a holistic understanding of salvation as described in the Lausanne Covenant and a greater focus on the Kingdom of God.
Having served as a Wesleyan missionary in Sierra Leone, I found World Mission in the Wesleyan Spirit to be a stimulating and exciting read that repeatedly informed gaps in my understanding of endeavors in which I have been engaged, and that makes for a satisfying book. Equally, it can be challenging and enlightening for those of other traditions who want a brighter glimpse of the larger portrait of God’s purposes and work in world mission.
EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 2, pp. 254-255. Copyright © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.