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Introducing Christian Mission Today: Scripture, History, and Issues.

Introducing Christian Mission Today: Scripture, History, and Issues.

By Michael W. Goheen. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2014. Pp. 448. $30.

Michael W. Goheen divides Introducing Christian Mission Today into three main sections: (1) biblical theology of missions, (2) historical reflections, and (3) current issues and contemporary developments. Goheen notes in his introduction that the paradigm for mission has shifted from being Western to being global, from political expansion to transformation, and from using the Bible to authenticate a preconceived view of missions to deriving mission from the Bible (15-32). This shift has shaped the writing of this book and informed its consciousness of the global perspective in the domain of missions and mission theology.

In part 1, in a departure from a simply historical discussion of the biblical foundation of missions, Goheen focuses on understanding the Bible itself as a mission story that is universal, centripetal, and eschatological (48). This story is translatable to every context and generation (68-69). Calling attention to the inseparability of the Bible mission story and theology in discussion of missions enables Goheen to provide a robust reflection on the interrelatedness of several theological concerns such as Scripture, eschatology, soteriology, Christology, ecclesiology, and pneumatology. The perspective he offers responds to the challenge of "sacralization and secularization" (81-113).

Regarding mission history, he notes that from Bible times to the present, contexts have always shaped missions. Paradigms he identifies include church, kingdom, enlightenment, ecumenical engagement, and global Christianity. The paradigm of global Christianity is current today, which offers opportunity for Christians all around the world to air their views and to listen to others as well (117-224).

Within current mission issues, Goheen addresses the redefinition of missions in chapter 6, "Holistic Mission: Witness in Life, Word and Deed." He also notes the centrality of a form of contextualization that in each of the world's settings is faithful to the Bible and free from ethnocentrism and relativism, as well as from syncretism and irrelevance. Rejecting the notion of a "trans-cultural theology" that is "universally true for all cultures" (264-94), he affirms the translatability of the Gospel into every culture as something crucial that enables ownership of the faith by all peoples. He raises other issues that require critical attention, including partnerships, holistic ministry, and "supporting national missionaries" (370-435). The various mission organizations will have diverse concerns about these issues related to questions of indigeneity, dependency, and prudent resource management.

This book provides insight into the trends of mission history. The current paradigm of global Christianity is characterized by reverse missions and missions from the point of weakness. The surging growth and enlarged impact of new voices in global Christianity coupled with the strengthening call by Western academics in the field of mission studies make unmistakably clear the need to take this trend seriously. The issues to which Goheen directs the church's attention call students of mission to engage in further missionary research. Today's new direction in mission brings challenges, which can be addressed through dialogue, with all participants in global Christianity upholding the goal of trusting, correcting, and mutually edifying one another. --Moses Audi

Moses Audi is associate professor of theology and director of academic affairs, Baptist Theological Seminary, Kaduna, Nigeria. A Nigerian, he has served as a missionary in Nigeria, Ghana, and Mali.
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Author:Audi, Moses
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2015
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