Mission has been interpreted in thousands of ways but there is always scope for a fresh perspective. This book which brings a fresh approach divides into two sections: (1) ‘The Five Marks of Mission’, articulated in ten essays, and (2) ‘Issues in Mission’, explored through a further seven. It compiles essays from scholars who are deliberately breaking new ground in the ever-challenging ‘dominating’ cultures and demonstrating a commitment to holding on to the truth in an age of compromise, whatever the response and cost. A global wisdom is displayed, conveying the possibility for the Gospel to impact on the entirety of human life and creation.
This book is an honest, critical reflection on traditional mission but brought from the outside into the local context. The chapters point to the great breadth of missiological discernment which exists when viewed on the global front, and thus contribute to the ongoing debate on mission. The reader is encouraged to understand how mission is being reshaped in the twenty-first century. Each essay stands as an excellent piece of scholarly work.
Rowan Williams recognises ‘the great migration of Europeans to other regions of the world’ and challenges the reader to re-examine the impact of its missiological approach thus far. Rowan writes: ‘The Bible hasn't finished with us. Read afresh in a new context, it delivers more of God's challenge and promise’ (p. xi).
While reflecting on traditional ways of reaching out, the book also reaffirms that ‘mission must be from all and to all’. The Kingdom of God is for all who choose to repent and obey. It challenges the reader to interpret biblical mission ‘in the context of ever-increasing socio-economic challenges which call for an intelligent and relevant interface between Christianity and these felt needs’ (p. 26).
Dave Bookless argues that caring for creation is interrelated to the Good News of the Kingdom, which also includes the ‘groaning creation’. He believes that ‘Mission that ignores creation will always present too small a vision of God and his purposes. Mission that encompasses caring for creation – as long as it always keeps Christ central and makes him known, provides a message of hope and life in all its fullness’ (p. 104).
Melba Maggay, whilst examining the traditional ‘holistic nature of the Gospel’, also explores fresh ways of understanding the mandate ‘Love God and neighbour’ in the context of ever-challenging poverty and injustice. The ongoing struggle of the ‘indigenous Maori community’ has not prevented them from celebrating what they are and as such have grown in confidence, knowing that God is with them (p. 60). Andrew F. Walls argues how ‘mixed’ social, economic, religious reasons and migration have contributed to a ‘power shift’ in terms of mission.
I believe that the book offers an excellent starting point for developing an understanding of missiological concepts and a whole range of issues which contribute to mission. These include: the discussion of social, economic and political injustices in addition to those which touch on society, ecology and environmental disaster. These essays are enlightening and also challenging as readers realise that these universal issues are often perceived differently in other cultures.
Regrettably, the book draws from a predominantly male-dominated theological perspective on mission. It would have been helpful to have a conclusion at the end of every chapter, along with a bibliography and index. This book, however, is a welcome contribution for scholars and students of missiology and ecclesiology and useful for those wishing to explore their relevance at a local church level. It is a profound, scholarly and creative intellectual presentation of global mission in the twenty-first century and is thoroughly recommended.