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Brian Stiller: From Jerusalem to Timbuktu

Brian Stiller: One thing that is implicit in Bible translation is the idea that God is at the center of all cultures.

In chapter 4, “Revolution of the Indigenous,” the author points out that putting ministry in the hands of indigenous people is a major help to the spreading of the gospel. He says that without changing its essence the gospel has the ability to adapt to any culture it enters (page 77). Those who are best able to reach and teach the people in their land are their countrymen who live in the land. As Stiller points out, indigenous people better know the needs of the people in their land (page 75). The learning curve for outsiders on this point would, of course, be much longer. Attempts to control the ministry by foreigners either from inside or outside the country (a colonial approach from the past) can actually be detrimental to church growth (page 82).

The next driver that Stiller mentions is “Re-engaging the Public Square.” In chapter 5 he notes that for some time evangelicals have steered away from the public square. By the public square he means getting involved in things that directly impact public life, things like politics. He gives a brief history and explanation of the evangelical retreat from and return to the public square. In this chapter, as in others, he supplies specific examples in support of the things he writes. He draws his examples from various places in the Global South (which is the focus of the book). With regard to getting involved in politics Stiller does say that this has not been an easy road, and he has pointed out that on occasion a Christian has not fared well or represented the Christian faith in a proper manner (page 108).

The last driver that the author mentions is in chapter 6, which is called “The Power of the Whole Gospel.” This chapter deals with embracing all that Jesus said he came to do in his mission. He announced it in the synagogue in Nazareth when he read from the book of Isaiah the prophet (Luke 4:18-19), the text he read was the opening verses of Isaiah 61. Stiller says that Jesus’ words did not just refer to the afterlife but to wholeness (page 130). The author tells us how this emphasis was lost and also what has led to its recovery.

The last part of the book, part III, is called “Jesus Goes Global.” This section consists of one chapter which is called “Wholeness.” In this chapter Stiller mentions factors that work their way through the drivers (page 163). These factors are: prayer, women in ministry, worship, refugees, and persecution (page 163). What may be of particular interest to some is the importance of the ministry of women in the spread of Christianity. Stiller gives space to discussing each of the factors in the chapter.

In the epilogue, Stiller offers some final thoughts on what the move of the center of Christianity to the Global South might mean for the future. If you are interested in the phenomenal growth of the church in the Global South, the factors that have contributed to this growth, or are interested in hearing what God is doing in the world today you will benefit from this volume.

Reviewed by John P. Lathrop


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Category: Fall 2018, Living the Faith

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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