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Evangelical and Frontier Mission: Perspectives on the Global Progress of the Gospel, reviewed by Malcolm R. Brubaker

Pneuma Review Winter 2013

Evangelical and Frontier MissionBeth Snodderly and A. Scott Moreau, eds., Evangelical and Frontier Mission: Perspectives on the Global Progress of the Gospel (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2011), 312 pages, ISBN 9781870345989.

To the Pentecostal/charismatic readers of The Pneuma Review this work’s title may not seem all that relevant. However, here are some reasons why this collection of twenty articles grouped in six topics is an important work for any evangelical/pentecostal person interested in the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. In particular, the book puts the focus on the progress of mission organizations in evangelizing the frontier “unreached” people-groups that can be found in every nation, including ones in the West.

First, the work is comprehensive in surveying the past one hundred years of Protestant missions. The first essay by A. Scott Moreau focuses on this historical survey of evangelical missionary efforts. The impetus for such a review came from the World Council of Churches 2010 Edinburgh conference as well as the evangelical Lausanne conferences of 1974, 1989, and the recent the 2010 Cape Town and 2010 Tokyo gatherings.

Second, while not the major focus, this volume does not neglect Pentecostal missions. Assemblies of God (AG) missionary to Thailand, Alan R. Anderson contributed a balanced critique of his own mission agency that has seen tremendous growth in Africa, Latin America, and Korea. Today there are over twenty fraternal Assemblies of God organizations with which American AG missionaries work. Such success can also stir up conflicted aims and purposes between the parent mission agency and these national churches. Also, success in parts of the world create questions as to why other areas have not seen similar growth in Christian converts and churches (e.g. South Asia and the Islamic world). Anderson suggests that a “theology of the hard work” is needed. Another renewal-influenced contributor is pastor-theologian Gregory A. Boyd whose article is on spiritual warfare, a theme that resonates with Pentecostals worldwide.

A third helpful aspect of this book is the representative profile of contributors both in terms of roles (academics, pastors, missionaries, and mission directors) and perspectives (gender, geography, and ideas). Some like Ralph D. Winter and Renè Padilla are well known while others such as Yalin Xin are not. Both Winter and Padilla argue for a wider purpose of the gospel of the kingdom that includes a holistic approach to Christianity. Xin contributed a biographical essay on Deborah Xu who has been instrumental in the Chinese house church movement.

Lastly, the net result in reading this work will be to expand one’s understanding of key concepts at the center of mission work today. Most notably is the “missional church” model that should apply to all Christian churches and mission agencies. This emphasis is often summarized in the maxim, “From everywhere to everywhere.” Unimaginable to those who gathered at Edinburg in 1910, the secular societies of Western culture by 2010 have become as missions-needy as those many in the Majority World. Missions is no longer defined by political geography but by cultural ethnicity. Padilla’s article states this emphasis in four statements and serves as a final word and challenge: (1) all churches send and all churches receive, (2) the whole world is a mission field, and every human need is an opportunity for missionary service, (3) every Christian is called to follow Jesus Christ and to be committed to God’s mission in the world, and (4) mission is life both on the individual and communal levels.

Reviewed by Malcolm R. Brubaker

 

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Winter 2013

About the Author: Malcolm R. Brubaker, Th.M. (Westminster Theological Seminary), M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), B.A. (Evangel College), is Professor of Bible at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA, extension faculty for Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at VFCC, and a Ph.D. candidate at Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA). Malcolm has experience serving as a pastor and is the author of numerous articles and papers on biblical theology and homiletics, including the Ezekiel (1999) commentary for the Complete Biblical Library (World Library Press).

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