By Spindler, Marc
International Bulletin of Missionary Research , Vol. 21, No. 2
Europe: Was It Ever Really Christian? The Interaction Between Gospel and Culture.
By An ton Wessels. London: SCM Press, 1994. Pp. xii, 242. 12.95.
Anton Wessels is professor of missiology and science of religion at the Free University of Amsterdam and president of the Interuniversity Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Research in Utrecht. His latest essay is a contextual contribution to the ecumenical discussion on Gospel and culture, and to the missiological debate about the re-evangelization of Europe. With encyclopedic erudition, Wessels exposes the pagan heritage of concepts, myths, and rituals in Europe. Three chapters are devoted in turn to the GrecoRoman, the Celtic (mainly Irish), and the Germanic (I would say Nordic) context of ancient and medieval mission. Mission to Europe in the Middle Ages never included a tabula rasa policy, in spite of the isolated example of the sacred oak felled by Boniface in 724 A.D. Myth, as instrument of knowledge, is essential to a really living religion and, consequently, to the transmission of the Gospel (p. …