Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Mission in History

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Mission in History

Article excerpt

The Book Notes feature that appears in each issue of this journal offers a fascinating array of recent publications. These studies treat mission-related topics in the wide sense of God's mission of making all things new (Rev. 21:5).

Space limitations prevent highlighting all of the books listed in this issue; here I mention three. First is Won Sang Lee's Pastoral Leadership: A Case Study, including Reference to John Chrysostom (Wipf & Stock, 2015). This self-critical examination compares, in a unique and bold way, Lee's own leadership characteristics with those of John Chrysostom, fourth-century preacher and archbishop of Constantinople. Sverre Bagge's Cross and Scepter: The Rise of the Scandinavian Kingdoms from the Vikings to the Reformation (Princeton Univ. Press, 2014) analyzes the half-millennium-long development of churches and states in modern-day Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Robert William Keith Wilson, in George Augustus Selivyn (1809-1878): Theological Formation, Life, and Work (Ashgate, 2014), meticulously examines the person some experts regard as the most prominent nineteenth-century High Anglican missionary-churchman.

Each of these studies sheds light on particular historical developments in Christian mission. Their historical locations vary from fourth-century Asia Minor to medieval Scandinavia to nineteenth-century England and New Zealand to today's Republic of Korea and the United States. But no matter when or where, Christian mission always takes place within the rough-and-tumble, concrete world of economic, social, ethnic, linguistic, and political history.

Along with exhibiting the historical embeddedness of Christian mission--that is, its interwovenness within the fabric of world history--these studies also demonstrate the uniquely religious aspects of Christian mission. Won Sang Lee, John Chrysostom, Scandinavian churches, and George Augustus Selwyn all manifest specifically religious features that are irreducible to other categories of explanation, such as economic categories. The articles in this issue point to the same duality of features--for example, the way "Progressive Pentecostalism," in connection with sociological factors but also out of specifically religious motivation, has been involved since the 1980s with Christian development concerns. Similarly, both historical and spiritual factors were part of the decline of American Protestant missions after World War I, as well as of the beginning of the New Wilmington Missionary Conference at the height of Western imperial confidence just prior to World War I. The beginning of Christianity in Miango, Nigeria, involved intermingled historical and spiritual forces, and the dualistic mind-set of Ethiopian evangelical Christians can be traced to influences that are both religious (Ethiopian Orthodox and expatriate Protestant) and political-ideological (the Communist Derg regime). …

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