Book Review: Christianity Rediscovered

One of the required texts for the mission class I’m taking is Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent J. Donovan. A wonderful read for people interested in mission work, whether in the field itself or running a mission organization. Donovan himself served as a missionary to the Masai in East Africa for a number of years. Therefore, his book stems largely from experience but from that experience, he begins to formulate a theology of mission. Donovan discusses some major flaws with the common perception of mission work. He renounces all mission work that is uses Western Christianity as the road map of how a newly-formed church should look. He finds mission with the intent of converting individuals lacking . . . he proposes a shift in focus of theology from salvation to creation. Donovan also talks at length about the gospel and contextualization. He suggests that we must preach the gospel and allow these new communities of faith to develop their own practices and their own style of church. One concept that struck me from the book was that mission has an end. Missionaries should enter a context with an end to their work (this comes after he spent around 25 years ministering to the same people). He draws largely upon Paul’s strategy of being a traveling missionary, essentially realizing that he had preached the gospel, prepared a couple people to take it from there, and thus, it was time to move on. This book really makes one think at length about the methodology of missions that has been employed for so long.

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