Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Contextualization in World Missions: Mapping and Assessing Evangelical Models

Yet another review from the "preacher man"

            Two caveats must preface this review. First, I am most assuredly not a missiologist, though I majored in Missions in Bible College. Second, my theological leanings place me in the conservative evangelical/fundamentalist slice of American Evangelicalism, so I maintain a strong tie to the authority and sufficiency of scripture in all areas. I found Moreau's work to be an excellent overview and categorizing of the contextualization models that exist in the world today.
            The book was definitely written to be used as a textbook, probably at the college level. It begins by explaining contextualization itself- various existing models, and some good and bad forms. Because contextualization carries so many meanings within its semantic range, this opening section was needed because of the various reactions and responses that evangelicals have when they hear the term. What I think needs to be understood is that the question ultimately becomes: at what point does contextualization cross the line from clarifying the Gospel to distorting it? The second half of the book deals with specific examples of evangelical contextualization, including Moreau's categories of the initiator as Facilitator, Guide, Herald, Pathfinder, Prophet and Restorer. He then examined a few trajectories that he sees future contextualization efforts taking.
            Overall, the book is strong, and will probably find its way into many college and seminary level courses on methods in missions. Its greatest strength is that it does just what it says it does- it lays out a map. Very little judgment is passed on any of the specific models. They are simply described as they fit. That also leads to the weaknesses. The book is written for missions-minded people, and may leave even college-level students confused at times over terminology and lines of thought. Also, the lack of critical thinking applied to various methods can be disturbing at times (evangelicals by definition are those who emphasize a Biblical Gospel, but within the included models are some who might fall outside that category), and the average reader probably would be intrigued by more interaction with things like the insider movements being used among Muslims, but once again, it was not within the purpose of the book to make judgments, only to report what is occurring within missions movements. 

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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