David Hesselgave's Paradigms in Conflict: 10 key questions about Christian missions t

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
This is an interesting book. This OP is not meant to be a book review, but I wish to summarize the 10 issues and get your thoughts:


From:

Review: Paradigms in Conflict




The following is my summary of the controversies presented by Hesselgrave, but not necessarily with the author's exact emphases. Go to the book itself to get his full perspective, which at times varies from my own.


Question 1: An impossible mix or a perfect match?

Sovereignty and Free Will. On the one hand, God is sovereign in his work in the world. On the other hand, God commands our participation in missions. Determinism saps missions. God's call to fight evil energizes missions and gives it authority. Evangelical Friends have seldom fretted over these issues, preferring to quietly believe in God's sovereign power and guidance, yet fully accepting a God-given realm of human activity and obedience. Human choice counts; yet God has his ways of securing his will.


Question 2: Is this missions trip really necessary?

Restrictivism and Inclusivism. On the one hand, all people are included in the light of the gospel, but on the other, the saved are limited to those who respond. Of interest to Quakers is Hesselgrave's use of “light” and “sound” metaphors. All have seen the light (John 1:4, 9). All have heard the sound (Romans 10:18). All have been enlightened to some degree and so are culpable if they turn away. The author honors God's revelation through nature, culture, and even through non-Christian religions, but he is adamant that preaching and teaching about the living Christ is what opens the door of faith and life eternal.


Question 3: How should we approach adherents of other faiths?

Common Ground and Enemy Territory. On the one hand, we can find common ground with non-Christians, but on the other hand, the non-Christian religious systems are defiled by error and never compare with the truth found in Jesus Christ. As an instructor in world religions, this is familiar ground to me. I too have discovered the noble and good in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism. However, I simply must agree with Hesselgrave at this point. Glorious insights are there, but they're caught up in an oppressive system that blinds one to the glory of God and perpetuates sin as well as systems that cannot be accepted.


Question 4: For whom is the gospel good news?

Holism and Prioritism. On the one hand, the mission of the church is to the poor, but on the other hand, poverty appears in many forms and priority must be given to the transforming message of Jesus spoken to the heart. Only the message of Jesus can address spiritual poverty and emptiness. Hesselgrave may misunderstand and underemphasize the need to express unconditional love in ministry, but he has to be right that the poor Christians of the world (most of those Christians in the non-Western world!) have a transforming message whether or not they have economic clout or great technological programs of physical betterment touted proudly by the West. The simple story of Jesus has a power that transforms.



Question 5: Who is our missionary model—Jesus or Paul?

Incarnationalism and Respresentationalism. On the one hand, the church is called to incarnational living, but the metaphor when applied to the church has its limitations and Christians must balance this with verbal witness as God's ambassadors. Evangelical Friends often talk about “incarnational living.” It's a wonderful term—or is it? Hesselgrave objects, saying that while we are called to model our lives after Jesus, the model of Pauline ministry is valid also—the model of being Christ's ambassador or representative in the world. The ambassador brings a message, a witness. Hesselgrave helps us see there is a difference in the two ideas, and that both are crucial.



Question 6: What is essential in spiritual warfare?

Power Encounter and Truth Encounter. On the one hand, God's power visibly displayed convinces and convicts, but on the other hand, so does the teaching of truth. One without the other becomes irrelevant. Friends missionaries around the world in the last one hundred years have observed Power Encounters and Truth Encounters. There have even been “signs and wonders” at times that have drawn people to Christ. However, full convincement has always included thorough teaching. When it has not, the church has not prospered.


Question 7: A call for missionaries or a divine calling?

Amateurization and Professionalization. On the one hand, God's simple call to missions includes everyone, but on the other hand, his calling is for a lifetime of deep commitment using all the human abilities at our command, committed in tender devotion to God. The defender of the “amateur” declares “everyone is a missionary,” and “we cannot be limited to the confines of the institutional church,” or “the Spirit is spontaneous.” Who can argue with that? Yet such thinking ignores the Spirit-directed work of adequate preparation, long-range goals, workers who go first as learners and then as teachers, people who understand culture and are capable of analysis.



Question 8: How does the inspiration of Scripture “in-form”?

Form and Meaning. On the one hand, we must preserve truly biblical meaning in our witness, but on the other hand, the best way to do that will be to trust the witness of Scripture as empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is the essence of contextual communication across cultures. Hesselgrave's most valid concern in this chapter is the modern tendency to rework anything biblical that offends the culture. Scripture is, at times, offensive and counter-cultural, and that cannot be avoided. If we use the social sciences without believing we are communicating a truth from God, we have a problem. I find comfort in the Quaker approach that the written, objective Scripture matched with the enlivening empowerment of the Holy Spirit will protect truth and lead the way to a contextual communication of the gospel.



Question 9: If we go in force, will he come in haste?

Countdowns and Prophetic Alerts. On the one hand, biblical references to the Second Coming are tied with proclamation of the gospel in such a way as to urge us forward to complete the Great Commission. Yet we are not called to set dates and time tables as much as we are urged to work hard in ministry and be alert. Both ideas have their strengths and weaknesses.



Question 10: What on Earth is God building—here and now?

The Kingdom of God and the Church of Christ. On the one hand, the emphasis on Kingdom ethics is rich, but it cannot eclipse the call to build the church. Is there a conflict between Jesus and Paul? I don't think so. Quakers have long lived and talked the Kingdom for the here and now. We are children of the Kingdom of Light. That Kingdom of Light takes partial form in the establishment of the Body of Christ—the church—and will be more fully experienced with his Second Coming.

Above all else, Hesselgrave wants a theology that will release the church to be a missionary church. He believes that will require a new sense of theological equilibrium. Lord, give us wholeness and save us from our loss of balance!







Okay, my questions:

-What other issues are there,
-What do you think about these issues above?
 

Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
I haven't read his book, but I didn't like his TV series, Baywatch. His older TV series, Knight Rider, was much better.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
The whole list of ten is rather overwhelming. Would it be possible to break this down into smaller chunks that could be separately considered?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
How about question 3:

Question 3: How should we approach adherents of other faiths?

Common Ground and Enemy Territory.

On the one hand, we can find common ground with non-Christians, but on the other hand, the non-Christian religious systems are defiled by error and never compare with the truth found in Jesus Christ. As an instructor in world religions, this is familiar ground to me. I too have discovered the noble and good in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism. However, I simply must agree with Hesselgrave at this point. Glorious insights are there, but they're caught up in an oppressive system that blinds one to the glory of God and perpetuates sin as well as systems that cannot be accepted.


Thoughts?
 

Brian Kooshian

Puritan Board Freshman
Wouldn't you agree that even the good found in other religions is merely what could be called a "civic" good? That is, because it isn't done out of love to Christ, it has no spiritual value to it at all. And while "truth" found in other religions may be factually true (e.g. -- "Allah hua akbar" = "God is the highest"), it stems from false presuppositions or beliefs, and that makes it no better than a bald-faced lie.

I am always concerned when people try to build theological bridges with Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism. In reality, the only real common ground a Christian shares with a non-Christian of any kind is the image of God in him, and his sin.
 
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