Winds of Change in the Christian Mission, by J. Herbert Kane (Moody, 1973, 160 pp., $2.25 pb), is reviewed by Date Rhoton, missionary, St. Pölten, Austria.

“We are told that missions are at the crossroads, but this should not unduly disturb us. Missions have always been at the crossroads. That is where they began; that is where they belong.” In keeping with this statement in the opening chapter, Kane shows a zest throughout the book for telling it like it is.

Not many years ago missionary biographies, challenges, and reports were mainly intended to shock people at home about the need abroad, to thrill them with answers to prayer, and to challenge them to full commitment, which often meant the willingness to work in another land. This book, instead of focusing on these areas, seeks with a high degree of success to present the various aspects of missionary work, including the problems and failures.

Sound counsel is offered for the problem facing modern missions. For example, there is a student-missionary tension today that was little known fifteen or so years ago. The student today is taught to accept people as they are and not to seek through any form of imperialism (even religious) to impose his beliefs on people of another culture. Thus the “old-time missionary” is met with bored if not disgusted faces when he challenges a student body to join him in delivering people from the blindness of Islam or Buddhism. Kane suggests that the missionary should seek to understand the student of today. He must speak on relevant topics in a coherent and concise way and after careful preparation. Some missionaries must come to grips with the fact that they might not be speakers for student bodies and possibly might not be speakers at all.

The students, on the other hand, must also be fair. They pride themselves on accepting people as they are and should therefore also accept missionaries as they are. The present swing of the pendulum away from all that connotes imperialism should not mean that we are to be indifferent to the people living in other countries, or that we are to forget the uniqueness of the Gospel.

Where are the missionary candidates today? Could it be that many are not going to the field because they lack the dedication that characterized the famous missionaries of the past century? Kane reminds us of Hudson Taylor: when he “arrived in China he didn’t find any indoor plumbing, central heating, electric light, or telephone service.” And many of us missionaries would leave the point at that. But Kane faithfully goes on: “So what? He didn’t have them back in England either.” The point is that the young people who do go forth to other lands today are doing it at even greater sacrifice in many ways, for they have much more to give up.

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One often hears astounding figures about the number of missionaries who drop out after only a short time abroad. Kane goes through the statistics with a fine-toothed comb and discovers that actually the drop-out rate is encouragingly low. Only 2.5 per cent drop out in the first twenty-one months, whereas even the fairly successful Peace Corps has had a drop-out rate of 17.2 percent for the same length of time. Only 14.4 per cent of missionaries drop out after six years.

Balanced and helpful pointers are given concerning the training of the missionary for today’s world. The advantages and the disadvantages of going abroad in secular employment (but with a Christian witness) are carefully weighed.

The sensitive and very fair treatment of all sides of issues is continued throughout the book, though some minor points could be challenged. Certainly Kane is generally correct when he maintains that “the teaching profession offers the best opportunity for the non-professional missionary”; yet his section on this point does not make room for the possible exceptions that do exist. Similarly, his assertion that English-speaking short-term workers should go only to English-speaking countries seems a little dogmatic. There is truth in this point, of course, but I know personally of many short-termers who went to lands where they could not speak the language and were well used.

In calculating the expense of the short-termer, Kane mentions the large round-trip air fares from Chicago to Johannesburg and to New Delhi. He would have done well to cite as another example the far cheaper air fare to Europe.

Likewise, it would have given a more balanced picture if, when discussing the “lack of continuity” in short-term work, he had mentioned something that he did allude to earlier in the book: if the short-termer is simply helping a missionary or a national who is there year in and year out, then lack of continuity may be less of a problem.

Kane’s statement that “Billy Graham and other evangelists from the West have held meetings in most of” the Eastern European lands is certainly misleading. Billy Graham was in Yugoslavia for a few days. Any meetings by Western evangelists in the other lands would be on a much more restricted basis than Kane’s statement implies. But the overall point that the author is making is valid: closed doors do not remain closed forever.

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The book closes on a note of encouragement, reminding us that God is sovereign. God is the One who opens and shuts the doors:

During the fifth decade of the nineteenth century the church of Christ, like a mighty army with its banners flying, moved into China. On its banners were inscribed the words of Revelation 3:7, “[I am] he that openeth, and no man shutteth.” It was a great day for the Christian church.… Exactly one hundred years later the missionaries were again on the move, only this time they were coming out of China. The “mighty army” had been badly mauled; and the banners, tattered and torn, were trailing in the dust. But on those banners were inscribed the words of Holy Scripture: “[I am] he that … shutteth, and no man openeth” (Rev. 3:7) [158].

Christ is building his church. No matter how the situation may look, we know that he is in control. The absence of missionaries in a country does not mean that God is not at work in that land. As Kane puts it, “It is one thing to get rid of the missionaries; it is another to get rid of Almighty God.”

Sex Education And You

Sex Is a Parent Affair, by Letha Scanzoni (Regal, 1973, 261 pp., $1.95 pb), From Parent to Child About Sex, by Wilson W. Grant (Zondervan, 1973, 183 pp., $3.95, $1.95 pb), Sex Is More Than a Word, by Andrew D. Lester (Broadman, 1973, 92 pp., $1.95 pb), and Teaching Your Children About Sex, by John C. Howell (Broadman, 1973, 118 pp., $1.95 pb), are reviewed by Sandra Swisher Chandler, Arcadia, California.

“Parents are only fooling themselves if they think sex education can be dodged … for it is ignorance in sexual understanding, rather than accurate sex knowledge, that produces curiosity, experimentation and misguided conduct.”

So writes Letha Scanzoni in one of four recently published books on sex education. All are worth reading; you might pick the one most relevant to your situation.

Frank and forthright, writing with no holds barred, Mrs. Scanzoni takes an A to Z look at anatomy and reproduction (the cut-away diagrams throughout are helpful) and vividly describes the functions of sexual glands and organs. Her book can stand up to the best in the field, secular or religious, and she backs what she says with Scripture.

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The only overworked point is her repeated assertion that most parents are inadequately prepared to discuss sex with their children.

Wilson Grant, a medical doctor, belabors no points in From Parent to Child About Sex, and what he says should help to give a parent confidence about including sex education as a natural part of everyday life. He combines medical knowledge with psychology and common sense. There are excellent discussion questions, and the book is a good choice for family reading or for sex-education classes in churches or schools.

Dr. Grant is up to date on statistics, makes good use of Scripture, and offers valuable biblical insights. His basic premise is that “the child’s attitudes toward sex start right in the home with what his parents feel, say and do.” A glossary of terms is convenient.

Lester’s and Howell’s books are part of a Broadman series entitled “Sexuality in Christian Living.” Lester deals with the physical and psychological sexual adjustments of teen-agers. The book doesn’t tell about Lester’s background or how he is qualified to write.

I would recommend this book only to extremely mature teen-agers who are already—or are on the brink of being—involved in sexual intimacies. Lester says, “A Christian must be willing to take responsibility for the consequences of his sexual behavior.” Many Christian teens appear willing enough to take the responsibility, but they lack the emotional maturity to handle the implied freedom that goes with such a statement.

The viewpoint of Lester’s book is liberal—in fact, too liberated from Scripture to keep sexual scales balanced. Example: “Each of you must decide at every moment within the loving relationships you establish with boyfriends or girlfriends what levels of lovemaking are appropriate, responsible, ethical responsibilities for you and your date, steady, or fiancee.”

Howell attempts to help parents execute a well-rounded sex-education program emanating from the home. The book is well written and easy to understand. Basic questions are presented and answered concretely. The writing tends to sound a bit textbookish, but while some might consider this a drawback, most readers will be gratified to find the book a sex-education minicourse.

I was pleased to find Erik Erickson, David Mace, and Robert Havighurst—among others—quoted by Howell. These authors are well known and respected by authorities in psychology and child development.

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Preaching The Whole Bible

The Old Testament and the Proclamation of the Gospel, by Elizabeth Achtemeier (Westminster, 1973, $7.50), is reviewed by Joseph Galle III, chaplain, United States Army, Fort Meade, Maryland.

Professor Achtemeier is to be congratulated for providing a much needed theological perspective for our preaching. Today, when much of the sermonic menu offers “specials” from the untidy kitchens of secular humanism, optimistic romanticism, and individualism, the “steak and potatoes” of this book prove substantially satisfying and nourishing.

The author states succinctly and forcefully what many of us feel but have had difficulty articulating, that American popular religion has degenerated into the worship of some vague, inactive, undemanding, private “presence.” There is in the American church, she says, “a widespread ethical humanism which equates the good or the will of God with the fulfillment of human needs and desires and rights.” Elements of humanism manifest themselves in the widespread faith in the worth of the individual and in an overwhelming reliance on the psychological, social, and political sciences to define what is proper for man to do and be. Ethics has become synonymous with that which fulfills personality and builds a sense of community. In such a context man’s life loses its transcendent base in God and becomes its own enclosed measure.


Studies in Missions, compiled by William Needham, and World Congress Country Profiles, by the Congress Research Committee (both from Missions Advanced Research and Communication Center [919 W. Huntington Dr., Monrovia, California 91016], $3 and $10 respectively). The first of these very useful tools contains abstracts of numerous graduate-level theses produced from about 1969 through 1973, indexed by subject and author. The second is a series of fifty-three booklets, averaging eight pages, surveying the status of Christianity in various countries and regions. It was prepared for the recent International Congress on World Evangelization.

C. S. Lewis: An Annotated Checklist of Writings About Him and His Works, compiled by Joe Christopher and Joan Ostling (Kent State University, 390 pp., $15). The growing legion of Lewis admirers will welcome this massive, well-done compilation. The annotations are especially valuable. Many individuals will want this; all theological and major college libraries should definitely acquire it.

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The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Second Edition, edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (Oxford, 1,518 pp., $35). A completely revised edition of the dictionary that has been the principal reference work in its field since it was first published (1957). Its editorial origins give it a British emphasis. There are some 6,000 entries. Bibliographies are updated. All theological libraries will need this new edition.

Christians Under the Hammer and Sickle, by Winrich Scheffbuch (Zondervan, 214 pp., $4.95). General survey of what is happening to evangelicals in the Soviet Union today. Documents, photos, lists of names enhance the inspiring and balanced narrative.

Put It All Together, by Maurice E. Wagner (Zondervan, 162 pp., $4.95). The first of two volumes by a Christian psychologist/pastor/chaplain. A practical book dealing with “developing inner security” in light of biblical principles. The follow-up will explore the building of an adequate self-concept.

Minister’s Worship Handbook, by James D. Robertson (Baker, 136 pp., $3.95). Careful study of the meaning and application of worship in Scripture and history by the professor of preaching at Asbury Seminary. Gives numerous practical suggestions and aids for the conduct of worship.

Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches: 1974, edited by Constant Jacquet, Jr. (Abingdon, 276 pp., $9.95). Useful for current names and addresses of leaders of the principal denominations, church councils, and specialized institutions. Users should heed the warnings of pitfalls in handling the statistical data. The title is misleading since non-Christian groups are included. It would be helpful for future editions to include even more of the non-Christian groups, mainly from Asia, that are so often in the news.

Revival!, by Eleanor Dickinson and Barbara Benziger (Harper & Row, 180 pp., $4.95 pb). Appalachian religion portrayed in drawings, photographs, long quotations.

Religion in America: History and Historiography, by Edwin Gaustad (American Historical Association [400 A St. S.E., Washington, D. C. 20003], 59 pp., $1 pb). Excellent brief overview of American religious history, plus an essay on the shifting ways in which Church history has been written. Numerous footnote references for further study.

Biomedical Ethics, by Kenneth Vaux (Harper & Row, 131 pp., $5.95). An attempt to offer a workable morality for questions of organ transplants, euthanasia, and the like. Blends the ethics of Ramsey, Fletcher, and Thielicke. Religiously vague, but the subject is of increasing importance.

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Blaise Pascal: The Genius of His Thought, by Roger Hazelton (Westminster, 218 pp., $7.50). An admirer attempts to introduce readers to the vast range of Pascal’s thought. Generous but not excessive use of quotations. Enticing.

Vanya, by Myrna Grant (Creation, 222 pp., $4.95). Account of a Christian soldier in the Soviet Army who was persecuted and executed because of his faith. Translations of pertinent documents are appended.

Very Sure of God, by E. LeRoy Lawson (Vanderbilt University, 168 pp., $8.95). A study by an evangelical minister of the religious language in the poetry of Robert Browning. Shows his use of orthodox terms with heterodox meanings. Based on a doctoral dissertation.

The New Testament: An Introduction, by Norman Perrin (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 385 pp., n.p., pb). Comprehensive overview, reflecting the latest critical positions. Useful as an introduction to twentieth-century scholarship more than to first-century Christianity.

This has come about, according to Achtemeier, because the Church lost the Old Testament—and subsequently New Testament—understanding of God and man. The result of this loss is the emergence of that “popular American faith” which Achtemeier dubs “Readers’ Digest Religion.” This religion presents Jesus as the supreme humanistic example, God as a vaguely defined mystical presence, and both as too removed, impersonal, or inaccessible to make significant demands on the individual’s life in society. “Readers’ Digest Religion,” therefore, remains largely private, individual, undemanding; it is never clearly defined and may be isolated from every other realm of the worshiper’s life.

The non-irenic thesis of The Old Testament and the Proclamation of the Gospel is:

The valid use of the Old Testament in the Christian pulpit is built upon the historical fact that Jesus Christ, as proclaimed in the New Testament, is the completion and fulfillment of the word of God witnessed to in the Old Testament. On this basis, the Old Testament is given to the Christian as the promise of Jesus Christ, not just in its prophetic portions but as a whole [p. 163].

Achtemeier emphasizes what we desperately need today—preaching that proclaims the Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the covenant-making God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a particularly illuminating section—“The Relation of the Two Testaments”—she shows the world of God to be alive and lively. Israel experienced (felt, sensed, engaged, confronted, and knew) that word in running dialogue with Yahweh, a leading, guiding, turning, renewing God. In these experiences God made his nature clear; men discovered him to be demanding, holy, all powerful, totally other, and One who desires to live in fellowship with them in a relationship of love and trust.

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Since the New Testament understands Jesus Christ to be the completion of every major Old Testament theological tradition, neither Jesus Christ nor the Church can be understood apart from the Old Testament. Therefore the preacher who intends to proclaim the Gospel fully and faithfully must understand the message of God’s steadfast love of Israel. Not only are the followers of Christ the heirs of God’s promises to Israel, but it is they who become the new Israel in Christ. Through Jesus Christ the Church inherited the Old Testament as its Scripture.

In this book we are not only admonished to preach the Old Testament message concomitantly with the New but are shown how to do so without allegorizing, spiritualizing, or otherwise violating the Bible’s historical integrity. Achtemeier blends theology and homiletical methodology so as to offer wholesome sermonic provisions. The book is a companion that will help preachers serve the Bread of Life to those who want to be fed.

Who Is A Missionary?

Myths About Missions, by Horace L. Fenton, Jr. (InterVarsity, 1973, 112 pp., $1.50 pb), is reviewed by Leroy Birney, missionary, Christian Missions in Many Lands, Medellin, Colombia.

An erroneous idea, confidently believed and acted upon, can do irreparable damage. “Humanly speaking,” says Horace Fenton, “the future of the missionary effort depends on our constantly bringing all our missionary concepts and convictions under the judgment of Scripture.”

Fenton presents various myths (stereotypes) about missions, discusses their negative effects, and proposes alternative concepts. Unfortunately, the scriptural basis for rejecting the stereotypes or accepting the alternatives is usually touched upon very lightly, and sometimes not at all, and so the reader has little material by which to judge the ideas presented on the basis proposed by the book itself.

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Two chapters combat the deleterious effects of the myth of the limited call—limited to those who go far away, are under thirty, go to one field for a lifetime, and stick to certain traditional jobs. Fenton’s emphases on the fact that all Christians are to be missionaries and on mobility and flexibility are welcome correctives.

But these chapters stumble by failing to propose a biblically precise definition of what a missionary is. If the disciples were in doubt about to whom or for what or where Christ meant when he said, “So send I you,” they were not left in doubt long. He made it abundantly clear that they were sent to the lost with the specific responsibility of making disciples in all parts of the world in logical and strategic progression.

The imprecise idea of a missionary as merely a “sent one” may make “mission” anything a missionary organization does, or anything a Christian does. Is an accountant or a secretary or a doctor a missionary simply because his employer is a mission organization? Is everything that any mission organization does missionary work in a biblical sense? The definition in these chapters is too imprecise to be used to measure the progress of a missionary or the effectiveness of a missionary organization.

Fenton deals more adequately with the “myths” of the finished task (let’s go home), the unfinishable task (no urgency), the limited goal (surviving rather than reproducing churches), the unqualified national (ask him), and the underpaid missionary (don’t feel sorry for him). Though intentionally rather light reading, the book is helpful as a thought starter.

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