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Don't Mess with Missions

Paradigms in Conflict argues against changing missionary theories and practice.
2007This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

David Hesselgrave's thesis: "Although changes there must and will be, the future of Christian missions will depend more on changes that are not made than it will on changes that are made." He weaves insights from biblical theology, missionary experience and history, and the social sciences into a strong case for leaving missionary theories and practice pretty much untouched.

Hesselgrave's questions have been fertile ground for debate among missionaries and missiologists for a long time. Among them: sovereignty and free will, universalism, the gospel and other faiths, spiritual warfare, our missionary model (Jesus or Paul?), and power encounter.

Hesselgrave provides mission leaders in churches—as well as professors of mission—a helpful basis for thorough discussion from numerous vantage points.

He gives ample space to those who have advocated contrary positions. Therefore, his book resembles a prizefight—albeit with Christian charity and mutual respect. The format of each of his 10 "rounds" includes the basic biblical, theological, and missiological arguments—first describing what he considers erroneous paradigms and then rebutting them.

Despite the heavy questions, this book is reader-friendly with clear charts and numerous stories that reveal Hesselgrave's missionary heart and passion.



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