ACADEMIA

Reviews on Resources for Biblical and Theological Studies

Sunquist. GOSPEL AND PLURALISM TODAY, 2015

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - May• 24•16

Sunquist, Scott W., and Amos Yong (eds.). The Gospel and Pluralism Today: Reassessing Lesslie Newbigin in the 21st Century. Missiological Engagements. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-8308-5094-5. Pages: 238

9780830850945This volume is the outcome of the annual Missiology Lectures (November 13-15. 2015) held at the Fuller Theological Seminary. The book deals with three distinct aspects of Leslie Newbigin’s life and work. First, it deals with the impact of his book THE GOSPEL IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY (1989) on missiology and missional practices. Secondly, it deals with various aspects of pluralism in the West. Thirdly, discussions on how Newbigin’s work influenced missiology.

It is not the purpose this review to offer synopses or critique of each essay in this volume. However, a listing of the contents may help the readers.

1. Introduction: The Legacy of Newbigin for Mission (Scott W. Sunquist).

2. Newbigin in His Time (Wilbert R. Shenk).

3. Newbigin’s Theology of Mission and Culture After Twenty-Five years: Attending to the “Subject” of Mission (William R. Burrows).

4. Community and Witness in Transition: Newbigin’s Missional Ecclesiology Between Modernity and Postmodernity (Veli-Matti Karkainen and Michael Karim).

5. Holistic Theological Method and Theological Epistemology: Performing Newbigin’s Plurality of Sources in the Pluralist Context (Steven B. Sherman).

6. Honoring True Otherness in a Still-Antipluralist Culture (Esther L. Meek).

7. Pluralism, Secularism and Pentecost: Newbigin-ings for Missio Trinitatis in a New Century (Amos Yong).

8. Evangelism in a Pluralistic Society: The Newbigin Vision (Carrie Boren Headington).

9. What Does It Mean for a Congregation to Be a Hermeneutic? (John G. Flett).

10. Asian Perspectives on Twenty-First-Century Pluralism (Allen Yeh).

In his introductory essay, Scott W. Sunquist presents us with a snapshot of Newbegin’s life and factors that influenced his life and thought before he sheds some light on how the book came into being.

A remarkable contribution is an essay by Wilbert R. Shenk who assess Newbigin against the background of his own time. This article is a very important contribution to the volume since it introduces the novice and the expert to the historical, political and theological currents that influenced his thought. However, Shenk has ignored how Indian nationalism, the various socio-political currents in India as well as the emergence of the new church movements influenced Newbegin. When Newbegin entered India where he spent almost all of his active life as a missionary and church leader, India was just five years away from freeing itself from British colonial rule. Independence was guaranteed by its actualization was delayed by World War II. Moreover, independent church movements (notably Pentecostal movement by Indian leaders) had their established their presence in South India for almost four decades. Not only Shenk but also other presenters as well fail to assess the influence of the realities of the host country on him.

However, this volume is a remarkable and useful contribution to missiology in the 21st century.
Link to publisher

Im, Global Diasporas, 2014

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Jan• 16•15

Im, Chandler H., and Amos Yong. Global Diasporas and Mission. Oxford: Regnum Books International, 2014.

9781908355638This book has in three parts discuss the implications of the global Diasporas for Christian mission in the 21st century. This is part of Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series (volume 23). The first part deals with the historical and biblical perspectives of Diasporas. In the second part the ethnic and regional developments are discussed. In the last and third part we find six articles on the missional implications of the Diasporas.

In the first part, ‘Mission and migration: The Diaspora Factor in Christian History’ (Andrew F. Walls) and ‘Global Christianity and Global Diasporas’ (Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo) deals with the historical aspects of migration. In ‘My Father Was a Migrant Aramean: Old Testament Motifs for a Theology of Migration’ (Knut Holter) and ‘Migrants as Instruments of Evangelization: In Early Christianity and in Contemporary Christianity’ (Werner Kahl) the authors deal with the OT and NT perspectives respectively.

In the second section (Ethnic and Regional Developments) nine essays deal with the migration and Diaspora of various nationalities in different part of the world. For example, the Chinese and Filipino migration all over the world. The Japanese Diaspora in Brazil, South Asian Diaspora in the Persian Gulf, Korean Christian Diaspora in the US, Polish immigrants in Canada, etc. This section also deals with specific issues of some of these Diaspora situations. For example, identity and ecumenical partnership of immigrants of African origin in Germany, and the experience of the migrants in the Native  British Church etc.

The third section deals with the missional opportunities that migration provides. The Diasporas do presents missional opportunities for the churches at their destination. As Jenny Hwang Yang has pointed out in her article the Christians at the host countries are apprehensive of the immigrants and even see them as a threat.

Though, the book has covered almost Diaspora situations two significant lacunae has to be pointed out. First of all, the South Aisan Diasporas in Europe, Africa and North America are left out. The second largest immigrant group in the US is Indian but there is no essay devoted to it. The only article devoted to South Asian Diaspora has to do with their presence in the Persian Gulf. (‘South Asian Diaspora in the Persian Gulf’ by T.V. Thomas.). However, the situation in the Persian Gulf is different from other Diasporas. These are not Diasporas at all since none of them will be able to stay longer than their work permits allow. Unlike, in the West, in the persian gulf, the host nations have no live Christian traditions to minister to them. The laws of their host nations (all of them Islamic) restrict their religious freedom. This is very different from the situation in Europe and North America. However, there is a very strong presence of South Asians in other parts of the world, for example Anglophone Africa and Europe. One third of South Africa is people of Indian origin. How did they impact South Africa? These questions have significant missional implications.

Secondly, the book focusses on the missional opportunities the Diaspora presents to Christians in the host countries. However, the Diaspora also has opposite effects in their native countries which has to be studied as well, though it probably outside the scope of the present volume. The immigrants support various political and religious organizations who oppose Christian mission in their native lands. For example, the largest recipients of foreign funds in India are Hindutva outfits who oppose Christian mission and has been behind many anti-Christian activities. Most of the funds are remittances by Indians living abroad.

In spite of these gaps the books opens our eyes to the reality which often gets ignored. The essays convince the reader that Diaspora is not an accident but very much part of God’s plan for salvation of whole mankind. It also challenges us that we need to see it so and not as a threat. A very timely work, indeed an eye-opener!