Missions and the Work of the Church

Friday, 29 Apr 2011

From this shift followed an approach to evangelism that paid less attention to word and more to deed, less to the message for individuals and more to the order of societies.... The best and brightest of Western missions personnel affirmed that "man is a unity" and so the physical, mental, and social aspects of his needs could not be isolated. For this reason, "missionary work must be sufficiently comprehensive to serve the whole man." Ministry to the entire person, as well as society, elevated medicine and education to as high (if not higher) a rank as preaching.
What is the theological equivalent for the conundrum about the tree that falls in the woods without a hearer? What happens when a theological bomb is detonated but no one seems to notice? Is it still a bomb? Is it still destructive? Re-Thinking Missions, a book published in 1932 just when it seemed the fundamentalist controversy was calming down, was just that’a bombshell dropped right in the middle of the U.S. Protestant world, and yet only those with the best hearing devices heard it go off. Ernest Hocking, a professor of philosophy at Harvard ...

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