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The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith Paperback – September 20, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; 1st edition (September 20, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570750599
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570750595
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. Stephans VINE VOICE on April 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Andrew Walls' book The Missionary Movement in Christian History presents a collection of independently written articles that Walls categorizes under three headings: "The Transmission of the Christian Faith," "Africa's Place in Christian History," and "The Missionary Movement." The varied articles are loosely connected by common themes focusing on the missionary processes related to Christian conversion through history and throughout the world. Walls repeatedly demonstrates a keen understanding of the expansion of Christianity through divine salvation that he describes in terms of "translation." For Walls, Christ actually grows through the work of mission, as the Divine is translated into specific humanity. Unfortunately, the format creates a lack of fluidity, a consistent redundancy and an unnecessary wordiness.

In the first section of his book, the articles focus on the way Christianity is shared and experienced among cultures and at different times in history. Walls explains the paradox of Christianity's universal message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone that is experienced locally within one's culture, relations and history.

According to Walls, the way the church grasps this concept of a localized Christianity determines its effectiveness in mission and missionary endeavors. This is especially significant as the Christian center shifts, takes root and expands outside the West according to Walls.

Walls asserts that the task of discipling the nations "is about the translation of Scripture into thought and action, as the word about Christ is brought to bear on the points of reference within each culture, the things by which people know themselves and recognize where they belong." (86)

This presents a paradox to Walls.
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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ah, leave it to Orbis. Walls's book _TMMCH_ is superb because in it he balances a broad, theoretical view of missions with more intensive discussions of specific missions. He has, so to speak, both vision and insight. His prose is for most part light and fluid. His discussion of medical missions and, especially, non-Western art was really superb.
As for the book's flaws: 1) I was astounded to see that it has no bibliography and bummed that it has a skimpy index. 2) The intensive studies are at times repetitive and arcane. 3) Walls borders pretty close to latitudinarianism by all but saying there are no essential facets, even dogmas, of the Christian faith. He lays so much weight on the "local expressions" of the Faith that he is rather nonchalant about what must stay and what can be lost. Yes, he even uses the word "Christianities" (pg. 239).
Ironically, since Walls's Evangelical perspective often smacks of anti-Catholic, anti-centralized, anti-dogmatic ecclesiology, his book was a superb defense of the reality (and divine wisdom) of doctrinal development, and, in turn, much of what the Roman Catholic Church has done for centuries. I'm a Protestant seriously considering reconciliation with the RCC, so Walls' book was an unexpected boost in that direction. Walls virtually demands that different ages have different doctrinal and devotional foci. That's why, e.g., George Salmon's barbed observation that it is strange to see popes wax about Mary in most of their writings, while her name appears in so little of the NT, betrays the notoriously a-historical Protestant view of doctrine.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ben on September 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
As other reviewers have noted, this 'book' is not really a book at all. It is a collection of essays, articles and lectures. For this reason, there is a lot of repetition of Walls' main message - that of the tension between creating indigenous churches that 'feel like home' and yet are also outwardly welcoming to others with different social norms. The title may identify this as a 'missions' book, but there are thoughts here that could be equally applied to any local church seeking to become less homogeneous and more welcoming to other groups in their neighbourhoods.

Walls' wide-ranging historical perspective on theological developments that have been birthed through missions is especially interesting. I found his discussion of some of the various interpretations of Romans 1:18-23 fascinating. As other readers have noted, he speaks little of the uniting principles of global Christianity, but this seems purposely so. He identifies the uniting principles as baptism, use of bread and wine, and the reading of the Bible. Some reviewers criticize this, but I would prefer to commend it. Walls' delight at seeing the Gospel spreading and taking on new expressions in different cultures is apparent, as shown in the frequent discussions surrounding the translation of the Gospel from Jewish cultural terms into Greek ones. The same Christian worldview persists, but with culturally different expressions. As a Protestant, non-denominational Christian, this is attractive to me; but I understand how that would be challenging to Roman Catholics and other Christians who expect to see more of a globally similar church culture. Having read this collection I feel further inspired by God's multi-ethnic plan of salvation.

In summary, don't expect this to be a smooth read from cover to cover. It is not a book, it is a collection of essays and lectures. But be prepared to enter into a discussion of the Gospel and its redeeming impact on global cultures.
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The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith
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