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Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century (Invitation to Theological Studies Series) Hardcover – January 25, 2010
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From the Back Cover
Invitation to World Missions combines a strong biblical anchor with practical suggestions. This unique text is arranged in three parts according to the Trinity’s roles, relationships, and activity. Tennent questions whether missions as currently conceptualized is adequate and he challenges the reader by building the book around key theological foundations such as “mission dei” and the “new creation” vision for the global church. This volume will call and enable the reader to understand how missions is biblically and theologically basic to Christianity, and how missions is essential to living out an abundant and impassioned life.
Features and Benefits
• Series: Invitation to Theological Studies
• Author is president of well-known evangelical seminary and has written extensively
• Author has missions experience as a professor and practitioner
• Major introductory textbook
• Biblically rooted and practically oriented
About the Author
Timothy C. Tennent is president of Asbury Theological Seminary. He was the professor of world missions and director of missions programs at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He recieved his M.Div in 1984 from Gordon-Conwell, a Th.M. in Islamics from Princeton Theological Seminary, and did graduate work in linguistics (TESL) at the University of Georgia. He completed his Ph.D. in non-Western Christianity with a focus on Hinduism and Indian Christianity in 1998 at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Top customer reviews
The author seeks to ground missiology in the mission of the triune God (what the early Christians called the 'missio dei') : the Father is the source and goal of mission, the Son is the embodiment of God's redemptive presence and the Spirit is God's empowering presence that brings forth the new creation. This is quite basic but often neglected when pragmatism and secularism sets in.
He gives an overview of the mission of God through the whole bible beginning with the call of Abraham, moving through the salvation history of Israel through to the life, death and resurrection of Christ and Pentecost. It is in the light of this 'creation, fall, redemption, new creation' grand narrative that we should understand what mission is about. Ultimately mission has as its goal the worship of God. Mission will end when eschatology is consummated and God's glory fully revealed.
Tennent also surveys the history and development of christian mission understanding through the centuries. It is interesting to see how the church has not always understood or valued christian mission in the same way. The various approaches taken by past missionary exemplars such as St Thomas in India, the Nestorians in China, Raymond Lull among the Muslims, William Carey the father of modern missions and so on are intriguing and eye opening.
The book goes on to show what a trinitarian mission looks like in today's pluralistic world. The age of Christendom is past. The familiar Christian worldview that used to inform and shape western culture can no longer be presumed. We must learn to think using different paradigms and ask new questions that relate to the various cultures the gospel seeks to penetrate : cultures shaped by Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Islam and even Atheism. He discusses the various approaches taken towards other religious truth claims - from 'all roads lead to heaven' pluralism through the 'different roads for different destinations' relativism, , the 'universal work of the Spirit in the wider world' inclusivism to the 'no other name but Christ' exclusivism. Tennent espouses the trinitarian christocentric understanding of the gospel. This means that while we can readily affirm God's work in the wider world and much truths can be found in other religions, the gospel that's is centred on Jesus of Nazareth in all its particularities remains normative for the salvation of the world.
As an Asian reader, I resonate deeply with the author's call to relate the gospel to the wider world. The incarnation principle is never more needed in global missiology today. The gospel needs to be translated into the diverse languages, cultures and stories of the world.
Except for his discussion on Niebuhr's ' Christ and culture' paradigms which went just over my head (hence my reservations with his critique of Niebuhr), the book is generally easy to read and to the point. I would recommend this book to pastors, church leaders and all who are deeply interested in knowing what mission in the 21st century looks like. I also found his earlier book 'the religious round table' to be another useful tool for sharing the gospel of Christ in a pluralistic world.
Under the “Great Commission” Christianity has extended toward the world and has succeeded in making itself a universal religion (Neil, 1980, p 14). However, Christianity needs a new paradigm and a new framework to meet the challenges of the 21st century, because there is a widening chasm between the missological theories and the mission practices. As a result, the author of Invitation to World Missions named Timothy Tennent (2010) suggests a new framework for missions which is called “Trinitarian Framework” (p. 74). This new missological mythology is not designed to create a new perspective on missions, but rather to reconceptuarize all the different outlooks within a Trinitarian framework with God the father (Missio Dei), God the son, and God the Holy Spirit (p. 101).
Unlike many missiologists who argue that “the Bible proved the reason why we need to do mission”, Christopher Wright (2006) insists that because God is a missional God, he intended the Bible for missions. In this light, God the father is the source of Mission itself, not a bystander (Tennent, 2010, p. 75). By indicating God as the initiator of mission, Tennent is integrating this idea with God as the Sender. Tennent quotes Lesslie Newbigin by saying, “Jesus was not only proclaiming the Kingdom of God, but also embody the presence of the God” (p. 82). As God exists as the sender, Jesus is participating within Missions as the incarnational mediator. Through Jesus’ incarnational work on mission, the history of mission can be connected as one meta narrative (p. 82). Lastly the Holy Spirit is currently empowering the presence of Missions (p. 92). Thus, the Trinitarian framework is capturing God’s strong missional will, Jesus’ integrated incarnation, and dynamic work of the Holy Spirit. Through these three main components of Missio Dei, Tennent provides a new missological lens which can combine all the 21century issues in God’s mission.
Through Tennent’s new lens, cooperative ministry with different denominational background are available. As he combined many 21century missiological issues, missionaries and pastors can collaborate with other denominational co-workers within this new paradigm. Especially using Misso-Dei concepts I would suggest that reading the Bible missionally group in the Church. As Tennent pointed God as the sender, there are many missional stories in the Bible. Missional bible reading group will help the Christians to have mission awareness in their daily lives.
I am now reading on the chapter on the 'New Creation' theology of culture. I cannot agree more with his view. I find it extremely helpful in thinking about how Christian missionaries can engage different cultures in an increasingly multicultural world by using the 'New Creation' framework.
I highly recommend this book for any serious Christians who are interested in missions, whether in your own backyard or across the ocean.