Planning Strategies for World Evangelization, by EDWARD R. DAYTON and
DAVID A. FRASER (Revised Edition). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company in association with MARC, 1990. 349 pp. $15.95 (paper).
The revision is major. This is seen quite clearly in the observation that the early work contains 537 pages while the new edition has 349 pages. However, the authors have not sacrificed the basic structure of the work, nor have they eliminated essential elements of their thesis. Many subheadings remain the same. The determination to be concise is refreshing. Dayton and Fraser present a planning model for mission work which they believe to be universally applicable to people groups of the world. Their ten-step approach includes: (1) Defining the Mission, (2) The People to be Reached, (3) The Force for Evangelization, (4) Means and Methods to be used, (5) Defining an Approach, (6) Anticipating Outcomes (7) The Roles Accepted by the Workers, (8) Planning and Goal-Setting, (9) Act! And (10) Evaluate!
Certain analogies and devices in the volume are quite thought provoking. Continual emphasis is placed on the similarities in evangelization and FARMING! Relevant comparisons are drawn from Jesus' parable of the sower. Even as there are different types of soil, so are there different peoples. And, the harvest is different! Up-to-date equipment should be used! The right kind of "harvesting tools" should be employed! The farmer must anticipate the harvest! Preparation is varied and essential!
Strategies in evangelization are deeply affected by one's definition of "evangelism." When is evangelism complete? The authors insist that evangelization is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. They desire to measure evangelism by its results, for "to evangelize is to communicate the gospel in such a way that men and women have a valid opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and become responsible members of his church."
The "Considerations" that are found at the beginning of each major section of the work provide "spice" and an incentive for reflection and introspection concerning the thesis expounded in that section. The critical questions at the end of each section promote good summary and focus attention on the need for more research. The authors have stated, "We believe that questions are often more important than answers. There are already too many standard solutions and pat answers. Every situation we face is unique and our response must match the uniqueness of the situation."
This work of Dayton and Fraser is an important addition to every mission library. It is especially useful for mission committees in local congregations and workers preparing for the field. It is readable and well integrated. The book can serve well as a primer to assist with initial strategies formulated for a field. Even though theological positions taken in the book concerning the nature of the church and its teachings and practices will find significant disagreement, the methodology suggested concerning mission strategy should be greatly appreciated.
As the authors have stated, the church needs to "recognize the magnitude of the task and to get on with that task in a significantly enhanced fashion."
Newbigin's background has prepared him adequately for this volume. After almost four decades of mission endeavor in India, he worked in the inner-city culture of England. The subtitle of the book reveals his thesis: "The Gospel and Western Culture." How can the gospel encounter our resistant Western culture which is "pagan," having modern science as its foundation, glorifying capitalism, and characterized by a complete dichotomy of the public life of "facts" and the private life of "values?"
He approaches this struggle from the standpoint of a non-Western missionary entering this culture to preach Christ. The book discusses the essential features of Western culture and wrestles with the question, "How can Biblical authority be accepted by Western culture?" What is involved in this encounter with science and what can be the Christian's dialogue with Western politics and economics?
Newbigin's work is challenging in several areas. First, the thinking of Western society must be reversed. Instead of explaining the gospel in terms of the modern scientific culture, the challenge is to explain the culture in terms of the gospel. Second, because of the present hypotheses of science, there is room for dialogue. The universe is not purely mechanistic. It has purpose, is rational and contingent. Third, there needs to be a "paradigm shift," a new vision of how things are in the universe, based upon the ultimate reality that God speaks through the Scripture. Fourth, the public life of empirical "facts" must not be isolated from private, religious and moral "values." The gospel must be focused on social, economic, and political life. "The rule of Christ extends to all of life."
The author concludes with a discussion of seven "essentials" for the church in its task of speaking Christ to this secular society. Neutrality is an illusion! Christians must take the initiative. There must be dialogue concerning the kingdom of God. We must learn to listen. The "priesthood of all believers" must be a reality. The church must be a community of praise, etc.
There is profit for the reader of this volume. He becomes more vividly aware of the nature of his own culture. He sees the need of learning to preach Christ to the secular mind so that the encounter is fruitful. Will the church accept the challenge to preach the cross where that story is "foolishness?"
One may be uncomfortable with portions of the book. First, the author's view of inspiration is not readily apparent. Second, although the author's discussion of "denominationalism" in the secular society is thought provoking, theological positions on the nature of the body of Christ and ecumenism should be reexamined.
This volume is valuable for the evangelist within the Western culture. With the author, we say, "The event of the resurrection, the empty tomb, and the risen Lord breaks every mold that would imprison God in the rationalism of a fallen world. But, it is the starting point for a new kind of rationality, for the possibility of living hopefully in a world without hope . . . "