Given the unique religious climate of the twenty-first century and the challenges to Christian mission it poses, Christianity Encountering World Religions proposes a new, albeit very biblical, model for mission. Specifically, it is a model for interacting with people of other faiths. The authors term this model "giftive mission," as it is based on the metaphor of free gift. They suggest that seeing mission activity through the lens of giving the greatest gift possible—the Gospel message—not only has the potential for greater missionary success but also enables us to imitate more closely God's gracious activity in the world.
The book begins by addressing preliminary matters: the current state of religion, the biblical material, and the presuppositions readers bring to the subject. Part 2 explores eleven practices that constitute giftive mission. Each practice is illustrated through the story of a figure from mission history who embodied that practice. Part 3 addresses method: how to apply the eleven practices in specific cultural and religious settings. The concluding section of the book ties all the prior discussion together and presents a compelling case and vision for giftive mission. Mission scholars, students, and practitioners will benefit greatly from this probing study.
“The idea presented in this book is a simple one: Mission to peoples of historically resistant religions could be made easier and more productive with the addition of a biblical metaphor for mission, the metaphor of free gift. Giftive mission, as we choose to call it, means that we are more than conquerors of other peoples, more than harvesters of souls, more than winners of metaphysical arguments: we are the bearers of gifts. We bring to the world the greatest of all gifts, the story of what God has done for the world through Jesus Christ.” (Page 10)
“We must become more than imitators of God’s actions in developing personal lives of holiness; we need to imitate the way God acts toward the world in our mission activities. Jesus said that as the Father sent him, so he sends us. God sent Jesus as a bearer of the free gift of grace. We are also the bearers of that gift. More precisely, we are the bearers of the news of that gift.” (Page 11)
“These examples demonstrate that there are many different occasions for the people of God to have contact with the religious other: war (aggressive and defensive), friendship, community projects, economic trade, marriage, travel. The contacts may result in conflict or cooperation, condemnation or conversion.” (Pages 33–34)
“faithful mission begins with a penetrating knowledge of ourselves” (Page 223)
“The only test of a religion in such a marketplace is its performance. Religions are usually measured not on truth value alone but on their capacity to satisfy individual and social spiritual needs. Global citizens are free to choose whatever religion satisfies their individual needs. Religions are not life-and-death matters that hold sway over us but commodities to be chosen according to their utility. The invisible hand of the marketplace replaces the mysterious hand of God.” (Page 20)
The authors bring years of scholarly work on interreligious encounter and of teaching missiology in seminary contexts to bear on writing this biblically faithful, practically insightful, and theologically sophisticated textbook. . . . This book cannot be recommended more highly!
—Amos Yong, Religious Studies Review
Finally we have in a single volume a sustained, creative, and approachable argument describing how Christians should think about their relations with people of other faiths. There is neither a more important issue in missiology today nor a better presentation of the material in a constructive piece. The authors lucidly lay out the various positions and approaches, but they also clearly spell out their own commitments. I now have a book to point to and say, 'Read this, and then we can talk about Christian life and responsibility in a religiously plural world'.
—Scott W. Sunquist, W. Don McClure Associate Professor of World Mission and Evangelism, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Terry Muck is dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Frances S. Adeney is William A. Benfield Jr. Professor of Evangelism and Global Mission at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.