Foundations: No.78 Spring 2020

Book Reviews

Asian Christian Theology: Evangelical Perspectives

eds. Timoteo D. Gener & Stephen T. Pardue, Langham Publishing, 2019, 354pp, £18.99 (Amazon), £7.79 (Kindle)

Across the world the gospel of Jesus is growing and this is something which should lead us to rejoice. The rapid growth of the majority-world church undoubtedly brings challenges, but there are also great blessings, such as this volume. Asian Christian Theology: Evangelical Perspectives is a collection of essays split into two sections addressing doctrinal themes and contemporary concerns across Asia.

There are 16 contributions spanning various contexts of the continent that have been drawn together in partnership with the Asia Theological Association and Langham Publishing. One positive to highlight before we go any further are the labours of the editors, Timoteo D. Gener and Stephen T. Pardue. They are to be commended for producing a volume which allows those outside of the Asian context easier access to some of the main areas of theological discussion and reflection among the churches throughout the region.

 Each of the contributors holds firmly to evangelical orthodoxy and displays rigorous thinking regarding appropriate contextualisation of the word of God and theological reflection in Asia. We would be remiss to make assumptions that this volume is only helpful to those who have an interest in Asia or cross-cultural mission and ministry. There is no denying that it will be very important for those engaged in these areas of service. However, this is not a parochial work for an interested minority. It is a key contribution for the global church and will be an influential text in theological discussions as we move further through the twenty-first century.

To illustrate this, here are two chapters from the book which stand out. Ivor Poobalan (Colombo Theological Seminary) discusses Christology in the Asian context, drawing our attention to the challenge of remaining biblically orthodox while being contextually comprehensible. His study notes that there are weaknesses in both the Western and Asian approaches, leading him to advocate for further reflection on how to make Christ known in pluralistic contexts – this is not a parochial issue. It is increasingly important for church leaders, theological educators, cross-cultural workers and trainee pastors to think through how we proclaim Jesus in the increasingly pluralistic European and American context.

Kar Yong Lim (Seminari Theoloji Malaysia) offers another important contribution to this volume for the world church. He addresses the central role of suffering and glory in Christian life and witness. Quite provocatively we are led to assess our own attitudes: Do we prize eloquence and power over being a suffering ambassador? None of us know exactly what will happen in the coming decades, but it is always good for the church of Jesus to be prepared for the day of suffering witness. Essays like this, from believers who are working these challenges out as a part of everyday Christian living, contain much to which we should pay attention.

More mundane but equally important are the bibliographies at the end of each essay. Having various contributors from across the Asian continent leads to a diverse mix of texts, articles and authors who are not so well known in the north-western hemisphere. As such, the spin-off is a one-stop shop of scholarly writing making this a great resources for further engagement with the global church on doctrinal and contemporary issues.

In most compilations there is an element of hit and miss and this volume is no different; each of the topics under consideration is important, but not all are as equally engaging. This down side should not deter the reader from investing in a copy of what seems likely to be a mandatory text for interacting with the global church. As noted earlier, Asian Christian Theology will be particularly helpful for church leaders, theologians, theology students and those involved in cross-cultural ministry.

Martin Paterson
OMF Area Representative, Scotland

 

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