March Book Review
Participating in God’s Mission: A Theological Missiology for the Church in America, by Craig Van Gelder and Dwight J. Zscheile (Eerdmans, 2018). If you like to think historically about the church and its mission, then you will enjoy this book. If you like to think about God’s mission in the world and how the church has been engaged in it, then you will enjoy this book. If you like to think about God’s mission in the context of the world today and how it compares with the context of our forebears, then you will enjoy this book. Half of the book is devoted to a historical review of how Christians have responded to God’s mission through 5 periods of American history. A quarter of the book considers how the field of theological missiology has developed, as a field of study and analysis. The last quarter of the book considers God’s mission in our current context. Particularly insightful is the analysis of how “organizational success” was adopted by the church in the last half of the twentieth century as a major lens for viewing God’s mission in the world, and weighing the pros and cons of whether that lens continues to be valuable for the changing context in the twenty-first century. A stimulating analysis of fresh perspectives on God’s mission for our current context resonates well with what many of us have read in Canoeing the Mountains.