July 1976 · Vol. 5 No. 3 · pp. 36–37 

Book Review

Discipling the Nations

Richard R. DeRidder. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1975. viii + 253 pages.

Reviewed by Hans Kasdorf

The theology of the Christian mission has far too long been treated as a stepchild. Only in present decades has it received growing attention and is gradually gaining a rightful place as a literary genre, dealt with in academic fashion. It is true, Protestants (ever since Gustav Warneck’s monumental five-volume Evangelische Missionslehre 1892-1903) and Catholics (ever since Joseph Schmiedlin’s Katholische Missionslehre im Grundriss, 1919), particularly on the continent, have talked about and written much on theological issues pertaining to mission. But not until the period of the Second World War have they taken mission theology seriously. It is, therefore, encouraging to the reader and a credit to the author to see the task of Discipling The Nations undergirded by a biblical theology of the mission of the Church.

The book consists of four rather long chapters dealing with the following major topics: The Old Testament Background; Jewish Proselytism; The Apostle, Jesus Christ; The Commissioned Church. The author contends that {37} the God of the Bible is the God of salvation history manifested by his universal covenant. Through Christ and the Holy Spirit he has created a “New People of God” (p. 202) of both Jew and Gentile, who make up the community of believing disciples and who are commissioned to disciple the nations. The author’s thesis is that the response to the Kingdom Gospel brings all respondents into God’s universal covenant with mankind.

De Ridder sees “the chief concern of the believing community” in “making disciples” (p. 13) which he identifies with “preaching the Kingdom of God.” He contends that “every true church is an outpost of the Kingdom of God,” called to make disciples and “placed in a particular spot in the world to bear witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ” (p. 210). To enter the Kingdom requires repentance of sin and reconciliation to God. “Those who are in the Kingdom of God (which is not the same as being a nominal church member) are under obligation to be at the disposal of the King for the furtherance of his good purposes. The beneficiaries must become benefactors (Luke 22:25 ff.), not in name only but by spending themselves and being entirely expendable in the service of mankind for Christ’s sake” (p. 144).

There are times when the biblical view of the Church is overshadowed by the author’s particular theological persuasion; yet his emphasis on the New People of God and the task of the Believer’s Church as God’s evangelistic agent in the world to carry out the Missio Dei is sound theology of mission. As such the book complements earlier mission theologies by the Lutheran Georg Vicedom, Missio Dei (1960), the Ecumenist Gerald Anderson (ed.), The Theology of the Christian Mission (1961), The Reformed Johannes Blauw, The Missionary Nature of the Church (1962), the Catholic John Power, Mission Theology Today (1971), and the Anabaptist George Peters, Biblical Theology of Missions (1972).

What makes the book a valuable tool for the serious student of mission is a 14-page bibliography, a complete list of Scripture references used, and a detailed subject index.

Hans Kasdorf
Assistant Professor of Missions and Languages
Pacific College, California