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April 1978 · Vol. 7 No. 2 · pp. 36–37 

Book Review

Mission Trends 3: Third World Theologies

ed. Gerald H. Anderson and Thomas F. Stransky. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976. 254 pages.

Reviewed by Vernon R. Wiebe

J. D. Graber, well known Mennonite missionary statesman, once outlined the mission of the church as telling the Good News, teaching the whole counsel of God, forming the church, and trusting the Holy Spirit to guide the new church as he had guided the older church. His observation was that each of these steps of mission was progressively more difficult. Mission Trends No. 3 tests us on our willingness to let the Holy Spirit guide the new churches. Mission Trends No. 3 is titled “Third World Theologies.” Its subtitle is “Asian, African and Latin American Contributions to a Radical Theological Realignment in the Church.”

Mission Trends No. 3, like its two predecessors, is a series of reprints on a current mission theme. No. 3 has articles gleaned from 42 journals in 15 countries on 4 continents. It is cooperatively edited by a Protestant and a Catholic editor and published by the Catholic Paulist Press and the Protestant Eerdmans Publishers.

This recital of the breadth of its sources, content, and publication is given to warn the evangelical reader that this is not mainline evangelical literature. It is uncomfortable reading. But read it we must. It will guide us to what J. D. Graber was talking about—the necessity of Western evangelicals trusting the Holy Spirit to guide the newer churches also.

The book addresses itself mainly to the theology of liberation. Liberation theology, begun in Latin America, now has its spokesmen in Asia and Africa. Liberation theology is a call for action. The claim is that when Jesus Christ enters the lives of men they do something about the bad world around them.

This makes me, an avowed non-resistant Pietist, wince. I always fall back on a feeling, when confronted with difficult social situations, that God will somehow, mysteriously make it right without my help. Besides, some of the violent means suggested by liberation theology offend my non-resistant sensibilities.

But liberation theology also affirms my Anabaptist understandings that faith must be fused into practice. And there is a clear call in the Third World theologies to do right as well as to think right.

Uncomfortable or not, this compendium of readings is good for {37} us. Because each of us on every continent sees through a glass darkly, it is incumbent upon us to seek as much help in understanding God’s ways with us from as many Christians as possible. It is also good reading for us because it introduces the theological thinking which is coming from those parts of the world which are predicted to become the center of Christianity by the year 2000.

Mission Trends No. 3 is a report of how the Holy Spirit is speaking to serious, sensitive Third World Christians. We need to read in it to join them in seeking God’s will for the life of the church today.

Vernon R. Wiebe
Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions and Services

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