Dictionary of Mission Theology: Evangelical Foundations – Book Review

Dictionary of Mission Theology: Evangelical Foundations
Editor:  John Corrie
Publisher:  Inter-Varsity Press
ISBN 13  9781844742134

Book Review by Tim Davy, Reviews editor for Encounters.

This new Dictionary from IVP is a welcome addition to their substantial body of reference works already available. It claims to reflect the changes in the landscape of mission not only in the selection of articles but also in the choice of contributors, around 60% of whom are non-Western.

According to the introduction, the three aims of the Dictionary are:

1. To integrate theology and mission, disciplines that have been separated for too long.
2. To reflect a contextual view of mission – after all, “If mission is about universal themes of God’s mission, it is also about the particularity of that mission in specific contexts” (p.xvi).
3. To provide an evangelical foundation for theology and mission – by reflecting traditional evangelical views yet engaging with some of the ‘stretching’ boundaries such as dialogue, a more developed creation theology, cultural studies, and so on.

The Dictionary offers an excellent variety of articles ranging from theological themes (for example, Christ/Christology, God, Sin/the fall), regional studies (African theology, Asian theology, Latin American theology), and an array of individual issues (AIDS, Development, Ecology/environment, Globalization, Witchcraft, Caste, Drama/theatre).

The articles themselves are engagingly written and provide clear and helpful introductions to the material. Familiar themes are examined in refreshing ways and the Dictionary genuinely does present the reader with missiological lenses through which to examine the issues under discussion. In this way the book meets its aims very well and serves as a helpful model, illustrating the rich and varied multicultural theological conversations being enjoyed today. Students of theology (indeed all of us!) would do very well to have a copy on their shelves to remind them of the need to listen humbly to the voices of those from different cultural contexts.

Perhaps this is a minor point but I was a little disappointed with the size of the Dictionary. As it is designed to sit alongside IVP’s family of large reference works it is a shame such an important volume has not received the same allowance of pages as some of the other Dictionaries (for example, it has fewer than half the number of pages of IVP’s recent Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books volume).

Also, while the world’s regions are well represented both through articles and a number of regional advisors, it is a pity that mission in a European context did not receive at least an article length treatment. Finally, it would have been nice if in the list of contributors it had included the articles each person had written. A small thing but occasionally very useful.

But it would be churlish to finish the review with these quibbles. John Corrie and his colleagues have furnished the Christian community with a immensely significant reference volume that is important not only in what it says, but also in the way it has chosen to say it. Those involved in the Dictionary are to be commended for practising what they preach as they have described, analysed and embodied the changing nature of theological and missiological thinking and practice.

Buy Dictionary of Mission Theology: Evangelical Foundations from St Andrew’s Bookshop.

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