Transformation after Lausanne: Radical Evangelical Mission in Global-local – Book Review

Transformation after Lausanne: Radical Evangelical Mission in Global-local
Author:  Al Tizon
Publisher:  Regnum Books
ISBN 13:  9781870345682

Book Review by Rev Dr Darrell Jackson, Lecturer in European Studies and Director of Nova Research Centre, Redcliffe College.

In this well crafted book, Al Tizon provides what will surely become a definitive account of the history and contemporary development of mission as transformation. His account is set out in four sections, intended to introduce transformation missiology, describe its historical development, outline its biblical-theological parameters, demonstrate its global and local character, and suggest a way of understanding the way in which the local and global inform one other to produce four ‘glocal’ dimensions of a transformation missiology.

Tizon expertly tells the story of the emerging strands of a missiology that crystallised in the ‘Radical Discipleship’ response to the Lausanne World Conference in 1974 and gained greater clarity with the Wheaton ’85 Statement on Transformation. The story of transformation missiology is then told as a story with multiple centres, including the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, Regnum Publications, and the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians.

In Part Two, eight global dimensions of mission as transformation are discussed with reference to a biblical and theological discussion of the kingdom of God. Carefully trying to avoid readings ‘from above’, Tizon stresses the way in which multiple socio-cultural perspectives have informed the transformationist reading of the relevant biblical passages. He explicitly rejects any limited mono-cultural reading of the text, calling instead for a ‘priesthood of all cultures’ approach that requires theologians from all cultures to contribute to an intercultural hermeneutics of the kingdom.

Tizon’s Filipino heritage becomes obvious in his reflection on local dimensions of transformation missiology in a concise account of Filipino missiology in Part Three, framed largely with reference to kingdom mission in the post-colonial context of the Philippines. Students in a hurry to get to the conclusion should avoid the temptation to skip over this chapter. It is central to Tizon’s methodology.

This becomes clear in Part Four where he locates mission as transformation at the dynamic intersection of the global and the local. He achieves this through a thoughtful synthesis of Vinay Samuel’s eight dimensions of a global transformation missiology and nine dimensions of its Filipino equivalent. What emerges is an outline of four dimensions of a ‘glocal’ missiology: orthodox and contextual; incarnational dialogue; post-colonial reconciliation; and collaborative action. The consequence of this insight is a ‘positive universality through difference’ in which the local creates and gives authority to the global, whilst the global informs the local and lends authenticity to it.

The book has few flaws but one of the more significant left me disappointed rather than critical. I would have liked Tizon to have paid greater attention to offering a clearer rationale for the manner in which he derives his four glocal dimensions of transformation. How he derives these from the interplay of the eight global and nine local dimensions is not made very clear in his text and yet this is central to the book. For others interested in a similar quest, there is also probably scope here for further exploration of these four dimensions with reference to a multiplicity of other local contexts.

That said, this is a must-read for any missiologist trying to understand a missiology of transformation and essential reading for anybody who considers themselves to be committed to an orthodox and contextualised missiology that emphasises dialogue, reconciliation, and collaboration.

Back to Issue 33

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