Robert L. Plummer and John Mark Terry, Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012). (Amazon.com)
Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours is a collection of essays edited by Robert L. Plummer and John Mark Terry that seek to explore how Paul is depicted as a missionary in his epistles and the Book of Acts and how Paul might be understood as an example for Christian mission today. This book is inspired by Roland Allen’s 1912 Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? I have not read Allen’s book, and I have no familiarity with the academic study of missiology, but I do know a bit about Paul!
Message of the Book:
This book interacts with (1) Pauline thought and (2) the missiology of Allen. Each author interacts with Paul’s writings and Allen’s interpretation of Paul in order to determine whether Allen’s insights into Paul as a missionary are faithful to Paul and relevant for today. It is unique in that it is dedicated to both a study of Paul and pragmatic implementation of Paul’s theology. Since it is a collection of essays addressing different topics there is not one single message, but each author does contribute to our understanding of Paul and missiology.
Summary of the Content:
The first half of the book is dedicated to “Paul in the New Testament” while the second half if dedicated to “Paul’s Influence on Missions”. In Part One we find essays from Michael F. Bird, Eckhard J. Schnabel, Craig Keener, and others addressing topics such as “Paul’s Religious and Historical Milieu,” “Paul’s Gospel,” “Paul’s Ecclesiology,” and even “Paul and Spiritual Warfare”. In Part Two various missiologist ask how Allen’s study of Paul applies to modern missions. The topics are varied, some chapters addressing whether we should speak of Paul as a having a “method,” others addressing practical matters such church planting and leadership development.
Personally, I enjoyed the first half of this book. Scholars like Bird and Keener are well-respected in Pauline studies. Schnabel is one of the foremost scholars are early Christian mission. On the other hand, the second half was difficult for me to read because it addressed matters with which I am not familiar. I’ve never done foreign missions. I know nothing of Roland Allen. That said, I think evangelicals (and probably a particular, conservative group of evangelicals) who want to balance their historical studies with practical application, and those who want to make sure their missiology connects to biblical studies, will find this book helpful. It would be the perfect textbook for a class on Paul and modern missions.
This book was received from IVP Academic for review.