Monday, May 14, 2018

Recommended Readings: United Methodist Professors of Mission recent publications

Several United Methodist Professors of Mission and other UM & Global contributors have had recent articles published on topics related to mission and the global nature of the church.

Philip D. Wingeier-Rayo published an article entitled "A Wesleyan Theology of Religions: A Re-Reading of John Wesley Through His Encounters with Peoples of Non-Christian Faiths" in Methodist Review. The article is accessible freely online. The abstract reads as follows:

"This article argues that John Wesley’s contact with and understanding of native peoples and non-Christians can be a helpful model for a Wesleyan theology of religions today, when Christians have greater encounters with adherents of Islam and people of other faith traditions. Over the course of his lifetime Wesley grew in his appreciation of indigenous people and members of other religions from an original innocence to natural depraved man to a universal grace of hopeful eschatology for humanity. The early Wesley can be described as na├»ve and believing in native peoples as “noble savages.” The second stage, or middle Wesley, believed that native peoples and people of other faith traditions fall into the category of “natural man.” Finally, the mature Wesley believed in an eschatological hope for humanity. One can credit Wesley’s maturation process to at least two important factors. One important factor in his growth was the personal experiences with people of a different life experience that created cognitive dissonance for his previous worldview. The other contributing factor to his growth was Wesley’s reading of travel logs, missionary letters and other accounts of the expanding global awareness in 18th century England. Wesley’s sermon “The General Spread of the Gospel” calls for the Holy Spirit to empower Christians to cease to be stumbling blocks and to witness to Muslims and people of other faiths. This requires personal encounters, similar to those that Wesley had with his Jewish parishioners in Savannah. The article closes with an exhortation to those in the Wesleyan tradition to embrace this practice of personal encounters and continual learning, while at the same time maintaining an expectant eschatology of God’s salvific work through the Holy Spirit."

David W. Scott published an article entitled "The Value of Money: Funding Sources and Philanthropic Priorities in Twentieth-Century American Mission" in Religions. The article is accessible freely online. The abstract reads as follows:

"At the turn of the twentieth century, Western missionaries and mission organizations sought to develop financial strategies that would facilitate the further expansion of the Western mission enterprise. Three such strategies emerged: an increasingly sophisticated, corporatized approach to fundraising by mission boards; faith missions that shifted the economic risks associated with fundraising from mission agencies to missionaries; and self-supporting missions that cultivated economic funding available in the mission field. Each of these strategies had different implications for power configurations in the mission enterprise and allowed the values and views of different groups to prevail. The board approach empowered mission executives and large donors. The faith mission approach empowered missionaries and supporters with a conservative theology. The self-supporting mission approach made missionaries arbiters among a variety of competing interests. This economic approach to the study of mission provides new insights into the complex and contested power arrangements involved in Western foreign mission that extend beyond those gained from traditional political and cultural analyses."

David N. Field has published a book entitled Our Purpose Is Love: The Wesleyan Way to Be the Church. While one must buy the book, an excerpt is available through Ministry Matters. The book description reads as follows:

"We live in a time of great division in the world, and too often we find this polarization mirrored in the church. People sitting in the same pew, working in the same office, and living on the same street find themselves at odds with one another politically and theologically on a variety of issues. Conflict seems to reign supreme. As Christians, we know we are supposed to love one another, but even that mandate has come to mean different things to different people. What does it mean to love God and neighbor today—in both the world and the church—and can this be the answer to the conflict that divides and polarizes us?

"In Our Purpose Is Love, author David Field answers this question with a compelling “Yes!” as he challenges us to recognize and reclaim love as the center of our identity and purpose as the church. Field presents a Wesleyan vision of the church as the embodiment of God’s love in the world and explores the implications of this vision for our life together. In this vision, the church is where we become creatures of love, learning to love God and neighbor ever more completely and authentically through the means of God’s grace. As a result, we bear witness to the world by reflecting God’s love more and more perfectly in the way we treat others and order our common life. With a special focus on the importance of unity for the church’s witness, Field invites us to consider the ways in which embodying God’s love can and should influence how we live as individuals and as communities of faith, calling us to reclaim and recommit to love as the center of who we are."

Know of other books or articles by UM & Global contributors that our readers should know about? Send your suggestions to blogmaster David Scott.

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