Third Millennium Missiology And The Use Of Egyptian Gold -- By: David J. Hesselgrave

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 42:4 (Dec 1999)
Article: Third Millennium Missiology And The Use Of Egyptian Gold
Author: David J. Hesselgrave

Third Millennium Missiology And The Use Of Egyptian Gold

David J. Hesselgrave*

At the very beginning of a course on church planting and development in Trinity Bible College in Kursk, Russia, I sensed a pervasive suspicion on the part of the students, especially the 22 pastors who made up about half of the class. I soon discovered the reason. Experience had taught them to anticipate more and more material on social structures, demographics, opinion surveys, program development and the like. When they understood that the primary focus of the course would be on biblical theology—and especially as they re-discovered the newness and relevance of the biblical text—their attitude changed completely. In session after session notebooks were readied, Bibles were opened, discussions came alive, and new auditors appeared.

In retrospect, it is easy to see what has happened at Kursk and similar schools since the doors of Russia opened to Western—especially American—missions. Studies in practical theology, Christian education, counseling and missions have become increasingly occupied with social science materials. In some cases those materials have not been well integrated with Scripture. In some cases they have even preempted the proper place of Scripture.

Problems connected with the utilization of profane learning in spiritual endeavor is not new, but for a variety of reasons these problems take on a new urgency as missions enter a new millennium. Accordingly, it would seem appropriate to investigate pertinent precursors, precedents and principles in Scripture and church and mission history in order to chart a proper course.

I. Some Biblical Background: Egypt, Canaan And The People Of God

A number of pertinent Bible passages point to the relationship between Israel and Egypt, especially as that relationship has to do with the Exodus and its aftermath. Liberation theologians, for example, appear to give more attention to Israel’s emancipation from Egypt than to almost any other single event in the OT. At the same time, it is doubtful that any of us give sufficient attention to the subsequent struggle to “get Egypt out of Israel,” to use the phraseology of preachers. And yet this latter undertaking proved to be far more difficult than getting Israel out of Egypt. In fact, it constitutes a major theme of the OT—to use Walter Kaiser’s term, one of those “nodal points” that we do well to ponder.

* David J. Hesselgrave is professor emeritus of mission at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and past executive director of the Evangelical Missiological Society. He resides at 4345 Terrace View Lane, Rockford, IL 61114.


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