Don Richardson’s “Redemptive Analogies” and the Biblical Idea of Revelation -- By: Bruce A. Demarest

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 146:583 (Jul 1989)
Article: Don Richardson’s “Redemptive Analogies” and the Biblical Idea of Revelation
Author: Bruce A. Demarest

Don Richardson’s “Redemptive Analogies” and the Biblical Idea of Revelation

Bruce A. Demarest

Richard J. Harpel

Professor of Systematic Theology
Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary, Denver, Colorado


Associate Pastor
Bethany Evangelical Free Church, Littleton, Colorado

The purpose of this article is to explore Don Richardson’s concept of “redemptive analogies” and assess the way he relates this concept to revelation broadly and general revelation specifically. The implications of the “redemptive analogy” for the salvation of unevangelized people will also be evaluated.

The “Peace Child”

Don Richardson’s ministry among the cannibalistic and warring Sawi people of Irian Jaya is well known. Richardson and his wife had been laboring for months among the Sawi to win a hearing for the gospel. During a temporary lull in the tribal fighting, Richardson joined the village elders in the “manhouse,” where he related the story of Jesus Christ. When he told the incident of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, Richardson realized that the Sawi honored Judas as a hero for his brilliant scheme of deception. These people esteemed treachery rather than fidelity as a virtue. Their culturally shaped interpretation of the gospel proved opposite to the intention of the biblical text as Christians traditionally have understood it. The Richardsons wondered if it was possible to communicate the gospel meaningfully to the Sawi people while respecting the distinctives of

their culture. Whereas first-century Jews had the written Word of God, the Sawi people had no such preparation for the gospel. Their culture excluded the message of salvation—or so it seemed.1

Sensing that the presence of the white missionary family had brought the villagers into closer contact and thereby heightened the tensions between them, Richardson told the chiefs he had decided to leave the area. The tribal leaders urged the missionaries to stay and said that the next day the two warring villages would make peace. The next day the warring villagers enacted a tribal peace ritual near Richardson’s home. Amidst weeping by women on both sides, a man from each village presented the other with his infant son. As long as the exchanged children lived, the opposing factions agreed that hostilities would cease and peace would reign. The villagers celebrated this event of peace and reconciliation with dancing and mutual embraces.2 Gifts and names were exchanged by the two sides.

Richardson recognized in ...

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