Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 27:3 (September 1984) p. 335
Let the Earth Rejoice: A Biblical Theology of Holistic Mission. By William A. Dyrness. Westchester: Crossway, 1983, 216 pp., $6.95.
Evangelicals today are divided over their view of the missionary task. Some evangelicals believe that the principal goal of missions is evangelism, while others would contend that social concerns and evangelism should be equally stressed. Dyrness attempts to solve this current impasse by re-examining what the Bible has to say about mission. Although the Bible is acknowledged by many to be authoritative for the Church’s view of mission, Dyr-hess remarks that few have adequately grounded their theology of mission in the Scriptures. Thus the author uses the Biblical theology method so that the Scriptures can speak for themselves in their historical-cultural setting.
The unifying theme of the Bible is identified as the kingdom of God, which is provisionally defined “as God’s dynamic rule leading to the salvation of his people and the restoration of the created order” (p. 14). The unfolding of the kingdom of God is conceived in terms of a drama. The five great acts in the drama are creation, exodus, exile, Christ and consummation. The heart of the book consists of an explanation and analysis of these five dramatic acts. Almost the entire Bible is cornpassed in this remarkably concise survey of Biblical theology.
The major conclusions of the book are implidt in the definition of the kingdom of God. God is concerned about the salvation of individuals, but his kingdom purposes also include the restoration of creation and human society. The redemptive aetivity of God is manifested in both the proclamation of the gospel and the transformation of social structures. The promise of the future consummation of the kingdom does not imply that social concerns for this creation are irrelevant, for there is continuity between the old and new creation.
It is hard to disagree with the central thesis of this work, for Dyrness convincingly shows that the Scriptures contain a holistic theology of mission. Clearly the initial creation of the world and the promised new creation reflect the comprehensive nature of God’s purposes. In addition the exodus, the message of the prophets, and the ministry of Jesus reveal that God is interested in the transformation of both individuals and social structures, in spiritual renewal and physical well-being. However, it is more difficult to see how the wisdom literature supports Dyrness’ thesis, and this literature receives little attention.
There is no doubt that this book is a valuable contribution to the current debate over mission, but it should also not be overlooked as a fine handbook for the student who wants to see the overriding unity of ...
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