Reviewed by Walter McConnell
Head, OMF Mission Research
Mission Round Table Vol. 11 No. 3 (Sep-Dec 2016): 39
Since missions is essentially a cross-cultural enterprise, Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations obliges us to acquire a deep understanding of how cultures work and how to communicate the gospel effectively to every culture. Crossing Cultures in Scripture leads missionaries along this path by showing that followers of God have always interacted with people from other cultures and that principles for cross-cultural interaction can be traced from Genesis to Revelation.
Written in an engaging manner, the book begins with a chapter defining culture in missiological and anthropological terms, and then examines cultural interplay in the Old Testament in nineteen chapters and the New Testament in sixteen. Readers will appreciate the frequent use of modern stories that anchor the biblical lessons in contemporary practice. They will also welcome the fact that it often fleshes out the lives of biblical characters by firmly placing them in real crosscultural situations. A major weakness in a book that is otherwise quite useful is that many chapters read as though the modern and biblical stories were chosen for their power to illustrate popular missiological concepts that cannot easily be derived from Scripture. While not negating the validity or value of the ideas, it lessens the book’s use as a biblical theology of culture.
While most missionaries would benefit from this book, those who have read little on cultural issues have the most to gain as it provides a good introduction to an indispensable field for those who want to communicate the gospel well. Those working in home centers or preparing for home assignment may find an appendix that suggests sermon topics for preaching on culture extremely useful.
Crossing Cultures in Scripture: Biblical Principles for Mission Practice
By Marvin J. Newell
Downers Grove: IVP, 2016