0041 | Paradigms in Conflict – David Hesselgrave


Hesselgrave I know from the masterful work Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally and, like that book, this one doesn’t disappoint.

The book is divided into ten chapters, each of which focusses on a key dichotomy in contemporary mission. These are:

  1. Sovereignty v Free will
  2. All saved v Some saved
  3. Christianity shares tenets with other faiths v Christianity is unique
  4. Holistic ministry v Evangelistic priority
  5. Jesus as our missionary model v Paul as the same
  6. Power encounter v Truth encounter
  7. Amateur missionaries v Professional missionaries
  8. Form of scripture v Meaning of scripture
  9. Predicting the end v Labouring to the end
  10. Kingdom v Church

Now while every single topic in this list is essential for every missionary to consider, Hesselgrave does not write as eloquently on each as I’d hoped. In fact, the opening and closing chapters were particularly dry for me. But the strength of this book is that it takes the perspective of someone with a long life in missions and lays it at the feet of those, like me, who have no clue.

I’d say I’m much more aware of the issues that I’d likely encounter on the field now and forewarned is forearmed. More than that though, I feel kind of encouraged. Many of the conclusions that Hesselgrave comes to are ones I’ve held (though far less surely than he) for years. While I’m not going to accept his interpretations uncritically (one in particular concerning the sheep and the goats passage I found very hard going), I found that they mostly stood up to my own evaluation.

So, while not everything here was as easy to read as it could have been, this book is still a very valuable read for anyone involved in mission i.e. every Christian on the planet.

During my seminary days in the 1940s, foreign missions seemd to be largely a matter of whether we were willing to go to “the last, the least, and the lost.”

dialectic | picayunish | orthopraxy | elenctic | ontogenesis | hortatory | dispensationalist

For the [challenge to build the missiology of the future on God’s Word and the historic doctrines of the church], all missions leaders and missiologists will forever be in [Donald McGavran’s] debt.

terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb

Similar Posts


  1. No… and… no. 😉

    But I am writing a missionary training course for our church which is an incredibly steep learning curve. This is in order to get funding to do work in linguistics over the next three years. I am a linguist and will be commissioned by my church as a missionary within the next year. Missionary is not an epithet that is found in the Bible and often a less than helpful one. I can live with it though… for the moment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.