Pauls Missionary MethodsJust over 100 years ago Roland Allen wrote Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? which became one of the most influential books on missions that is still available today. As is the custom for many classic works Robert Plummer and John Mark Terry have compiled a team of contributors who have been greatly influenced by Allen’s work to write a tribute. Paul’s Missionary Methods: His Time and Ours has contributions from authors like Michael Bird, Eckhard Schnabel, Craig Keener and Ed Stetzer. As quoted in the book, Leslie Newbigin said of Allen’s work when he wrote the foreword for its American edition in 1962,

I have thought it right to enter these words of caution, because the reader should be warned that he is embarking on a serious undertaking. Once he has started reading Allen, he will be compelled to go on. He will find that this quiet voice has a strange relevant and immediacy to the problems of the Church in our day. And I shall be surprised if he does not find before long that any of his accustomed ideas are being questioned by a voice more searching than the word of man. (p. 241-42)

The book has two parts. Part one looks at Paul in the New Testament as  the contributors seek to extrapolate parts of Paul’s missiology in regards to areas like him as a missionary, as a suffering missionary, his ecclesiology and the mission of the church. Some notable chapters as as follows. Michael Bird lays out the religious and historical context in which Paul did his missionary work. Eckhard Schnabel looks at the person of Paul namely his calling and role as apostle while also briefly sketching out the order of his missionary travels. Robert Plummer looks at the contribution to our understanding of the gospel that Paul makes. Benjamin Merkle sketches Paul’s ecclesiology taking a credo interpretation of baptism and the Lord’s Supper and a plurality of elders approach to church leadership. Don Howell Jr. provides a great analysis of the role of suffering in Paul’s life as it relates to his missionary ministry.

The second part of the books deals with Paul’s influence on missions. It is the second part of the book that the contributors begin to interact with Allen’s original work. By in large the authors express great agreement with Allen’s assessment of Paul’s missiology with only a few differences here and there. In chapter nine Michael Pocock seeks to answer the question of whether or nor Paul’s missionary methods/strategies are determinative for today. Chapters eleven and twelve deal with Paul and church planting and the accompanying are of contextualization.

All in all this is a great book. I have not personally read Allen’s original work but I suspect I will have to some day soon. For now, Paul’s Missionary Methods is a great primer on the missiology of Paul as well as the thoughts of Paul the missionary by the great missiologist Roland Allen. Here is an introduction to the missiology of two great missionaries: Paul the apostle and Roland Allen the great missionary to China.

NOTE: I received this book for free from IVP in exchange for an honest review. The words and thoughts expressed are my own.

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