Paradigms is a very helpful book for someone interested in the top ten issues in missiology. Hesselgrave manages to define the issues, give a strong version of each side of the argument, and give his opinion based on solid, evangelical interpretation.
Sovereignty and Free Will: An Impossible Mix or Perfect Match? The exploration of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in salvation is helpful for clarifying your understanding of the nature of God, man, and salvation. However, the missiological synthesis encourages the people of God to proclaim the gospel to everyone, knowing that the work of Christ is powerful to save all who believe.
Restrictivism and Inclusivism: Is This Missions Trip Really Necessary? If in the end God saves everyone or that He saves people who haven’t heard and responded to the gospel, then the work of Christ and the mission of the church become superfluous. We must be careful not to judge the teaching of Scripture by imposing an extra-biblical understanding of justice in determining the punishment for those who never hear the gospel.
Common Ground and Enemy Territory: How Should we Approach Adherents of Other Faiths? Do missionaries work to find what is common between non-Christian faiths and Biblical Christianity, or do we work to find distinctives between the two? While finding similar elements of each person’s faith seems attractive to begin and build conversations on, often the similarities in faith are the words used and not their meanings. For example when a Muslim uses the word for God (Allah), the content behind that word is different than a Christian’s. The common ground that Christians have with other faiths is that we all have to deal with our tendencies to violate our consciences and need to give an explanation for the overwhelming evidence of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Holism and Prioritism: For Whom Is the Gospel Good News? This question deals with the priority of missions: social justice, human needs, evangelism, etc. Missionaries should not neglect ministry to the whole person, and even the culture, while proclaiming the gospel.
Incarnationalism and Representationalism: Who Is Our Missionary Model–Jesus or Paul? If it is Jesus, then missionaries should focus on fully entering into the new culture, humbly serving those who come their way, and training disciples in the context of everyday life. If Paul is the model for missionaries, they should focus on representing Christ in ministry by proclaiming the good news and starting churches.
Power Encounter and Truth Encounter: What Is Essential in Spiritual Warfare? Should missionaries seek to demonstrate the power of God and His message by emphasizing supernatural works like healings and spiritual warfare, or is the point to invite an encounter of the will with the truth of the Gospel?
Amateurization and Professionalization: A Call for Missionaries or a Divine Calling? Considering the huge numbers of short-term volunteer “missionaries” traveling to every country, we need to evaluate how we prioritize this movement over the ministry of those who have depth of training and experience in long-term ministry.
Form and Meaning: How Does the Inspiration of Scripture “In-form” Contextualization and Make it “Meaning-full”? Whenever we operate outside of the Greek language, we begin to make subjective decisions on handling the New Testament. Some advocate for trying to identify and communicate the core meaning when translating, while others advocate for trying to translate the exact words. Both can create distortions.
Countdowns and Prophetic Alerts: If We Go in Force, Will He Come in Haste? Some advocate that Matthew 24:14 teaches that God is waiting for the church to proclaim the gospel in every ethnic group and, when that is accomplished, Jesus will return. Others do not closely link missionary activity with an end-times hastening of events.
The Kingdom of God and the Church of Christ: What on Earth Is God Building–Here and Now? What is the extent of the reign of Christ and the kingdom of God represented on earth before the return of Christ? Is the kingdom present now, and is its scope broader than the church?
Anyone interested in the study of missions will benefit from this book. Hesselgrave outlines ten key issues in a way that tries to honor each position and includes extensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter for further exploration.