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1 of 2 found the following review helpful:
Interesting Yet Curious PerspectivesApr 02, 2006
By Rev. Thomas Scarborough
Charles van Engen is a leading missiologist. In keeping with the subtitle of his book: "Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church", he briefly sets ecclesiology and missiology in historical and contemporary perspective, then introduces "a new perspective".
He refers to his view of missions as a "radically new way of affirming the congregation's missionary nature" -- a break with the past twenty centuries of ecclesiology and missiology. While the received definition of missions is "spreading the message of His salvation to the world" (Fleming 1990:296), Van Engen defines this as "to spread throughout the world the knowledge of the rule of the King". Further, in the received view, the justified yet imperfect Church might be said to move continually upward toward God. In Van Engen's view, it moves continually forward through "the impelling force of the Kingdom of God", toward "shalom" -- "an emerging church".
While Van Engen emphasises the necessity to "receive by faith the ONENESS of the church", yet he himself would appear to adopt a sharp exclusivity with regard to "missionary congregations". While he rightly points out that a defective ecclesiology may unnecessarily lead to disunity, this does not appear to translate into a generous view of unity. He defines "missionary congregations" specifically as those which are "called to spread throughout the world the knowledge of the rule of the King", and hold a non-judicial view of salvation. With this in mind, he states that "conversion . . . happens uniquely in missionary congregations". Apparently it would not happen outside of them. There is little to dispel the suspicion that the rest of the Church is of little significance in terms of the central interests of the Church.
On the surface of it, Van Engen would appear to take an uncompromising stand on "the Church's role in establishing justice, righteousness, and SHALOM". Closer examination, however, would appear to reveal a different picture. A characteristic Western duality repeatedly creeps in. He states that the Church has "a debt to the poor and oppressed" -- as though the Church should exist on one side, the poor and oppressed on the other. Not only this, but "incomplete manifestations of the working of the kingdom" are given short shrift, perhaps fatalistically. Van Engen would seem to sense the inadequacy in his views as he notes awkwardly that the Church should "at least struggle more deeply to define" its identification with the oppressed.
While Van Engen gives a useful reminder that we need to "propel the people of God out in ministry in the world", disavowals of disunity, paternalism, domination, and enculturation would surely be too easily deconstructed in his writing.
Fleming, Don. Bible Knowledge Dictionary. Amersham-on-the-Hill, Buckinghamshire: Scripture Press, 1990.
4 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Church For MissionApr 25, 2000
By Emmanuel Ong Chee Yong
Summary : This book covered the theoretical and practical study on Church and Mission .Charles Van Engen gave an extensive and profound definition on the Church which covered from the biblical images , Church History and theological perspective (Part 1 , pp25-86).The Church is one ,is catholic ,is holy and is apostolic.But Charles Van Engen showed that the Church is also mission-intent for God's Kingdom because Christ's salvation and rule are in the Church and for the World .Therefore the church being the only earthly witness for Christ should engage its essence for the Great Commission (Part 2 , pp87-132) . Every local church is God's missionary people to reachout the whole world into the Lost. To accomplish such a mission task ,four elements in the local church : the Goal-setting , the mission-orientated members ,the commissioned leadership and the church administrative system will all be geared towards mission in passion and vision for the whole world (Part 3 , pp133-192).
Comment : Charles Van Engen's presupposition is that the Church in her essence cannot be divided or separated from her commission in mission to the world because the Church is the only chosen witness for Christ. But the issue is : Does the Church lose its essence when her earthly mission fails ? To make some analogy : (1) Does a man lose his image of God or his manliness if he fallen or paralysied ? (2) Does a cat lose its cat-ness if it loses its four legs and still alive ? My understanding is the Church is still the Church though she has not functioned her entrusted mission to the world . It is the same that Christ is the God in person even if he does not want to save his people on earth ! Because he is still the Lord if he did not be my Savior.
0 of 4 found the following review helpful:
As DescribedSep 25, 2010
The item arrived with a great deal of expedience! Upon inspection it was as described. Overall very pleased with my purchase!
3 of 11 found the following review helpful:
Mistaken Modern Pragmatic EcclessiologySep 05, 2003
Van Engen makes incorrect case at beginning for the church never really coming into its own, i.e. doing and being what it really is in this world and stage, thus some of the so familiar Biblical sounding tension of "now and not yet." Further, here he separates the church from kingdom of God, which is also an unbiblical move.
From this, he sequences to history of doctrine of the church, i.e. ecclessiology. Reviewing Roman Catholic and Reformed views primarily, he senses the inadequacy of four-fold concept: one, holy, catholic and apostolic church as well as the marks of the church method: Word, Sacraments, discipline (latter, betraying his Calvinistic orientation). Thus, he sequences all this history forgetting Lutheran ecclessiology which gives correctives to all these as well as Eastern Orthodox which he does not address either. From this, it is small step to modern ecclessiology which seeks to break out of this for more ecumenical, dynamic, mission orientation purpose for the church.
Thus, he arrives at book's purpose: the focus of local congregation.
While he provides much of Biblical view at times concerning Christ's church, he is too vague in his conclusions, i.e. confession.
As corrective to all this, interested theologians will pursue Kurt Marquart's monumental work "The Church: Her Fellowship, Ministry and Governance." He magnificently shows from the Bible and Lutheran Confessions how defective ecclessiology (as exhibited by Van Engen) comes from defective Christology--- "Is it possible to discern a pattern in the ecclesiologies of these major versions of Christianity? Without oversimplifying unduly, we may say the traditional Roman Catholicism (before Vatican II) particulary, but also Eastern Orthodocy, externalize the church, while Calvinism spiritualizes her. Lutheran theology, by its innermost logic, understands the church incarantionally."
Such a false division of visible and invisible church understood in wrong sense allows such ecclessiologies as Van Engen's to begin to put purpose of church back under law talk: what real congregations will and must do, rather than means of grace talk about God doing it all through the pure preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the sacraments.
This book certainly provides one to realize where much of evangelical movement and Fuller is at concerning mission and ecclessiology, Christology, and where they want to make gignatic, non-static paradigm changes to effect more pragmatic numerical growth. Such not only ignores biblical realities, but will not comprehend theology of cross and rejection of truth, apostacy.