Steven Ray, founder and director of Messiah Missions, seeks to offer a biblical balance to the ever changing world of missions. I believe in many ways he succeeds. He first, and rightly, deals with evangelism, offering clear insights and analysis of various evangelistic approaches (pp. 13-26). He shows the dangers of syncretism (combining Christianity with other religions) which is becoming more acceptable in evangelism today (pp. 37-42). And Ray deals extremely well with the social gospel and compassion ministries (pp. 43-68), showing that social concern should be a natural fruit of the gospel but it is not the gospel (p. 46). The author also gives a valuable understanding of and need for the indigenous church (pp. 109-122).
In all these areas, I believe Ray offers much that needs to be contemplated and digested by all interested in missions—home and abroad. Unfortunately, I believe he stumbles in some matters. He takes a few scriptures out of context (Psalm 19:7 – p. 81; John 14:27 and 16:13 – p. 99). He speaks favorably of the Franciscans (p. 29), Charles Finney (p. 73), David Yonggi Cho (p. 94), and laying on of hands to heal people (p. 98), and uses Paul’s example, rather than the biblical mandate, to teach that ministers should have an income-producing trade (p. 119). The author believes we should not confuse the compulsion of the flesh with the leading of the Holy Spirit in the matter of evangelism (pp. 95-100). But he does not tell his reader how to do this—for in fact Ray cannot. His proof-texts deal with direct revelation from God and out-of-context Scriptures. And he offers an unclear and unwise quote in “The Holy Spirit is the present tense of God” (p. 88), which is too close to modalism for comfort. Unless he is a “oneness Pentecostal” this quote needs explanation.
With these important concerns recognized, the commendable features of the book are worth pondering.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel