I wish David Hesselgrave’s 2005 book, Paradigms in Conflict, was available as an ebook. I could spirit it here, to “where there is no bookstore,” or to other laborers abroad. I first found it on a cast-off clearance shelf not long after it was published. I’m glad to have stumbled across it; most Christian bookstores don’t even have a missions section. If we avoid tough questions in missions, it should come as no surprise that it remains in conflict.

Hesselgrave is a former pastor, missionary, missions administrator and professor. He asks “10 key questions in Christian missions today,” as it says in the book’s subtitle (and listed below). He is discerning and brave in writing Paradigms. He not only perceives the issues spot on, he is not afraid to give thoughtful and biblical answers. There is always the temptation when in conflict to be defensive, complacent or agnostic.

Many missionaries and theologians talk past each other because of a difference in underlying assumptions. The confusion is even more-so when proponents defend their views using Scripture verses. We need grace and help to understand and apply “the whole counsel of God” to missions together. Which of these 10 questions can Paradigms help you think through?

  1. Sovereignty and Free Will: An Impossible Mix or a Perfect Match?
  2. Restrictivism and Inclusivism: Is This Missions Trip Really Necessary?
  3. Common Ground and Enemy Territory: How Should We Approach Adherents of Other Faiths?
  4. Holism and Prioritism: For Whom Is the Gospel Good News?
  5. Incarnationalism and Representationalism: Who Is Our Missionary Model — Jesus or Paul?
  6. Power Encounter and Truth Encounter: What Is Essential in Spiritual Warfare?
  7. Amateurization and Professionalization: A Call for Missionaries or a Divine Calling?
  8. Form and Meaning: How Does the Inspiration of Scripture “In-form” Contextualization and Make It “Meaning-full”?
  9. Countdowns and Prophetic Alerts: If We Go in Force, Will He Come in Haste?
  10. The Kingdom of God and the Church of Christ: What on Earth Is God Building — Here and Now?