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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Away With Western Influences
If you are prepared to lay aside your view that God is an Englishman and that Jesus was a blue-eyed arian, you will be blown away by this book.

Vincent J. Donovan, was a Catholic Missionary in Kenya among the Masai people during the late 60's, and he realised that although they had been there about hundred years and done lots of 'good work', there were...
Published on 29 April 2006 by David Peddie

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christianity rediscovered?
Vincent J. Donovan, a Catholic Missionary in Tanzania among the Masai people during the late 60's, realised that although the mission to East Africa had been there for nearly two hundred years and done some 'good work', there were virtually no conversions. (p13.) He realises that all the mission has done is import western Christianity, and he comes to believe that every...
Published on 31 Oct. 2011 by Ottmar B.


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Away With Western Influences, 29 April 2006
By 
David Peddie (Birkenhead, Merseyside UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
If you are prepared to lay aside your view that God is an Englishman and that Jesus was a blue-eyed arian, you will be blown away by this book.

Vincent J. Donovan, was a Catholic Missionary in Kenya among the Masai people during the late 60's, and he realised that although they had been there about hundred years and done lots of 'good work', there were virtually no conversions. He realises that all they have done is 'import' their western Chritianity, and he comes to believe that every culture created by God has, withing its own culture, all it needs to believe in Jesus if someone will only tell them. So he started a really radical outreach which blew away all of the traditionally accepted forms of 'mission' and focussed on the communities. He laid out a 5-year plan to reach all of the communities of the Masai and simply tell them about Jesus and Salvation in the context of their own culture rather than a culturally western influenced Christianity. At the end of his 12 month 'telling' he gives them the choice to choose or reject the message. As simple as that. It is a disturbing book in that it lays out quite clearly that pretty much all of 'modern' mission (i.e. the last 150 years) might just have got it all wrong, and in some instances, devastatingly so. A difficult read if you have a rigid mind-set about Christianity and Mission. A revelation otherwise. As I read it I found myself thinking YES, YES, YES. This is what Christianity is all about.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars God is at work everywhere!, 22 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
Vincent Donovan's description of his work with the Masai was refreshing for its open reflection of how he faced the searching questions of members of this deeply spiritual African tribe. If anyone needs evidence that God is at work outside the orthodox Christian section of the world's p[opulation, this book will provide it. If only the church today would emulate Vincent's approach!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity Rediscovered - what a find!, 28 Aug. 2006
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This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
"Suppose you were a missionary and you realised how questionable the whole system was. And yet suppose you believed in Christianity, believed that Christianity has something to say to the world... What then? What would you do?"

I'd hardly got to the end of the first page of this book when I recognised that sinking feeling in my belly. No, not disappointment. It was that feeling of, "Why, why, why did nobody recommend this book to me 10 years ago?!" I've been absolutely gripped by Vincent Donovan's story of reaching out to the Masai of East Africa. Having visited Tanzania last year (and climbed Kilimanjaro with the help of a Masai guide) the descriptions in the book really came to life for me.

But this is far more than a heart-warming tale. Donovan's searing critique of modern missionary methods really struck a chord with me. But anyone can find faults can't they. So what impressed me was the way that Donovan, more lucidly, poignantly and sensitively than anyone else I've come across, distills and translates the Christian message for a new cultural context. Unlike many contemporary missionaries to 'emerging culture' he never plays fast and loose with the gospel. Rather he patiently and faithfully uses the verbal transmission of seed form Christian concepts to grow new redeeming hope in the minds and hearts of those he's called to reach. As the preface to the 3rd edition (2001 by Lamin Sanneh) so ably discusses, this book has huge implications for the church in every global context, especially in the West. So have you read it yet?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Find, 9 April 2011
Many, many Christians that I've spoken to have already read this but it was a real discovery for me. At a time when I was coming up to the deadline for my MA dissertation I was advised to read Christianity Rediscovered by my supervisor. Not only was it helpful but it fed my passion for evangelism and got me thinking about how and why it works (or doesn't). This is a must-read for Christians of all ages - inspirational.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant and humbling, 27 Jun. 2008
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Ms. A. C. Borthwick "AnnieB" (York, England) - See all my reviews
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This book describes Vincent Donovan's personal spiritual journey with the Masai and is a rivetting read. Mission in its truest sense, where Donovan emptied himself of his own prejudices and allowed a free and honest dialogue with a deeply spiritual people. PLEASE READ IT - CHRISTIANITY AS IT SHOULD BE!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a vital read for mission in any context, 14 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
Christianity Rediscovered is a classic for good reason. I've spoken to people engaged in all kinds of cross-cultural interfaith or mission work who have this book now in their spiritual dna giving integrity to what they do and helping them listen and learn from 'The other' in honouring respect. This is a book of huge honesty and compassion and is theology shaped by life and community. Hugely accessible and life-changing. Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 years of sanity - but are we listening?, 11 Jun. 2011
This book is as relevant as it was all those years ago and it seems at times, that we haven't yet got the message! These thoughts and suggestions are so amazingly pertinent to UK, as well as other countries. Good read and thought provoking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Creative contextualisation at its best, 30 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
Vincent Donovan writes with passion and life-experience of what it means to introduce Christ to a people in a way they can understand. His exploration of what contextualisation means in practice is gripping and informative. It is particularly insightful as he is speaking from the Roman Catholic tradition, yet seeks a way to not impose Roman tradition on African Christians. His candid exploration of themes such as marriage and the priesthood or the sacraments is fascinating. A must-read for anyone involved in cross-cultural Christian ministry.
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4.0 out of 5 stars So good I bought it twice, 27 April 2014
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This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
I gave my first copy of this classic book to a Godchild. So I had to buy another, which I have returned to it several times. It's both a good story and an insightful criticism of the missional techniques Donovan sets out to challenge. You should draw your own conclusions. But for me it shows that we can learn much about ourselves by observing and learning from other cultures. God works in ways and with peoples as God chooses, whether 'a church' likes it or not.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christianity rediscovered?, 31 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
Vincent J. Donovan, a Catholic Missionary in Tanzania among the Masai people during the late 60's, realised that although the mission to East Africa had been there for nearly two hundred years and done some 'good work', there were virtually no conversions. (p13.) He realises that all the mission has done is import western Christianity, and he comes to believe that every culture created by God has within its own culture all it needs to believe in Jesus.
Donovan critiques the modern missionary approach and translates the Christian message into the cultural context. With permission of his bishop he started an outreach program into the communities of the Masai with a target of reaching all tribes within a five year period and telling them bout Jesus and salvation in their own culture. Meeting the groups on a weekly basis for a year Donovan gives them the option of either to either choose or reject the message.
Donovan is of the opinion that Christianity has the inner strength necessary to match the primeval force of racism and tribalism (p.43) but shows in a number of passages that he himself is not much above the same. His derogatory comments about the Masai make it difficult to take him serious. Saying that they (the Masai) can reach adulthood without thinking at all (p.42), stereotyping the population as handsome (p.91) and claiming that as pagans they would not be able to forgive those who have offended (p.110) shows that he is imposing western thoughts and ideals onto the culture. While segregation in the US and Apartheid in South Africa were present at the time the book was written and stances like those mentioned above might have been acceptable at that time, surely they are not longer in the 21st century.
With some of his arguments he doesn't seem to be aware that he is already contradicting himself. He is claiming that for Pagans it would be unthinkable to forgive (p.110), however, he shows clear rituals of asking and accepting forgiveness within the culture. The "spittle of forgiveness" (p.48), endaa sinyati or holy food (p.49) or the symbol of grass for peace show clear signs and rituals of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Donovan preached forgiveness to the people, but not before he had preached the Cross. When they heard the message of the crucifixion they first laughed in disbelief `as pagans do'. (p.65) `Then they were scandalised by it as religious people must'. If the people have no need for thinking in terms of the future, or at all, they had no hope of resurrection. The hope of resurrection, the message of Jesus rising again, had to be at the basis for teaching.
Donovan, quoting 1 Cor 1:17, "For Christ did not send me to baptise but to proclaim the gospel", acknowledges the importance of the good news in mission however makes a point of preparing the Masai for baptism as a sacrament necessary for salvation. While he tries to leave his western oriented theology behind he quite clearly is influenced by his catholic traditions. He considers himself to be in a position where he can, and does, refuse baptism if he thinks people are not ready for it. When Donovan thought some of the listeners were not yet ready personally for baptism he thought he should exclude them from it. The community however would not accept this. The community had decided they would after look after the weak ones within a communal faith. Communal faith was a concept Donovan had not met and struggled to accept. When a group did not want to be baptised (p.86) he sees it as them refusing Christ and the Christian message. Again Donovan shows an attitude towards the people where he considers himself of a higher authority. Over a period of years he accepted that Christianity can be either accepted or rejected but at the point of rejection by the group his missionary obligation to them was, for him, finished.
Christianity Rediscovered shows a different approach to mission independent of social provisions like hospitals and schools. Donovan tries to bring the Gospel to the people using images from their own cultural background. By his own admission his plan to evangelize the twenty-six sections of the district has not been accomplished. In addition to that he misses to state what has happened to the people who accepted the Gospel. With more than 25 years after the book was written it would have been opportune to reflect on the results of the mission. Have any of the people started spreading the news themselves, has a mission from within the tribe been developed?
While many reviews of the book are highly supportive, I would suggest it needs to be read within a historical context and not without criticism.
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Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics)
Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) by Vincent J. Donovan (Paperback - 1 Oct. 2001)
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