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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and challenging view of the work of missionaries ..., 31 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
Thought provoking and challenging view of the work of missionaries in East Africa in the past and how changes need to be made. A relatively small book but full of insight and tightly written text. Although a few decades old it is still very relevant to the questions and challenges facing the Christian church today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting and thought provoking read. Teaches a ..., 10 Dec. 2014
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A really interesting and thought provoking read. Teaches a lot about a very interesting people and how we need to think when we want to communicate with cultures and traditions different from our own.
Pity it doesn't tell us what Vincent Donovan went on to do afterwards.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A different view, 22 Jun. 2013
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This book looks on Christian Mission from the side of those it seeks to serve. What I find most refreshing is that it is written in a spirit of humility, openness and great love.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book. It gives you lots to think about ..., 7 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
Brilliant book. It gives you lots to think about in terms of mission and evangelism. Would recommend it to people as an easy read, but with some thought provoking passages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth rediscovering!, 7 Oct. 2013
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Easy to read and very thought provoking. Makes you consider how culture can obscure or make relevant the Christian message. Friends will be getting this for Christmas!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, but not what you might expect, 26 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) (Paperback)
In spite of the impression one might get from the title, the book is more about catholicism than christianity. His catholic bias is evident with references to Vatican II, the Council of Trent and of the sacraments as being functional rather than symbolic. However, he has a few comments which one would not expect from the typical papist.

For starters he states,

"...every theology or theory must be based on previous missionary experience, and that any theory or theology which is not based on previous experience is empty words, of use to no one."

If taken seriously, it would imply that unless you have spent time as a missionary (which would probably exclude most christians) then any amount of bible study, wider academic theology or experience learned through everyday life is useless. One might wonder if Donovan was familiar with any theologians, though he does quote Augustine, Tillich and Aquinas, none of whom were particularly noted for being missionaries.

He also says,

"I would like to invite the reader to go on that journey with me. But before commencing it, one would want to have the same open-mindedness toward it, with no convictions beyond the one that Christianity is something of value; no preconceived notions about God, salvation, Christ, the meaning of being a Christian, the church...or anything traditionally associated with Christianity."

This is a particularly bizarre statement, as it would require that the reader hold a belief in the value of something completely unknown to them. However, the reasons do become clear, as I shall expand upon below.

Those criticisms aside, I want to move to the main substance of the book. It's the story of different cultures and how the gospel is above being defined within a culture, but also how it percolates through cultures. The reader cannot but help be drawn in by Donovan's writing, asking yourself the same questions that he asked. I could not say that I wholly agreed with his answers, though it would be even more wrong to say I rejected them.

Christianity Rediscovered was first published in 1978 and there are references to political situations which existed at the time which are no longer relevant; in particular, to the Cold War and to Apartheid. The portrait of missions that is presented is one that is completely alien to me. He talks of mission "compounds" where education and healthcare was provided first, before starting to introduce the gospel.

Of all the missions I have ever supported, this sounds like none of them. Instead, they are much more along the lines of the conclusions that Donovan eventually reaches. Whether this is because of any impact the book may have had is hard to say; I think it is more likely because the whole idea of missions that Donovan begins with is a very narrowly-focused, catholic idea.

With that in mind, the book is very much a diary of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, he is discovering christianity for the first time, learning the principles that are well known to those who think in line with apostolic/reformed viewpoints. On the other hand, he's trying to reconcile this to his catholicism and the unhelpful baggage that comes with that. He's conscious that trying to teach a particular way of doing christianity is not the best method of being evangelical, but rather that communicating the gospel, so that it is understood, is then available to be either accepted or rejected.

In some ways it is quite a sad read, as Donovan gets close to some great ideas, yet refrains from these due to his catholic background. Nowhere is this more evident in discussing the nature of priesthood yet he fails to draw the logical conclusion and instead falls back on traditionalism.

At a little over 150 pages, it's a short read, written in a simple, readable manner. It wouldn't take long to get through if you just wanted to sit down on a wet afternoon and read a little about life in sunny east Africa, but I wouldn't recommend it be read that way. Often without asking them explicitly, Donovan asks us questions about our churches (although I think his intention was more about American catholicism), how we approach mission and also fundamental questions about we understand the gospel. Questions we would do well to think long and hard about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What Christian Mission after St Paul's example may look like in practice, 31 Dec. 2014
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A life changing book. What Christian Mission after St Paul's example may look like in practice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 Oct. 2014
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An oldie but a real "goldie"
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My eyes are opened!, 12 May 2014
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I read this book at the start of a term studying mission and ministry. I could not have picked a better book to open my eyes to the real reason for mission. Vincent Donovan 's journey, both physical and spiritual is eloquently written and his conclusions are as relevant to our society today, wherever we live, as they are for the Masai. Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity Rediscovered, 23 July 2012
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A book for every Christian looking to see how the rest of the world operates. Gives us a view we all too often disregard. A book for anyone interested in World Mission.
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Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics)
Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics) by Vincent J. Donovan (Paperback - 1 Oct. 2001)
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