David Bosch, killed in a car accident in 1992, was professor and head of the department for missiology at the University of South Africa
(from the back cover:)
Bosch examines the entire sweep of Christian tradition to show historically how five paradigms have encapsulated the Christian understanding of how God saves and what human beings should do in response. With the considerable talents that make him the foremost theologian of Christian vocation and mission today, Bosch then outlines the key characteriestics of an emerging "postmodern" paradigm dialetctially linking salvation's transcendent and immannent dimensions
A stunning work! I read this work from cover to cover, since it was a part of my formal studies--but I did so with no reluctance: there was something to learn in every section, beginning with the early church missionary paradigms that lay behind the new testaments documents, through the medieval Roman Catholic, Eastern (Orthodox) and Protestant missionary paradigms, through to the enlightening (sic) section on Mission in the wake of the Enlightenment. All this before Bosch thrusts the reader out into the 'glaring light' of an emerging ecumenical missionary paradigm.
I say 'glaring', because I found myself bowled over by the substance of this final, lengthy section. Until then, I had not realised how almost-completely post-modern so much my own missionary paradigm was. No wonder I have always felt out of step with so much of the western traditions of Christianity, which I now learn were in no small measure birthed within and grew up out of the 'Enlightnment project.'
Absorbing the enormous substance of this tome is another thing, of course, but I am grateful to have encountered this extraordinary thesis and work by Bosch. I feel that I have understood my own vocation even more deeply. I understand much better where the broad Christian tradition has come from and some of the damage done by it in the wake of the Englightenment in particular.
I also understand why, as a Pentecostal with an emerging ecumenical leaning, my faith is relatively radical here in the West. I think that is probably why I have continually experienced a quite different response to my faith and ministry amongst non-Western mission leaders and post-modernists, whilst finding myself almost continually out-of-step with modern, western Christianity and leadership.
Alongside this text, Orbis have published a Reader's Guide, to be used as an accompaniment to Bosch's academic and weighty text. I found it relatively lightweight when reading it besides Transforming Mission, but it is obviously more accessible and a worthwhile place to start if
you are interested in Bosch's message, but daunted by the 500+ academically structured pages.