on the side of the angels

February 27, 2009

I’m not sure if I would have read On the Side of the Angels, by Joseph D’Souza and Benedict Rogers, if I hadn’t been sent a review copy. Heck…I hadn’t even heard of it. After reading it, I hope that neither of those statements will be true for others.

The subtitle is Justice, Human Rights and Kingdom Mission, and that captures what this book is about very well. I get discouraged when mission is limited to evangelism. There is a growing understanding that mission encompasses more, but that is also causing some to speak out and emphasize evangelism over a more wholistic understanding of mission.

On the Side of the Angels serves as a good introduction to the importance of justice and human rights within mission. It offers some accessible and foundational theology alongside stories of the broken structures of our world.

A few quotes that capture the heart of the book:

“Far too many Christians in the world today are engaged in a mission consisting soley of words, ‘preaching good news’ and ‘proclaiming freedom.’ That is a curious departure from the example of the early church, and it seems to be a development of a more modern mission trend, where ‘verbalizing’ the Christian faith is seen as the only way of representing and witnessing to Christ in our world.” (pg. 16)

“While colonialism is mostly history, the neocolonialism of economic power is an equally disturbing reality. The church cannot be silent when blatantly unjust economic and trade structures exploit the poor of the world.” (pg. 34)

“For Jesus’ death and resurrection have two effects: individual and collective. He died to save each one of us from the otherwise tragic and inevitable results of our sins. But he also died to destroy evil.” (pg 58)

“Christians, and especially evangelicals, have for too long oversimplified the problems of the world by claiming that if we just deal with personal sin, the world will be changed ‘automatically,’ as a matter of course.” (pg 176)

“Evil is present in the world not only in our individual hearts but also in structures and systems designed to oppress, degrade, abuse, and kill others. If we are not intentional about bringing change and transformation into both lives and societies, it will not happen. To love people is to act on their behalf.” (pg 176)

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