Christian Mission and Economic Systems

A Critical Survey of the Cultural and Religious Dimensions of Economies
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Description

Christian mission in the twenty-first century has emphasized endeavors that address poverty alleviation, business as mission, marketplace ministry, rural/urban development, microeconomics, and Christian attitudes toward money and consumerism. However, neither the macroeconomic circumstances in which the church does such ministry nor the assumptions that believers have absorbed from the larger economy have been adequately explored.

Christian Mission & Economic Systems gathers scholars, experts, and practitioners to address the relationship of Christians to the economic systems in which they are embedded and do ministry, and to evaluate the different cultural and religious dimensions of both micro- and macroeconomic systems around the world from a kingdom perspective.

Practitioners doing business as mission will grow in their understanding of the significance of local economic practices. Students and academics will benefit from the critical assessment of the intersection between micro- and macroeconomic systems in the contexts of specific ethnographic circumstances. Missionaries and churches will glean new insights on the difference that being a Christian makes to economic life.  NGOs, nonprofits, or other Christian organizations doing work related to markets will benefit from a challenge to their previous understandings. Since work for the kingdom always takes place in some kind of an economic environment, this book will equip Christians in a variety of capacities to be more effective in their ministries.

  • ISBN: 9780878080755
  • Pages: 298
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Published: 2015
  • Publisher: William Carey Library

Endorsements

The book makes a significant contribution in rethinking the relationship between Christian mission and economics. The studies introduce fresh approaches like reciprocity in economic understanding, learning from Islam’s approach to free-market capitalism, the moral logic explaining “bribes” in some cultures, and the economic struggles of pastors in the developing world. The studies set a benchmark for empirically grounded, theoretically informed research about the contexts of Christian mission. Its innovative research approaches are a good model for those researching Christian mission.

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This book is a treasure chest filled with information providing invaluable help for understanding the laws, folkways, and mores governing economic practices cross-culturally. It also enables us to gain perspectives on our own capitalistic systems and to judge them according to Scripture. Those who believe that missionaries are obligated to contextualize the essential gospel message, while avoiding the tendency to impose Western socioeconomic values on those in other cultures, will find this book extremely helpful. I read these essays twice and still did not distill all the gems they hold.

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An important contribution by gifted scholars and practitioners to our understanding of how economics intersects with every aspect of Christian mission.  A better grasp of the crucial issues raised in this book will greatly strengthen and improve contemporary missions.

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Christian Mission and Economic Systems is a grand world tour of the fiscal and relational realities of the world’s amazing diversity in how transactions are made, how enterprise is financed, and how communities thrive. This book is an indispensable research volume for people undertaking cross-cultural mission.

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The present book is an amazing combination of profound scholarship interacting with authentic, longtime cross-cultural experience of its authors. The diversity of nationalities, cultural and scholarly backgrounds of the writers, and the variety of themes investigated by them opens the eyes and the mind for realities that lie well beyond the classic and simplistic capitalism versus socialism and/or communism debates of the last century.

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A desire to bring a spiritual influence does not cancel the impacts of economic forces on one’s activities. A simple default response to diverse extant economic dynamics is inadequate. The wide-ranging contributions from multiple authors alert us to this basic truth, but also encourage us to understand and respond intelligently to dominant Western economic systems.  Christian Mission and Economic Systems is vital reading for those concerned with mission who want to see beyond the blinkers of their cultural presuppositions on economic issues.

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This collection is pointing to a missing link—that transitional form that should be found between the enterprise of mission as we know it and the primordial jungle of economic realities, where life and ministry began in simplicity before climbing out of the dark waters and onto the shores of ministerial reality. Herein is an evolutionary call to do partnership better, do patronage better, and even bribe “better.” Furthermore, we are called to have evolved vision to see the ministry world through economic eyes and to see economics through kingdom eyes. A part of this new vision includes seeing the realities of Majority World friends who are not really experiencing “life more abundantly.” In this regard Christian NGOs are called upon to continue becoming what they are, i.e., Christian. This is an important volume, especially in terms of asking hard questions as mission continues integrating kingdom values with life as it is.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Contributors
Introduction: Christian Mission and Economic Realities by Robert J. Priest

1 Exchange, Relationships, and Reciprocity: Living as a Christian in a Capitalist World by Eloise Meneses

2 Cultural Dimensions of Financial Accounting Systems: A Biblical Perspective and an Approach for Partnerships in Missions by Mary Lederleitner

3 Islamic Banking and Economics: A Mirror for Christian Practices in Mission in Muslim Contexts by  John Cheong

4 Christian Mission amidst the Cultural and Socioeconomic Dynamics of Bribery and Extortion Practices in the Philippines by Jason Richard Tan

5 Symbols of the Weak, Symbols of the Gospel: The Upside-down Gospel in Relation to Patronage Systems in West Java, Indonesia by Lindy Backues

6 Western Mission–established Churches and Ministry in Mali’s Collectivist Economy by Douglas Wilson

7 Subsistent and Substantive Communities under Attack: The Case of Zowe in Northern Malawi by Mike Njalayawo Mtika

8 Flying Blind? Christian NGOs and Political Economy by David Bronkema

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