Thursday, January 21, 2010
When I worked as manager of OC Books in Dunedin, I frequently sold copies of Christianity Rediscovered, by Vincent Donovan. However, it's only in these holidays that I've finally got round to reading it (!)
In my opinion, it's a book every minister should read (as well as every Christian who isn't an ordained minister!). It's written from a Catholic viewpoint - Donovan was a Spiritan priest (that is, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost Fathers) - so it needs to be read with this in mind. Nevertheless, his views on the Church establishment are applicable to most denominations.
Donovan was a missionary to the Masai people in Africa from 1955 to 1973. As a result of his work amongst them he changed his views on what being a missionary meant, on what the priesthood is or should be, and on the way in which culture affects mission work- and whether Christianity is 'different' within each individual culture.
He was successful in his work, but his work wasn't always appreciated by those in authority, and not everything he established has been maintained over the years since his departure from Africa. Nevertheless the book that he wrote as a result of his work has had a huge impact on missionary thinking ever since - though hasn't as often been followed through in practice.
This, along with the even earlier book by Roland Allen: Missionary Methods - St Paul's or Ours? (which influenced Donovan) should be on every Christian's shelves, especially on the shelves of those in 'official' ministry.