My class for this Fall is Global Christianity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. I have already started to read one of the books, Christianity Rediscovered, by Vincent J. Donovan. I'm nearly 2/3 through this relatively short book and it is very good. I place it on the same level as the work of Roland Allen, the late 19th century Anglican missionary. Like Allen's work, Donovan's is considered "dated" but interestingly it is as if he wrote yesterday. The principles are timeless and he definitely makes one think. Donovan was a missionary among the Masai people of Tanzania (East Africa). This is the context for the book itself. It comes out of and recounts his missionary experience with the Masai people. Here is an excerpt from the book:
How does one prevent a distorted image of Christianity from creeping into a community right at the start? It is only in the imparting of an outward-turned Christianity that we have any hope of achieving Christianity. An inward turned Christianity is a dangerous counterfeit, an alluring masquerade. It is no Christianity at all.
The salvation of one's own soul, or self-sanctification, or self-perception, or self-fulfillment may well be the goal of Buddhism or Greek philosophy or modern psychology. But it is not the goal of Christianity. For someone to embrace Christianity for the purpose of self-fulfillment or self-salvation is, I think, to betray or misunderstand Christianity at its deepest level.
The temptation to look inward is one that affects not only individuals, but also whole communities, parishes, dioceses. In such cases the physical or spiritual well-being of the Christian community becomes the very goal of the community, the whole reason for its existence. Any ulterior motive for the community's existence is completely forgotten. Indeed the only valid reason for the community's existence is forgotten.
Christianity must be a force that moves outward, and a Christian community is basically in existence "for others." That is the whole meaning of a Christian community. A Christian community which spends all its resources on a building campaign for its own needs has long ago left Christianity high and dry on the banks. Or all its resources on an education program or a youth program for that matter. A Christian community is in existence "for others," not for "its own." (pg. 79)