BOOK REVIEW: Compassion and the mission of God

What is your reference point?

How essential is social justice and community transformation in your Christian faith? Do you see it as a distraction from the task of sharing the gospel or a key part of the Bible’s grand storyline?

In a nutshell: This book demonstrates the biblical and historical basis for seeing mission as both proclamation and demonstration of the Kingdom. God cares for both individual souls and the world He has created. The author begins by explaining why readers may see social change as a low priority and how convictions on what the Bible teaches is heavily influenced by a person’s social background, financial status and politics. He then takes the reader on a survey of what poverty and injustice looked like in the Old and New Testament. We explore how the people of God were called to live by a radical set of values based on the Law, and how Jesus and the early Church regularly demonstrated God’s compassion.

‘Transformation is a valid biblical concept. But it is God who transforms and he invites us to partner with him. God is already in the process of redeeming human beings and creation, and will transform all when created time melts into eternity.’ Compassion and the mission of God…Rupen Das, P161

God has a big heart plan!

The bulk of the book clarifies the different debates and theological challenges that arise from different approaches to evangelism, justice, social action and community transformation. Through it all, Das, keeps a clear focus on the true source of transformation. It’s refreshing to read such a God-centred book which keeps God as the primary agent for transformation. We are left in no doubt that the fundamental starting point is God’s heart and plan for His creation and not any strategy or set of processes devised by mankind.

We are a Kingdom people

The author argues that since people and society have been ruined by sin then Christ’s salvation must provide redemption for both. Inspired by the biblical revelation of a future world completely and entirely transformed by Christ, Das urges believers to play their part in bringing a taste of this in today’s communities. Das also shares his conviction that there is continuity between the Old and New Testament people of God – both are called to embody God’s character of mercy, grace and compassion towards the broken and helpless. That means the Church is commissioned by Christ to introduce people to the King through sharing the gospel, and changing structures marred by sin to reflect what the Kingdom of God looks like in today’s communities through acts of compassion and justice

‘God envisaged a just society, which would reflect his very nature and character…since there is no duality in Hebrew thought, the physical realm was to reflect the reality of the spiritual realm.’ Compassion and mission of God…Rupen Das, p71

‘As co-labourers with God in mission, Christians work for change and social justice so that human beings can enjoy the blessings of God in this life. Yet…with a deep and constant awareness that evil is real, that humans are sinful and that sin permeates and warps social, economic and political structures.’ Compassion and the mission of God…Rupen Das, p162

Start with theology instead of practice

If nothing else, this book provides an excellent and accessible introduction to biblical theology, the sociology of the Old and New Testament, early church history and current missiological topics.

It is also well researched, citing a lot of key sources and definitions of mission concepts from the 1967 World Council of Churches, 1974 Lausanne Conference, 1983 Wheaton Consultation, to the more recent 2001 Micah Declaration. Even if you disagree with his conclusions, there is great value at looking at this topic with fresh theological eyes rather than your preferred methods of outreach. You will be inspired as you learn the ways that God has moved consistently in history to show compassion and bring social justice through the words and actions of His Kingdom people.


Full title: Compassion and the Mission of God: Revealing the Invisible Kingdom

Author: Rupen Das

Publishers: Langham Global Library, UK 2016, (ISBN 978-1-78368-114-3)

Chapters include: Issues that Frame the Discussion on Compassion, Biblical Basis to Understand the Poor and Poverty: The Old Testament and The Gospels, Teaching and Practices of the Early Church: The New Testament and Church History, Theological Challenges, Transformation or Witness: the Challenge of Transformation, The Face of Compassion

AWM recommends

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