Twentieth century pioneers of mission to Western culture


As Western societies have drifted increasingly from their Christian heritage, churches have slowly recognised the challenge of mission 'on the home front' i.e. in Western culture. Often guidance is now sought pragmatically from the insights of modern management and marketing. However, the Christian vocation demands a deeper engagement than this between the Gospel and Western culture.

During the twentieth century, some prophetic Christian thinkers began recognising and engaging the new missionary challenge posed to Christian faith by Western culture, its changing worldview and plausibility structures, as the trajectory of this shifted in new ways from the trajectory of God's good purposes. Breaking with Christendom assumptions and thinking beyond the concerns and debates of academic theology, these authors often wrote in a manner accessible to those with no training in academic theology. Among them were G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and Dorothy Sayers. Others gave leadership in the churches and their institutions, among them Joe Oldham, Lesslie Newbigin, and Henri De Lubac. Figures as diverse as Abraham Kuyper, P. T. Forsyth, Harry Blamires, Jacques Ellul and Harold Turner opened eyes to the depths of engagement demanded by Christian engagement with Western culture. Here is an introduction to some of these prophetic figures.  

Lesslie Newbigin


Harold W. Turner