Here is a list of my 6 favorite books from Ralph Winter's library (or that he would have purchased if he had lived past 2009!)


The Crucifixion of the Warrior God,

by Gregory Boyd

Boyd says “I can no longer agree with many of my fellow

evangelicals who insist that we must simply embrace these

violent divine portraits as completely accurate revelations

of God alongside the revelation we are given in Christ.” He points out that biblical scholars feel free to interpret some passages of Scripture as describing “God as he appears to us but not as he actually is. … But until rather recently, no one has seen the need to apply this same strategy to reconcile Scripture with God’s moral attributes, especially as they are revealed in the crucified Christ.”


Ralph Winter tried to discuss with his staff a view of inspiration of Scripture that recognizes that the OT is accurate in reporting what the people thought God wanted them to do. See his “Let’s Be Fair to the Bible,” dictated to Betty Leung in 2009:

“If we don’t assume that the Bible is the story of the increasing wisdom of a people who are led of God, it is a completely confounding situation. It is as though the Bible is wrong when the Bible is really describing accurately what they formally believed. What the children of Israel did in early stages became unacceptable, given their growing knowledge of God and His ways, for later periods, for example, practicing slavery, genocide, having concubines and multiple wives.”


Boyd says it is more advantageous to speak of the Bible’s “infallibility” rather than its “inerrancy.” “If we rely on Scripture to bear witness to God’s faithfulness as supremely expressed in the crucified Christ and confirmed by the resurrection, God will not fail to use it to this end. For it was to this end that God ‘breathed’ it. When we trust our ‘God-breathed’ Scripture to bear witness to God’s covenantal faithfulness, as definitively revealed on the cross, God will unfailingly use Scripture to lead us into a relationship with the self-sacrificial God who is revealed on the cross.”

Boyd locates “the unique, inspired status of the OT not in its allegedly untainted content (i.e., as if it were hermetically sealed off from the influence of the wider Ancient Near Eastern culture), but in the fact that it was ‘breathed’ by God as a witness to his covenantal faithfulness.”



The change in terminology, from “inerrant” to “infallible,” will eliminate a lot of unnecessary theological arguments that do nothing to help people understand God’s will and God’s character.


Polycentric Missiology

by Allen Yeh


Because Ralph Winter was particularly interested in the events

of 2010 that commemorated the Edinburgh 2010 global

missionary conference, and was the inspiration for the Tokyo

2010 conference, and because Allen Yeh attended all five 2010

missions conferences (the only person to do so), I'm including

this book that was just published in 2017.

     This is the IVP Academic description of the book:


The Edinburgh 1910 World Missionary Conference was the most famous missions conference in modern church history. A century later, five conferences on five continents displayed the landscape of global mission at the dawn of the third millennium: Tokyo 2010, Edinburgh 2010, Cape Town 2010, 2010Boston, and CLADE V (San José, 2012). These five events provide a window into the state of world Christianity and contemporary missiology.

     Missiologist Allen Yeh, the only person to attend all five conferences, chronicles the recent history of world mission through the lenses of these landmark events. He assesses the legacy of Edinburgh 1910 and the development of world Christianity in the following century. Whereas Edinburgh 1910 symbolized Christendom's mission "from the West to the rest," the conferences of 2010-12 demonstrate the new realities of polycentric and polydirectional mission—from everyone to everywhere.

      Yeh's accounts of the conferences highlight the crucial missiological issues of our era: evangelism, frontier missions, ecumenism, unengaged and post-Christian populations, reconciliation, postmodernities, contextualization, postcolonialism, migration, and more. What emerges is a portrait of a contemporary global Christian mission that encompasses every continent, embodying good news for all nations.


Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation

by Ed Stetzer


This book was not actually in Ralph Winter's library until

I put it there, since it was published 3 years after his death.

But it is one I'm sure he would have ordered. 


The printed title of the book whimsically conveys the

main point—God’s Kingdom is backwards to the world’s

expectations. This is Stetzer’s meaning of the term,

“subversive,” that is the key to living the way Jesus lived

and taught. Subversive means turning the other cheek,

going the second mile. Stetzer interprets these examples

of Jesus’ kingdom illustrations from the Sermon on the Mount in light of good

cultural understanding of the ancient Mediterranean world.

    The title’s whimsical graphic also hints at the informal, easy reading style of the book. But don’t be misled. This book is based on sound biblical scholarship, although cleverly disguised at times as a friendly chat, stories in illustration of a point, or a challenging sermon.


I particularly appreciated the succinct truths punctuated throughout the book. A few examples:

• If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been made a citizen of this kingdom (p. 8).

[The kingdom] is subversive. It turns against the way most people think and act—even the religious (p. 12).

• We are far too pleased with the comforts of the church rather than the work of God’s kingdom (p. 48).

• As big as the church is, the kingdom is even bigger (p. 55).

• We carry around an agenda designed to get the kingdom of God both brought up in conversation and brought down to earth (p. 121).

• Actually, the church doesn’t have a mission; the mission has a church (p. 166).

God’s mission is God’s glory (p. 167).

• We are God’s “store window” on earth where he shows off his kingdom (p. 186).

The kingdom’s work is done in small ways by people living as agents of the King (p. 227).

• The kingdom of God has come near, and our families and churches are outposts for the kingdom of God (p. 231).

I wish Dr. Winter could have read this book. He tried to introduce the label, “the Kingdom era,” for what he saw as a fourth major era in the spread of the gospel in the past three centuries. (The first three were the geographic emphasis on coastlands, then inland cross-cultural work, and now unreached people groups.) I think Winter would have especially appreciated Stetzer’s section on the need to work in community to demonstrate what God’s will for his people looks like.



The Continuing Conversion of the Church

by Darrell Guder


Guder and Ralph Winter agreed that the Church does not

exist for its own sake. Dr. Winter used to say the point is

not gaining new members of the Church/Body of Christ

just to get them to recruit more members; they are enlist-

ing as soldiers in a battle against an intelligent enemy.

Guder may not have the warfare aspect in his writings,

but he is in agreement with Winter that “as the gospel

proclaimed by the church has been reduced to individual

salvation, that salvation has itself become the purpose

and program of the church” (p. 133).


Guder continues, "We must conclude that the church as an 'institute of salvation' has had a greatly diminished sense of its mission to the world. It has been far more preoccupied with its inner life, thereby failing to grasp the essential linkage between internal life and its external calling. Rather than understanding worship as God’s divine preparation for sending, it has tended to make worship an end in itself. Rather than understanding preaching as the exposition of God’s Word to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11ff), it has become the impartation of clerical wisdom to help the saints prepare for heaven while coping with this “vale of tears” (p. 135).


The missional community which Jesus intended and which the apostles formed and taught was to testify to the gospel in every dimension of its existence. Its message was never understood as simply a verbal communication about which one might argue, and for which mere mental consent was sought. The gospel of Jesus Christ defines a new reality, under God, in which Jesus Christ has all power in heaven and earth, and his followers are his sent and empowered witnesses (p. 137). 


History of the World Christian Movement

by Dale T. Irvin and Scott W. Sunquist


Co-author Scott Sunquist is the Dean of Fuller’s School

of Intercultural Studies, where Paul Pierson was also

Dean when it was called the School of World Mission.

Pierson wrote a book used in the World Christian

Foundations graduate level curriculum I edited for

several years for WCIU. Pierson's book follows Ralph

Winter’s approach to history. In fact, Winter helped

Pierson edit the book.

Because Sunquist and Irvin wrote a multi-volume coverage of Christian history, they were able to spend more time than Winter and Pierson devoted to non-Western streams of the faith, including chapters in each early historical era on the development of the Church in the East, Africa, and India.


The Dynamics of Christian Mission:

History through a Missiological


by Paul Pierson


In this text, Paul E. Pierson, Dean Emeritus of the

School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological

Seminary, guides the reader through a missiological

view of history from Christ to the present. Pierson particularly highlights the contexts by which the biblical faith moved into new and different cultures. Today, the Christian faith is the most geographically and culturally diverse worldwide movement that exists. Paul E. Pierson's book illuminates how this amazing fact has come about and how the trend will continue.

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