Missionary Encounter with World Religions

WM 504 The Missionary Encounter with World Religions

Missionary Encounter with world religions  Internet Bible College, Vision CollegesGiven the unique religious climate of the twenty-first century and the challenges to Christian mission it poses, Christianity Encountering World Religions proposes a new, albeit very biblical, model for mission. Specifically, it is a model for interacting with people of other faiths. The authors term this model "giftive mission," as it is based on the metaphor of free gift. They suggest that seeing mission activity through the lens of giving the greatest gift possible—the Gospel message—not only has the potential for greater missionary success but also enables us to imitate more closely God's gracious activity in the world

Course Description

Nothing demonstrates the pluralism of our world better than religion. Christians must be able to respond to the myriad of religious systems that permeate society. This course develops a biblical theology of religions by studying current models and approaches. Using major religious systems as examples, the lectures sketch five characteristics of all religions. Students will learn the major concepts in religious encounter, including the concept of elentics, various definitions of "religion," and the five magnetic points of religions. The course culminates with practical suggestions for approaching world religions evangelistically.

Course Objectives

At the beginning of each lesson, General Objectives and Specific Learning Outcomes will be listed. These tell you what you should be able to do, based on that lesson, in order to profit from the course.
The following are the General Objectives for the course. Each lesson will focus upon one or more of these, and the Specific Learning Outcomes will enable you to measure how well you have attained the General Objectives.
1.    Appreciate the need for skill in encountering world religions.
2.    Understand major concepts in religious encounter, including:
a.    The concept of elenctics.
b.    The qualities of a biblical missionary encounter.
c.    Various definitions of "religion."
d.    The background of contemporary models of encounter.
e.    Contemporary models of encounter.
f.     A basic biblical theology of religions.
g.    The five magnetic points of religions.
3.    Evaluate contemporary models of religious encounter.
4.    Develop a biblical theology of religions.
5.    Associate significant persons with their models of religious encounter.
6.    Analyze religions according to their five magnetic points

Required Texts

Alexander, P. organizing ed. Eerdmans' Handbook to the World's Religions. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994.
Bavinck, J.H. An Introduction to the Science of Missions. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publ. Co., 1992.
Knitter, Paul. No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes Toward the World Religions. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1985.

Required Readings

Bosch, David.  "The Church in Dialogue: From Self-Delusion to Vulnerability”.  "Missiology. Vol. XVI, No. 2 (April, 1988): 131-147.
DeRidder, Richard R. "God and the Gods: Reviewing the Biblical Roots”. Missiology. Vol. VI, No. 1 (January, 1978): 11-28.
'"Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies." Occasional Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 3, No.4 (0ctober, 1979): 160-162.
Hick, John and Brian Hebbelthwaite, eds.  Christianitv and Other Religions. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980. Chapters 1,2,3,4,6,8.
Schrotenboer,Paul.  "Inter-Religious Dialogue." Evangelical Review of Theology, Vol. 12, No. 3 (July, 1988): 208-225.
Wright, Christopher J.H. ''The Christian and Other Religions: the Biblical Evidence." Themelios, Vol. 9, No. 2 (January, 1984):4-15.


Whether you sit in a traditional classroom or study from a distance, you will benefit from interaction, collaboration, and spiritual formation (ATS schools, note Standards; I 0,3,3,3; In order to meet this need in distance theological education, Vision is developing structure and resources to encourage spiritual formation and community interaction in our courses. In this course, we have included two collaborative learning features:
1.    Spiritual Formation Project (see course requirements) fosters mentor to learner  interaction in a mentor-guided reflection, discussion and application (required for all students)
2.    Learning community Assignments (see end of ILG) -fosters peer-to-peer collaboration in a group approach to assignments (optional but recommended where possible)

Course Requirements

Programmed Lesson Plans:

The student is expected to submit satisfactory response to the assignments in this programmed lesson booklet. These will be due following lectures 6, 16, and 24.
Each lesson has a corresponding assignment sheet. Unless otherwise indicated, the first assignment on each sheet is a reading assignment. This assignment (designated "l") is to be completed before listening to the recorded lecture. The other questions may be done after the lecture.

Missionary Encounter Paper:

The student should write a ten-page (approximately) paper in preparation for a missionary encounter anticipated in ministry. If the student has chosen an international field of service, the student should evaluate a religion particular to that field. If the student will remain in his/her "native" environment, or is undecided about a field of service, then the student should evaluate some religious element of the native culture or of a field in which s/he has interest.

The Paper Should Consist Of Two Parts:

1.    A summary of the student's biblical theology of religions, and
2.    An evaluation of how that biblical theology relates to the anticipated religious encounter. The second part should include both an analysis of that religion and specific ministry plans for a missionary encounter. The length of the sections is at the student's discretion, as long as the elements are appropriately covered.
Both parts will draw upon material from Dr. Conn, but should demonstrate integration of Dr. Conn's material into the rest of the student's theological understanding. More importantly, the paper should be very concrete regarding application of the biblical theology to the missionary encounter situation.
Submit a document to your proctor that contains the original questions, your postings, and the postings to which you responded.


to develop critical thinking skill through personal interaction with the content of the course and the responses of others within a diverse community of learners.

Spiritual Formation Project

Write a five-to-six page reflective essay and interview a mentor, discussing the spiritual impact of this course on your life. Identify your mentor early in the course, and submit the essay to your grader when you take the final exam. This last project should not be a summary of course content, but an application of course principles.

Complete the following:

1.    Personal Reflection and Evaluation: Reflect on the course -To integrate your academic studies with your walk of faith, reflect on the content of the course and evaluate your life in light of what you learned.
2.    Community Reflection and Interaction: Interview a mentor - Since the Holy Spirit uses the input of others to guide and form His people, interview a mentor.

Click here to download the course outline (PDF)

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