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5.0 out of 5 stars The Gospel is not a white, European male invention
I found this an exciting book because it is filled with numerous historical examples of peoples from diverse cultures the world over whose lives have been blessed by the missionary spread of the Gospel.
If you've ever been challenged, confused or concerned that the Gospel is something exclusively white, European and male that for primarily greedy, arrogant and...
Published on Feb. 11 2003 by Susan F Dane

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars could have been edited better, but the info is good...
The premise that this author brings to the table is fascinating and well worth reading about. In it self it deserves a 5 star rating, however, I did have a problem with the way the book was put together and the editing that went (or didn't) go into it.
It was this problem that caused me to lose interest and put it down somewhere in the middle. I have a many books...
Published on Dec 27 2002 by Amazon Customer


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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting customs from tribal people around the world, May 11 2003
By 
Clare Chu (USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Excellent study of tribal and ethnic traditions and myths that point to the true God of Creation and His Son the Messiah of Israel. Don Richardson shows stories of people who said that they once knew the true God, but somehow either lost the Book, or lost contact with Him. One tribe said that they were sure that a light-skinned messenger would come someday to tell about the Son of God. So sure were they that they had appointed people to watch for these messengers. This paved the way for the actual missionaries to share Christ with them, which was accepted eagerly. Other examples are people who had lost a Book, and were waiting for someone to restore it to them. One example was recorded in the Bible where Paul preached on Mars Hill to the Greeks about the unknown God. Richardson goes back further to tell about the story of Epimenides and the sacrificing of "dedicated" sheep to ask the "unknown God" to cure the city of a deadly plague, after they had offered atoning sacrifices to all of the gods that they had to no avail.
Very interesting reading. One disappointment is that in the last chapter he promises a book showing the spreading of Christianity in the last 2000 years, and the missionary fervor of the "World's First Bible Belt" (a 7,000-mile one completely encircling the Mediterranean Sea), but I can't find that this book has ever been published. This book leaves you wanting to find out more, so I recommend the author's "Peace Child" and "Lords of the Earth" talking about the people and customers of Dutch New Guinea (Irian Jaya), and how these people came to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Gospel is not a white, European male invention, Feb. 11 2003
By 
Susan F Dane (Pass Christian MS) - See all my reviews
I found this an exciting book because it is filled with numerous historical examples of peoples from diverse cultures the world over whose lives have been blessed by the missionary spread of the Gospel.
If you've ever been challenged, confused or concerned that the Gospel is something exclusively white, European and male that for primarily greedy, arrogant and condescending reasons has been imposed upon other cultures this is a book you may want to read.
I loved it. I've read it several times and found it easy to read and to understand.
The author himself is a missionary. He presents numerous factual examples of what he calls 'redemptive analogies'. These are "hidden keys" within the very fabric of non-European cultures that have wisely been recognized and utilized by many (but of course not all) missionaries over the centuries.
In contrast to seeing the Gospel as something illegitimate and disrespectful imposed upon the unsuspecting, ignorant, gullible and uncivilized 'heathen' the beautiful and respectful truth of God's redeeming love for all humankind is shown to have blessed millions. Have you only heard about the wolves in sheeps clothing? Read this book and hear about some amazing stories of blessings.
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3.0 out of 5 stars could have been edited better, but the info is good..., Dec 27 2002
The premise that this author brings to the table is fascinating and well worth reading about. In it self it deserves a 5 star rating, however, I did have a problem with the way the book was put together and the editing that went (or didn't) go into it.
It was this problem that caused me to lose interest and put it down somewhere in the middle. I have a many books in this state, and it is my experience that I seldom get around to finishing them. I felt compelled however to write a review as I don't feel it is necessarily good for the system to only write about books that we loved.
The idea that God revealed Himself (or better is currently and always revealing Himself) to all peoples on the earth should not be that controversial. I imagine it is to some because they have the fault of being a bit arrogant. It is not hard, after all, to go to some small little country church in the middle of Ohio and find a group of people that feel they are the only ones going to heaven.
Mark Twain once made the statement (I'll paraphrase) that the some have reduced the number of the elect to such a small group they are hardly worth saving. It is important, I think, to reflect on what this skeptic had to say and how it relates to the general idea behind this book. It doesn't seem reasonable to think that God would make it impossible to most of mankind to relate to Him. And it doesn't seem reasonable to think that some small group in Ohio is the only group special enough to understand the revelation of God Almighty.
Of course I am not saying by any means that there is (in my belief) any way to heaven besides through Christ, or that this book purports to say that there is either, but that the way to Christ is not always through an American church service or a Billy Graham crusade. Perhaps God had the fore sight to reveal Himself to other cultures and they used different names (ie their own language) to call God God.
I would recommend this book to those going to other cultures and to those that need to study on the subject. I am hesitant to recommend it however to those that like smooth flowing easy to read text. The stories are a bit hard to follow, there are too many names and places thrown in too quickly and much of the information comes in a text book style.
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4.0 out of 5 stars His Ways are Indeed Higher, Nov. 5 2002
One negative result of living in a society in which Christian is synonymous with status quo is that we begin to make the assumption that our religion is bound up intrinsically in our civilization. When God is reduced to the "god of western civilization," or even further to the "god of good upstanding americans," the inevitable result is that God is tamed and becomes a glorified household god. The sheer power and majesty of the True God is forgotten. This book provides an excellent reminder that His ways are truly higher than ours, and that He does indeed transcend any human culture in a way we can only see dimly.
If you appreciate fictional redemptive allegories such as Lewis' Til We Have Faces this book you will enjoy the excellent accounts provided of counterparts found the oral traditions of various peoples.
The book also led me to reflect on God's nature as demonstrated in the Biblical accounts of Job, Melchizedek and other non-Jewish followers of the true God, and has provides fodder for some very interesting insights into and discussions on the nature of election and God's sovereignty as displayed through his choosing some to be candidates for His grace.
I can't give this book five stars because I find fault with Richardson for not providing more information about his research and sources for the book. In all fairness, though, it isn't intended to be a scholarly work. Overall, this is a great, very insightful read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Circle Inside the Sphere, Sept. 7 2002
By 
CyberAnth "CyberAnth" (Northern Mariana Islands) - See all my reviews
The thesis of this book is that there is a "One True God" who has, in one form of special revelation or another, revelaed Himself to all peoples within His creation. For the author, this God is of course the God of the Bible, which I will not really address in this review. There are deeper matters to consider in the book.
As a student-anthropologist, I find Richardson's thesis to be quite compelling for those of us in cultural anthropology who are at least open to the notion of considering that there may be some basis of reality in the phenomenom of religion among peoples. Indeed, there are very hard questions that need addressing.
How did religions gain such an enormous incorporation into the active cultures of peoples? Are they in their totality a mere creation of man, as Tylor, Durkheim, and others thinkers in the anthropology of religion have posited? Are they mere power tools that will one day go extinct as society "progresses" as Marx and Engles forwarded? Can religions among peoples be explained in terms of just social evolution, where more "primitive tribes" hold religion, but "enlightened" people have discarded it, and the former need to "catch up" with the the latter? My inerpretation to Richardson is that that answer to those questions is a resounding "no." And he gives most some intersting anthropological data to back up his assertion.
Yet, this does not negate the fact that there is an enormous area in which man does indeed "create" his religions into a unified socio-cultural system that "makes sense" to him, as, for example, Geertz asserts. But is there perhaps a small circle of something that man DID NOT create inside that larger sphere--a circle that represents not delusion, but reality, the reality of a real God who is there and who is not silent toward peoples? My interpretation of Richardson is that there is indeed such a God, which means that strictly materialistic explanations for the gargantuan reality of religions among peoples are unsatisfactory, and that religion may not be such the "mistake notion" that it is thought to be some some theorists.
These ideas could be seminal toward revolutionizing the field of the anthropology of religion. They offer the basis for an interpretation to religions that says, in esssence, that the fact of religions among peoples points to something "bigger" in the universe, namely, that there IS a God out there who wants to be known by people; that a strictly materialistic interpretation of the universe is not satisfactory. That religion and religious people should be respected not only because people hold to their religion, but because there is something more to it.
Richardson's approach is not very academic, though he is fair in this regard, particularly in a places. His target audience is those among the Christian missionary movement, who he hopes will use his thesis as a starting point for evangelism among the nations. Yet, whether one takes his forwarded application of his underlying thesis or not, it is still profound and holds much water in giving an alternate explanation for the phenomena of religion among peoples.
Richardson's thesis could well stand to be developed upon by those in larger academic cirlces. This is because many in socio-cultural anthropology will find this alternate explanation for the fact of religion among peoples much more satisfying than other theorists give.
To all those interested in the anthropology of religion, I would suggest you buy this book, consider its deepest thesis, and develop upon it. I see a niche!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Circle Inside the Sphere, Sept. 7 2002
By 
CyberAnth "CyberAnth" (Northern Mariana Islands) - See all my reviews
The thesis of this book is that there is a "One True God" has, in one form of special rfevelation or another, revelaed Himself to all peoples within His creation. For the author, this God is of course the God of the Bible, which I will not address in this review.
As a student-anthropologist, I find Richardson's thesis to be quite compelling for those of us in cultural anthropology who are, in essense, "closet creationists" (i.e., those who hold that some type of real God must exist, or those of specific religions), or who are at lest open to the notion of considering such a posit. Because there are very hard questions that need addressing.
How did religions gain such an enormous incorporation into the active cultures of peoples? Are they in their totality a mere creation of man, as Tylor, Durkheim, and others thinkers in the anthropology of religion have posited? Are they mere power tools that will one day go extinct as society "progresses" as Marx and Engles forwarded? Can religions among peoples be explained in terms of just social evolution, where more "primitive tribes" hold religion, but "enlightened" people have discarded it, and the former need to "catch up" with the the latter? My inerpretation to Richardson is that that answer to those questions is a resounding "no." And he gives most intersting anthropological data to back up his assertion.
Yet, this does not negate the fact that there is an enormous area in which man does indeed "create" his religions into a unified socio-cultural system that "makes sense" to him, as Geertz asserts. But is there perhaps a small circle inside that larger field--a circle that represents not delusion, but reality, the reality of a real God who is there and who is not silent toward peoples? My interpretation of Richardson is that there is indeed such a God, which means that strictly materialistic explanations for the gargantuan reality of religions among peoples may not be such the "mistake notion" that it is thought to be some some theorists.
These ideas could be seminal toward revolutionizing the field of the anthropology of religion. They offer the basis for an interpretation to religions that says, in esssence, that the fact of religions among peoples points to something "bigger" in the universe, namely, that there IS a God out there who wants to be known by people; that a strictly materialistic interpretation of the universe is not satisfactory.
Richardson's approach is not very academic, though it is fair in this regard. His target audience is those among the Christian missionary movement, who he hopes will use his thesis as a starting point for evangelism among the nations. Yet, whether one takes his application of his underlying thesis or not, it is still profound and holds much water in giving an alternate explanation for the phenomena of religion among peoples.
Richardson's thesis could well stand to be developed upon by those in larger academic cirlces. This is because many in socio-cultural anthropology will find this alternate explanation for the fact of religion among peoples much more satisfying than other theorists give.
To all those interested in the anthropology of religion, I would suggest you buy this book, consider its deepest thesis, and develop upon it. I see a niche!
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5.0 out of 5 stars HE DID NOT LEAVE HIMSELF WITHOUT WITNESS, Aug. 16 2002
By 
Dr. F. R. Bosch (CA, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Considering the ongoing talk about culture and its influence in shaping our values, beliefs, and lives, this book is relevant and contemporary. It offers a distinct vantage point and cultural background to evaluate current events and the emerging prevailing personal morality and corporate ethics. It pierces what others have chosen to neglect or keep obscure about God, truth, and morals from ancient to more recent times.
The content of Eternity in Their Hearts should also help unravel some of the current "process" and similar teachings. These ideologies maintain that human culture is a human spiritual (moral) creation that has been evolving since the big-bang. They also affirm that each person is influenced by their culture, and can influence that culture in return. That is, culture is the product of a human spiritual (moral) "creation," while culture influences the creative potential of humans involved in the creative process. In other words, the "creators" of the thing being created are influenced by their own creation. Unfortunately, this circular type of reasoning is inadequate to explain what initially "influenced" the creators of culture before culture ever existed.
Since they maintain that culture is evolving, beliefs and values are also evolving (in continual flux). Thus, what is held to be true today may not be the case tomorrow. Here again is a difficult dilemma. Without presuppositional absolutes (truth, right and wrong...), we end with relative presuppositions. That is, fluctuating or relative "truth, right and wrong." This is similar to trying to aim and hit a nonexisting target. As part of the evolving logic, the deification of "man" - "man becoming divine [gods, God]" is advocated. The problem with this is similar to the culture issue - the need to explain self-creation. While some uphold that "culture" has been evolving (moving) from the simple to the complex with little to no support of becoming, Eternity in Their Hearts offers an alternative with credible and substantiating evidence to consider.
In the aftermath of the recent company corruptions, dissolutions, and the demise of employee retirement programs...Eternity in Their Hearts emphasizes the vital role that finite and infinite (eternal) presuppositions play in formulating and maintaining a vibrant culture. The book is not dogmatic. Richardson presents his findings as he discovered them, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.
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4.0 out of 5 stars God *does* love us all!, Nov. 9 2001
By 
This book starts out amazingly and goes down from there. This doesn't in any way demean the book- it just starts out so great! Don begins with earth-shaking insights into the unknown God that Paul preached off on. Learning this background to a fairly well-known story of Paul is worth the book alone. But the first half is an in-depth look at how YHWH, God, has been revealed in cultures from Africa to SE Asia to India to South America, long before European or Middle Eastern Christian missionaries arrived. It was a new and enlightening answer to me on why monotheism is so prevelent throughout the world. This book would be a great companion with Peace Child, also by Don Richardson, and Till We Have Faces, by Lewis- a fictional account of how someone can come to YHWH, the Judeo-Christian God, without ever having known Jewish culture or Christianity.
The second half of the book is less helpful. It deals with discrediting the anthropological ideas of evolutionary religion, which have largely already been discredited, and demonstrating the clear call of the Bible as a missions document. These are certainly good ideas to investigate, and Don does a good job of it, but it is really a different subject from the first half and not tied to it by the author, and it would have been better as a separate book.
However, though the quality of writing is also not always the best, I would with all my heart recommend for any reader to pick this up and chew it. If you are Christian, it will show you the presence of YHWH everywhere. If you are Muslim or Jewish, it will show the idea of monotheism is certainly nothing new. And if are not Christian, it will force you to grapple with some very amazing coincidences.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Staggering Idea, Feb. 7 2001
By A Customer
Who were the Magi who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus, and how did they know that a Messiah was coming? Who was Melchizedek, the contemporary of Abraham who was a priest of the one high God? Who was the Greek prophets who Paul recognized as having spoken God's words to the Greek people? How did a King in South America before the coming of the Europeans recognize that there was only one true God? For the answers to these and many other questions about people who knew about God before they were ever visited by Christian missionaries or had contact with the people of Israel, read "Eternity in Their Hearts". It is a truly great book. The thesis of the book is simple-- God is the One God of all the earth. He has made himself known to all people in some fashion. He has prepared the way for the message of Christ. When Paul approached an altar to The Unknown God in Athens, he declared that God to be the one true God. Who had built the altar, and what did the builder know? There is now a novel that works with a premise similar to that of "Eternity in Their Hearts". It's about a pagan spiritist who recognizes that there is design in the Universe so he sets out to find the purpose of all things and finds God in the process. The novel is titled "Castle of Wisdom," and it is by an author named Rhett Ellis. It's a great read too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read it! Give it to friends!, July 5 2000
The thesis of this book is that God has prepared the cultures of the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This idea may sound bizarre to many people. But since I first read the book about seventeen years ago, I have found confirmation on three levels. First, Scriptural. Richardson's idea of "redemptive analogies" indirectly echoes the teaching of Jesus that he came "to fulfill" rather than to "do away with" the (Jewish) Law, and, more directly, the approach the apostles John and Paul in speaking to Greeks about the divine "Logos," or about altars "to an unknown God." Second, historical. In Augustine's City of God, Christ was preached as a fulfillment of the truest elements in Greco-Roman culture in the early church. This is in fact a large part of "How the West Was Won" to Christ, and a large part of the East, as well.
The third form of confirmation was psychological, from the mouths of skeptics. Humanist Huston Smith complains of Christianity that "If God is a God of love, it seems most unlikely that he would not have revealed himself to his other children as well." Buddhist Thich Naht Hanh agrees: "Sharing does not mean wanting others to abandon their spiritual roots. . . People cannot be happy if they are rootless." Both are quite right, as far as they go. But Richardson shows that God has revealed himself to "all his children" by planting a root for the Gospel within each culture, so when we call people to Christ, we call them to the deepest truths within their own cultures. I remember the first time I visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China, 16 years ago. Who was this "Heaven" whom the Chinese worshiped? Why did the emperor come once a year, just like the high priest in Israel, to sacrifice for the sins of the people? As I stood in the most sacred spot in China, it seemed as if a Voice spoke to my heart. "Do you think I just came to China with the missionaries? No. I have been here all along. I made China."
Many years of research in China confirmed this to me. Among the tribal cultures of southern China and Taiwan, the Polynesians, and China itself, I came across many examples that confirmed Richardson's thesis. Later, I wrote a book called True Son of Heaven: How Jesus Fulfills the Chinese Culture, and spoke around the Pacific Rim on the subject. People in the audience often pointed out further examples of this thesis.
Eternity in Their Hearts has been tremendously influential among missionaries. But I think it is a book that everyone should read, including non-Christians who ask questions like those of Smith and Hahn. Read the book, and pass it on to a friend.
If you are interested in a more philosophical approach to the issue, try Chesterton's Everlasting Man and Orthodoxy. "Redemptive analogies" are also a latent theme of many of C.S.Lewis' books: Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, Pilgrims Regress, and most intriguing of all, Till We Have Faces.
I've also just finished writing a book called Jesus and the Religions of Man. The book is not exclusively about redemptive analogies; mainly, it is a general argument for the Christian faith. But if you're interested in learning more about how persistent and coherent the idea of God is in the pagan cultures of the world, you'll find some interesting examples in there. I also give more examples of redemptive analogies that center on the person of Jesus and on his work on the cross. Many of these come from the more civilized cultures of Asia, and also Marxist, psychologist, feminist, and tribal sub-cultures of Western civilization.
d.marshall@sun.ac.jp
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