Besides giving an overall account of the work, the introduction discusses the multiple and entangled uses of the term ‘mission’ in missionary studies. It notes the failure of modern scholarship to produce a general theory of the Christian missions (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) and argues that the basis for such a theory may be found in systems analysis as exemplified in the main chapters, enabling a break from the association of the missions with colonial and imperial expansion. The concept of ‘Christian empire’ is offered as a missiological and ecclesiastical tool. The introduction also includes a ‘note on criticizing sermon literature’ which discusses methodology and the question of the nature of the sermon as evidence for the historian.
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