When I was a young Christian, with an interest in missions, I came across books from a Canadian missionary named Don Richardson. Richardson lived among animistic tribal people in Western New Guinea in the nation of Indonesia. During his years of working with indigenous peoples and their religions, he came to the conclusion that hidden in each religion was what he called a “redemptive analogy,” some understanding, language construct, or practice unique to the culture that God had placed as a bridge to illustrate a truth from the gospels or the larger scriptural narrative. These analogies became the starting point to help bring indigenous peoples to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The story of Richardson’s journey into this understanding is recorded his 1970s classic, Peace Child. Another book, Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World (1981) relates the further progress of his pilgrimage, i.e. coming to recognize God’s gift of common grace that allows all people to know something of God’s existence and his divine nature (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1: 19-20).
It was the understanding that I gained from Richardson, about redemptive analogies and common grace, that contributed to the material that I have written on The Transforming Story.
It is fitting that, as we approach Christmas, we remember that the Messiah, born of the Jews, was a messiah for all peoples. Enjoy this chapter from Richardson’s book Eternity in Their Hearts.
– Darrow Miller