Thomas M Johnson
29 January 2009
Thompson, Jr, W. Oscar . Concentric Circles of Concern.
Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999.
Dr. W. Oscar Thompson Jr. served in the pastorate for twenty years before becoming a faculty member in the area of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary serving in the area of evangelism.. He also served as the president of the Oscar Thompson Evangelistic Association. In the later portion of his life Thompson was himself diagnosed with terminal cancer. What may have been a death sentence to some, was seen as a new ministry door to him. Dr. Thompson enjoyed a fruitful minister as a pastoral consultant to the Cancer Counseling and Research Foundation; and pastoral consultant and board member of the Trinity Valley Hospice Association, Inc. Thompson died of cancer in 1980, leaving behind his wife Carolyn and daughter Damaris. In his final years were primarily spent ministering to those who were terminally ill.
Dr. Claude V. King, editor for “Concentric Circles of Concern”. Though no biographical information was found readily available, Kind deserves at least this minimal bi line. His editorial works include numerous popular authors, books and studies including, Henry T Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” series, T.W. Hunt’s “Mind of Christ” and “In God’s Presence” and “Break Down the Walls” by Raleigh Washington and Glen Kehrin. It should be noted that King has contributed to numerous projects that have greatly impacted the Christian World.
In Concentric Circles of Concern, Dr Thompson maintains; “The most important word in the human language, apart from proper nouns, is relationship” (p.8). He contends that relationships are the most important aspect of the human life, tracing the root cause of all problems facing humankind to “ruptured relationships” (p.10). The premise of this book is to understand that evangelism can only be real and effective when it flows out of a proper vertical connection with God and through a proper horizontal connection to others. Certainly one has to agree with this statement as the original fall of man, resulted in and continues to flow through a broken relationship between God and Adam. While it is vital as Christians to note that the atonement of the second Adam, Christ has forever made reconciliation possible. It remains mans responsibility to respond to God’s invitation to be reconciled. Further, this reconciliation, provides the basis for a fresh vertical flow of the Holy Spirit, thus connecting an to God’s overall plan. Man then is empowered to become a minister of reconciliation to others. The Holy Spirit can freely flow through and to others in our relational circle. This flow has the potential to demonstrate unconditional love and forgiveness to all it comes in contact with. However, “If there are ruptured relationships between you and those in your concentric circles, there is going to be a rupture on the flow of the Holy Spirit through your life” (24). The primary purpose of this book then, is to help direct the reader through a methodical assessment of ones personal or concentric relationships for the purpose of correcting and connecting people in a kingdom way.
Dr. Thompson’s passion for reconciliation permeates his writings and seems to have deeply effected thousands of students over the years. At the core of his instruction, a diagram is utilized to define the “Concentric Circles of Concern” as well as the steps to ensure proper relationship. This reader, particularly appreciated the fact that this diagram and process was birthed out of months (perhaps years) of personal prayer and study of the New Testament. The treasure Dr. Thompson sought was not another sermon or seminar, but rather a pattern of evangelism that might be in keeping with New Testament patterns and prove culturally relevant regardless of time of ethos. In my...