Saturday, October 06, 2007

A terrible failure

I read Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission by David J. Bosch two years ago as part of our reading assignment in a mission course seminar. But I was pre-occupied with other class assignments that time that I did not pay close attention to what I was reading. And besides, I thought that going to the mission field in that time was impossible for us. Now, I have a copy of the book in my hands and read it with new eyes, my understanding is deeper. It seems the words become alive and I can relate to what Bosch is talking about. I think it is a great idea to make this a required reading to all the Filipino missionaries who will go out and minister cross-culturally.

…toward the end of his life Max Warren, for many years General Secretary, referred to what he termed “a terrible failure of nerve about the missionary enterprise". In some circles this has led to an almost complete paralysis and total withdrawal from any activity traditionally associated with mission, in whatever form. Others are plunging them¬selves into projects which might just as well—and more efficiently—be undertaken by secular agencies.

Again, in some Christian circles there is no sign of such a failure or nerve. Quite the contrary. It is "business as usual" as regards the continuation of one ¬way missionary traffic from the West to the Third World and the proclamation of a gospel which appears to have little interest in the conditions in which people find themselves, since the preachers' only concern seems to be the saving of souls from eternal damnation. Here the right of Christians to proclaim their religion is beyond dispute since the Bible clearly commands world mission. To even suggest that there is a fundamental crisis in mission would be tantamount to making concessions to "liberal" theology and to doubting the abiding validity of the faith once handed down to us.

Whilst the zeal for mission and the self-sacrificing dedication evidenced in these circles must be applauded, one cannot help wondering whether they are really rendering a valid and long-term solution. Our spiritual forebears may perhaps be pardoned for not having been aware of the fact that they were facing a crisis. Present generations, however, can hardly be excused for their lack of awareness.

David J. Bosch. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Mary Knoll, NY, Orbis Books, pp 6-7.

1 comment:

Steve Hayes said...

One of the biggest failures is failing to recognise mission when one sees it.

Many of the best missionaries don't even realise that they are missionaries, and are not recognised as missionaries either.