Global Changes in the Missiology Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" It caused missionaries to deal with peoples of other cultures and even Christian traditions -- including the Orthodox -- as inferior. God's mission was understood to have depended upon human efforts, and this is why we came to hold unrealistic universalistic assumptions. Christians became so optimistic that they believed to be able to correct all the ills of the world." (Vassiliadis, 2010)

Missiology has been undergoing changes in recent years and after much serious consideration Christians in the ecumenical era "are not only questioning all the above assumptions of the Enlightenment; they have also started developing a more profound theology of mission. One can count the following significant transitions:

(a) From the missio christianorum to the missio ecclesiae;

(b) the recognition later that subject of mission is not even the Church, either as an institution or through its members, but God, thus moving further from the missio ecclesiae to the missio Dei, which, however, Western Christianity limited for some period to Christ alone (missio Christi). (Vassiliadis, 2010)

Vassiliadis (2010) states in conclusion that there are those who would believe that the biblical foundation for the new Christian missiology can be based on 1 peter 3:15-16 which states:

"Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence," or 2 Cor 5:18b: "God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us this ministry of reconciliation." (the Holy Bible, as cited in: Vassiliadis, 2010)

The work of Gelder (2007) entitled: "The Missional Church in Context: Helping Congregations Develop Contextual Ministry" states that the church growth movement arose from the Luasanne Covenant at the International Congress on World Evangelization held in 1974 which had deeply embedded within this resurgence of evangelical emphasis on missions...a nineteenth-century understanding of the priority of evangelism that was now largely reframed within the theology and methodology..." (Gelder, 2007, p. 23) it is reported that missiology went through several shifts of major proportion during this period including those as follows:

(1) a new missiology society formed in 1973: the American Society of Missiology comprised of people from ecumenical, Roman Catholic, and evangelical streams, and serving for a time as an arena for the reconception of missiology;

(2) Many of the former mainline and flagship seminaries that had first established chairs of missiology either terminated those chairs or changed their focus substantially to things as interreligious studies or ecumenism

(3) Some mainline schools sought for revisement of the conception of missiology consistent with the mission Dei understanding by turning it into a conversation with the whole of their curriculum;

(4) Many evangelical seminaries and educational institutions expanded their departments of missiology and the various programs offered by these tended to reflect the more classical understanding of missiology rooted in a high Christology and the fulfillment of the great commission. (Gelder, 2007)

During the period between 1975 and 1995 it is related that some interesting developments took place within the discipline of missiology and that the church community at large experiences "an amazing convergence of thinking regarding the basic understanding of mission around the concepts of the mission Dei and the kingdom of God. On the other hand, especially in the United States, the distance between ecumenicals and evangelicals continued to grown even in the midst of an increasing convergence of thinking in the understanding of mission." (Gelder, 2007, p.26)

Beginning in 1995 a new conversation began to emerge and it is identified as the "missional church conversation" which is stated to stem largely "from the work of Leslie Newbigin, who brought a missiological perspective to bear on thinking about the West when he raised the question 'Can the West be converted?'. This conversation is finally making a clear connection between missiology and ecclesiology in developing what has become known as 'missional church' or what might be identified as a missional ecclesiology or missiological ecclesiology" and is a movement "more explicit about bringing the connection of the mission Dei with the kingdom of God into conversation with particular congregations with respect to the emerging postmodern context." (Gelder, 2007, p.27)

The work of John Roxborogh (2000) entitled: "Is Mission Our Only Mission? Revisiting the Missionary Nature of the Church" states that if the mission in question is the Church's mission "then it does not quite go without saying that thinking about the Church (ecclesiology) and thinking about mission (missiology) automatically go together.
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Theologies of the Church often fail to get as far as mission. Doctrinal concern characteristically concentrated on questions of ministry, unity, and the demarcation between church and state." (p.1)

Ecclesiology is stated by Roxborogh to be concerned with "defending the legitimacy of one's own tradition and using the classic marks of "one, holy, catholic and apostolic and in the Reformed tradition 'where the Word is preached, sacraments administered, and discipline exercised' to cast doubt on others." (2010, p.1) Simultaneously, theologies of mission may very well neglect the church as the "passion for mission or a desire to correct the lack of interest of others can claim 'mission' as the sole legitimate concern of the whole Christian enterprise." (Roxborogh, 2000, p.1)

The argument and desire to get on with mission may be of the nature that results in the church actually getting in the way of mission. Furthermore, missiologies may also be so concerned with a perceived threat from other religions and concern about potentially compromising the unique nature of Christ and tied up with strategies geared toward effectiveness and the missionary's call to the task that "linkage with the actual life of the people of god is effectively overlooked." (Roxborogh, 2000, p.2)

Roxborogh states that oftentimes the discussion surrounding mission is impacted by "confusion about the scope of the world." (p.2) This is because total mission refers to three elements in the life and work of the church including those of:

(1) society;

(2) God; and (3) Church. (Roxborogh, 2000, p.2)

Roxborogh states that Andrew Kirk has stated "drawing on John Stott" as follows:

"The church's mission...encompasses everything that Jesus sends his people into the world to do. It does not include everything the church does or everything God does in the world." (Roxborogh, 2000, p.3)

According to Roxborogh this approach is one that "...allows church life and worship its space and the word mission can then be used in an unencumbered way to explore elements of mission in the familiar schemas of social and evangelistic mandates, Bosch's thirteen 'Elements of an Emerging Ecumenical Missionary Paradigm' and other dimensions such as overcoming violence, care for the environment, women in mission, reconciliation and globalization." (2000, p.3)

It is related that the two major World Council of Church's journals:

(1) International Review of Mission; and (2) Ecumenical Review,

Each reflect "...a use of language that attaches mission to the roles of the church in the world rather than to the many other concerns about church life which the WCC is involved." (Roxborogh, 2000, p.3)

Bosch writes in the work entitled: "Transforming Mission" drawing on Karth Barth, Vatican II and Peter 2:9 states of the church that it is "...not the sender but the one sent. Its' mission (its 'being sent') is not secondary to its being; the church exists in being sent and in building up itself for the sake of its mission...Ecclesiology does not precede missiology." (ref. 9) Bosch as well as others inform that "theology has to be missionary or it is not real theology at all, indeed that mission is the mother of theology. While we are not told that worship, ethics, church polity, perhaps even spirituality, require a mission dimension to have any worth that is a fair implication of taking this view of the place of mission in the life of the church." (Roxborogh, 2000, p.4) Roxborogh states that mission makes a requirement of some theology "before the process can start, and neither mission nor theologizing can be sustained apart from worship." (2000, p.4)

Wilbert Shenk writes in the work entitled "Changing Frontiers of Mission" as follows:

"To be authentic mission must be thoroughly theocentric. It begins in God's redemptive purpose and will be completed when that purpose is fulfilled. The God-given identity of the church thus arises from its mission. This order of priority is foundational. Yet for sixteen centuries Christians have been taught to think of church as the prior category and mission as one among several functions of the church. This view is based on a deformed understanding of the nature and purpose of the church...Mission must precede the church. Jesus the Messiah formed his disciple community for the express purpose of continuing his mission...The renewal of the church is linked to recovery of the priority of mission." (Roxborogh, 2000, p.5)

Darrell Guder writes in his work entitled: "Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America" as follows:

"The church of Jesus Christ…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bosch, David Jacobus (1991) Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, American Society of Missiology Series; No. 16. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1991.

Gelder, Craig Van (2007) the Missional Church in Context: Helping Congregations Develop Contextual Ministry. Volume 1 of Missional Church Series. Missional Church Network Series. Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing 2007.

Guder, Darrell L. (2000) the Continuing Conversion of the Church. Grand Rapids, NI: Eerdmans, 2000.

Hesselgrave, David J> (2007) Will We Correct the Edinburgh Error? Future Mission in Historical Perspective. Southwestern Journal of Theology.Vol. 49 No. 2 Spring 2007.

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