It is sometimes said that theology is locked in its Ivory Tower and is irrelevant for today’s world, and the questions that the world has and therefore poses to the gospel. This is not at all true of the theology we do at All Nations. The Contemporary Issues in Mission (CIM) session each Wednesday drag us (hopefully not kicking and screaming!) to the issues that the World Church faces today.

About 10 days ago we had the enormous privilege of having Prof. David W Smith speaking at CIM (Contemporary Issues in Mission). His subject was one that we here constantly struggle with: what are the elements of the emerging paradigm of mission? Using the seminal work by David J. Bosch, Prof. Smith reminded us that new paradigms take decades, sometimes even centuries to fully emerge. We see how the modernist paradigm that has guided the mission movement from the time of William Carey until today is still holding the minds of many mission thinker and executives. There is strong resistance to change; but change is coming.

Professor Smith highlighted six areas of importance for use to consider:

  • The Gospel and Cultures
  • The Gospel and Religions
  • The Gospel and the Church
  • The Gospel and World Changers
  • The Gospel and the earth
  • The Gospel and Personal Safety

What we observed was how far Evangelicals have expanded their Missional horizons in the past 30 years. The way in which we have recognized the culturally bound ways we have looked at culture; the way we have been shown the good in non-Christian religions; the way the church has gone from sender to sent; the way Christians engage with those who mold worldviews; the way we have recognized that this earth is God’s and we need to sustain it; and also that we live in uncertain and dangerous times.

 

Comments

There is a strong paradigm like movement in developing culture mission based on the "man of peace" model espoused by David Wilson and others. As a result there are thousands of small(ish) community based churches with untrained leadership and low accountability, that nevertheless have introduced millions to the Kingdom. Western theology needs to recognise it has a limited perspective.

Yes Ian, I agree. Western Theology has a limited perspective. All theologies do. The problem is the Western theologians and non-Western theologians consider Western theology as the norm.

The Pentecostals of Latin America specifically and Pentecostalism in general fall in to the paradigm you mention. This has been true down the centuries. The NT Church was probably the first example. 

What I would ask is the meaning of, "the Kingdom". Do you mean "Eternal Life" or the kingdom of God preached by John the Bapstist and Jesus that goes wider than simply individual Salvation?

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