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Why must Mission be Theologically Driven?
Synopsis About this title An evangelical authority on church mission encounters the issues and content of tomorrow's missions theology in a series of essays. Buy New Learn more about this copy. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Brand: Baker Academic New Paperback Quantity Available: 1. Seller Rating:.
Van Engen, Paul Hiebert Foreword. Published by Baker Academic New Softcover Quantity Available: 1. Revaluation Books Exeter, United Kingdom. As Jesus Christ the Word incarnate himself witnesses to what he is and what he sees John , ; in the world, the disciples are called to be his witnesses Acts While the action-oriented nature of mission as witness serves as a corrective means to traditional missionary paradigm, it also brings with it the tendency to limit mission to social activism.
Mission as expansion of Christendom through conversion and church growth, a dominant view during the Western colonial period, as we said, is still one of the most influential positions as well as understanding especially at the grass-root level of the churches in India. Since Christian mission directly concerns the world beyond the bounds of Christianity, or the interaction with those beyond the frontier line, any definition of mission—including deductive works on the biblical meanings of mission—has to take the world beyond the bounds of Christianity seriously.
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The problem indirectly led the discipline of mission study to a perplexing state. The study of mission, with a primary understanding of mission as missio Dei , could not find its place in the existing theological education system as it clearly is an overarching discipline that holds all other disciplines of theological study within itself. In one sense, the entire arena of theological education deals with missio Dei.
Justice as an issue and a theme is an essential part of mission and the most crucial norm to judge mission activities, but mission is not limited to justice. In providing these points of critique to the major definitions and interpretations of mission and their implications in the study of mission as an academic discipline, it is not my intention to surpass the definitions.
My intention is to show that when taken and utilized in isolation, each of these approaches is in danger of limiting the meaning of mission within the bounds of its own pretensions and emphases. Christian mission is a multi-faceted discipline, and has multiple major concerns, which includes verbal proclamation of the Gospel, religious conversion, inter-religious dialogue for mutual understanding and peace, promoting social justice, uplifting the down-trodden, and many others.
Christian mission has many-ness not in a fragmentary sense, but in the sense of wholeness. The multidimensional nature of mission directs its study to become an inter-disciplinary activity. Not only does mission have many modes, it has many sides and is linked with various theological and non-theological disciplines. Thus, as an interdisciplinary field of study, it has a crucial complementary role to play in the entire arena of theological study.
At the same time, its inter-disciplinary nature also perplexes academicians in finding its role and place in the academic arena and impedes its independent existence within the existing theological education system. Mission Study or Missiology as we interchangeably use the two terms as an academic discipline is closely related to the study of other living religions, and the discipline itself by definition is incomplete without its biblical-theological, historical, and practical-ethical dimensions and foundations.
From the time of Friedrich Schleiermacher, who was the first to attempt to find a place for mission study within the wider theological study, there have been various suggestions to place mission study within one of the existing fields of study.
Schleiermacher himself suggested that mission study should be included within Practical Theology. Although he suggested that it be included within Practical Theology, Schleiermacher made his detailed treatment of mission study in his section on ethics. While mission historians such as Gustav Warneck, John Foster and Kenneth Scott Latourette argued that mission should be included within church history, a small minority of theologians also suggested that it be placed within systematic theology.
A century and half after Schleiermacher, theological academicians are still asking: Should mission study be an independent discipline or should it be included within other disciplines of theology? There has not been a consensus. Following Schleiermacher, Wolfhart Pannenberg proposes that missiology should be included within or combined with Practical Theology.
Taking the multi-dimensional nature of mission seriously, some scholars propose that the various dimensions may be taken care of by various fields of study: Biblical, Systematic Theology, Church History, and Practical Theology. The problem with this proposal as well as the previous one i. The central puzzle continues to be how to deal with the multi-dimensional nature and the inter-disciplinary function of missiology. I join a number of mission thinkers in insisting that missiology is a complementary discipline and could not exist independently from other fields of theological study.
At the same time, to expect other fields of study to take care of missiological issues and concerns within or from their fields is nonrealistic and self-defeating. James Scherer has done a good analysis on how missiology is complementary to various other fields of study.
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One also gets a strong impression that none of the fields in themselves bother to give due emphasis to missiological themes, and any limitation of missiology within each field would do great injustice to missiology. I agree with Scherer methodologically.
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It is impossible to rigidly set limits to the multidimensional missiology, and the best way to approach the problem is to find the centre, or I would rather call it the axis, that would hold together various dimensions of missiology. This centre should determine what is missiological in the process of integration with other fields of study.
However, I do not agree with Scherer with regard to what the integrating principle is. In identifying the integrating principle or principles, one should have in mind and look for the distinctive contribution missiology must make to the existing theological education system. To suggest the axis or integrating principle of missiology, let me return to my interim definition of mission for a moment.
Christian mission, I have said, is about the boundary-crossing activity of Christians or the Church following God who crossed the boundary between God and the world missio Dei in and through Jesus Christ.
http://www.sanvalentinrun.com/images/220/chistes-picantes-cortos.php In the light of this definition, we may ask if the attempts of various fundamentalist groups of different religions including Christian fundamentalists to crush the boundary by destroying the cultural differences be considered mission. What are the boundaries the Church in mission is called to cross?
Drawing from the history of Christian mission, let me suggest three types of boundaries from which I will make my option; these are, religio-territorial boundaries, cultural boundaries, and religious boundaries. The distinction between cultural boundaries and religious boundaries cannot be precise because culture and religion are often too difficult to distinguish. In the modern missionary movement up to the early twentieth century, religio-territorial was undisputedly the defining boundary which Christian missionaries were understood to cross.
Missionaries were considered missionaries when they crossed over from Christian Europe to non-Christian Asia, Africa, Latin America and others. Secondly, mission has been conceived popularly in recent times as crossing of cultural boundaries. Culture plays a central role in mission and cultural boundaries are often the most sensitive and difficult parts in mission activities, but mission cannot be limited to cross-cultural ministry.
Since Christianity does not have a specific culture of its own, and culture differs between different communities who claim to hold the same religion, every crossing of cultural boundaries does not consist in doing mission. In my opinion, it is the religious boundary that defines the function of mission in the most specific way.
Religious boundaries, which are also essentially part of cultural boundaries we have discussed, have endured the changes in the concept of mission in history and continue to be an important defining factor of mission. Although we try to differentiate religious boundaries from cultural boundaries, the two are intrinsically related and cannot be separated. Thus, when we talk about religious boundaries, to a certain extent, we also include cultural boundaries. I would argue that mission has always been conceived as witness to the Gospel across religious boundaries, and that mission is considered to have happened when an individual or group of one religion cross over into another religious domain with its message and promises.
Mission in broad terms, therefore, essentially involves activities and interactivities across religious boundaries. In making this definition, I am aware of the need to be specific and realistic. I try to free myself, at least temporarily, from deductive definition because my quest involves the practical contributions missiology should make in the existing theological education system. By theology of religions, I mean critical theological reflections on the interaction and intercourse between different religions through such means as proclamation and sharing of their different creeds and teachings, through dialogue of their adherents, and mutual challenges and partnership for common cause.
Thus, it is theology of religion s that we are talking about, not theology of religion. Jacques Dupuis has made a clear distinction between the two. In formulating the above broad definition, I intend to include all schools of theology of religions, and wish to highlight that the intercourse between religions has been happening throughout Christian history. In recent years, because of the new recognition of religious plurality in most countries of the world, especially in the western countries, and the popular evolving of the accompanying pluralistic theology of religions,  serious thoughts have just been emerging.