Thursday, November 29, 2012

Comprehending mission – history today

Chapter one is here. Chapter two surveys recent trends in missiology with a particular focus on the Bible and mission. Chapter three looked at mission history, the evolution through time, the shifting resources that shaped how the church understood itself.

So what of today? “Scholarly interest in mission history is remarkably strong today.” (62) The shift began in the 1980s with the realisation that mission history reveals remarkable data about boundary crossing.

Increasingly, studies point to the way missionaries sought to subvert imperialism, hand in hand with the remarkable role of indigenous people in cross-cultural encounter.

“Mission history can be controversial, especially when ideological or theological convictions are put into play. Apologetics on behalf of Christian mission, as a rule, cannot be substituted for serious historiography. Strident secularism, likewise, can impede understanding by deciding for others what religious beliefs and behaviours necessarily signify.” (66)

Another focus has been women in mission. First, their stories have been told. Second the place of mission in enabled women to offer their gifts has been uncovered. Third, the role of women in developing global movements of solidarity and partnership.

A new resource for mission has emerged – photography. The digitizing of photographs offers a rich resource for reflection, for example the Internet mission photography archive website. The Dictionary of African Christian biography offers a multi-lingual online archive. These are rich new resources that ensure mission history remains full of possibility.

Stanley Skreslet’s Comprehending Mission: The Questions, Methods, Themes, Problems, and Prospects of Missiology.

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