Wednesday, September 14, 2011

mission in Acts from the otherside

Yesterday I blogged about That Deadman Dance: A Novel, by Australian indigenous author, Kim Scott, and the way it tells the story of early encounter between indigenous and coloniser through the eyes of Bobby, a young indigenous man growing up in a rapidly changing world.

Which got me thinking about what it would look like to tell the story of Christian mission, from the otherside, through the eyes of cross-cultural encounter and the indigenous folk.

I think of the Roman Centurion, who experienced the Spirit; Lydia, who provided hospitality and economic resources for the pioneer Paul; the man from Macedonia who said “come on over”; the demon possessed girl who found her true voice. Each of these are key players in the mission of God. They take risks with strangers, open their hearts and homes to something new and allow cross-cultural exchange to occur.

In That Deadman Dance: A Novel, Kim Scott concludes with a note on his method, the way he wants to speak of indigenous folk:

I wanted to build a story from their confidence, their inclusiveness and sense of play, and their readiness to appropriate new cultural forms—language and songs, guns and boats—as soon as they became available. Believing themselves manifestations of a spirit of place impossible to conquer, they appreciated reciprocity and the nuances of cross-cultural exchange.

What is interesting is how this resonates with contemporary trends in mission. For example, in regard to Luke/Acts, George Shillington writes (in a chapter on reading Scripture in a post-colonial world) that “The idea of imposing a Christian culture on a receiving culture is foreign to this text.” (Introduction to the Study of Luke-Acts, 90) He spends a number of paragraphs describing how the Biblical text speaks against colonisation, but rather encourages humility, listening and respect of the work of the Spirit in another.

Today I want to honour any and all willing to appropriate new cultural forms, inside and outside the church! This is the other side of Christian mission.

Posted by steve at 09:36 AM

1 Comment

  1. I especially like that last block paragraph (“…speals against colonisation,…”) It is interesting to note that, when missionaries or evangelists speak about a “Christian Culture”, the Bible is deafeningly silent on just what form that takes. Kinda begs the question of where precisely does such a culture have its origin…?

    Comment by Ryan — September 14, 2011 @ 9:55 am

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