Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mission that transcends culture

This weekend I am taking a missions class with my wife and some of the pre-reading has been very challenging. Here are a couple of choice quotes:

"The West has often domesticated the gospel in its own culture while making it unnecessarily foreign to every culture. It will always be a sign of contradiction. But when it is in conflict with a particular culture, for instance of the Third World, it is important to establish whether the tension stems from the gospel itself or from the circumstance that the gospel has been too closely associated with the culture through which the missionary message was mediated at this point in time."

(D J Bosch, Transforming Mission, Orbis, 1991, p 455).

"The Problem was that the advocates of mission were blind to their own ethnocentrism. They confused middle-class ideals and values with the tenets of Christianity. Their views about morality, respectability, order, efficiency, individualism, professionalism, work and technological progress … were without compunction exported to the ends of the earth. They were therefore predisposed not to appreciate the cultures of the people to whom they went – the unity of living and learning; the interdependence between individual, community, culture and industry; the profundity of folk wisdom; the proprieties of traditional societies – all these were swept aside by a mentality shaped by the Enlightenment which tended to turn people into objects, reshaping the entire world into the image of the West, separating humans from nature and from one another, and ‘developing’ them according to Western standards and suppositions."

(Transforming Mission, p 294)

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