November 10, 2008
OK, I’m going to say this. I’m getting sick of missional.
Everyone likes to quote David Bosch nowadays (read so many books on mission, and you’ll find roundabout one random quote of Bosch somewhere, as if the author just wanted to include Transforming Mission in the bibliography – Constants in Context actually seem to have read Bosch), so let me give you a quote or two:
The inflation of the concept [talking about “mission”] has both positive and negative implications. One of the negative results has been the tendency to define mission too broadly – which promted Neill to formulate his famous adage, “If everything is mission, nothing is mission”, and Freytag to refer to “the spectre of panmissionism”.
And yes, I know that he adds to this:
Even if these warnings have to be taken seriously, it remains extraordinarily difficult to determine what mission is.
But did you read that he also adds:
Attempts to define mission are of recent vintage. The early Christian church undertook no such attempts-at least not consciously.
All of these found on the first page of chapter 13 of Transforming Mission.
The missio Dei is a extra-Biblical, 20th century theological concept. It’s not the heart of the Bible. I cannot see how all of the Bible can be read through this concept. It addressed certain 20th century theological questions. Nothing less, nothing more. It’s important. It’s not the heart of the gospel. I think we tend to be too sure about the heart of God in the easy way we use this concept.
The early church wasn’t missional, they were followers of Jesus. They cared more for themselves than for the world! Yes, hear that again: They cared more for themselves then for the world. Go study Acts, see how they get together money for the poor and elect deacons to look after the poor. Which poor? There fellow Christians. These passages make me uncomfortable, I tend to think the early church was wrong. I tend to think they should have cared for the poor regardless of whether Christian or not. But this is the tradition I believe in, so maybe they were right and I am wrong.
I see this in our denomination today. Wanna be popular? Be missional. I see this on the blogosphere.Watched the Obama campaign? Share the wealth, care for the poor, care for the environment… sound familiar? Like the missional church? Somewhere in the back of my mind I have the fague recollection that when theological ideas become popular, something tend to go wrong.
I’ll continue to read missiology. I’ll still be signed up for all those missional blogs. I hope to never stop thinking what it means to follow Jesus in this day and age. But forgive me, I’m not comfortable with being missional…
Am I the only one?