down the missiological rabbit-hole (Transforming Mission – chapter 5)

June 24, 2009

alice-in-front-of-rabbit-hole9Theology never should be a simple set of answers to lifes complex questions. It’s a system that creates a whole understanding of reality, God, life, and if it’s Christian theology, the place that the story of Israel and the life of Jesus of Nazareth takes in understanding this reality. This said, reality is that you cannot simply change one of the answers on your list, and expect everything to remain the same. Rather, when you start pulling on one of the threads on your web of ideas, and observe closely, you’ll soon notice that the whole web is changing, the whole system is changing.

It’s like falling down Alice’s rabbit-hole, the further you fall down, the more you realize that the world in which you lived will never again be the same. Everything has changed. And you cannot go back. This is obviously not only true of theology. This trip down the rabbit hole we call a paradigm change.

  • If you fall down the rabbit-hole and realize that the three-storied-universe need be dropped, much need to be changed. Where is hell if not down under? When is heaven if not up there? Where is the spirit world if not inbetween?
  • If you fall down the rabbit-hole and Plato’s dualism starts crumbling, it raises a number of questions (most of which I don’t even understand yet) on body and spirit, spirit-world and flesh-world, God-world and human-world. Can these actaully be taken apart like we do?
  • If you fall down the rabbit-hole and western rationalism with it’s veto-right in every conversation starts to become a little blurry, then much of you’re critique on mystical experiences feel a little shaky. Then much of you apologetics, from whichever side of the argument, just becomes relativized.

Thomas Kuhn called the rabbit-hole paradigm changes, “the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given community”. Hans Küng used his theory and applied it to theology. David Bosch has made one of his biggest contributions to the world of theology by applying Kuhn and Küng to missiology. This was the task of Transforming Mission. The church still seem to be struggling with the implications of the rabbit-hole that we are falling down into when it comes to missiology.

  • The imperialistic approach of medieval and colonialist times still pops up every now and again, where mission and the expansion of the empire (or the expansion of American culture) goes hand in hand.
  • The apologetics of conservative high-modernists still remain popular in places.
  • The conversion of souls to become part of heaven and the church from early Roman-Catholic times has not left us yet.

If you want to understand Transforming Mission, if you want to understand David Bosch. One of the key chapters would be Chapter 5. You need to understand how Bosch used Kuhn, Küng and Capra. Not doing this will make Transforming Mission another book of quotes which you use when it fits your own approach to missiology.

This post is part of the posts growing out of our discussion of Transforming Mission. I’ve blogged on previous chapters here:

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

And others who have blogged on our last discussion (chapter 5 and 6 of Transforming mission) can be found here:

Arthur Stewert

3 Responses to “down the missiological rabbit-hole (Transforming Mission – chapter 5)”

  1. Thomas Says:

    Thanks for this Cobus …


  2. […] easy as eating candy floss. The first thing you need to do is to search for Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and deliberately fall into it and then, while you’re tumbling uncontrollably ever deeper into the […]


  3. […] down the missiological rabbit-hole (Tran […]


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