Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Missional Theology for a Missional Church « Missional Church Network

The church does not do mission, it is mission. By its very calling and nature, it exists as God’s ’sent’ people (missio = sending). Its worship, its proclamation, its life as a distinctive community, and its concrete demonstration of God’s love in acts of prophetic and sacrificial service are all witness to the good news whose sign and foretaste it is to be.

Such is the consensus of missio Dei theology — but it is hard to translate into the deeply rooted and long since defined classical patterns of western theology. It is equally difficult to translate into the structures of churches which are still shaped by the mindset of Christendom and which have not come to terms with the paradigm shift that surrounds them.

No area of theological work or churchly practice is untouched by the theological agenda of the Missio Dei. This is demonstrated by the ways in which the study of missiology has evolved in this century. From a rather narrow focus upon the expansion of western Christianity and it implications, the discipline today intrudes into every area of theological discourse.

It is still possible to find seminary courses on “the theology of mission.” But the global paradigm shift requires now that we do “missionary theology.” This is the missional challenge that confronts the biblical scholar, the church historian, the systematic theologian, and the practical theologian.

Darrell Guder is Princeton Theological Seminary's Dean of Academic Affairs
and the Henry Winters Luce Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology

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