What is missiology?

Missiology is a study of missionary praxis (activity). As an academic discipline, it is relatively new and quietly becoming established in a number of centres around the world—including Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, with whom I conducted my doctoral research. Missiology draws upon numerous other disciplines, besides theology, in its search to understand mission. This can make a definitive definition hard to nail down.

Its significance is revealed by David J. Bosch when he identifies the “almost imperceptible shift from an emphasis on a church-centred mission to a mission-centred church” (Transforming Mission, 2005, p.370). This implies or leads to recognition of several vital realities:

  • The church is, by its nature, missionary, because God is missionary.
  • The church is a servant community, called into existence to serve God’s purpose.
  • The church exists in tension with, but not separate to, a world in which injustice and corruption is both intrinsic and endemic.

Intercultural Mutuality

Intercultural mutuality is a missiological perspective for interpreting and relating to intercultural dynamics, in particular between Western missionary agencies and African contextual agencies (e.g. churches etc).

  • The text below provides an academic summary
  • The concept is explored in a graphical presentation here.

Intercultural mutuality embraces a missional stance that looks beyond colonialism, post-colonialism, independence and even inter-dependence and partnership, as typically understood.

Intercultural mutuality implies a working relationship between people of different cultures, based upon a mutual inter-cultural appreciation and compatibility of gifts, talents, characteristics and culture—all of which is rooted in a shared, vocational commitment to serving God’s eternal purpose, the missio Dei.

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Through the River

Through the River

Through the River: Understanding Assumptions About Truth — Hirst, Hirst, and Hiebert 2009—200pp.

Jon and Mindy Hirst thoughtfully present teachings absorbed by the authors from a book by Dr Paul Hiebert (1999), using a visual analogy, based upon three communities of people living in different ways around River Town. Each community lives by and depicts a particular epistemology—a ‘truth lens’—either positivism, instrumentalism and critical realism, respectively.

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The ideology of Science

What do you do with a scientist who has lost touch with the subtly of the interaction of science within human culture? Invite him to front a Horizons program apparently.

Last night I completed a viewing of the fancifully named “Science Under Attack,” fronted by the man who is the pontifical head of the scientific academy: Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Academy. Affable enough on the surface, he couldn’t wait to tell us, all glossy-eyed about his youthful awakenings to the wonders of science, such as a pyjama-clad viewing of Sputnik One, whisking across the sky.

This was the third in a series of Horizons’ programs that I watched over the past week or so. In each of these programs, articulate but ultimately unconvincing Scientists attempt to woo their audience with a potent mixture. Firstly, we are taken on a smugly edited “journey of discovery” in which the narrator and star of the show—yes, The Scientist—pretends to rediscover the basics of the science they are examining.

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Why is missiology significant?

“Missiology … what is that?”

A reaction I have not infrequently experienced when telling people about what I have been or am studying. My Dad, for some time after I graduated with my Master’s, regularly needed reminding “What is that degree again?” (Eventually, I answered by giving him a framed copy of my diploma). Somehow “Intercultural Studies” doesn’t communicate or stay well in the memory and “Missiology” doesn’t fare much better.

So what are they all about and why might they be significant or relevant to life today? Continue reading “Why is missiology significant?”