Subscribe via RSS Feed

Effectively Engaging Pluralism and Postmodernism in a So-Called Post-Christian Culture


All of this thus far has been a kind of introduction to Newbigin’s real purpose regarding the project of Christian missions in a postmodern and pluralist society. For him, the Church’s mission is not built on guilt over lost souls so much as an irrepressible “explosion of joy” rooted in and arising out of the gospel itself. Usually this is responsively offered to inquiries when the gospel is observed in practice. Pentecost is a prime example (cf. Acts 2:12). The Church’s mission is a divine initiative in which we are ever learning what Christ’s lordship means. Christian mission is only understood aright in terms of the Trinity in light of the missio dei (mission of God). The Father sent the Son and the Spirit into the world to create a community of faith as a foretaste of the Kingdom of God ultimately available for all. Accordingly, “The Church is not so much the agent as the locus of mission.” It simply rehearses and reenacts “the story which has given it birth”—the story of Jesus Christ. For Newbigin, though obviously important, the salvation or perdition of individual souls is not the solidifying center of New Testament missions. Significantly, more central is that the “the true meaning of the human story has been disclosed” in Christ and “must be shared universally.” Missions become a kind of testing ground for present provisional validation of faith in the gospel. Only eschatologically will it be known and shown that “the real clue to the story of every person” is Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, readiness in sharing the good news of Christ is the test of real belief. Ultimately, however, missionary activity is not pointed toward humans at all, Christian or non-Christian; it is doxological—a joyful act of divine worship. Nevertheless, it proclaims the gospel to humanity and propels humanity toward God’s goal in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus New Testament apocalyptic passages are assurances that God will consummate the crisis of human history precipitated in Christ at God’s own divine initiative. Until then, neither evangelism nor social action exclusively exhaust Christian mission. Only when word, deed, and being come together in Christ does mission become an appropriately holistic endeavor. Of course that calls for “true contextualization”—not merely adopting customs and language where one endeavors to minister or identifying with this group or that cause, but “so to proclaim and embody the life of Jesus that his power to sustain and judge every human culture is manifest.” Such contextualization is both local and ecumenical. When we start with the primacy of scriptural witness to the gospel and answer the human question then “the sovereign Spirit of God can do his own surprising work.”

Pin It
Page 3 of 912345...Last »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Fall 2007, Ministry

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?