Theology Missiology Term Paper

Pages: 35 (9755 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 11  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Global Changes in the Missiology of the 20th Century


A Paradigm Shift

The Early Church

The Modern Church

Correcting Edinburgh Explored

Formation of International Missionary Council (IMC)

Confusion Abounds

Response of Fundamentalist & Evangelical Movements

Problems Between and Among Evangelicals & Ecumenists

The Present View


The aim of this study is to examine the influential ideas that shaped mission thinking over the last century. This work will seek to point out to some theological differences and emphases represented by the various confessional groups such as evangelicals, ecumenical and Eastern Orthodox Church. At the same time it will seek to identify points of convergence in missionary thinking developed in the course of 20th Century that go across national and confessional boundaries. Not all missiological shifts are defined, described or included here. The main focus is on discernable changes, shifting in emphasis on the role and understanding of Church in mission, particularly in Pentecostal missiology vis -- a -vis ecumenical missiology.

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This Chapter will be comprised of two closely related sections with the first section tracing the shape the Church has taken throughout its missionary worldwide expansion, particularly in the light of dominating three-self formula of the 19th century and the gradual theological shift of emphasis from Church-centered mission to a mission-centered Church. The second section will examine the relationship that exists between the kingdom, the Church and the world in the mission of God (Missio Dei) the search for a holistic missiology that dominated much of the missiological discourse in the second half of the 20th century. It will start to explore the new focus on the Trinitarian character of mission that had been evidenced after the Willingen meeting of 1952. While this study will not be one that is exhaustive in nature it will be a study that aims to identify some of the main outlines and directions of Church in mission by the end of 20th Century.

Term Paper on Theology Missiology Assignment



The work of Petros Vassiliadis (2010) entitled: "Reconciliation as a Pneunatological Mission Paradigm: Some Preliminary Reflections by an Orthodox" that Pneumatology's reinforcement into the missiological reflections "has clearly marked a new era in the history and theology of mission, thus creating a new 'paradigms shift' in our understanding of our calling in Christ in the power of the life-giving Spirit." (Vassiliadis, 2010) Vassiliadis states that this began "with the Trinitarian extension of the article-base of the WCC in its 3rd Assembly in 1961 in New Delhi. With regard to the theology of mission the decisive turning point was the 1963 World Mission Conference in Mexico, after which the mission agenda was enriched by a new understanding of mission, mostly represented by a variety of terms like witness or martyria, dialogue, liberation, etc. This is not to say that Churches no longer organize evangelical campaigns or revival meetings; in fact, many Christians are still asked to take up conversion as their top priority mission. What I mean is that all Churches on the institutional level are coping in one way or the other with the questions of many contexts, many religions, many cultures and systems of values. Rather than proclamation alone, all Churches are exploring in their own ways a different understanding of "Christian witness." (Vassiliadis, 2010)

Furthermore, the church has in addition to the traditional models of evangelizing the entire world combined with mission as "proclamation and conversion in their literal sense, i.e. besides preaching Jesus Christ as "the way, the truth, and the life" as the sole savior of human sin (Acts 4:12) the Church began to address human sin in the structural complexities of our world, and started ministering the socially poor and marginalized in our societies in their contexts and above all entering into a constructive dialogue with people of other faiths." (Vassiliadis, 2010) According to Vassiliadis it was at that time that the Church "rediscovered in the Christianity her mission in a broad variety of ways." (2010)


The early Church had its beginnings in a charismatic movement and had nothing in the way of property or buildings, certainly had no program or centers but the first Christians desired to make an affirmation of their identity with Jesus Christ in what was a hostile world as they anticipated the last days therefore the mission of these individuals was simple indeed in that their focus was gathering other believers into the body of Christ and preparing for the ending of the present age.

As Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Greek speaking world the ideas of Christians concerning missiology were influenced by the philosophy of the Greek and as they had nothing in the way of a preoccupation with Jesus returning immediately the Church became more settled and developed a mission that was concrete in nature and that was focused on saving the world through "lifting human nature to into the Divine." (Vassiliadis, 2010) According to Vassiliadis, the original mission of the church was based on John 3:16 and was specifically to love and worship God because of his love for mankind and the gift of his Son to mankind.


Entrance into Western Europe resulted in Christianity making certain legalistic adaptations that were linked to the Roman civilization legacy as the Medieval European Church had as its focus the sinfulness of humans and an insistence on the promise of salvation obtained through a belief in Christ. This resulted in the mission of the Church being obligatory in nature instead of a form of love and devotion. The biblical foundation for the missiology of the Medieval Latin Church would, according to Vassiliadis (2010) come from Luke 14:23 which states as follows:

"The master said to the servant, Go out into the roads and the lanes, and compel the people to come to my house, so that it may be filled." (the Holy Bible cited in Vassiliadis, 2010)

Vassiliadis states that with the passing of centuries many individuals along with religious leaders "became critical of the imperial assumptions of Western Christianity. Protestant reformers (Martin Luther, John Calvin and others), challenging such a legalistic understanding of Christian mission, emphasized a theology, which stated that God offers a gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. They insisted that human nature was sinful and fallen, totally dependent upon Divine grace. There were many biblical texts used by them to support a variety of understandings of mission." (2010) the emphasis of faith was based upon Romans 1:16 which states:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Vassiliadis, 2010)

The urgency of the early Church and its belief and anticipation in God's coming rule was based upon Matthew 24: 14 which states:

"And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come." (Vassiliadis, 2010)

The universal understanding of missiology during the 19th and 20th centuries is stated to have prevailed throughout Christianity on the basis of the text found in Matthew 28:18-20 which states:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the close of this age." (Vassiliadis, 2010)

Understood in this manner, Mission was based on the instructions of Jesus to 'go forth' however, Vassiliadis states that " effort was undertaken to discover the Trinitarian nuance of this verse. With a theology reminiscent of the Medieval Church, Christians have been engaged in mission out of "obedience." Mission, thus, was taken as an order, rather than as an invitation. That is why this "Great Commission" was usually understood as a "holy burden." God saved humankind and demanded all peoples; the argument goes on, to believe." (Vassiliadis, 2010)

While the 'Great Commission' is stated to have most certainly mobilized Christian Missionaries by the hundreds, in their efforts to "...found schools and hospitals and do many good works in the name of God, it also created problems. It often generated an exclusiveness, which refused all other expressions of Christian witness. Thus, the "Great Commission," became the most quoted biblical text in the modern ecumenical movement. It is not a case for mission based on the Gospel as "good news," but of mission out of obedience to God's command." (Vassiliadis, 2010) I

In addition, the Great Commission is stated to have "...borrowed heavily from the 18th century Western Enlightenment. As David Bosch noted, modern missionaries accepted most of the modern intellectual/scientific agenda: the separation between subject and object, the confidence that every problem and puzzle could be solved, and the idea of the autonomous individual. Enlightenment thinking nurtured a lofty view of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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