Discover more from Global Witness, Globally Reimagined.
Unity, Not Uniformity.
Especially In Our Theologies
Welcome to my newsletter, “Global Witness, Globally Reimagined,” where I dream here about mission in a postcolonial world. Every week, I share one thought that has spoken to me in the week, two resources I trust will be helpful to you, and three exciting quotes about mission. I pray one of these will energise you in the coming week.
1. Thought I Can’t Shake Off
In my mind, the arguments about multicultural ecclesiology and decolonising mission are so intertwined that we cannot have one without the other. When done well, worshipping with others from different cultures is a mirror that reveals our colonial tendencies, (what we do with them is another story). And, of course, coloniality is not only a government thing. Ideological colonialism continues to shape our world long after the political colonisation of Africa came to an end. Indeed, theological colonialism never ended. Today, we colonise others when we make them believe and behave like us, especially after becoming followers of Christ. We tend to read European and US theologians as if they are universal—like their theology is applicable in all contexts in the world across generations. I have met many African theologians who have never read a book by an African theologian. Many will quote Westerners but are either unable or too shy to quote a fellow African. (The same goes for Asian and Latin American theologians who have not read Asian and Latin American theologians, respectively). As it happens, there are many things about the Christian life that need the presence of an irreducible other. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” Of course, we follow Christ in community with others — with others who are not us. This walk of faith is a never-ending dance with strangers. In an absolute sense, in the Body of Christ, we are because we belong and this cannot happen if we colonise one another, even theologically. What is needed is unity in diversity, even in the way we do our theologies. To demand uniformity is to colonise.
2. Resources I am Enjoying
We cannot effectively explore the question of mission in a postcolonial world without wrestling with theology. Yes, Martin Köhler said, “mission is the mother of theology.” But, of course, our theology shapes our understanding of mission. We cannot have a postcolonial understanding of mission while holding on to colonial theology. In this video, Kwok Pui Lan talks about a postcolonial reading of the Bible and what this implies for our theology and missiology.
3. Quotes I am Pondering
The term “reverse mission” is problematic due to its normative assumptions of a standard path of mission that can be reversed. — Amy Duffuor
Contextualisation has long been a key part of missiological discourse, yet for some reason there are unspoken assumptions and perceptions that the term only applies to mission fields in the global South, but not in Europe or North America. — Bisi Adenekan-Koevoets
The whole of God’s world is a mission field, and the ‘base’ for mission is in every congregation in every part of the world. — Michael W. Goheen
I pray that you will be faithful to the mission God has for you this week.