On-line version ISSN 2312-878X
Missionalia (Online) vol.41 n.1 Pretoria Aug. 2013
Wild-Wood E Rajkumar P (ed.) 2013. Foundations for mission. Oxford: Regnum vi + 309 pages. ISBN 978-1-908355-12-6. No price quoted.
This book is yet another edition to the emerging corpus of material from the preparation, duration and aftermath of the Edinburgh 2010 world missionary conference. Here we have a valuable resource for discussing the very basics of mission. On what base is the mission of the triune god built. We are offered an innovative threefold answer: exploring experience (despite the lack of clarity in defining experience) , exploring the bible (according to which hermeneutic, geographical location and definition of mission) and exploring theology (from different traditions with a primary focus on the doctrines of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit). We are fairly used to exploring the latter two, but the exploration of experience is a new mark of the foundations of mission. Finally, there is an attempt to review the possibility of bringing these approaches together through time and space pointing to the possibility of marking pointers into the future taking account of divergences in traditions. Two appendices are included which are taken from other sources for the conference.
In Part One, Price and Richards paper is helpful in its query regarding the foundation for mission have and meaning, and therefore relevance, beyond the lived experience of Christians particularly with regard to mission and justice. Mitchell's article raises interesting questions for reflection, including the degree to which African Americans have been encouraged to discern their own involvement in their own history and the formation of their own identities through the study of other religious traditions. Her overall aim is to clarify that 'Critical historical inquiry informs, reforms and transforms' (p.44) in a context where their participation was not limited by slavery, but where the institution of slavery has moulded contemporary American religion. In this we are all in a process of becoming through empowerment.
In Part Two, Jacque Matthey's contribution offers an example of the use of experience focussing on the book of Proverbs, demonstrating that it is possible to blend biblical and experiential insights in the search for a basis for mission outreach. Writing from an Orthodox perspective in Part Three, Vassiliadis expresses a traditional approach to mission as a 'liturgy after the liturgy' (p.158), as the people (church) going forth in a mission of shalom (reconciliation) as pilgrims brining the kingdom as authentic reality. This approach brings the pneumatological and the eschatological together. We are given an enticing glimpse into the World Evangelisation conference from Lausanne, held in Cape Town, also in 2010, in Part Four. It becomes clear that these two conferences operated on very different bases, with the Cape Town conference being much larger and possible greater in impact. While Edinburgh was progressively reduced in size, representation and scope, privileging the wealthy West, Cape Town adopted an expansionist approach which succeeded in spite of a severe global economic recession. In the Introduction, the editors refer to 'The calling of God's creatures to participate in God's love and care for the world is our mandate' (p.3). This is somewhat at odds with the actual events of Edinburgh 2010 when an officer of the conference was banned from the meetings and at least one delegate left the conference due to the bad feelings engendered by this. They also correctly affirm that 'The 1910 conference marked a transition between missionary eras' (p.3). I wonder of this will be said of the 2010 conference - I doubt it.
One of the interesting observations regarding this subject is the relatively little impact this conference has made compared with the Cape Town conference of the One would hope that Edinburgh 2010 has had a greater impact than just being an on paper resource for future missiologists. Despite my points of critique, this is a valuable addition to the emerging library of works on contemporary world mission, particularly when it is understood that they are not merely academic papers but arise out of the lived experience of mission encompassing peoples throughout the world.
Reviewer: Prof GA Duncan, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, PRETORIA,0002.