Roland Allen suggested that their success was due to the fact that they trusted both the Lord and the people to whom they had gone. The material I am referring to in this section was written by me for this study theme. London: World Dominion Press, , In the past the parish structure prevailed. In some places this may also today be an appropriate structure. The parish structure grew up together with the notion of Corpus Christianum where the church was married to the holders of power.
However, even with the parish structure as the dominant scheme, there have always been alternate models with more focus on the small community ecclesiola within the ecclesia , e. Today we see experiments with new forms and structures. One such model is the house church which e. These emerging churches live as communities that transform secular space and live in a spirituality similar to the Desert Fathers.
Or we may go to what has been called independent churches or African indigenous or initiated churches which encompass a total of million people worldwide — churches that reject historical denominationalism and seek a more effective missionary lifestyle. All these new forms signal more fluid communities, providing multiple options depending on context and target group.
Pope Francis at Lund, 2016, and the Relevance of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Ecumenical Theology
At the same time there is a growing dissatisfaction with traditional forms of church, and more and more Christians, primarily in the West, live without a local church, alienated from current expressions of church. Missionary and Missional Edinburgh often used the word missionary to refer to specific mission activities of the church. That word and concept will remain on the mission agenda of the twenty-first century.
But increasingly the word missional will be employed when we want to talk about the nature of the church as sent by God to the world. The primary form of missionary engagement in the new century Bolger, Emerging Churches. In such churches a primary missional vocation will be witness. Mission has always been and will always remain witness. Martyria is the sum of kerygma, koinonia and diakonia — all three of which constitute important dimensions of the witness of the church in mission. One of the explanations of their growth — and of the growth of churches at any time in history — is that they are witnessing churches, in practise.
So how may we in the North re-learn to do and practice what we are ecclesiologically, i. Come- and Go-Structures If the primary form of missionary engagement is the local church, which implications will that have for the voluntary structure of the mission society? Already in Antioch we find the two structures Acts — when the local church wanted to move beyond its own borders, the Holy Spirit told them to send out a missionary team of Paul and Barnabas.
1. Greater affluence
So both structures are needed, and together they constitute the church. Also today we need, in one form or another, the go- and the come-structures. In the two structures are in both the South and the North searching for ways of joining hands. But in the so-called established churches this has been a sore and complex point for more than a century.
Ut Unum Sint (25 May ) | John Paul II
Mission societies in the West are increasingly linking up with local congregations in new and imaginative ways. Also in a new century we shall need the missionary band, but probably taking new forms in new contexts — missionary movements in and from the South, Christian migratory movements and congregations, short-term mission, tentmakers, etc.
Christian Mission Among Other Faiths One of the most crucial missiological questions facing Christians in both and is how we should relate with and witness to people of other faiths. The fulfillment theology was seriously challenged by Hendrik Kraemer in Part of the material I am using in this section was written by me for this study theme. Revell Company, n. Also Kraemer had great respect for non-Christian religions, but he viewed the search for contacts as misguided. This revelation contradicts human wisdom and religion, and there can therefore not be continuity from non-Christian religions to Christianity.
One of the more critical responses came from the debates on dialogue in a pluralistic context following World War II. Within both WCC and Roman Catholic circles interreligious dialogue posited an affirmative posture to nonChristian religions. Here was no room for Christian superiority. The focus was rather on respect and openness, an openness that among several of the proponents ended up in a pluralistic theology affirming the salvific validity of different religions. Such views had little or no room for mission in any traditional sense.
However, evangelicals have also learned to talk about dialogue as a mode of mission. Today we affirm the plurality of religions as a fact of life. This calls for a dialogical way of living and witnessing. Mission is not only what the church is sent to be and do, but also what the church is sent to say — proclamation of the Gospel, dialogue and apologetics. In this perspective dialogue means witnessing to our deepest convictions, while listening to those of our neighbors. Christian theology must today everywhere be a theology of dialogue, in the same way as it is a theology of contextualization.
Both contextualization and dialogue are specific ways of being in mission, and not alternatives to mission.
And so we need to affirm dialogue as a basic way of life because Christians share life and contexts with neighbors of other faiths. In this way dialogue has to do with family, working place and neighborhood; it calls for creating meeting places and using opportunities. Committed Pluralism In contemporary theology of religions there is a broad spectrum of ways to understand other faiths.
One such way that I have found valuable is what Lesslie Newbigin calls committed pluralism in contrast to agnostic pluralism. Truth is to be found in a life of discipleship to Jesus Christ as he is known through a life lived in the community of disciples, in faithfulness to the tradition about him Scripture , and in openness to all truth which may be discovered in history.
I am therefore not afraid of what I may learn in the encounter with other living faiths because my ultimate commitment is to the Christ of Scripture and history. In the encounter with other living faiths we should, however, be aware that religions are worlds in themselves, with their own structures and worldviews.
The History of Ecumenical Work on Ecclesiology and Ethics
As Bosch says, they face in different directions and ask different questions. The gospel relates differently to Islam than it does to Hinduism or Buddhism. These differences are for real. Revelation in Other Religions? And so the light of God may be seen in the lives of women and men even though they do not know him as Lord. But the Areopagos speech also challenges the listeners with a call for confrontation with the idols and a call to repentance, conversion to and faith in him who is no longer an unknown God, but has revealed his face in the crucified and risen Christ.
It is his cross that in a sense becomes the master clue for Christians in the search for salvation and the encounter with other faiths. This does not solve the difficult question of salvation for those who have not had and will not have the opportunity to respond to the Gospel.
At the. We appreciate this tension, and do not attempt to solve it. Alister McGrath, a well-known evangelical Anglican, says: We cannot draw the conclusion… that only those who respond will be saved. We must be prepared to be surprised at those whom we will meet in the kingdom of God. Also I hope and pray that God will work in the hearts and lives of people in order to open them to his grace.
At the same time I affirm what Scripture says about salvation and perdition. In a number of places the New Testament refers to both e. Jn and Eph Scripture makes it quite clear that it is faith in Jesus that saves. Perdition or being lost is therefore a result of the disobedience that says no to the word of the Gospel about salvation. I dare believe that all of us in one way or another shall have an opportunity to choose between faith and unbelief.
Along these lines I read Jn to say that those who deliberately say no to faith in Christ are lost. The verses in Eph 2 emphasize that all of us as humans by nature are under the wrath of God, in the same way as Paul argues in Rom , but this does not eo ipso imply that those who have not heard the Gospel, are lost. Based on a biblical theology of religion, I will claim that anyone who ever has been, is now or ever will be saved is accepted by God on the grounds of the sacrifice of Christ and our union with him. There is no other ground.
Related The Real Church: An Ecclesiology of the Visible (Church of Sweden Research Series Book 7)
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