Mission as frontier-crossing and identity formation : an integrating contextual missiology

Simon, Xolile (2009)

CITATION: Simon, X. 2009. Mission as frontier-crossing and identity formation : an integrating contextual missiology. Scriptura, 100:89-103 doi:10.7833/100-0-657.

The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za

Article

This paper introduces preliminary parameters of an integrating contextual missiology (ICM). It develops the thematic and methodological aspects of cultural, ethnic and religious frontiers and identities in mission and missiology: mission as frontier-crossing (MCF) and mission as identity formation (MIF). The themes and methods have evolved in classical, contextual and ecumenical mission orientations and praxes under one or more of the four sub-fields of missiology. ICM proposes a three-fold shift to describe and map MCF and MIF, connect the sub-fields, and allude to the integration of aspects from other disciplines. The first shift is from a ‘missional theology’, which tends to be all encompassing, a-contextual and pragmatic, to a missional ‘theology-crossing frontiers.’ The approach is grounded on, amongst others, (1) a theology of mission and (2) a theology of religion. Both subfields wrestle with the tension among mission Dei, MFC and MIF. The second shift is from a history of mission which duplicates themes from church history and focuses exclusively on missionary or denominational histories to (3) a missional hermeneutic as a critical mission historiography. It can be applied to delineate and analyse historical and contemporary case studies of MFC and MIF in three important phases of a historical theology of mission: ‘mission history’, ‘World Christianity’ and ‘Global Christianity.’ The last shift is from general theories of mission practices and pragmatic strategies of congregations to (4) theologicalhermeneutical and empirical-missiological approach. It focuses on the patterns of events and narratives in mission praxes of social, ethnic and religious strangers (e.g. indigenous or migrant witnesses) in local and global contexts. New directions from this approach, an integral part of the ICM of the future, have emerged from the past and current patterns of MFC and MIF – the hubs of missional education and formation of individuals and congregations.

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