Fjellhaug Symposium 2010: Mission and Globalization

Illustrasjonsfoto: Mission and Globalization

14.-15.april arrangerte Fjellhaug Misjonshøgskole i samarbeid med Egedeinstituttet et symposium med temaet "Misson and Globalization". Symposiet kombinerte både en markering av Edinburgh 1910 og den årlige Brandtzæg-forelesningen.

Internasjonale forelesere var Prof. Dr. Eckhard Schnabel (Trinity International University)og Dr. Chawkat Moucarry (World Vision). Schnabel foreleste over temaet: « Global strategies and local methods of missionary work in the early church -Jesus, Peter and Paul». Moucarrys tema var «Two religions with a global vision – violent conflict or peaceful co-existence»?

I tillegg til disse var forelesere fra bl.a. Menighetsfakultetet i Oslo, Mediehøgskolen Gimlekollen i Kristiansand, Misjonshøgskolen i Stavanger, Norsk Lærerakademi i Bergen , Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole i Kristiansand invitert i tillegg til Fjellhaug Misjonshøgskoles egne. Generalsekretærene Rolf Kjøde (Normisjon) og Ola Tulluan (NLM) var også med. Tilstede ved konferansen var også NLMs internasjonale samarbeidskirker- og partnere samt NLMs regionsledere. NLM hadde en egen konferanse for disse i etterkant av symposiet.

Vi tror symposiet ble utbytterikt. Foredragene vil om kort tid bli publisert på et britisk forlag.Nedenfor er mitt oppsummeringsinnlegg på symposiets siste dag gjengitt.

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The Fjellhaug Symposium 2010:
Mission and Globalization

Some lessons to be learned: a brief summary


By Dr. Hans Aage Gravaas

The presentations and discussions at the Fjellhaug Symposium 2010 focused on various matters related to Christian mission in a globalized world. Some issues discussed were:

1. The Outcomes of Modernity

We must learn to understand the outcomes of modernity, summarized by the term globalization, and their impact on:

• The nature of specific human cultures, the modes of interaction between different cultures, and between individuals within a given culture
• Belief systems, worldviews and on how people express and practice their faith
• The theoretical reflection and the practical ministry of the Christian church

2. Emic and Etic Descriptions

We must learn to distinguish between emic and etic descriptions of and responses to the changes that take place in a certain society. We must learn to see the positive and negative dimensions of globalization and at the same time are aware of the fact that we evaluate the various dimensions differently.

3. Positive Elements of Globalization

Some positive elements of globalization are:

• Increased mobility, flexibility and proximity
• Possible exchange of ideas, insights and resources
• Sharing of benefits and a better life
• Increased opportunities for making religiosity a matter of individual choice
• Increased opportunities for mission and evangelization

4. Negative Elements of Globalization

Some negative elements of globalization are:

• The secularization processes and anti-religious attitudes that seem to accompany modernity and globalization. Are phenomena such as atheism or split-level Christianity/Islam/Buddhism etc. automatic consequences of modernity?
• Intensification of certain religious convictions. Is rigorous religious fundamentalism in the non-western world a counter reaction, not to Christianity, but to imposed modernity?
• The unfair distribution of power between the beneficiaries and benefactors of globalization. Is the wealthy west setting the agenda in every corner of the world and “telling the poor how to be happy”? Is cultural imposition more likely to happen than freedom to change from within or from below?
• Exposure to increased plurality. We are exposed to a well-decorated and extremely confusing religious market place.

5. Local – Global – Glocal

We must learn to see the interconnection of the local and global dimensions of church and mission. Both dimensions are to be considered equally important. Our world is glocal.

6. Theological Continuity and Translatability

A local church that looses sight of theological continuity and the international horizon of the global church becomes a tribal church or a tribal religion. On the other hand, a church that neglects local interpretations of Christianity contradicts the incarnational dimension and the translatability of Christian faith. Solid and biblically based contextual theologies do not exclude themselves from international input. In fact, intercultural readings of theology are necessary to keep local theologies on a sound and healthy track.

7. An internationally relevant Message

The Biblical God is my God, our God, and the God of all creation. The saving intervention of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is therefore an internationally relevant message. The communication of the Christian message and the current state of world Christianity is the responsibility of the local church and the totality of all local churches, the global church.

8. Evangelism and Contextualization not modern Phenomena

Oftentimes the history of mission has been portrayed as west-east or north-south traffic. Such interpretations of history are at best imbalanced or at worst wrong. We have several examples of enthusiastic worldwide commitment to Christian evangelization from the first chapters of church history up to know. This history also tells us that contextualization or similar expressions are not modern phenomena, although the terminology as such is of recent origin.

9. Theology of Mission and Missionary Models in Scripture

We must learn to appreciate the theology of mission and modes of missionary endeavor portrayed in Scripture itself. The interaction between personal motivation, situational challenges, divine intervention and strategic planning is fascinating. The ministry and the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the achievements of Peter, Paul and their contemporaries are breathtaking. We should take time to read dr. Eckhart Schnabel`s paper several times and his books on this topic.

10. The History of Missions: Lessons to be Learned

As we celebrate Edinburgh 1910 we must acknowledge the bright and dark sides of a multifaceted history and legacy. We honor the courageous efforts to bring the gospel to areas where the name of Christ was not yet known. Simultaneously we regret the triumphalist and colonial attitudes that sometimes accompanied Christian witness and mission. However, we must learn from our mistakes. The mistakes of the past must not encourage the Christian church to keep quiet or to become inactive, but to correct the errors of the past.

11. Continuous Focus on the Unengaged Unreached People Groups (UUPG)

In light of the legacy of Edinburgh 1910 we need a revitalized focus on peoples of the world that are yet to be reached with the gospel. Church history has revealed a serious temptation or inclination among local churches to be self-possessed and self-occupied. This temptation or inward focus might very well also affect mission organizations that considered international mission to be their special responsibility.

12. New Maps – New Models?

In the time to come we must adapt to a current shift in world Christianity. The task of world mission rests on shoulders of the global church and certainly not on western churches and misson agencies alone. A revised mapping of world Christianity and mission is necessary as well as new modes of cooperation between local churches and organizations within the global church. In my opinion, Ralph Winter`s distinction between sodality and modality structures of church and mission is still valid and worthwhile to consider as we prepare for the future. The evangelistic mission movements help to revitalize the existing churches as well as being on the cutting edge of world evangelization. Mission is still the task of “the burning hearts”.

13. Interreligious Conflicts and Missiological Implications

In a time of increased international political turbulence and conflicts we need to address the roots of interreligious conflicts between Islam and Christianity and the intercultural interaction between different groups within the global world. Dr. Chawkat Moucarry presented an extremely helpful paper with political, religious, theological and missiological implications that encourage careful consideration and reflection. It is hard to spell out a detailed program, but I would recommend us to scrutinize his paper and publications and reflect on the missiological implications discussed by Moucarry in dialogue with his respondent, Professor Jan Opsal.

14. Migration and Youth Culture

We were exposed to issues such as relating to migration and targeting youth culture. An understanding of reasons behind migration and the processes of migration is extremely helpful and necessary as we aim at understanding the world, dealing with the challenges of the world, and as we prepare for communicating the gospel to all nations. In the same way, understanding youth culture is of utmost importance. Youth culture finds itself, as culture in general, in a challenging intersection between the local and the global. On a global level the local responses to youth culture encompass premodernity, modernity, postmodernity and post-post modernity at the same time. Let us not call this a problem, but a challenge. We are encouraged to understand and respond simultaneously.

15. Universal Truth in a Pluralistic Age

Stefan Gustavsson presented thought provoking and extremely important and relevant perspectives on communicating universal truth in a pluralistic age. We must not ignore the fact that we live in a pluralistic age or isolate ourselves from the truth claims of dissonant voices of pluralism. We must listen to these voices, try to understand them and respond to them. Representatives of other world views or religions must not be reduced to being perceived of as pure targets of mission, but people that are created in the image of God and subjects to his caring love; a love that was expressed in the fullest sense in the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

16. No Christian Cultures – The Gospel to All Cultures

There is nothing called Christian culture. No cultures are purer or cleaner than others. Cultures are human constructions that develop and change, but people of all cultures can become Christians. Culture consists of both good and evil. Despite the existence of contextual theologies it is important to distinguish between the continuity and discontinuity of theology. Scripture does communicate truth claims that are universally true and that are to be obeyed by all people that call themselves Christians. The apostle Paul says: “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:14-16)

17. Two Lutheran Responses

We were listening to the priorities of the general secretaries of two Lutheran mission organizations in Norway. I appreciated their thoughts and reflections on the future and am very happy that they shared their thoughts in a place where international partners were gathered. I believe that international arenas of discussion are important. As far as church-mission or church-church relationships are concerned, we have to move from dependency towards independence and interdependence. This is how it should be. Mission is a joint endeavor of the global church, based on God`s message, commandment, support and blessing.

May God bless us all!

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