Rev. Dhyanchand Carr, Ph.D., is Executive Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, Department of Mission and Evangelism, located in Hong Kong.
The following was presented at the Conference on World Mission and the Role of Korean Churches, held during November 1995 in Seoul, Korea.
The church comprises a community of Christian believers called to bear witness to the fact that racial and ethnic differences are transcended in Christ. On the other hand the church in any particular locality has to be thoroughly in solidarity with its neighbourhood in terms of its national and cultural contexts. The implications for mission of this double nature of transcendence and particularity need careful sorting out.
The church comprises a community of Christian believers called to bear witness to the fact that racial and ethnic differences are transcended in Christ.
On the other hand the church in any particular locality has to be thoroughly in solidarity with its neighbourhood in terms of its national and cultural contexts.
The implications for mission in consideration of this double nature of transcendence and particularity need careful sorting out, with reference to:
1. The nature of power relationships which govern the international character of the church.
2. The nature of the church's relationships with the nation and culture of its given context with particular reference to its own faith commitment to God's redeeming love made known in Jesus Christ and its assessment of the standing of others with God.
Let us bear in mind the inevitable dynamics of the dialectics and tensions involved as we briefly look at the mission imperatives of the Gospel in the light of the situation in which we are.
Churches in Asia are vigorously involved in evangelistic outreach programmes with determination to bring most if not all of the people of their own country to an acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ enlisting them as members of the Christian church.
The impetus comes from a variety of sources:
1. A revival of denominational mission boards of the West.
2. The movement of full-time church planters and church growth-conscious business people from the newly rich nations of Asia such as Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore in the less developed nations such as Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, lndo-China and the South Asian countries.
3. The so called good news which is communicated involves a denunciation of all other faiths together with a threat of damnation for members of the other faiths on the one hand and an incentive of heaven after death, health, career success, and wealth in this world.
4. The local churches are ignored in all matters of decision making but co-opted to provide the necessary rubber stamps with institutional incentives such as offers for new buildings and better facilities, offers of scholarship and some direct incentives to those in positions of leadership (i.e., slush fund methodology).
5. As other faiths are denounced as demonic and their adherents threatened with eternal damnation, a backlash is provoked in many places. Should such a backlash become violent the church planters and their supporters develop a 'martyr' consciousness.
Some Pertinent Questions
1. Our Lord sent lambs (meek and powerless) into the midst of wolves (the powerful wielders of authority and power). To put it bluntly, the power relationship of the new brand of church planters vis a vis the local church and the local community are both lopsided. Should there not be a change?
2. Jesus categorically instructed the disciples to identify local partners, accept their hospitality and operate under their patronage. He would not allow any special considerations for extra facilities and better food. How does such a mandate compare with the new church-planting operations controlled by people of higher means and power than the local hosts?
3. Could there be preaching of the Gospel without the preachers or their communities being involved in the pursuit of God's Just Rule over all aspects of demonic domination and oppression experienced in cultures of domination and those of the socio-economic and political structures?
4. Should the call for repentance be limited to the realm of the personal? Should there not be a call for collective repentance in terms of racial oppression, colonial domination and plunder, caste discrimination, gender related oppression and marginalisation, religious exclusivism and arrogance engendering genocides and holocausts, government-endorsed sex slaveries...? Would a new human community of peace with justice ever come about without such repentance? And, is this not part of God's plan for the future? Otherwise how do we understand the petition "Thy Kingdom come and Thy Will be done on earth as in heaven?'
The above list of questions is by no means exhaustive. They represent some of the most important ones. We shall certainly need to ask more fundamental questions about the influence on the shape of the Gospel itself as it seems to depend on many sociological and cultural factors. However, for our purpose of limited discussions within the limitations of time during this brief consultation, if we seek honest answers to these questions we may evolve the principles that should undergird partnerships in mission.