This book is an attempt to give an overview of the twentieth century developments in ecumenical missiology. It covers the period from the first world missionary conference at Edinburgh 1910 to the last ecumenical conference at Salvador 1996.
If great missionary expansion took place in the nineteenth century, the twentieth century saw important developments in mission theology. It was the missionary movement and the churches in the mission field that gave impetus for the emergence of the modern ecumenical movement at the beginning of this century. In turn, the ecumenical movement discovered mission as its raison d’etre. Hence the ecumenical interest in mission theology. There were also great missiological developments in denominational churches as well as in less formalized groups such as women’s groups, social action groups and youth and student movements. Today there is a vast body of material available on the subject. To bring them all together Into one volume like the present one is an impossible task. This study is limited to missiological thinking as expressed in the conferences and assemblies of the International Missionary Council and the World Council of Churches. The author is fully aware that official meetings and statements do not always reflect the thinking at local situations.
The ecumenical missionary conferences during this period were: Edinburgh (1910), Jerusalem (1928), Madras (1938), Whitby (1947), Willingen (1952), Ghana (1958), Mexico (1963), Bangkok (1972), Melbourne (1980), San Antonio (1989), and Salvador (1996). The World Council of Churches assemblies were: Amsterdam (1948), Evanston (1954), New Delhi (1961), Uppsala (1968), Nairobi (1975), Vancouver (1983), Canberra (1991) and Harare (1998).
The missiological discussions in these conferences and assemblies are treated under five major topics. They are : Church and Mission, Mission and Unity, World, Mission and Church, The Kingdom of God and Mission, and Mission and The World of Religions and Cultures.
Ecumenical discussions were not always smooth sailing. There were conflicts and Controversies between different groups within the ecumenical movement as well as outside of it. An important aspect of this study is the place given to the ecumenical-evangelical debate on mission.
If mission as conquest was the dominant note at the beginning of this century, mission as living in dialogical relationship is the emphasis at the end of this century.
I am deeply indebted to my wife Ammu and children, Premila and Pradeep, for their encouragement and practical assistance. My thanks are expressed to Rev. John England for reading the manuscript and making valuable suggestions. I am grateful to ISPCK and CSS for publishing the book.