Sunday, June 05, 2005

TSOTTC - book notes - Chapter 3 - The Incarnational Approach

- Incarnation provides us with the missional means by which the gospel can become a genuine part of a people group without damaging the innate cultural frameworks that provide people group with a sense of meaning and history. David Bosch is right when he notes that "it should not bother us that in during different epochs the Christian faith was perceived and experienced in new and different ways. The Christian faith is intrinsically incarnational."

- The great danger in failing to practice mission incarnationally is cultural imperialism. This form of imperialism, itself a sin, is easily observed in so many countries where Western missionaries import without critical reflection their cultural forms of the gospel and impose them on a people group. Even though conversions often result, the long-term outcome is the loss of a genuinely local, indigenous culture.

- What is now clear to us about non-Western contexts is also becoming appallingly clear regarding our own context. We can so easily impose a cultural form on the people and the groups we hope to reach with the love of Jesus. We so often make the gospel synonymous with a bland middle-class conformity and thereby alienate countless people from encountering Christ. How often have we seen public opinion polls that reflect the attitude of "Jesus, yes! Church, no!"

- Incarnational mission means that people will get to experience Jesus on the inside of their culture and their lives because of our embodying the gospel in an incarnationally appropriate way. Most attitudinal research on the subject indicates that in terms of the public perception of the unchurched, to become a Christian is synonymous with becoming a somewhat happy but bland, usually white, almost always middle-class, middle-of-the-road person. This kind of person is exemplified by Ned Flanders.

- Heterogeneity is a discipleship issue, not a missional one.

Some really good quotes about incarnation. What I love about some of these ideas about mission are that they are so applicable not only to cross cultural situations (which is a big point of the book) but student ministry.

One of the balances I have been thinking about lately is the idea of program vs. incarnation. Lately, whenever anyone implies 'program', whether its some kind of curriculum, discipleship ladder or whatnot, I cringe and tune out.

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