Author: Dr Jonathan Ingleby
Dr Thomas has given us a thought-provoking analysis of the context of Asian missions. It is hard to disagree with his three main points, which I summarise here:
Asian Mission Movements need to be: Equipped for ‘a dialogue of life’ with the culture and religions of Asia. Equipped for a confrontation with modernity (globalisation) and to honour the ‘local’ in the spirit of true indigenisation. Equipped to deal with the ‘structural imbalances’ which continue the marginalisation of the poor and other peripheral groups.
My response centres on my feeling that we have a description here which challenges us to go further and to look hard at prescription – to unpack Dr Thomas’s three challenges in terms of specific ways in which we can equip and resource Asian Mission Movements. One of the ways of doing this would be to raise further questions. This is not to abandon Dr Thomas’s paper, but rather to seek further elucidation and expansion of his suggestions.
First of all a general question: how do we discern major trends? Under the heading ‘Looking Ahead in God’s Mission in Asia’ Dr Thomas lays out a number of considerations that he feels are important for future mission. There are eight of these, issues to do with pluralism, other religions, structures of injustice, anxiety about the ability of science and technology to ‘deliver’, the lack of ‘a new international order’ and finally the environment. This is a challenging agenda, and one we need to take with the utmost seriousness. I suggest that we need to go on thinking hard about ‘the signs of the times’ (Matthew 16:3) and to continue to identify the trend watchers (like Dr Thomas!) and to ensure that they can be heard.
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