Thinking vision instead of mission: Marcus Braybrooke on what the
Church is here to do
United College of the Ascension, Selly Oak £5
THE days when mission was thought of primarily as being the effort to
convert people to Christianity are long past. The primary meaning of mission is
now widely seen to be the mission of the Triune God to all people. The Church
is invited to share in this.
How should that mission best be characterised? Proclamation, dia-logue,
inculturation, and liberation have all been suggested as appro-priate models or
paradigms. This book explores reconciliation — another model suggested by
Robert Schreiter — from various mission perspectives.
Readers of the Church Times may be particularly interested in Ruth
Tetlow’s chapter. Drawing upon her experience of interfaith dialogue,
particularly in Birmingham, she includes a good case study of the changes in
Jewish-Christian relations, and calls for women to make a greater contribution
to interfaith work.
John Corrie says Anglicans have "something characteristic to offer to the
ministry of reconciliation", be-cause Anglicans have never claimed exclusivity
for their understanding of Christian truth or their ecclesiology. At the
moment, he says, Anglicans themselves are in desperate need of reconciliation.
The most illuminating chapter, for me, was "Healing the Blind" by the Indian
visual artist Jyoti Sahi. Instead of thinking in terms of being sent, and
wanting in some way to change other people, he suggests that mission should be
thought of as "seeing the world in a new way — darshana": "by stressing the
importance of vision as opposed to mission, we rediscover the primacy of
contemplative insight over physical deeds."
All the essays are interesting, but the book never quite escapes its origin
in seminars held at the United College of the Ascension at Selly Oak. Some
contributors use in-house language and abbreviations, explained only once, such
as NPP (New Perspectives on Paul) or DOV (the Decade to Overcome Violence). The
book, printed in India, is well produced and inexpensive. There is a good
bibliography, but no index.
There can be no doubt about the importance of reconciliation in the life of
the individual, of the Church and of the world. I wonder, how-ever, whether
linking the word reconciliation to mission may be unhelpful in some parts of
the world such as India, where the activities of some Christians to gain
converts are resented.
The Good News Bible’s render-ing of 2 Corinthians 5.18 says that "Christ
changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the tasking of making
others his friends also. Our message is that God was making the whole human
race his friends through Christ." Perhaps "making friends" could also be a
The Revd Marcus Braybrooke is President of the World Congress of Faiths.
The book is available from United College of the Ascension, Weoley Park Road,
Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6RD: 0121 415 6810.
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