Reconciling Mission: The ministry of healing and reconciliation in the Church worldwide

by
02 November 2006


Thinking vision instead of mission: Marcus Braybrooke on what the Church is here to do
United College of the Ascension, Selly Oak £5
(81-7214-850-X)

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 paradigm.

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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