theology for a missionary church
This dialogue between the eternal Word and particular human cultures has
been going on implicitly since the creation of the world. It is this same
process that is continued and intensified with the proclamation of the Word
Hence conversion ought not to involve the transfer of
individuals from their native culture to the culture of the Church, so much
as the conversion of their culture enriching the cultural life of the Church.
the work of Christ incarnation, cross and
incarnation a world to enter
The incarnation of God in Christ is unique. Only God can take human nature
for our salvation. God in Christ entered the world, taking on a specific
cultural identity. The revelation of God for all cultures was embodied in one
particular culture. If cultural solidarity with the Palestinian communities of
his day was a necessary aspect of Christ's mission, the same principle
applies to us.
Moreover, the early Christians did not remain culturally
static, but quickly translated the gospel out of the original language and
culture of Jesus, as the Church was planted into non Jewish cultures.
The gospel can only be proclaimed in a culture, not at a culture.
If the church is to be in a position to offer all men the mystery of
salvation and the life brought by God, then it must implant itself
among all these groups in the same way that Christ by his incarnation
committed himself to the particular social and cultural circumstances
of the men among whom he lived.
the cross a world to counter
But, `the incarnation of divine love in a world of sin leads to the cross'.
Jesus belonged to his own culture and yet was prophetically critical of it.
His life of faithful obedience to his Father, in his culture, led to his death.
It is through his death and resurrection that he was shown to be the
universal Lord who is able to belong to and challenge the cultures of every
time and place.
The incarnation should never be separated from the
cross. In the same way, Christians are called to live, within each culture,
under the lordship of Christ, irrespective of the cost.
A truly incarnational Church is one that imitates, through the Spirit, both
Christ's loving identification with his culture and his costly counter cultural
stance within it. His announcement of, and promise of, God's kingdom
cannot be separated from his call to repentance, as the price of entry.
Following his example, his Church is called to loving identification with