Missiology and Cultural Engagement
The global Church and its missiological expressions are an eschatological anomaly, a harbinger out of space and time that manifest the actualization of the future reign of Jesus Christ. The proclamation of the gospel and the practices of the Kingdom collectively embody the work of ‘evangelization’ and as such are the ways in which God’s Kingdom is establishing ‘outposts’ of this future reality. In all expressions of faith, Christians ought to seek to engage culture as an expression of manifesting this in-breaking rule of God. Without this eschatological component making sense of our purpose in the work of engaging culture missiologically, as Stanley Hauerwas explains, there is no sense to be made of the, “…baffling residue of strange commands, which seem utterly impractical and ominous.”
Having said this, missiological engagement with culture is no mere metaphor but real engagement with people in their socio-cultural and ethnic contexts. The expressions of culture, as Andy Crouch refers to as ‘cultural artifacts,’ have value not only for this world but also for this future Kingdom. As Richard Mouw demonstrates from a careful exegesis of eschatological texts in the Old Testament, the eternal value of such cultural artifacts endures from this pre-Kingdom era into the actualized reign of Christ. I believe that the shift from one ‘advent’ to the next begins when, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15, NIV). Biblical cultural engagement then requires us to seek the transformation of people and people groups in their cultural contexts and to value their cultural expressions.
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Crouch, Andy. 2008. Culture making : recovering our creative calling. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books.
Hauerwas, Stanley Willimon William H. 1989. Resident aliens : life in the Christian colony. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
The Holy Bible : New international version, containing the Old Testament and the New Testament. 1978. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Lausanne. The Lausanne Covenant 2010. Available from http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/lausanne-covenant.html.
Mouw, Richard J. 1983. When the kings come marching in : Isaiah and the new Jerusalem. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.