As much as the idea of missio dei seems to be growing in it acceptance in the academy, it does seem like making the transition in how we think about missions in this way is still slow in coming, even amongs SIS students, and most clearly in our churches. Missio dei, and living it out, is not a simple transition, even though the concept seems relatively easy to grasp. It brings up the question for me of how do we challenge people who are planning on leaving Fuller with degrees so that they can become career “missionaries” to not hold onto that label in a way that it discourages others within the church from realizing their call to missional faithfulness in any setting they are working and living in?

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Response to Brianna Diaz

October 29, 2007

Brianna, reflecting on the article“Desiring War,” makes a comment that I want to respond to today.  She states, “But in my opinion, the freedom that we live in is external, I believe that like the Middle East as well as all nations, we are oppressed by and adversary, and therefore our internal freedom has been robbed taking away our peace and happiness that only God can restore.” She elaborates on this by using scripture from Ephesians 6:1-“for our struggle is not against flesh and blood…but against the powers of this dark world, the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.”  I believe this is an essential aspect in understanding what lays at the root of conflict-the power of evil-at work in relationships at all levels, from individual conflict to conflict between nation states.  I do wonder however if the distinction between external and internal freedom encourages a body-soul dualism. Does this perspective overlook the importance of justice and attempts towards peaceful mediation? I would be concerned if Christians became known for just emphasizing that people should find God and internal peace, while not being known kingdom activity that seeks peace in our social realities.

I was fairly unaware of some of the cultural-historical dynamics at work within Australia. Australia’s history of being a penal colony presents an interesting question as people seek to understand Australia’s cultural identity.  I found it interesting to learn that there are those who are resistant to accepting the idea that Australia’s culture has been positively influenced by those who were brought to Australia as prisoners or are descendents of those who came in this way.

This article provides a solid example of how literature offers insight into postcolonial thinking and creates a bridge for the voices of the subaltern to be heard. I was struck by the comments about Rochester further into the story noting that, “His agency becomes disintegrated” how he comes to be concerned no longer with his own power but with how others are thinking of him. “The resistance script heard all around him is drowns out the colonizer’s script” (322).  This description of the descent of the altern voice was fascinating.

This was a helpful exploration of a conversation about the relationship between the church and the kingdom of God. I do not find myself directly identifying the church with the kingdom of God,  in part because of the triumphalism and inward focused nature of the church when it sees itself as identitcal to the kingdom of God.  I do believe that God is at work in the world with or without the church.  However, I would not go so far when espousing a theological position of non-identity to conclude that there is nothing particular about Christ when compared to other religions.  Christ is distinctive and the Spirit of the triune God is at work in all ways in which God is manifest in our world, whether the church is involved or not.

I was particularly drawn to the discussion in this chapter about the influence of language and terminology in shaping identity.  “Cultural identity can depend on formal as well as existential recognition, and formal recognition can depend in very particular ways on questions of language” (295). Often we find people making light of the way in which words are selected or used, I must admit that politically correct language can at times seem burdensome, but this article brings to light the important role terminology plays in moving towards a more robust and appropriate understanding of the unique and complex aspects of identity.

“An oppressed Bible oppresses and a liberated Bible liberates” (140). Mosala makes this closing comment, in summarizing why it is important for a critical biblical hermeneutic to address “political issues affecting nations, women, races, age groups, and classes” (140).  Mosala in making this appeal to go  beyond traditional scholarship, produces an analysis of the book of Ruth, which reflects this hermeneutical approach towards liberation. Mosala’s comments about the patriarchal undertones found in Ruth, support gender oppression and exploitation, were most striking.

This was definitely an interesting article that tied together how a religio-philosophical perspective is deeply woven into Bush’s public discourse of the legitimization for war. He particularly notes how the word “history” is a “thinly veiled, secular substitution for ‘God’, who chooses and calls the US to its unique, covenantal, and universal mission of protecting the world against apocalyptic terror and destruction” (113). Runions then notes how the term “freedom” is tied in Bush’s rhetoric to a “sacred fight” justified through American values and morality that emphasize the importance of freedom to desire and obtain economic resources (115). As an Anabaptist, this depth of analysis or counter-discourse about the Bush administration’s war rhetoric and philosophical framework furthered my understanding of why I cannot support the government’s advancement of a war agenda.

I had not seen some of the information that people used in the past to attempt to substantiate the belief that certain ethnic groups were inferior to majority races. I also found our discussions as a group eye opening. It was interesting to learn how many people experienced or participated in racism.

This conversation about what comprises identity, particularly with regards to the idea that there is not an authentic identity that can be recovered, has been thought provoking. It reminds me of teaching that was around a good bit a number of years ago that emphasized “finding your identity in Christ.” I never knew exactly how close I came to “finding my identity in Christ” as the concept was a bit esoteric and nebulous. However, I do wonder where Christ’s life and our being made in God’s image is applicable to this conversation about identity, and if so, does it offer a more stable/fixed understanding of identity in a way that is helpful?