Theology of World Missions - Lesson 2
Dr. Peter Kuzmic Introduction
Dr. Kuzmic talks about how God saved him and about his cultural background in Eastern Europe.
Dr. Peter Kuzmic Introduction
Dr. Kuzmic provides a framework for the class based on 6 specific statements about a theology of missions. Our theology determines our worldview. We must live as citizens of two kingdoms. We need a theologically grounded missiology and a missiological focused theology.
Dr. Kuzmic talks about how God saved him and about his cultural background in Eastern Europe.
Developing your spirituality and practicing prayer are important elements in achieving a well-balanced theology. The Creator of heaven and earth is Lord of the nations. God promised to bless the whole world through Abraham. Throughout history, different people have applied that promise as a right of privilege for themselves rather than a call to service to others. God calls people, then sends them.
The book of Psalms is one of the greatest missionary books in the world. Isaiah's description of Messianic fulfillment at the end of history is a reminder of the role of Messianic people within history, similar to the "already but not yet" of the "kingdom of God" in the New Testament. Quiz questions are included at the end to clarify what Dr. Kuzmic thinks are the important points and because he includes some commentary on central issues of missions.
Professor Doug Birdsall first discusses the work of the Church in Asia. He then talks about 3 aspects of missions work: 1. Forming partnerships, 2. Sending churches, 3. Funding. One of the fastest growing groups of the Church in China is composed of urban intellectuals. In India, Mongolia, Nepal and Cambodia, in addition to China, there are great opportunities as well as challenges.
Doug Birdsall continues by describing how to establish cross-cultural partnerships. Some of the most important considerations are determining what the needs are, selecting national leaders wisely, and planning for the national leaders to take complete control at some point.
80-2000 project The scope of the Great Commission includes both the nation of Israel and the whole world. Matthew chapters 9 and 10 describe people as lost (sheep without a shepherd) and valuable (the harvest is plentiful). Jesus saw and had compassion. The heart of missions is seeing people the way Jesus sees them and loving them the way Jesus loves them.
Discussion of the meaning and application of this key passage of Scripture.
Joanne Harding about the AIDs crisis in Africa. It is a tragedy and a major challenge for world missions. A panel of experienced missionaries discusses the calling to be a missionary and practical ways to prepare to be a missionary.
Dr David Hilborn, Head of Theology Evangelical Alliance in the UK, discusses the theological framework of universalism, its historical development and the impact that it has on missions.
The political and religious climate in Yugoslavia creates unique challenges for people who are preaching the gospel there.
Dr. Timothy Tennent points out that the spread of vibrant Christianity in areas of the world besides the west, and the clash of Christianity with major world religions outline the framework for the focus of world missions.
Dr. Timothy Tennent shows how Christianity compares to other world religions by citing case studies of discussions with individuals of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Evangelicals must engage more seriously and more profoundly in the thought world of other religions.
What does Christ have to do with culture and what does the Church have to do with the world? Isolationists separate themselves and cannot have a significant impact on the world around them. Secularists identify with the world by compromising core beliefs to match the culture and don't have an impact because they are no different from the people around them. The Church often evangelizes from a distance instead of entering into the lives of people.
People will often respond more positively to the Gospel if you first find common ground in practical areas and use culture as a bridge for the Gospel into the world. The Gospel has to be forwarded to a new address for every generation.
Chuck Davis from Africa Inland Mission describes mission work in Africa and his personal experiences in Congo, Chad and other African countries.
The Gospel is a message that addresses sin in the lives of individuals and transforms society in areas like justice and charity.
World missions is a fundamental theme throughout the Bible. The book "Christ and Culture" proposes four models to explain the relationship between the Church and the world. Some people emphasize scriptures that focus on evangelism and others emphasize scriptures that teach the importance of meeting peoples' physical needs.
Note: The David Bosch Grid and Hans Kung Paradigm chart may be posted in the future but are not available at this time.
The Lausanne Conference on World Evangelism provided a forum for Christian leaders from different countries and denominations to establish some common goals and principles for communicating the Gospel and caring for people all over the world.
Note: The David Bosch Grid and Hans Kung Paradigm chart may be posted in the future but is not available at this time.
Dr. Kuzmič provides a framework for a theology of world missions based on a biblical worldview. We must live as citizens of two kingdoms. Our missiology needs to be theologically grounded, and our theology, missiologically focused. The documents that were written by delegates at the Lausanne Conference on World Missions have had a significant influence in defining and encouraging the practical application of a biblical view of world missions.
Theology of World Missions
Dr. Peter Kuzmič
Dr. Peter Kuzmic Introduction
Alright! Everybody come in. Here is what we’ll do procedurally.
I would like to lecture for about 15 minutes to introduce the subject matter in a way that will give you some insights into some theology that we will be pulling together. And then we have to do something that will help us for the rest of the semester. It will be at that point that we will also look at the syllabus. OK? So, if you are making notes, you may want to take notes now as we become a little more systematic. We meet Tuesday nights, three hours. Next week we will look at the Biblical basis of missions. Let’s ignore that for now. All I want us to do tonight is just to throw out a few sentences, kind of a thesis on theology of missions. Because for many of you this is the only missions class, we will have to bring in some practical aspects and some general surveys of global missions because some of you within the M. Div, if I teach just theology of missions, and I am a theologian by training, you may be just piling on another theology class and fail in the exposure to the global realities that world mission has to deal with.
What I am doing here is of a more general nature as we talk about theology of missions. And I would like to spell out six theses. This is actually a chapter of a book that is in the making. But it will give you some pregnant ways of expressing what this subject, this class is all about. But I would like to reverse the order here and start with what is thesis six here and make that the number one. The God of the Bible is a missionary God, and the church of Jesus Christ is God’s missionary people. We will be elaborating that further as I will try to convince you, and I don’t think that should be difficult in an evangelical seminary where we take the authority and the substance of Biblical revelation seriously, that the Christian church by its very nature, is a missionary community, because the God who made himself known in history through his mighty deeds and words, as we find them recorded in Scriptures, is a missionary God.
III.Thesis 2: Missions is in the center of God’s plan and divine purposes for the human race.
And that takes us now back to what I have as thesis number one, namely that missions is not an appendix, not some kind of addition, but is in the very center of God’s plan and divine purposes for the human race. See, very often, missions is treated by churches, I don’t know about your church, as something added, maybe one weekend a year there is a missions conference and there is an emphasis on missions. And missionaries are treated as some kind of a foreign force, the cross-cultural specialists that you occasionally see and hear from. And we must change that paradigm and start from the very nature of God. That’s what theology is all about. Theology is about God. All of our thinking and all of our practice has to be God-centered. We are to learn to think theologically about everything, of course, including if I may put that in a broader sense, including society, including culture, including education, including arts, this is where the development of a Christian mind or the development of a Biblical worldview is so important. And remember, in our era of post-modernity, if we don’t have a well-developed Christian worldview as a philosophy of life, we don’t have a basis for a value system. You do not have ethics without theology. Now this is a theological seminary. This is a graduate, professional school. So it is very important as we go through this education which is not cheap, but about the money and the time and everything else that you invest, the most important thing is that you develop a theological mindset, a comprehensive worldview that is scripturally based but not formed and lived in a ghetto, in a monastic kind of isolation, but relevant to the realities around us.
And when we talk about world missions, of course we mean global realities, not just our neighborhood. We very often, and I face that as I travel and speak in churches and conferences around this nation, I hear that theological seminaries, and Gordon Conwell is one of the premier evangelical theological institutions, do very well in training for the pulpit, for expository ministry because we put a lot of emphasis on Biblical languages and exegetical skills, and rightfully so, but sometimes it is noticeable that we don’t do as good a job in training for society, in training not just for church ministry but so that we can be God’s transformative agents is wherever He, in His sovereign will, sends us and places us.
I have been working quite a bit with political leaders. I have been offered both a diplomatic post and a political position, and I was forced to think through, “What does the doctrine of the Lordship of Christ over all creation, over all reality, mean? Does the Lord have something to say to our social order, to our culture? To the tragedy and drama in say, Rwanda? To violence in Columbia? To inter-ethnic conflict in the Balkans?
Do we have a message that is credible and that we can articulate in intelligible terms to our secular culture? What would you say if you were invited to give a lecture to say, MIT students, or down at Harvard business school or John F. Kennedy School of Government, and they ask you to speak about the kingdom of God? And issue I continually struggle with: how do the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world intersect? How can cultures be redeemed or renewed? So, we are not talking, and we will elaborate that further in these ten three hour sessions that we will have together, so that we are not just concerned about saving souls for heaven but that we have the concern of God who is the Creator and ruler of the universe and who has a concern for all reality.
Abraham Kuyper, who was a great theologian, some of you have seen his Principles of Secular Theology and other volumes, great philosopher and a great politician, a founder of the Free University of Amsterdam, Prime Minster of Holland, etcetera, etcetera….in his inaugural address, at the opening of the Free University of Amsterdam, he said, “There is not one inch,” (I think he actually said one centimeter, there are no inches in Europe, there are centimeters, Ok?) He said, “There is not one centimeter in us our around us where Christ the Lord does not put His finger and say: “Mine! Mine! Mine!” And there was a newspaper report that said that when Abraham Kuyper, he truly was a genius… How many of you have heard of Abraham Kuyper? Ok, a few of you, so I will not ask how many of you have read Abraham Kuyper. He’s worth reading. Actually, Princeton Theological Seminary has an annual Abraham Kuyper lectureship. Great man. Probably the greatest Calvinist who ever lived after John Calvin. Enormous, comprehensive mind. I must tell you a story here. When Abraham Kuyper was born, the baby had such a big head that the parents rushed the baby to this Jewish-German doctor because they were afraid it was filled with water. What do you call it, hydrocephalus? And the doctor examined this baby for a long time, and the parents and other relatives are all waiting in the waiting room, and he finally concluded his examination and with his hands up, exited his medical laboratory and faced the parents and said, “Alles gehirn, alles gehirn!” (German) Which means, “All brains! All brains!” And it has proven to be all brains. And we need to look at such great minds where theology, philosophy, strong evangelical commitment, and a concern for the social order and faith of the nations meet. Abraham Kuyper… K-U-Y-P-E-R. I would be tempted to talk about Kuyper for a long time, but we don’t have time for that.
I am trying to challenge you… First, not to underestimate and say, “Oh yeah, missions. I will not be a missionary, I’m an M. Div, but I have to meet the requirement.” Or those of you who are in the missions major to reduce the understanding of the mission just as some kind of a cross-cultural activity because we “owe the gospel to the heathen” as we used to say in the past eras.
We are dealing with something that is central to the very nature of God, central to Christian faith, and so we are saying that in order to understand God and His plans, His purposes for history, we need to understand that his very nature is missionary, and that as a result the Church is God’s missionary community, sent into the world to be the light of the nations, to be the salt of the earth, to be God’s transformative agent in the world. This does not take away from personal evangelism, from witness, from using whatever steps from Four Spiritual Laws or whatever other ways you use to introduce the ABCs of the Christian faith to those who are Biblically illiterate, I just don’t want us to reduce the understanding of divine mission, or what is technically called missio dei (Latin), to reduce it to just that, personal.
So, let’s reflect from the larger standpoint or viewpoint of who God is, what God is like, why Christ came, why He died and what happened on the third day and what the consequences of that are when He says all power, all authority, all exousia (Greek), how do you translate exousia, maybe dominion…in heaven and earth is given to me. Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations. For you go back into the high Christology of say Ephesians and Colossians and you see the cosmic dimensions of Christ’s redemptive work and of his rule. So, that’s where we are starting our theological discussions about missions.
Now, let me do a little experiment with you since I mentioned the importance of a well-developed Christian worldview. Christian worldview… Germans have a wonderful saying which is a technical expression, if you read technical theology, you’ll come across that word weltanschauung, (German) worldview is viewing the world from a certain point of view. A viewpoint is a view from a point, right? Sounds like tautology, I know that. Let’s try to explain… you know, you have scriptures… maybe I shouldn’t do that, that will take too long. Remind me. Who will remind me next session at the beginning to do a little exercise with you on worldview? You will? Thank you. So, we will come back to this, otherwise we will run out of time tonight.
The next thesis, let’s say we call it number three. The church of Jesus Christ is not the place that collects and conserves people for heaven, functioning as a waiting room for the hereafter. The church of Jesus Christ is God’s transformative agent in the world. John Stott entitled his commentary in the Bible Speaks Today (BST) series on Ephesians: “God’s New Society.” You see that? God’s new society… the epistle to Ephesians is really an ecclesiological treatise, OK? God’s new society. A communal expression and representation of the kingdom of God among the kingdoms of this world, you could put it in those terms. God’s transformative agent in the world.
I am saying this because I very often perceive, and I know I’ve struggled with that, I’ve been a pastor in two different churches and have trained church planters. Very often evangelicals think that the church is the place where you gather sinners who are saved and then you make sure that they remain saints until the Lord calls them and snatches them out of this valley of sorrows. You know, and so, we have a kind of a passive isolationist not very productive ecclesiology and ecclesial practice that doesn’t change the world, it only snatches a few souls from the world that we bring in to converse and save for heaven. If that’s where you’re thinking is, you need a metanoia (Greek: transformative change of heart), OK? You need a paradigmatic change about the church. And even those simple metaphors that Jesus uses on the sermon on the mount, the salt and the light, they speak volumes to this thesis: God’s transformative agent in the world.
OK, thesis number four then, in our new order here, would be that our overarching hermeneutic, those of you who are new here in theological classroom, hermeneutic is not a family name, it’s not Mr. Hermeneutic, OK? It’s the science and art of interpretation. We use it more narrowly in referring to Biblical hermeneutics where you learn the rules, exegesis and hermeneutics and kind of complimentary in this process as we take the text from the study to the pulpit or from the study to the world now that we talk world missions. Our overarching hermeneutics, using the word in the broader sense, are interpreting realities, our overarching hermeneutic is a constant search and journey. And it is a two-way journey between the text and the context, between the Word and the world. Now, you are a student at an evangelical seminary, and we do specialize in the text, the sacred text, OK? The inspired scriptures. The Word of God. I would like to challenge you that in this class we should think not only about the text, we must think about the context. Actually that is what Christian life, not just ministry, Christian life is a constant journey between the Word and the world. To quote my favorite friend and mentor, John Stott, in his book which in Britain was published in the series “I Believe,” so it was “I Believe in Preaching.” I believe the American title is: “Between Two Worlds.” Any of you know that book? And basically what he is saying is that a preacher has to have one foot in the Biblical Word or world, fully at home, and with another foot in the present world. And we have to be at home in both. So, we are bridge builders between God’s holy Word and God’s, but alienated and sinful, world and which he has and places rightful claims, and this is of course what missions is all about: bridge builders. Now, you could it this way: A Christian minister will in one hand have the holy scriptures and in the other hand the unholy New York Times. And I hope you read both.
If you are fanatic New-Englanders, read Boston Globe, but it doesn’t match with New York Times. Or read Washington Post, I find New York Times and Washington Post the best daily newspapers in this country. Or on the more conservative, when it comes to weekly, Time Magazine, and on the more liberal, if that’s the right expression, oh, this is US News and World Report. Excellent. I thought I had Newsweek here. Sorry. Yeah. This is excellent also, but I don’t know where it is ideologically. I know that if I want to read more a conservative commentary on world events or events in this country, I read Time, and when I want a little bit more creative, more liberal view, I read Newsweek. In Washington, they now read Washington Post or Washington Times, although Washington Times, many evangelicals claim Washington Times. I have some difficulty because of the ownership of that newspaper, but that is increasingly taken as the voice of the conservatives - political as well as religious conservatives. Washington Times or Washington Post is like the New York Times, more liberal, but we have to read both. And don’t develop if you’re a new student, don’t develop the habit - I’ve been teaching here for 10 years now, and I’m sometimes worried as I talk with M. Div students and they are able to exegete the scriptures in Greek and Hebrew and ready to graduate, but they are ignorant and illiterate about the world events! You have to be able to exegete the realities of the world into which God sends us with His word. Because if you ignore the World, you betray the Word. The Word is not lived or proclaimed in a vacuum, and not from a safe distance. The Word, by its very nature and explicit mandate calls us and commissions us to engage the world. Of course, if you emphasize the world but ignore the Word, as so many of our liberal friends have done, you are in a different and more perilous situation because you have nothing to bring to the world without the Word. So, it’s a continuous, permanent, two-way traffic between the two. Make sure you study both. One could put this in different terms: We are citizens of two kingdoms. You are still citizens of this kingdom although since you kicked out what was his name, George? King George? You know it’s not called a kingdom anymore. But you know what I mean. And citizens of God’s kingdom. And make sure that you don’t develop schizophrenia, but that you are able to bridge the two, knowing who you are, your identify in Christ, but also knowing what your mission in the world is.
OK, the next thesis which I guess would be number five: Jesus expects from us both obedience to the great commission (Matthew 28) and the practice of the great compassion. I have given that title to Matthew 25. I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was naked, I was a refugee, and you did or didn’t do certain things to me. And He says the king on the final accounting days will make certain pronouncements, and the pronouncements, the judgment will depend on how we have treated the little ones or how we have not treated them. So, it is not just a question of proclamation, but it is a question of service and authentic living. Because humans have not only ears to hear what we proclaim, they are not only souls which we register for heaven, they also have eyes with which they watch how we live, and they have bodies, sometimes hurting bodies that need healing and medical care and empty stomachs that need to be filled before they will hear and properly understand what we are proclaiming. And we will be developing that further.
And then the last thesis here is that we need a theologically grounded missiology and a missiologically focused theology. This is where I am in full agreement with the Gordon-Conwell approach to this. Gordon-Conwell has not developed a separate school of missions and evangelism like Fuller Theological Seminary where I was on faculty a long time ago, the former millennium, or Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I think that Asbury has done the same, because then the danger is that you say, ok, study a little bit of social sciences and anthropology but basically they do practices of cross-cultural engagement, and here is where they do the weighty matters of biblical exposition and theology and church history. And I say let no theological seminary put asunder what God has put together. And so we are saying here, I am at least saying, and you will hear me repeat that, that all missiology has to be theologically grounded. Otherwise, and you’ve heard the words and criticism of so much of evangelical theology like one expression that is floating around is: “managerial missiology” or that it has compromised on theology and given in to the social sciences or that it is money-driven religious activity or that it is so much anthropologically based that it does not have deep theological grounding, etc., etc. So it has to be theologically grounded, and I will be spending about five or six hours on this to show the Biblical basis for a theology of missions. But at the same time, all theology should be missiologically focused, and we will be showing that through our scriptural study, because if it is not missiologically focused, it betrays the kingdom of God. It’s in danger of ending up a kind of a selfish, theological, academic exercise as an end in itself, and whatever is selfish is sinful, and so theologically grounded, missiologically focused. We need to keep them together.
OK. That much about this introductory lecture. And now, I want you to look at your syllabus. There are three books that I am requiring that you read. Of the second one, which is a fez shrift, for a wellknown missiological thinker, Dr. Anderson, who until two years ago was the director of the Overseas Ministry Studies Center in New Haven, just across the street from the Yale Divinity School - in that book (I’m not requiring that you read the whole book) - in that book you will be asked to read certain chapters of your own choice, although you’re welcome to read the whole book. It’s almost like, I think somebody introducing that book said, a “Who’s Who” in evangelical missiology, excellent chapters, and we will discuss the outline of that book next time, but I’m giving you some choice there. Because you may be specializing in certain areas, so your interest may be in - either topically or geographically, thematically - in a certain field, so you will have some choice there.
I will tell you about the book by David Bosch next time, bring it with you. But what I want to ask you now is to read John Stott’s book through – it’s a small book – how many pages is it? It’s a small paperback – only 120 pages, I know you’re disappointed. But I want you to read that by next Tuesday when we meet. OK? Read Stott. And I hope we can find a few minutes to discuss Stott. It’s a powerful statement on world missions in the contemporary world, and the book grew out of a plenary address he gave at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne 1974, an event we will be referring to. And we will be talking about Lausanne Covenant, too, which is a document – extremely important document. But I don’t want to discuss that tonight. I want you to read Stott first.
Now, one thing in the course requirements, I think we’ll have to change because the class is too big. The graduate classes should never be this size. They should be much smaller so you can do seminar-type and discuss things, and so on. This is very difficult in a class of this size because….here, you will do a research paper 10 to 12 pages on a topic that you and I will agree on, you will do a book review, 2-3 pages, from one of the books from the recommended reading list. I’ve given you a lengthy recommended reading list, and this again I give you an opportunity to do a kind of sub-specialization, like the reading from the second required book. I am willing to permit you to review another book that may not be mentioned here but may be of interest because of where you are or what you want to do in life. Just make sure that you and I discuss that. But it should not be something that you are reading for Dr. Tennett, OK? That would be close to sinning, and we don’t do that in theological seminaries, right? Alright!
Thirdly, you will be expected to do a personal mission statement which we will entitle: “My Missionary Credo.” Credo: what you believe. If we are talking about theology of missions, I want you to summarize succinctly your theological faith under the rubric of mission. Beginning from what you believe about God: “I believe in God the Almighty,” whatever….but I want you to do that from a missiological perspective. And don’t start doing that early in the class. Because you have to be able through your reading, through our lectures and class discussions, you have to be able to come to a point of synthesis, OK? Where you draw it all together and express it in a few pregnant, strong, synthetic statements that shape your thinking as a result of our journey together this semester.
Now on the fourth assignment, we will have to change because the class is too big for class presentations. And I did not put in, you know limiting it to 20 students, or whatever. If we were up to 20 we could possibly do that – where we would have class presentations, and then you would be graded. So, instead of that, I will give you, based on your reading, a little quiz. For example, next time, I may throw on the board five words and say, “Define them.” Five key terms, for example, from John Stott, OK? And then the accumulation of that would be the part of the grade instead of presentation participation in the class.
Any questions on that? Yes. (Question not audible – related to the Credo assignment.) On the Credo? No, brief. Brief. No, no, no. Statements of faith should not be long. Once I have you read the Lausanne Covenant, and I will distribute that in case… How many of you have read or studied Lausanne? OK, several of you will be cheating - no this is not cheating. But most of you have not, and I will copy it for you. And there are others – you know, you have the early church’s creedal expressions, and so on, which will be a kind of model of what you are to do, but in a missiological perspective.
Yes…(inaudible question)… let’s wait on that discussion until the next session. I want this class to be useful. I am a European. The easiest thing for a European is to follow the notes and deliver a well-organized, monotonous, technically elaborate lecture, but that would not be fair to you. And for some of you, it would be too difficult because you are new and your undergraduate studies have not been in Bible and theology. And for some of you, it may not be satisfactory enough because you have a BA in Bible or Philosophy or whatever and where you have a lot of Bible or theology from Wheaton or Messiah, so you’ve covered a lot of ground that we would cover here. This is my problem with American seminary education, and I go through that every time when I teach this or other classes. I’ve had a Theology of Missions class where I had a Ph.D. from MIT, and I had a guy who had a doctorate in mathematics, I think, but these guys have only been Christians for a few years, and they’ve done maybe Navigators or some Bible study but never any theological study, or nothing about church history. In the same class, you have somebody with a BA from say, Wheaton or Asbury or Gordon or Messiah, and these guys knew so much, and so the guy with the BA was so far ahead of the guy with the Ph.D. because they came from different backgrounds. And so the instructor has a problem – at what level do you strike it? What can you assume? So that you are not too difficult for those that don’t have the background, and at the same time, you are not too easy so that you are M.Th. and M.Div. seniors or others who have had an excellent Bachelor’s degree from a Bible college or a Christian liberal arts college will be bored. That is a dilemma. But I do want to be useful, and I don’t want to be boring, because three hours in the evening is not an easy academic session. So, here is what we will do. I will right now give you a little test. Can somebody help me distribute these? When you are done, bring it to the front, put it here. And you are free to go. But I do want you to finish it. Some of you will do it quickly, for some of you it will take a little longer time.