In the pre-Constantinian centuries of the church…the church had not yet become a world-conquering majority; it did not even possess the Empire’s Good Housekeeping seal of approval. The missionizing , minority church found itself in what …. calls an “emergency situation.” In this situation mission was “the mother of theology.”

Let me ask a simple but revealing question: who said that mission is the mother of theology?  Was it Harvie Conn of Westminster Theological Seminary, David Bosch the famed missiologist of Africa, or John Franke of Biblical Theological Seminary?

If you answered just one of these names then you answered incorrectly, all three said this! The actual quote was taken from pg. 13 of The Urban Face of Mission, from Harvie Conn’s article ‘Mission, Missions, Theology, and Theological Education’. Has this been taken seriously by our theologians today, by our seminaries today; or are we still operating with the idea that something other than mission is the mother of theology? If not mission then what else might the mother of theology be?

This is a stirring question for all of us who have recieved a systematic education through seminary or bible college to raise. It has import for how we evaluate our own theology, how we view others theologies, and for how we will in the future develop and mature our own through praxis and scientia.

Something else, however, is present in the above quotation; the acknowledgement that the socio-political context of the Church has implications for the Church’s affirmed mother of her theology. In pre-Constinian time the Church was a minority and thereby the mother of her theology was mission. What about our time, our ‘kairos’, has the west entered post-Christendom? If it has then has our ancient mother returned? Or are we awaiting both our Lord and our mother?