In this model, one is not interested in a Christ who offers only eternal salvation, but in a Christ who agonizes and sweats and bleeds with the victims of oppression. One criticizes the bourgeois church of the West, which leans toward docetism and for which Jesus’ humanness is only a veil hiding his divinity. This bourgeois church has an idealist understanding of itself, refuses to take sides, and believes that it offers a home for masters as well as slaves, rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed. Because it refuses to practices “solidarity with victims”, such a church has lost its relevance. Having peeled off the social and political dimensions of the gospel, it has denatured it completely…The Western church has been tempted to read the gospels – in Kahler’s famous phrase – as “passion histories with extensive introductions.”” David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission

Its hard to understate how important Transforming Mission is to the world of missiological monographs. David J. Bosch, along with Leslie Newbigin, Darrell Guder, and lesser know Harvie M. Conn are among the most important missiologist’s of the 20th century. Bosch’s plea above comes at the very end of his 500+ page tome on paradigm shifts in the theology of mission. It comes at the end of vast amounts of citation, research, and careful criticisms, and it comes at a time in the life of the church in the West when his very words ring woefully true.

The Gospels are not “passion histories with extensive introductions”, to treat them as such is to strip them of their narratival setting in relation to the Old Testament as a continuation and fulfillment of its story(s); to remove their prophetic qualities; and to reduce their social and political intrigue and import. In order to re-appropriate the incarnational model in the churches mission in the West there must occur a whole sale rejection of any form of theolgocial tendency which plays down the humanness of Scripture or Christ, or their divinity. For it is in their relation that the shape of the churches mission makes eternal sense in a changing world.

Thoughts, criticisms, suggestions…

(Photographic art by Johnny Baker, piece entitled “in flight, iffley“)