The article “Mission is Ministry in the Dimension of Difference: A Definition for the Twenty-first Century” has been published in the October 2010 issue of International Bulletin of Missionary Research. This piece represents a condensed synthesis of my thinking on this theme, which has been in gestation over the last several years.
The article develops the theme of engagement with difference as constitutive of mission as a type of religious activity. I note how the encounter with difference was definitional of mission in the early modern period and continues to be implicit in mission thought from the 20th century to the present despite the many efforts to broaden the concept of mission to include virtually all Christian life and action. The article then explores the constructive implications of the definition both in missiology and in routine church life. Its grounding in scripture is explored, and the definition is then related to the preoccupation of postmodern thought with the possibility that difference may be ontologically as well as epistemologically prior to identity.
The October 2010 issue (vol. 34, no. 4) is themed by editor Jonathan Bonk “Missions and the Liberation of Theology.” According to IBMR, free online subscriptions to the journal are available at this link. My article appears at pp. 195-204.
Other articles in the issue include: “The Missiology of Old Testament Covenant,” by Stuart J. Foster; “Beyond Contextualization: Toward a Twenty-first-Century Model for Enabling Mission,” by R. Daniel Shaw; and “Asking the Big Questions: A statistical Analysis of Three Missiological Journals,” by Gregory J. Liston, a piece that analyzes IBMR, Missiology, and Missionalia. Legacy articles on George Leslie Mackay and Carl Thurman Smith also appear.
I welcome comments in this space.