Posted by: Titus Presler | November 19, 2010

“Mission in the Shadow of 9/11” delivered at Louisville Seminary

It was an honor and privilege to deliver the fifth annual mission lecture at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary on Thursday, Oct. 21, on the theme “Mission in the Shadow of 9/11: Thinking Witness a Decade Later.”

The news story compiled by the seminary represents the the content of the lecture fairly and accurately.  Publication of the lecture is being planned, and the theme may be elaborated into a book in 2011.

Attendance at the lecture was excellent, showing signs that the series is building a constituency since its establishment in 2006.  Adding to the distinctiveness of the occasion for me personally was the fact that this lectureship is the Henry H. and Marion A. Presler Lecture on Christian World Mission, established by a bequest from my parents, who served 35 years as United Methodist missionaries in theological education in India.  Click here for more details about them and the lectureship.

As always, Louisville Seminary was the soul of hospitality, welcoming me, along with two of my siblings, Mrs. Marianna Presler McJimsey of Colorado Springs and Dr. Franklin Presler of Kalamazoo and putting us up in the seminary’s Laws Lodge.  As in the past, we were invited to the Trustees Dinner, where it was a special pleasure to chat with the seminary new president, Dr. Michael Jinkins, a former colleague of mine from Austin, when I was president of the Seminary of the Southwest and he was academic dean at Austin Presbyterian Seminary, and with Frances Adeney, professor of mission and evangelism.

Following is an outline of the address:

MISSION IN THE SHADOW OF 9/11: THINKING WITNESS A DECADE LATER

Introduction:

20th-century confidence in religion’s decline

Later resurgence of religion in global community

Event of 9/11 on World Stage:

Impact for 21st century

Understandings of religious mission and Christian mission:

Mission is ministry in the dimension of difference.

9/11 and Aftermath as Missional:

Avoidance of missional analysis illegitimately shields mission from critique

Missional instances of 9/11’s aftermath:

George Bush’s “Crusade” in Afghanistan

Danish cartoon controversy

Swiss ban on minarets

Taliban’s killing of missionaries

Cordoba House near Ground Zero

International Burn a Koran Day

World is a missional place

Response as Missional Christians and Christian Missiologists:

1. Celebrate the resurgence of religion.

2. Recognize the religious element in religious conflicts.

3. Recognize that virtually every religion is missional.

4. Shed the ethnocentric Western focus on mission as Western.

5. Be wholistic in recovering the theological dimension of Christian mission.

6. Recognize difference as the starting place for mission.

7. Muslims and Christians: Explore each other’s missional commitments.

Conclusion:

Telling the story is intrinsic to witness.

Witness and dialogue are interdependent, not incompatible.

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