Authored by: Darrell L. Guder

The Routledge Companion to Modern Christian Thought

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782173
eBook ISBN: 9780203387856
Adobe ISBN: 9781136677922


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Missiology is the theological discipline that investigates, reflects upon, interprets, and critiques the church's implementation of its missionary mandate. Rooted in the mission of the triune God (the missio Dei), the disciplined study of the mission of God's people is necessarily integrative and cross-disciplinary in nature, engaging the allied disciplines of Biblical Studies, Church History, Doctrinal Theology, and Practical Theology. Although the case may be made that the apostolic mission that defines the church's purpose and action should always have been the central, defining, and integrative theme of Christian theology, the discipline of missiology is the most recent addition to the canon of theological loci which has evolved over the long history of western Christendom. Moreover, its place in the theological academy and curriculum is still contested. Certainly the earliest apostolic communities understood and thought about themselves in terms of their mission as “sentness” which resulted from Christ's mandate to the first Christian communities: “As my Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21), and, “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Martin Kähler claimed that emerging Christian theology, as the “accompanying manifestation of the Christian mission,” was a necessary activity of the fundamentally missionary church in the apostolic and sub-apostolic period, and not merely a “luxury of the world dominating church” (Kähler 1971: 189). Thus, mission was to be understood as “the mother of theology” (ibid.: 190; Bosch 1991: 16). Or, to summarize it in Verkuyl's words, “In the New Testament, theology arose as missiology, that is, as reflection on the missionary activity in the apostolic era” (Verkuyl 1978: xiii). “However,” as Bosch comments, “as Europe became Christianized and Christianity became the established religion in the Roman Empire and beyond, theology lost its missionary dimension” (Bosch 1991: 489).

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