Thoughts on mission [1]

I’ve been really enjoying Vincent J Donavan’s book “Christianity Rediscovered” about mission to the Masai communities in Tanzania in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The latest chapter contains some really interesting and challenging statements.  I thought I’d post a few of them with my thoughts and see if anyone wanted to come in with their opinion.

So the first is this…

[T]he gospel is the affair of the missionary, and the interpretation of the gospel is the affair of the people who hear that gospel.

It sounds…sensible, interesting, very different from how “mission” has traditionally been done, and has provoked in me a lot of questions!

  • Is this really ever a possibility?  Is it possible to preach/deliver/announce “the gospel” without simultaneously transmitting one’s own interpretation of it?  What is “the gospel” divorced from interpretation by tradition or personal experience?  Can it exist as a purely abstract concept?
  • How would this work out of the context of Donavan’s own experience?  He took the gospel to pagan Masai who had absolutely no knowledge of Christianity at all.  On the other hand the UK is essentially a post-Christian society.  Do different factors apply?
  • Who does this apply to?  Is anyone seeking to share their Christian faith with another a “missionary”?  Should we try to share “the” gospel with others, or “our” gospel?

So, agree?  Disagree?

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