Christian Mission Today: Are We on a Slippery Slope?
by Christopher Little
Editor’s note: This article is an expanded version of a paper that appeared in the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, January 2006.
25:2 Summer 2008•65
International Journal of Frontier Missiology
At first thought, such a question begs an obvious answer, but in reality, there is a growing divide among evangelicals today regarding the fundamental meaning, role, and purpose of Christian mission.
One should really not be surprised by this since the present debate is the inevitable consequence of powerful human forces at play over the past several centuries. It is widely recognized that our present era has been fashioned by the Enlightenment which was successful at dislodging God and placing humankind’s dignity, aspirations, values, and needs at the center of the universe. The church has not remained impervious to this far-reaching reconstruction. Whereas Protestant missionary ethos originally focused on the glory of God, in the nineteenth century it was “superseded by the emphasis on his love” which resulted in “yet another shift in motivation—from the depth of God’s love to the depth of fallen humanity’s pitiable state.” As such, God’s love was reduced to “patronizing charity” for those in the so-called undeveloped world (Bosch 1991:290).