I intend to use a contextual theological approach in doing this research. In order to facilitate such an approach, I will employ the “Praxis Cycle” as used and advocated by IUM (The Institute of Urban Ministry)1. This method was developed and contextualized, being based on the work of Holland and Henriot (1984), and adapted by Cochrane, De Gruchy & Petersen (1991), in the South African context.
6.1A contextual theological approach
The intention of devising a contextual theological approach is reflected in the theme of the thesis as “a contextual missiological study”. The starting point for such an approach lies in the fact that I have strong personal viewpoints and approaches when it comes to helping the poor and destitute.
18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.2 Following from this stems the viewpoint that we are sent today to continue this mission (John 20:21: “21Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”)3, and in that sense we are directly participating in the mission of Jesus, as well as in the Missio Dei. Both church and mission have their source in the loving will of God. The members of the Church, those who are called to be God's people, are the agents of mission. Through these "jars of clay" God carries out His plan for the world: “The church must regard herself as the carrier of the message to the world.” (Bosch 1991, 47)
In this regard the definition of “Missiology” as stipulated in the “Algemene sendingreglement” (General Missions Manifest) of the Dutch Reformed Church, is helpful. It states that mission is:
“Die handeling van die drie Enige God (Vader, Seun en Heilige Gees)
met die mens en die wêreld, waardeur Hy
(uit die ganse menslike geslag)
vir Hom ’n gemeente (deur Sy Woord en Sy Gees), vergader,
deur wie Hy Sy Woord laat verkondig (aan die gevalle wêreld),
die gemeenskap van die Heiliges tot stand bring, (uit alle nasies en volke), en diens laat lewer (aan die wêreld in sy nood),
tot die uitbreiding van God’s koninkryk tot met die voleinding.”
(Kritzinger, 1988, 36 – 38)
Dynamically translated, this statement defines missions as follows:
“Mission is an activity by the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) [thus the Missio Dei], with people and the world, through which He (from all of humanity), gathers for Himself a congregation (through His Word and Spirit), and through which He proclaims His Word (to the fallen world), through which He establishes the community of the Saints (from every nation), and through which He causes service to be done (to the world in need), to build the Kingdom of God until the end of all things.”
However, a problem created by this definition centres on the term “fallen world”. It almost seems as if we, the missionaries, bring God to the destitute, while it is often the other way around. We often find God already there when we engage them. The Missio Dei implies that it is God’s mission, He goes out in front of us, to meet us there. This makes mission a reciprocal activity. In this regard Lutheran missiologist James Scherer (1992:173) states:
. . .missiology's primary task is the study of the mission of the Triune God, and within that, of the mission of Jesus, the Apostles, the church(es), and mission-sending bodies. This means that missiology is the study of God's mission everywhere –– in all 6 continents, 'from everywhere to everywhere' –– certainly no longer concentrated on sending from the West.
Yet another viewpoint holds that the Bible lays a clear obligation on every believer to help the poor, including (on one side of the spectrum), direct personal and individual intervention, as well as (on the other side of the spectrum), advocating social justice as a means of addressing the plight of the poor in a broader sense. However, this obligation is perceived as a “journey with…”, and not a “journey to…”
Furthermore, in the footsteps of Abraham (1989:34), I define evangelism as initiating people into the kingdom of God. At the same time I feel very strongly about the concept “comprehensive salvation”.
Bosch (1991) takes the matter a step further in writing:
In a postmodern paradigm of mission and salvation, we need an interpretation of salvation which operates within a comprehensive christological framework, one which makes the totus Christus – his incarnation, death, resurrection and parousia indispensable for mission and theology. In the light of such a framework, it makes sense to identify the mediating of comprehensive and integral salvation/liberation as the purpose of mission in a way that overcomes the inherent dualism of both the traditional and modern models of salvation. We should find a way to move beyond every schizophrenic and reductionist position and minister to people in their total need, and we should be involved with individuals as well as with society, with both soul and body, and with the present and future in our ministry of salvation (Bosch 1991: 398-399).
I therefore make use of my personal missiology as a starting point for any intervention with the poor. To state this differently:
“It is because I love God that I want to become involved.
It is because God changed me that I must be involved.