Transformational missiology - an emerging trend in evangelical missiology in Asia : an analysis with reference to selected Asian writers
Beattie, Warren R.
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In the second half of the 20th century, global Christianity began to take on a new shape. The statistical centre of gravity of the church shifted and the church began to have a significant presence in the non-western world. There has been a growing interest in non-western churches, in their theology and missiology. This thesis addresses one branch of this nonwestern church, by selecting a group of Evangelical writers in Asia and considering their approach to missiology. The writers are Vinay Samuel (India), Vinoth Ramachandra (Sri Lanka), Hwa Yung and Ng Kam Weng (Malaysia) and Melba Maggay (Philippines). The study argues that the selected writers' approach to missiology can be described as transformational missiology. The thesis will adapt a framework developed by the non-western missiologist Samuel Escobar at the Iguassu consultation in Brazil in October 1999, to help set this approach to missiology in relation to other evangelical models in the post-World War II era. It will consider Escobar's categorizations of missiology, which look at the influence of European and North American missiology on non-western theologians. The thesis will suggest the need to take account of the concepts of "mission as transformation" and propose a modified framework as a constructive way of interpreting the selected writers approaches to missiology in Asia. The thesis will argue that the evangelical writers in Asia who favour transformational missiology do so as a function of both their Asian backgrounds and their Evangelical identity. The former encourages them to deal with the issues that the church faces in its Asian setting by forging an Asian Christian identity and developing forms of missiology that are appropriate for Asian contexts. Their evangelical heritage shapes the traditions of missiology that they draw on and influences how they use the Christian scriptures as a resource in theology. The thesis will consider how both their Asian and evangelical identities shape their approach to missiology and lead to the emphases of transformational missiology. This thesis highlights the contribution of Asian writers to evangelical missiology, and emphasizes that evangelicals in Asia are grappling with the demands of their Asian settings and are concerned about their Asian identity as they engage in missiological reflection. It argues that in transformational missiology, evangelicals in Asia are wrestling with forms of mission that relate closely to Asia, that create space for mission in Asia and that engage with Asian contexts. In particular, the study indicates that the selected writers are engaging with issues such as their global context, the multi-religious nature of Asian societies, nationbuilding, developing civil society and promoting just societies. The thesis is organised in three parts. Part one explores the opportunities and constraints that Christians in Asia face in the multi-religious setting and which necessitate the need to develop contextual forms of missiology and to forge Asian Christian identity. Part two critiques Escobar's framework for missiology, and shows how the Asian and evangelical backgrounds of the selected writers lead to their adoption of transformational missiology. Part three reviews and critiques transformational missiology in relation to the five selected writers, Asia and evangelicalism. This part suggests that the emphases of transformational missiology on Asian themes, the kingdom of God and community make it a flexible model of missiology for contemporary Asia.