Friday, February 23, 2007

Understanding David Bosch--Part 1

Bosch, David J. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1991.

As a reader living since the advent of the Emerging Church phenomenon, it is difficult to find Bosch’s work presenting anything new. However, pick up any book on the emerging church from Eddie Gibbs to Brian McLaren and one will find that David Bosch’s “emerging” postmodern paradigm is innumerably referenced to support their radically fresh ecclesiology. Though current theologies are rife with his ideas, in 1991, Bosch’s magnum opus emerged as a voice calling out in the wilderness preparing the church for a new paradigm of missions. According to his survey of the history of mission, he argues that “in light of a fundamentally new situation and precisely so as to remain faithful to the true nature of mission—mission must be understood and undertaken in an imaginatively new manner today” (367). However, rather than being a book of the history of missions, which it certainly includes, Transforming Mission is a book of theology. He making a persuasive argument for his Emerging Postmodern Paradigm. It is unfortunate that Bosch did not live to see how his influential ideas have been brought to life.

In Transforming Mission, Bosch takes on the gargantuan task of not only surveying in-depth the five previous paradigms in mission, but also of the task of presenting a new paradigm and trying to persuade readers to participate in it. He argues that the emerging mission paradigm is “the participation of Christians in the liberating mission of Jesus, wagering on a future that verifiable experience seems to belie. It is the good news of God’s love, incarnated in the witness of a community, for the sake of the world” (519). Much as the Great Commission formed the apex of the gospel of Matthew, Bosch’s detailed historical research and critical analysis leads up to these last sentences in his work.

He divides the book into three parts: New Testament Models of Mission; Historical Paradigms of Mission; and Toward a Relevant Missiology. Bosch’s incorporation of Kuhnian paradigms forms the backbone of his discussion. Though each part is relatively equal in size, Bosch devotes more space to the Biblical Paradigm and the Emerging Paradigm. However, one must read his proposal in light of his critiques of the Enlightenment Paradigm. His sixth paradigm is emerging from the Enlightenment paradigm and will stand in sharp contrast to it. Thus, by taking the two paradigms in tandem, the majority of the discussion, comprised of chapters 9–13, takes half the book. Nonetheless, primary to Bosch’s paradigm is his understanding of Jesus, the gospels and Acts, and Paul.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Do you approve, disapprove, or endeavor to remain objective?

What is Bosch's understanding of Jesus, the gospels and Acts, and Paul? And what does it mean when you say his understanding is primary to his paradigm?