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ព័ត៌មាននិងរឿងផ្សេងៗ

That They Will All Be One: The Transformative Potential of Ethnos, Phylē, Laos, and Glōssa for Global Missions Today

Jay Mātenga

Jay Mātenga is Executive Director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Mission Commission and Director of Missions Interlink New Zealand, the association of missions organisations and outreach ministries in Aotearoa New Zealand. Jay has a Doctorate of Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. His doctoral thesis, Mutuality of Belonging: Toward Harmonizing Culturally Diverse Missions Groups, has been published by ProQuest. He and Dr. Malcolm Gold have co-authored Mission in Motion: Speaking Frankly of Mobilization, which presents the findings of a global missions mobilisation research project for the WEA Mission Commission (William Carey). Jay self-publishes articles and presentation transcripts as well as blog post reflections through his website: jaymatenga.com.

Mission Round Table 18:3 (Oct-Dec 2023): 24-33

To read articles in this edition, visit this post on Mission Round Table 18:3.

Preface

In keeping with Māori customary protocol, I am obligated to locate myself, to establish from where I stand and under whose authority (that is, my family’s) I speak, as Māori. Since I identify most strongly with my father’s world, though I was brought up in my mother’s, what follows is my turangawaewae (standing place) in time and space…

Kō Takitimu te waka (my tribal canoe is the Takitimu). Kō Te Waka o Kupe me Tuhirangi ngā maunga (the mountains I belong to are known as the canoes of high chief Kupe and Tuhirangi, the sea serpent that Kupe chased along the Pacific in his discovery of Aotearoa New Zealand). Kō Ruamahanga te awa (my river is the Ruamahanga—it was in this river that I was baptised as a new believer in Christ in 1984). Kō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, kō Ngāti Porou, kō Kai Tahu ōku iwi (I have direct genealogical connections to these three tribes that span the East Coast of both the main islands of Aotearoa New Zealand). Kō Ngāti Rākaiwhakairi tōku hapū (my primary clan or family group name means to lift or hang in adornment). Kō Kohunui tōku marae (my clan’s customary meeting place is called Kohunui—a physical piece of land on the outskirts of the village of Pirinoa, shared by our family groups, with buildings for meeting/sleeping, cooking/eating, and keeping tools and supplies). Kō Jay Mātenga tōku ingoa (my name is Jay Mātenga), kō Aperahama Kuhukuhu Tui Mātenga tōku tupuna (descendent of Abraham Kuhukuhu Tui Mātenga). Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa (and so, three times respectful greetings to you all).

On my mother’s side, my English heritage can be traced back to the first settlers in Aotearoa New Zealand, with a Woiwurrung Aboriginal great, great grandmother (according to family oral history) from my maternal grandmother’s Australian line.

Introduction

The Creation by James Tissot (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons. Gouache on board, 20.7 × 24.6 cm.

We know well the song. The Great Creator sang the six verses of Let There Be, climaxing on the bridge where humans were crafted after the image of the Divine Persons. Humans were made compatible kinds, two unique entities with the ability and commission to reproduce after their kinds and spread throughout the created order—every pairing combination creating a distinctive other, all designated to nurture, guard, and grow creation. Then the tune takes a darker tone. A malevolent one enters the narrative, convincing the humans to disobey their Divine orders and unlock the ability to determine what is good and what is not. Immediately, they determined their nakedness was not good and, shortly thereafter, they came to understand the dire consequences of their disobedience. Cast out from the holy paradise they were created for, the next verse in the song tells of their first offspring killing his younger brother—because he determined it was good to do so. Like a wolf at the door, Sin revealed its hand, and Cain was banished from his land.

Descendants thereafter reproduced as ordained and, as they grew in number, they gathered into distinctive groups. Each determining their own vision of “the good life”—until God lamented ever creating them. Humanity was rebooted by a flood, then the clans that formed and joined in unholy collaboration after the reset were scattered by a supernatural confusion of languages. Yet even before the separation, each clan from the sons of Noah is identified by their mishpacha, lashon, eres, and goy—their kin, language, geography, and political organising structure. For Japheth, with the shorter lineage, the order is land, tongue, family, and nation. That Ham and Shem were to clash in the holy land as descendants of Canaan and Abraham could explain why they share the same order of tribe, language, people, and nation, whereas Japheth, potentially the father of the northern peoples (including Europeans) according to this song, remained distant from the biblical focal point in geography and language.

And with the Genesis 10 list of seventy progenitors, we have what is known as the “Table of Nations” as the lyricist wanted us to hear it. Seventy being numerically significant only insofar as it is indicative of a large number of descendants.[1] This symbolises the taproot of all the peoples of the earth. Verifiable by hard science or not, this list, which provides the whakapapa (lineage) of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has but one aim: to establish common origins. Tribal peoples the world over know this and value the importance of ancestral connections. For Māori, we are adrift without our whakapapa. It is a metaphysical umbilical cord from time immemorial connecting us to our reality in this world, to our people, linking us with a history, providing us with significance and purpose, and holding us to account for the days we spend on this side of eternity. Whakapapa reminds us that our forebears walk with us—in our imaginations and our genetics, but also as living witnesses on the other side of the veil between this life and the next—and we do well to honour them with lives well lived on this earth.

When Māori from different parts of our nation first come together in formal settings, we spend a great deal of time in conversation according to customary protocols. This introductory phase is called a pōwhiri. In my understanding of this word, it means to weave (whiri) the darkness () or our ignorance of one another, hosts and visitors, with the intention that we will eventually come to a place of mutual enlightenment, trust, and full inclusion in the host’s hospitality. A critical part of weaving relationships for Māori is to share our lineage back as far as we can, to see if we can find a common ancestor. Once found, it provides the basis for an enduring relationship. We discover that we are relatives. Long-term accords can be created. After all, as Jesus keenly observed, a “household divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25 NIV).

In this paper, I encourage us to invest in weaving the darkness, enlightening our ignorance of one another. Only then will we understand what Jesus prayed for in John 17 when he asked Matua e te Rangi (our Parent[2] in the highest place) “that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:21 NIV). We are, from the beginning of the song, of one origin, and it is to this integrated singularity[3] as the beloved people of God that we have returned through our allegiance to Christ. But it is not a homogeneous, integrated singularity. In-Christ, we do not cease to be distinct. Rather, as in John’s apocalyptic visions, we remain identifiable by our language, nation, tribe, and people. It is in the very tensions of this interplay of identities that we forge a new creation. The kingdom of God. Shalom. Harmony. Peace. But not as the world might imagine peace, and certainly not as the world tries to attain peace. It is not the absence of tensions because of our differences. Our integrated singularity as a holy people in-Christ is the result of the Holy Spirit tuning the tensions caused by our differences, shaping us into the full measure or maturity in-Christ (cf. Eph 4:13), transforming us individually and corporately into the people of God. Therein, the glory of God is displayed in all its fulness for the world to see, so that they may believe and know… and join our choir in the new song of creation.

1. A people from all nations

Missions studies has made much of the narrative that God is seeking to create a kingdom of people from all nations, but, until relatively recently, what such a kingdom might look like went largely unexamined. “But of course, it should look just as civilised as our culture,” says the colonial missionary. While that might sound untenable now, an overt aim of the so-called “modern” missionary movement was a conflation of “‘civilisation’ and the ‘spread of the gospel.’”[4] This culturally totalising assumption has only been challenged as the Protestant Church outside of the European diaspora started to mature and become more visible post-World War II. Granted, brave prophets from Majority World churches mark the pages of missions history prior,[5] but the globalisation and technological advancement of the latter half of the twentieth century have enabled the true influence of what is now accepted as World Christianity[6] to be felt by Protestants of European descent.

As post-colonial globalisation has done for the world, so it has had an effect on the global church and her missions. It has exposed the powers that be to an undeniable diversity, a plurality of perspectives on reality, all vying for validation within a world system that is (currently) dominated by Western capitalist industrialisation. What Scripture reports very broadly as tribes, languages, states, peoples, families, Gentiles, Barbarians, the ends of the earth, all nations, they, them, others, we now see in minute detail by scientific ethno-linguistic taxonomies. But, as the saying goes, it could be that we are “not seeing the forest for the trees.”

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9–10 NLT)

This is a grand eschatological vision often used by missions motivators to rally churches to the cause of cross-cultural ministry. It is viewed as an objective. God wants people from every nation and tribe and people and language worshipping around the throne as members of Christ’s body, the church. We have now mapped every nation and tribe and people and language, and, having identified them, we can specifically target how to reach them with the gospel in our responsibility to bring about this grand vision. But is it? Is this a target to be achieved or is it a prophecy that God will fulfil? You might imagine that they are synonymous—God will fulfil the prophecy through a church mobilised. But they are qualitatively two different things. A target to achieve by force of our canny will is anthropocentric, a prophecy awaiting fulfilment through obedience to God is theocentric—and we do well to ensure our missions are thoroughly centred on God’s mission rather than our clever strategies. The sovereignty of God is all.

San Giovanni evangelista a Patmos [John the Apostle on Patmos] by Jacopo Vignali (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.
Revelation 7:9 is but one of seven different ways that John uses a group of four categories to describe all the people of the earth: five instances include ethnos (nations), phylē (tribe), laos (people), and glōssa (language), but each time in a different order (out of a possibility of twenty-four different sequences). Two additional sets substitute tribe (kinship group, often signifying the people of God) for kings and multitudes respectively. Here, they are in the order they appear in Revelation (the underlines highlight the substitute for tribes):

  1. … you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9 NLT)
  2. … a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9 NLT)
  3. … I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.” (Revelation 10:11 NLT)
  4. … for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will stare at their bodies. No one will be allowed to bury them. (Revelation 11:9 NLT)
  5. … the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. (Revelation 13:7 NLT)
  6. … angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world (i.e., the earth/land)—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (Revelation 14:6 NLT)
  7. … the angel said to me, “The waters where the prostitute is ruling represent masses of people of every nation and language.” (Revelation 17:15 NLT)

Scholars agree that John uses these sets of four very intentionally; it is not authorial randomness (as my usage is!). There is something John intends the readers to understand about his reference to the people of the world and the people of our God, and it has deep missiological implications. In his book, The Climax of Prophecy, Richard Bauckham notices this and rearranges the order to better draw out significance from the sets for the saving of the nations. He leaves out Revelation 10:11, arguing that it represents John’s commission to speak a message to the entire human world, which is reinforced by the other references; and because Bauckham views them as hermeneutical keys, he adds Revelation 1:7,[7] 15:4,[8] and 21:3[9] to group the passages into these three sets of three (quoting from NLT):

Christ’s Sacrifice

Revelation 1:7 “all the nations of the world will mourn for him”

Revelation 5:9 “tribe and language and people and nation”

Revelation 13:7 “tribe and people and language and nation”

Worship

Revelation 7:9 “nation and tribe and people and language”

Revelation 14:6 “nation, tribe, language, and people”

Revelation 15:4 “All nations will come and worship”

Cities (Babylon surrendering to the New Jerusalem)

Revelation 11:9 “all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations”

Revelation 17:15 “masses of people of every nation and language”

Revelation 21:3 “God’s home is now among his people!”

In sum, Baukham argues that

The pattern therefore indicates that (1) the Lamb by his sacrifice will win the allegiance of the nations which are now impressed by the bogus sacrifice of the beast; (2) the nations which now worship the beast will be won, through the witness of the martyrs, to the worship of God; (3) the nations which now serve Babylon will become, through the witness of the martyrs, God’s peoples with whom he will be present in the New Jerusalem.

Thus it becomes clear that, although the fourfold phrase is not itself used to describe the nations as converted and included in the kingdom of God, it is always used with this transfer of the nations from the beast’s rule to God’s in view. This is also implicit in the relationship of the phrase to the key verse Daniel 7:14.[10]

Baukham, however, believes that the pattern defends a universalist fulfilment of Old Testament aspirations, in that the nations will be saved due to the witness of, rather than solely as part of, the church. Thus, viewing the church (the suffering ones) as more of a utility in God’s hands, rather than the totality of the population in eternity. Therefore, while his patterning is helpful, his concluding thesis is unacceptable to Evangelicals. It dismisses salvation by faith in Christ alone (requiring allegiance and regeneration), by separating those who are saved to eternity into two camps: those who have suffered for their faith in Christ this side of eternity and the nations who eventually submit (under duress?) to Christ’s rule and “get there” in the end. His view deals well with connecting John’s revelation to Old Testament prophecy but seems to neglect the New Testament twist on the fulfilment of those prophecies in Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit indwelling followers of Christ as essential to the formation of new creation. In an Evangelical reading, Scripture is quite clear that only in-Christ (through faith) are we being transformed into and will be transformed for new creation. The great transfer from Babylon (this world/darkness) to New Jerusalem (new creation/light) happens as God’s people increase in number due to the attractive faithful witness of the suffering church, rather than a final moment of defeat and surrender of the nations.

That corrective established, Bauckham helpfully provides insight regarding numerical symbolism before he closes his chapter on the conversion of the nations. Throughout his work, he draws numerical symbolism from the Old Testament, especially the prophets and apocalyptic literature, into his interpretation of John’s revelation. In particular, the “symbolism of the sevenfold use of the fourfold phrase… this number 28 (7 for completeness x 4 for the world) indicates that the phrase refers to all the nations of the whole world.”[11]

While the ordering of the fourfold phrase differs for John’s narrative purposes, the main point is struck: the purposes of God are for the totality of human inhabitants of the earth throughout space and time and without exception. Whether viewed as nations, states, tribes, language groups, ethnicities, cultures, families, affinities, in-groups or out-groups, everyone is included, and no one should be excluded from the opportunity to respond to the good news that “the God of Israel reigns” (Isaiah 52:7 NLT) in Christ, whether they accept God’s purposes or not—a decision that will determine their access to new creation.

2. New creation from all nations

To this point in the paper, any Evangelical with exposure to cross-cultural missions might wonder why I am bothering to put so much effort into confirming what we have long known—the gospel is for all peoples. This has been a core motivator since the modern missionary movement began in the late 1700s. As we moved into the late twentieth century, Townsend,[12] McGavran,[13] Winter,[14] Barrett,[15] Johnstone,[16] et al., drew our attention to ever more narrowly defined differences in people groups around the world. Since then, we have been better able to identify groups of people for whom the gospel is not yet readily accessible, promoting this as an urgent need in order to draw resources to see them “reached”—people from (or out of)[17] every tribe, language, people, and nation becoming God’s people. From Genesis 10 to Daniel 7 to Revelation and numerous references in between, it is clear that we are to “Publish his glorious deeds among the nations, tell[ing] everyone about the amazing things he does” (Psalm 96:3 NLT). “We” are to tell “them.”

But from this point forward, we shift from thinking of every tribe, language, people, and nation as the scope of our missions activities, to every tribe, language, people, and nation becoming participants in our missions activities. It is one thing to view the language of all the nations in Scripture as “them,” like trees of all kinds (cf. Ezek 47:12), it is quite another to realise they are now “us,” the forest of Lebanon that is the people of God (cf. Ps 104:16). This shift strikes deep into our core missiological assumptions, and it is imperative for our understanding of God’s mission that we comprehend the implications. Unless we fully embrace the New Testament vision for a culturally diverse people of God as a witness to the nations, we will blindly stumble along with our ethnocentric plans—well-meaning though they be—and miss God’s strategy for bringing people out of the pluralities that make up Babylon into the diverse integrated singularity that is New Jerusalem, an entire world of peoples into a multi-racial new creation.

Churches. New Jerusalem by Aristarkh Lentulov (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.

The foundational ethic of the new reality we enter in-Christ is love, as Scripture defines God’s love. Perhaps the best snapshots we have of this ethic can be found in Galatians 5:22–23 and 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. I believe these two passages link together due to Paul’s example of the (singular) fruit of the Spirit prioritising love in the Greek, so the fruit of the Spirit passage is better rendered with a colon following love.[18] In other words, “the fruit of the Spirit is love: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23 NIV, punctuation mine). In addition, Paul frequently provides contrasting sets of virtues, comparing those of the world (under law) and those of the kingdom (under grace in-Christ).[19] Galatians 5:22–23 is set in contrast to this dark list…

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21. Italics mine.)

Punctuation in English translations of Scripture are at the interpretative discretion of the translator, since it does not exist as such in the original Hebrew or Greek, but, in this case, the semicolons help us to separate out a cluster of “works of the flesh” (KJV) that are particularly damaging to the community of faith. All sin is relationally destructive—that is how the Bible views the purpose of Sin as a malevolent force—but the italicised attributes listed can be particularly vile in this regard. A word for the church in our times: there is no place for such behaviour in God’s shalom reality.

One would think that, bestowed with such a precious gift as God’s love coursing through our being as a result of our faith in Christ, Christian communities would be spaces of blessed union, a utopia of understanding, lacking any hint of strife. They clearly are not. There is the hypothesised ideal, and then there is the lived reality. We do not have to participate in Christian groups long before we experience factions, self-interest, control, abuses, ideological differences, polarising extremes, racism, manipulation, exploitation, self-righteousness, judgementalism… division. Such divisions are bad enough within a homogeneous community, such as the Jewish churches to whom James wrote, let alone multi-cultural communities that are increasingly the experience of our missions groups and cosmopolitan churches. People coming together from all tribes, nations, peoples, and languages only amplifies tensions between followers of Christ—but they also maximise the potential for maturity in-Christ.

Dismissing division with the argument that we are living in a “now/not-yet” kingdom reality while we wait for Jesus’ second coming and our resurrection to sort it all out or pretending that there is some sort of spiritualised “hidden unity” that transcends our squabbles that will be revealed when Jesus returns, sells the gospel short. It corrupts the surest and most certain witness for which we are sent into the world: our communal existence in-Christ as an integrated singularity (cf. John 17:18–26). In our communal life together, we carry the responsibility to activate God’s love in our relationships and manifest it in the world. It does not happen automatically. As Richard Longenecker notes in his Galatians commentary,

combined with the givenness of these virtues by God (the love list of Gal. 5:22–23) is the believer’s active involvement in expressing them in his or her own lifestyle—or as Paul puts it pointedly a couple verses later: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (v25).[20]

In step with the Spirit, we must aspire to, and work towards, harmony on this side of eternity as our primary missions strategy, our part in God’s plan to lead people out of Babylon into New Jerusalem “until the full number of Gentiles [every tribe, language, people, and nation] comes to Christ” (Romans 11:25b NLT). But it is not a harmony made of forced homogeneity, where some illusory “Christian worldview” exists as the conforming and validating standard.

As the church has spread throughout all the earth and grown such that the majority of Christians now dwell outside of the boundaries of Eurocentric Christianity, the emancipation of indigenous theologies, assisted by the emergence of what is now studied as World Christianity, has now burst that illusion.[21] The Eurocentric theological consensus[22] is no longer the grand arbiter of what is or is not acceptable in Christian faith and practice. Rather, biblically faithful, localised theologies, in conversation with the global church (including the church throughout history) lead us forward as God’s people from every language, tribe, people, and nation into new creation. Each representative is distinct, all integrated, together singular.

Harmony is a significant aspiration for Indigenous[23] peoples, of which I am one. As we read Scripture, we see harmony throughout. Shalom is too easily translated “peace”, but it is arguably better interpreted as harmony. If the kingdom of God is the fulfilment of the prophetic promise of a shalom socio-spiritual reality, as I believe it is, then peace, shalom, harmony, unity, rest, etc., become synonymous. When Jesus offered his disciples the gift of peace (εἰρήνη eirēnē, John 14:27), he was offering more than the cessation of hostility or a state of tranquillity and ease, while those are ultimately part of it. It is clear from the following passages in John that Jesus was offering inclusion in a loving, integrated singularity that is recognised in Scripture by many metaphors, like a kingdom, a city, a body, a family, a sheepfold, a bride, or—as Jesus explains immediately following his offer of peace—like a vine. We commonly refer to these metaphors as examples of unity in Christ, local expressions of which we know as “churches” or “fellowships,” including those groups that gather in missionary service. In the climax of John 17:18–26, which I call “The Great Commitment,” Jesus prays that we will all become part of the One in-Christ, who is in God, who is in Christ, who is in us… so that the world will believe (that is, find credible), and know (that is, experience) that Jesus was lovingly sent to bring about new creation.

How, then, are we to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3)? First, we need to move away from thinking of unity as agreement or even agreeing to disagree. Unity is not forced conformity, we know this; but it is also not just a live and let live avoidance. Next, we need to accept that unity comes from being willing to submit our perceived rights, privileges, and power in loving service to others. To yield, to give way, and to give away. As living sacrifices. Not passively, but with a deep curiosity to understand where those who are getting under our skin are coming from—and, God willing, to allow such encounters to mature us, little bit by little bit, into the fulness of Christ. To be transformed by the renewing of our mind in such communal co-existence, as we see in Romans 12:1–2.

Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples by Albert Edelfelt. Oil on cardboard, grisaille, 58 x 47 cm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.

To borrow Paul’s terminology in Philippians 2, where Jesus—knowing who he was—chose to lay it aside. This sacrificial love in action—our being living sacrifices—is a kenotic exchange. And it only works when it is reciprocated. We are to be mutual servants of one another within our communities of faith, extended out into our societies. And, furthermore, the greater the diversity in our midst, the greater the maturity we develop. James tells us (James 1:2–4) that we should consider it joy when others within the faith cause us trouble, because if we sit in the tensions of difference (holding to the faith), persevering, we will mature. James, writing to Jewish believers, was not referring to external pressures as trials, testings, troubles, or temptations, but tensions within the fellowship. This is clear from the rest of the letter in which he calls out relationally destructive behaviour among them. Before he does so though, he establishes a vision of a beneficial future if only we persevere in the faith—in the belief that in-Christ harmony is possible. If we do this over time, it will produce maturity. If this is a positive vision of benefit within a monocultural group of believers, imagine the blessed maturity developed if we process tensions well in a multi-cultural group—the expectation of such an outcome should fill us with overwhelming joy!

If we are to manifest new creation from all nations, we simply must shift our posture from defence to deference. To have the same attitude as Christ (cf. Phil 2:5), to stop guarding our preferences, power, and privilege, but instead to yield and serve. This is what it means to be in-Christ. A better rendering of the Greek in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (TBFE) is “if anyone is in the Messiah, there is a new creation! Old things have gone, and look – everything has become new!”[24] In this translation, Tom Wright adds “there is a” for English readers but the Greek simply associates being in Christ with new creation. It is not so much that we are created anew as individuals, but that we enter a new reality as individuals who are being transformed by the Spirit within the context(s) of Christ’s new covenant community/ies. Maturity, or metamorphosis (transformation), happens inter-relationally, co-creating new creation reality.

Reading with Indigenous eyes, Romans 12:1–2 makes this quite clear. If they are anything like me, collectivist-oriented readers of Scripture will be sensitive to communal implications throughout the Epistles, and this is one of those texts where a decolonising of our theology can help us see what Paul means with greater clarity. An Industrial (see endnote 23) reading places the individual believer’s posture before God as the living sacrifice, with the assumption that transformation emerges from the private devotion of said believer. But this could not be more disjointed from the rest of Romans 12 where Paul speaks of the need to, in love, make way for each other’s unique giftedness. Rather, the living sacrifice to which Paul refers is the “kenotic” self-giving of ourselves to one another in covenantal community as the body of Christ. This is acceptable worship, in honour of all that God has done for us. Then, it is through our interactions within the fellowship of male, female, eunuch, Jew, Greek, Barbarian, slave, free, rich, poor, husbands, wives, young, old, etc., that we are transformed/matured by our learning from one another and making space for each other to flourish as God has gifted each of us, empowered by the Spirit who is love. Cross-cultural missions groups and multi-cultural fellowships are beacons of grace in this regard. This is non-conformance with the customs of this world, which loves to distinguish, divide, separate “their kind” from “our kind,” suppress, and dominate.

In these mutually submissive relationships, we are all transformed. This perpetual inter-relational state of Holy Spirit-empowered reconciled mutuality is where we come to know and do the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God, which (according to my anchor Scripture of John 17:18–26) is the pursuit of a loving integrated singularity—harmonious relationships. But the thing we must realise is that nowhere in the natural (and, I suggest, supernatural) realms can harmony be produced without resonant tension. Shalom unity is tension held in balance—tuned if you will. We need to normalise tension, instead of trying to dissolve it, resolve it, ignore it, or avoid it. Consider it cause for great joy, for it is in the tensions that we are transformed… if we process them well.

3. Co-creation with all nations

Ethiopian missiologist Mekdes Haddis published a book titled A Just Mission.[25] In it, she tackles the dark side of missions as a colonial enterprise, dominated by the West, that supresses the ability for “the rest” to fully engage in God’s mission. Her positionality is as a black, migrant woman in the context of a racially divided United States of America, calling out the injustice of white supremacy in the global missions enterprise. The white American missions commentator and author Brad Vaughan (who formerly appropriated the Asian-influenced pseudonym, “Jackson Wu”) called Haddis’ book “the most dangerous mission book in a generation” and embraced comments that labelled Haddis’ concerns as a “rant.”[26] Journalist Christy Hemphill joined Haddis’ defence on Twitter and then released an article titled, “‘A Just Mission’ Is Only Dangerous When You Don’t Know How to Listen.”[27]

Material written by Indigenous believers pushing back against Industrial hegemony is often polemical but rarely a rant. It may be perceived so because the text is written from the perspective of pain. Add to Haddis recent decolonising missions critiques from people such as Randy Woodley (Native North American),[28] Harvey Kwiyani (Malawian),[29] or even the anthology of Indigenous critiques of short-term missions compiled by Inslee and Burns,[30] and you will find a similar tone of frustration if not anger. Namibian Reinhold Titus, Chief Strategy and Inclusion Officer in Operation Mobilisation (OM), conducted research among senior missions leaders from Africa for an MA thesis at Redcliffe College. Reinhold’s respondents testified to the struggles they experienced in missions prior to and since taking on leadership responsibilities. Their experience of systemic injustice in missions mirrors the concerns of Haddis, Woodley, Kwiyani, et al. In his interviews, all respondents noted barriers to inclusion (read: active participation at a decision-making level) due to the Western origins, administrative systems, and (often unspoken) expectations of those in control of their organisations. Among the quotes Reinhold includes are these:

the systems that were established, and also even the structures at times, and the processes were so culturally loaded in a Western mindset and worldview that it just makes it almost impossible for others to work through the same processes and systems in order to be part of the organisation… I think by nature of being founded by Western agency, there was already a set of lenses as to… who would be leading who… the ground is tilted.[31]

Expressions of frustration and experiences of injustice can be emotive, but they have good reason to be, and it should not be so easily dismissed. The work of scholars such as Willie James Jennings[32] or Jehu Hanciles,[33] who write with a more restrained academic note, seem to garner less pushback. But they may also make less of an impact because they do not strike as close to home for those who hold dominant positions in missions institutions. Like Majority World authors before them, such as John Mbiti or Lamin Sanneh (to name pitifully few), these more abstract works are easier to ringfence in the realm of the academy or ignore altogether. However, when someone points out the injustices of a system within which you are privileged, it becomes threatening and personal. The reaction can be visceral. It can seem as if the critics are undermining your very identity, presenting an existential crisis. They certainly present a threat to the established “business proposition” of the missions arms of the “Christian-industrial complex”[34] that relies on donors believing the best about missionary service, especially from the “West to the rest.”

As the saying goes, “When America sneezes, the world catches a cold.”[35] And so it seems with what has come to be known as the “culture wars” and race relations as an aspect of that. The ferment originating in the USA is now influencing global conversations and global missions more than any time prior to 2020.[36] Sadly, emotionally-charged terminologies are now being applied to the conversation that I do not believe will help us to navigate our way forward as an integrated singularity for the benefit of God’s mission. Terms like “whiteness”[37] amplify skin colour as a differentiating factor, even though proponents like Willie Jennings claim that the appropriation of a colour is “not simply… a marker of the European but as the rarely spoken but always understood organizing conceptual frame.”[38] More recently, he clarified that “‘whiteness’ does not refer to people of European descent but to a way of being in the world and seeing the world that forms cognitive and affective structures able to seduce people into its habitation and its meaning making.”[39] Yet, it is undeniable that a pale skin colour provides easier access to the privileges of such a system—this is my lived experience as a fair skinned Māori. As Jennings goes on to elaborate, we need to create better spaces for broader belonging, and that means greater equitability. The problem is, “when you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”[40]

Race is but one signifier of the differences between tribes, languages, people, and nations. It is imposed upon us by scientific enquiry. François Bernier (1625–1688) is believed to have developed the first comprehensive classification of humans into distinct races,[41] and researchers of human groups have reclassified us in myriad ways ever since—including missions demographers.[42] We do well, however, to remember how relatively recent skin-colour classification became a defining factor. Historian Thomas Gossett notes that

before the eighteenth century physical differences among peoples were so rarely referred to as a matter of great importance that something of a case can be made for the proposition that race consciousness is largely a modern phenomenon. What is certain is that the tendency to seize upon physical differences as the badge of innate mental and temperamental differences is not limited to modern times. The racism of ancient history, even though it had no science of biology or anthropology behind it, was real, however ever difficult it may be for us to judge the extent of its power.[43]

If it is not one thing, it is another. Prejudice emerges in myriad ways. It is core to the Sin-effect at work in human beings, our capacity to judge what is good and punish that which we determine to be not good. This is why we need Jesus,

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles [read: from every tribe, people, language, and nation] into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us (Eph 2:14 NLT).

Our struggle is not an issue of white supremacy; it is an issue of any dominant-group supremacy—Ephesians 6:12 playing out in our midst. It is about supernatural power. Anything that would seek to divide, to undermine, to tear down relationships is doing the work of the enemy to destroy the shalom of God. And, to the core of my being, I do not believe authors such as Haddis, Woodley, Kwiyami, and Titus are seeking to tear apart anything. Critiques of missions from Majority World commentators that I know personally are deeply concerned for bringing about a corrective to strengthen unity, not destroy it. Harmony demands such tension. Too much force of influence (or dominant control) and you oppress, too much resistance is rebellion (which, if successful, too easily becomes the oppressor), but, if held in balanced tension, you have potential for new creation. This is the way of all healthy relationships.

Perhaps the best analogy to apply is that of two distinct parents creating a unique third person. Māori call this whakapapa, from which we derive our concept of lineage or genealogy. But the principle is much broader. It is the co-creation of something new from the unique blend of two or more pre-existent entities. Māori scholar Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal explains whakapapa as a scientific method this way:

Whakapapa is an analytical tool traditionally employed by Māori to understand… the nature of phenomena, the origin of phenomena, the connections and relationships to phenomena, describing trends in phenomena, locating phenomena, extrapolating and predicting future phenomena… Whakapapa is a way of organising information into a coherent form.[44]

It is about mapping relationships and determining how to multiply them for positive effect. As Royal goes on to say, “Whakapapa… is concerned with growth rather than deconstruction.”[45] More than co-existence, an Indigenous concern is for promoting mutual vitality. Always. From a Māori perspective, the impulse of the universe is always generative. Life creating life. After the sixth verse of creation, the Great Creator may have rested but the song continues, and we have both inherited and participate in creation ongoing. Even better, in-Christ we are generating new creation, together.

Contrary to the aberrant theologies that argue for the preservation of the distinctives of every tribe, language, people, and nation, which provide the source for cultural supremacies such as apartheid,[46] the arc of Scripture leads us to a new type of being, generated from the combination of our distinctives. At the turn of the century, missions leader Paul-Gordon Chandler observed that

the richness of living among Christians of other nationalities, within their respective cultures, cannot be overvalued. These opportunities of learning from other cultural expressions of the Christian faith are unique and beautiful windows on God and the displaying of his character.[47]

But they also allow God to bring each one of us into greater alignment with that character “so that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (Eph 4:13 NLT). That we are transformed by our relationships is being proven by the science of interpersonal neurobiology. Dan Siegel, Professor of Psychiatry, has found that “human connections shape neural connections, and each contributes to the mind [our personhood]…”[48] Add a cross-cultural aspect to those relationships, and the transformation runs even deeper, as intercultural specialist Joseph Shaules observes:

Foreign experiences make possible a process of deep cultural learning, one that can make us aware of the cultural configuration of our unconscious mind, and make us more effective interculturally. This learning process can be experienced in negative ways—such as culture shock or cross-cultural misunderstanding—but it also can stimulate personal growth and provoke deep-seated changes in our perception, worldview, and identity.[49]

Could dwelling with one another in the tensions of our difference be the antidote to prejudice, especially as it emerges in the form of racism? Social scientist Gordon Allport believed so and his thesis is being consistently proven.[50] Rutger Bregman summarises:

After years of research, he’d [Allport] found a miracle cure. Or at least he thought he had. What was it? Contact. Nothing more, nothing less. The American scholar suspected that prejudice, hatred and racism stem from a lack of contact. We generalise wildly about strangers because we don’t know them.[51]

While he did not include a “God-factor” in the equation, Allport confirmed that the more time we spend with people who are different from us, the less we are likely to treat them as “other” and exclude them or, worse, dehumanise and persecute them. Time spent with others breeds understanding, empathy—it weaves the darkness of ignorance into enlightenment. Moreover, as we now know from neuroscience, it transforms each participant in the process. Add the Holy Spirit into this mix, and the benefits of this transformative process within the new covenant in-Christ take on biblical proportions… “the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Cor 3:18b). As we dwell together in-Christ—every tribe, language, people, and nation—we are, quite literally, co-creating new creation. The old is past, the new has come.

Conclusion

The case is made for a fresh eschatological vision of the purposes of God. A vision of a people for God from every people, nation, tribe, and language—diverse, unique, yet contributing every facet of their uniqueness to the loving integrated singularity that is the New Jerusalem that has come out of heaven in Jesus Christ to make God’s dwelling place forever with humanity. Our petty rivalries deny our true citizenship. Our defence of privilege prohibits us from stepping into greater blessing. Our allegiance to the moralities of political preference and culturally-derived doctrines traumatise relationships and offend the transcendent ethic of God-in-Christ that is biblically defined and Jesus-exemplified as loving-kindness. Residual Sin continues its impulse to destroy relationships, but such behaviour is beneath us, unbecoming of new creation.

One day Jesus will return. The enemy will be vanquished. Death and Sin will be no more. New creation will be established in glorious fulness, and we will be eternally free to love more intimately and grow more magnificently than we can ask or imagine (cf. Eph 3:20). In the meantime, we remain on this side of eternity, commissioned as suffering witnesses to the glorious plan of God for every language, tribe, nation, and people. Suffering, struggling against the ruling principles, authoritative assumptions, and natural powers of this world, to be sure, but also in the tensions of our own differences—all of which are affected by “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12b). We will overcome them “by the blood of the lamb” (Rev 12:11 NIV)—which metaphorically and spiritually ties us together as one family made up of many families—and the word of our testimony: that “dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations” (Ps 22:28 NIV). And because the world sees evidence of it in our loving, integrated singularity, our covenantal communion in-Christ, a peace that the world cannot give, that world will believe and know that the Son was sent to “make all things new” (Rev 21:5 KJV). And the song of creation continues.

Sing a new song to the Lord,

for he has done wonderful deeds.

His right hand has won a mighty victory;

his holy arm has shown his saving power!

The Lord has announced his victory

and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!

He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.

The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth;

break out in praise and sing for joy!

Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,

with the harp and melodious song,

with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.

Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King!

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!

Let the earth and all living things join in.

Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!

Let the hills sing out their songs of joy

before the Lord,

for he is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with justice,

and the nations with fairness.

(Psalm 98 NLT)

 

Questions for reflection

  1. This paper begins by introducing some Maori practices, including introductory conversations intended to bring about “mutual enlightenment, trust, and full inclusion in the host’s hospitality.” How do introductions within your home culture serve to bring people into relationship? What form do they take? How effective are they? How do introductions within your host culture serve to bring people into relationship? What form do they take? How effective are they?
  2. What will happen to our practice of mission if we “shift from thinking of every tribe, language, people, and nation as the scope of our missions activities” to thinking of them “becoming participants in our missions activities”? How does this impact our theology and practice of mission?
  3. How can missionaries today address the relationships between people with power and those without to balance the tension so that unity and vitality can develop? How can developing a deep knowledge of people who are different from us help us grow personally, culturally, and Christianly?

 

This submission has not been published previously as a whole, either in print or electronically, nor is it before any other journal or publisher for consideration. Some aspects may appear in articles from previous presentations self-published at jaymatenga.com as they relate to developing ideas around mutuality of belonging as a missions motif.

 

[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 115, Word Biblical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 335. Kindle ed.

[2] Matua in te reo Māori (Māori language) is non-gendered. It can refer to either father or mother. This helps us to avoid limiting our understanding of Jesus’ Abba according to modern patriarchal tropes.

[3] I use “integrated singularity” to disrupt assumptions we all have concerning our understanding of “unity”, which more often than not infers absence of conflict or some level of conformity with a group’s consensus. The Greek word John uses for Jesus’ prayer (John 17) is εἷς (heis), the numeral one—something that cannot be divided: singular. This is all the more perplexing because Jesus is speaking of more than one, so it is an ‘integrated singularity’ of many participants. I am conscious of contemporary scientific use of singularity as a concept, but that ought to strengthen the point. Artificial Intelligence reaches a singularity when its myriad data sources are fully integrated into a singular entity. A black hole is known as a singularity because it absorbs all matter that comes within its gravity. The many become integrated into one. In John 17, the implication is that the many disciples become singular in-Christ, under the will of God.

[4] David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in the Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2011), 296. Or, even worse, a conflation of “the ‘three C’s’ of Christianity, commerce and civilisation.” Bosch, Transforming Mission, 305.

[5] Consider, for example, Bishop Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah of the Diocese of Dornakal in south-eastern India, one of only nineteen representatives from the Majority World at the 1200-strong World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh 1910. When asked to speak at a side-meeting, Azariah pushed back against supposed colonial superiority, lamenting a “great lack of frank intercourse and friendliness” toward Majority World believers, accusing the missionaries that “too often you promise us thrones in heaven, but will not offer us chairs in your drawing rooms.” Brian Stanley, The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 124.

[6] “‘World Christianity’ is the movement of Christianity as it takes form and shape in societies that previously were not Christian, societies that had no bureaucratic tradition with which to domesticate the gospel. In these societies Christianity was received and expressed through the cultures, customs, and traditions of the people affected. World Christianity is not one thing, but a variety of indigenous responses through more or less effective local idioms, but in any case without necessarily the European Enlightenment frame.” Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity?: The Gospel Beyond the West (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 22.

[7] “Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!” (Rev 1:7 NLT)

[8] “All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous deeds have been revealed.” (Rev 15:4 NLT)

[9] “God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” (Rev 21:3 NLT)

[10] Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993), 336.

[11] Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 336.

[12] See, for example, William Cameron Townsend, A Thousand Trails: Personal Journal of William Cameron Townsend 19171919 Founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators (Grand Rapids: CREDO, 1985).

[13] See, for example, Donald Anderson McGavran, Bridges of God: A Study in the Strategy of Missions (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2005).

[14] Influence best found in Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Pasadena, CA: William Carey, 2009).

[15] Best known for, David B. Barrett, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, A.D. 19002000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).

[16] In addition to various editions of Operation World, Johnstone is more recently known for, Patrick Johnstone, The Future of the Global Church: History, Trends and Possibilities (Downers Grove: IVP, 2011).

[17] Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:1–2; and Zechariah 8:20, among many other references, speak of people from the nations that are “not Israel” coming to worship the Lord. In Ephesians 2:15, Paul, collapsing these peoples as Jews did under the rubric of “Gentiles,” shows that God’s intention was always to graft people from every nation into the Abrahamic blessing, via acceptance of the new covenant sealed with Jesus’ blood. It is beyond the scope of this paper to argue further for an “open exclusivist” view of salvation, in contrast to Bauckham’s universalism, but the narrative arc of Scripture that accepts the supernatural elements of the New Testament whereby the Holy Spirit (only internally available to those allegiant to Christ) is a necessary agent for resurrection to eternal life, is hard to dismiss—impossible for an Evangelical. As is made clear in 1 Corinthians 15:23, resurrection is for those “who belong to Christ” (NLT) but everyone is invited to belong if they will.

[18] In his commentary on Galatians, Richard Longenecker notes: “if there is an emphasis in this list of nine items, it is probably to be seen in the first item, ἀγάπη (“love”), for that is where in a Greek structure one would expect to find anything being stressed.” Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, Word Biblical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), Kindle Loc. 13393–13395. This view is supported by Leon Morris who, in addition, notes that “we are called to live in love, in love for God, in love for one another, and in love for all.” Leon Morris, New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2010), Kindle Loc. 1529 of 8495, The Way of Love.

[19] As if you needed further evidence against a universalist consummation of this age, here Paul is very clear that those without the regenerative power of the Spirit, which produces God’s love in the believer, will simply not be included as part of new creation.

[20] Longenecker, Galatians, 259, or Kindle Loc. 13362 of 18868.

[21] I deal with this theme in greater detail in “The Blessing of Diversity: Benefits of the Emancipation of Indigenous Theologies in Light of the Emergence of World Christianity,” Anvil: Journal of Theology and Mission 39, no. 1 (2023): 6–17, https://churchmissionsociety.org/anvil/the-blessing-of-diversity-jay-matenga-anvil-vol-39-issue-1/ (accessed 4 October 2023).

[22] While there is a wide variety of theological expression in the theologies of the European diaspora, there is a generally cohesive commitment to what is considered to be normative Evangelical theology. I have coined “Eurocentric theological consensus” to capture that normative theological rubric. I don’t specify Evangelical because the norms arise from systematic and reformed theologies that may better reflect an ecumenical commitment, but are nonetheless Eurocentric. The term was influenced by Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100–600) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), as well as the four successive volumes where he deals with the development of theological consensuses over time.

[23] I hold to the United Nations’ definition of indigenous, with a lower case i, but I capitalise it when distinguishing between Indigenous and Industrial as two distinct, global, epistemic ecosystems intersecting and overlapping on a spectrum, similar to the Collectivist and Individualist value sets continuum developed by industrial psychology researchers like Geert Hofstede. I capitalise Indigenous when referring to people who have a dominant collectivist orientation (Majority World, Global South, Developing World, people of colour, etc), and upper-case Industrial refers to those more inclined to be Individualist (Western, Modern, First World, white, etc). This is a simplified explanation, but, properly understood, these terms helpfully enable reference to large groups of people according to shared innate values, wherever they live, more than some arbitrary geographic or economic identity. For example, “Global South” makes no sense to us who live “down under,” and Majority World typically includes Latin America which I would classify as Eurocentrically Industrial, but closer to the Indigenous end of the spectrum than, say, England or Germany.

[24] John Goldingay and Tom Wright, The Bible for Everyone (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2018), 2 Corinthians 5:17.

[25] Mekdes Haddis, A Just Mission: Laying Down Power and Embracing Mutuality (Downers Grove: IVP, 2022).

[26] Brad Vaughan, then writing under the pseudonym Jackson Wu, since pulled his 31 January 2023 review of Haddis’ book and replaced it with something of an apology which can be found here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jacksonwu/2023/01/31/this-is-the-most-dangerous-mission-book-in-a-generation-seriously/ (accessed 20 April 2023). Vaughan’s critique drew much attention on Twitter, where it was also revealed that he was a white American writing under the guise of an Asian, which was further deemed to be disingenuous. As a result of the Twitter furore, Vaughan conceded to revert to his real name and IVP are committed to altering the author name on at least some of his titles.

[27] Christy Hemphill, “‘A Just Mission’ is only Dangerous when you don’t know how to Listen,” Faithfully Magazine, https://faithfullymagazine.com/a-just-mission-dangerous-listen/ (accessed 20 April 2023).

[28] Particularly, Randy S. Woodley, Mission and the Cultural Other (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2022).

[29] See, for example, Harvey Kwiyami, “Mission After George Floyd: On White Supremacy, Colonialism, and World Christianity,” ANVIL: Journal of Theology and Mission 36, no. 3 (2022): 6–13.

[30] Forrest Inslee and Angel Burns, Re-Imagining Short Term Missions (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2022).

[31] Reinhold Titus, “Fostering Globally Inclusive Mission Organisations: Exploring Inclusivity in Western Founded Global Mission Organisations Through the Experiences of Senior African Leaders Serving in Them,” (MA thesis, Redcliffe College, 2021), 35–36.

[32] See, for example, Willie Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010); and Willie James Jennings, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2020).

[33] Particularly, Jehu J. Hanciles, Beyond Christendom: Globalization, African Migration, and the Transformation of the West (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2008).

[34] Scott A. Bessenecker, Overturning Tables: Freeing Missions from The Christian-Industrial Complex (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014).

[35] Usually referring to economics, this saying is traced back to Prussian/Austrian diplomat Klemens Wenzel Furst von Metternich who applied it to France during the Napoleonic era. See, Wolfram Siemann, Metternich: Strategist and Visionary (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019).

[36] The 26 May 2020 death of George Floyd in the USA was a significant marker in the spill-over of racial unrest from the USA to other parts of the world. US civil rights movements had previously inspired similar movements in other nations, but the Black Lives Matter movement has co-opted imaginations afresh and the issues of prejudice that might previously have pushed back against colonialism are now arising afresh as a struggle against “white” supremacies.

[37] The term “whiteness” can be traced back to sociologist W. E. B Dubois’s 1910 essay, “The Souls of White Folks,” https://loa-shared.s3.amazonaws.com/static/pdf/Du_Bois_White_Folk.pdf (accessed 5 April 2023).

[38] Jennings, The Christian Imagination, 25.

[39] Jennings, After Whiteness, 9.

[40] There is no agreed provenance for this quote; it seems to have evolved online in the mid-late 2000s.

[41] Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[42] This is not to diminish the importance of people-group research or demography. Used correctly, the insights that specialists in these areas provide missions are invaluable.

[43] Gossett, Race, Kindle Loc. 190–194, Chapter 1, paragraph 2.

[44] Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, “Te Ao Marama: A Research Paradigm,” in Te Oru Rangahau: Māori Research & Development Conference (Palmerston North, NZ: Massey University, 1998), 80.

[45] Royal, “Te Ao Marama.”

[46] The Afrikaner “Great Trek,” following the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833, was a result of a deviant theological belief that giving black people equal standing with white “Christians” (more a cultural than theological designation) was “contrary to the laws of God and the natural distinction of race and religion.” Alec Ryrie, “The Gospel of Apartheid,” paper presented to Gresham College on 27 April 2017, https://www.gresham.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2017-04-27_AlecRyrie_TheGospelOfApartheid.docx (accessed 8 April 2023). As modern history has shown, such a view has devastating effects and must be denounced as thoroughly incompatible with Scripture, even as similar ones are starting to appear again among right-wing neo-reformed Christians in the USA and elsewhere.

[47] Paul-Gordon Chandler, God’s Global Mosaic: What We Can Learn from Christians Around the World (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000), 126.

[48] Daniel J. Siegel, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, 2nd ed. (New York: Guilford, 2012), 3.

[49] Joseph Shaules, The Intercultural Mind: Connecting Culture, Cognition, and Global Living (Boston: Intercultural, 2015), 17.

[50] Thomas Pettigrew and Linda Tropp have continued Allport’s studies, confirming that intergroup contact reduces prejudice. See, for example, Thomas F. Pettigrew and Linda R. Tropp, “A Meta-analytic Test of Intergroup Contact Theory,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 90, no. 5 (2006): 751–83. Also, Thomas F. Pettigrew and Linda R. Tropp, “How does Intergroup Contact Reduce Prejudice? Meta-analytic Tests of Three Mediators,” European Journal of Social Psychology 38, no. 6 (2008): 922–34.

[51] Rutger Bregman, Humankind: A Hopeful History (London: Bloomsbury, 2020), Kindle Loc. 4856 of 7600.

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